Parent and child fostering - REES Centre

Parent-and-child fostering:
Messages from research and practice
Dr Nikki Luke, Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and
Education, University of Oxford Department of Education
[email protected]
Dr Helen Holgate, Foster Carer, Trustee and Trainer, Fostering
[email protected]
In this session
• An introduction to the Rees Centre
• What do we know about parent-and-child
• What does research tell us about ‘good’
parent-and-child fostering?
• How does this fit with practice experience?
• What improvements can be made in this
Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education
The Rees Centre aims to:
• identify what works to improve the outcomes and
life chances of children and young people in foster
We are doing this by:
• reviewing existing research in order to make better
use of current evidence
• conducting new research to address gaps
• working with service users to identify research
priorities and translate research messages into
• employing foster carers and care experienced
young people as co-researchers
Centre has core funding from the Core Assets Group
Why do people become foster carers?
Peer contact between foster carers
How are foster carers selected?
The impact of fostering on foster carers’
• Effective parent-and-child fostering
• The role of the supervising social worker
• What works in preventing and treating poor
mental health in looked after children?
How you can be involved
• Read and feed back on our reports
• Express interest in being involved in future possible research
• Come along to lectures & seminars
– webinar on ‘supervisory social work’ 7th October 16.30 – email for details
– knowledge exchange seminar 26th January 17.00 in Oxford
• Join our mailing list and receive newsletters 5 times/year:
[email protected]
• Web:
• Comment on our blog – or write for us
• Follow us on Twitter – @ReesCentre
Parent-and-child fostering
• Who is in this type of arrangement?
• What is the purpose of them?
• How does parent-and-child fostering
relate to your practice?
Research on parent-and-child fostering
“What kind of provision is effective for parents and
their children living together in foster homes?”
•Providers need to know what is effective for producing
outcomes in best interest of the child
•Searched research databases and research and charity
websites, and emailed international experts
•Found 35 relevant studies and reports from UK and
North America
•Most research focused on teenage parents in care,
rather than adults moving into foster homes
•Very little research on fathers (see Tyrer et al., 2005)
Research on parent-and-child fostering
• Parenting can be a transformative experience
for traumatised young people:
– fulfilling emotional needs (family belonging, e.g.
Pryce & Samuels, 2010)
– providing motivation to make positive life changes
(e.g. Barn & Mantovani, 2007)
– wishing to be better parents than their own parents
had been (e.g. Love et al., 2005)
– developing an awareness of their own resilience
(Maxwell et al., 2011)
Research on parent-and-child fostering
• Some needs in common with other types of
good relationship with carers and social workers
clear house rules
a say in decisions about their future
help with problems such as substance abuse
• Some distinct needs:
help in accessing community support services
clearly outlined roles for parent(s) and carers
an understanding of the assessment process
for young parents, the freedom to be teenagers
Research on parent-and-child fostering
• Feelings of stigmatisation
– teenagers felt judged as automatically ‘worse’
– parents felt under scrutiny from carers and social
– tied to fears of having child(ren) taken away
– how can we avoid these when assessment is built-in
to some arrangements?
• Differences in perceived support from practitioners
– social workers often seen as absent or unsupportive
– leaving care teams viewed more positively
• Poor support after leaving care
– inadequate housing raised as a particular issue
– need better links to community support services
Research on parent-and-child fostering
• Separation after arrangement varied:
– 15% (Barth & Price, 1999)
– 84% (Martin & Davies, 2007)
• Variations in ‘success rates’ likely due to:
– small numbers of parents in studies
– differences in placements and parents
– purpose and content of the scheme
• Little research specifically linking factors of the
placement to post-placement outcomes
– mostly relies on retrospective interviews (e.g. Chase et al.,
– longer stays linked to greater success for substanceabusing mothers (Barth, 1994)
• Limited by current data
– SSDA903 collects data only on motherhood for
completed births (not pregnancies or fatherhood)
Listen to care-experienced young people
• Get to know your Looked After Children and Care
Leavers: We are not all the same; we have different
needs, know your cohort to best serve them.
• Minimise Disruption: How can a young person
concentrate when there is disruption? Help resolve
the disruption and other things will fall into place.
• Challenge the stereotypes: We can achieve. Our
actions as young people and our situations should
not dictate the attitudes about our
‘achievements’ by the adults around us.
How does this relate to practice?
Key areas of interest
•Practical issue – practitioners need to recognise
the differing types of PAC and adaptations should
be made accordingly to each placement plan.
•The significance and value of the relationship
between the carer and the parent.
•The skill base required for PAC is different and at
times contrasting to those typically thought of as
being necessary for mainstream fostering
How does this relate to practice?
How do these messages relate to
your practice?
What improvements can be made?
Need to reduce likelihood of re-traumatising an
already traumatised group, for example by:
• Recruiting, training and supporting more specialist
parent-and-child carers
• Creating support networks for parents and carers
• Carrying out assessments sensitively to reduce
• Extending support for teenage parents beyond
leaving care age
• Being much tighter around our planning,
expectations and fulfilment of PAC placements
• Collect more data on parents, including fathers
• Aiming for an agreed national standard of care for
PAC fostering
What could you add to this list?
What improvements can be made?
• What challenges might arise for implementing
the ‘ideal’ system?
• How can other services (such as schools)
contribute to successful outcomes for parents
living in foster homes?
• How can research and practice work together
to ensure that:
– the right research questions are being
– practitioners can get to know what makes
for effective practice?
Barn, R.,& Mantovani, N. (2007). Young mothers and the care system: Contextualizing risk and
vulnerability. British Journal of Social Work, 37(2), 225-243.
Barth, R. P. (1994). Shared family care: Child protection and family preservation. Social Work, 39(5),
Barth, R. P., & Price, A. (1999). Shared family care: Providing services to parents and children placed
together in out-of-home care. Child Welfare, 78(1), 88-107.
Chase, E., Warwick, I., Knight, A., & Aggleton, P. (2009). Supporting young parents: Pregnancy and
parenthood among young people from care. London: Jessica Kingsley.
Love, L. T., McIntosh, J., Rosst, M., & Tertzakian, K. (2005). Fostering hope: Preventing teen
pregnancy among youth in foster care. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen
Pregnancy. Retrieved from
Martin, M., & Davies, S. (2007). An evaluation of parent and baby placements in West Sussex. West
Sussex: Social Research Unit, West Sussex County Council. Retrieved from
Maxwell, A., Proctor, J., & Hammond, L. (2011). ‘Me and my child’: Parenting experiences of young
mothers leaving care. Adoption & Fostering, 35(4), 29-40.
Pryce, J. M., & Samuels, G. M. (2010). Renewal and risk: The dual experience of young motherhood
and aging out of the child welfare system. Journal of Adolescent Research, 25(2), 205-230.
Tyrer, P., Chase, E., Warwick, I., & Aggleton, P. (2005). ‘Dealing with it’: Experiences of young fathers
in and leaving care. British Journal of Social Work, 35(7), 1107-1121.
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