Help a family stay together

Somerset County Council is looking to recruit more foster carers to play a pivotal role in helping struggling families stay together.

The Council is looking for people to join its Parent and Child care scheme which

helps parents who are struggling to cope with family life, learn practical skills, build their confidence and change behaviour so they can go home with their baby or young child.

This is an opportunity for people to show they can be good enough parents to prevent their child from coming into care and potentially being adopted by someone else.

The ideal Parent and Child foster carer is someone with knowledge and experience of parenting, patience and empathy. The role is to provide support and guidance to parents and enable them to care for their child safely in the protective environment of a foster home.

Parent and child placements are time limited; foster carers work closely with social workers and provide them with valuable assessment information.

Parent and Child foster carers are treated as professionals and receive specialist training and support. Carers receive a fee of between £125 and £250 a week in recognition of working full time with the parent and child and contributing assessment information. The Council also pays two fostering allowances of between £140 and £242 each to cover the costs of looking after the parent and child.

Belinda, from Crewkerne, has been a Parent and Child foster carer for three and a half years. She talks about her experience of being a Parent and Child foster carer, why she loves it and why she recommends it, in her fostering film. Watch it here:

In the film, Belinda says: “When I found out about parent and child fostering I was really interested and thought I could help more than one person at a time, I could help a whole family and I know the child in the situation is safe.

“I had always thought, in my own mind, that I would be helping young girls who perhaps didn’t have their own family for whatever reason and they needed a mum to show them how to be a mum. That was completely shattered when my first placement was 36 and she was on baby number six, so completely different to what I thought it would be.

“For me, the best bits are when you see the family progress and do really well and become confident and good enough parents.

“Before I did this I had been a mum but I hadn’t any other experience of working with teenagers or babies other than my own, and if I can do it lots of people out there can do it…I have a motto on my kitchen wall which I hope helps to inspire people who come here, it’s ‘The expert in anything was once a beginner’ and that is what I truly believe.”

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “Parent and Child foster carers help build parents’ confidence and help them learn practical parenting skills. This is a very rewarding type of fostering. Carers can pass on their parenting skills and work closely with social workers as part of a professional team to make sure a child is well looked after and can stay with their parent or parents. If people are interested in becoming Parent and Child foster carers what they need is lots of patience, room in their house, experience of parenting, a willingness to learn, and a desire to help mums and dads in need of some guidance.

Somerset County Council’s next fostering information evening is on Monday 7th July, 7-9pm, at Staplegrove Village Hall, Taunton. Drop in to find out more about becoming a foster carer and the different types of foster care, or visit: www.fosteringinsomerset.org.uk or phone 0800 587 9900 for an information pack.