Parent and Child Foster Placements


The Parent and Child Foster Placements Policy has been designed and written to ensure that action taken by Hertfordshire Fostering Service is in line with legislation, national policy and guidance. It aims to ensure that all foster carers, supervising social workers, parents and children's social workers have the same understanding about the placement tasks they are required to undertake, and the legal basis for doing so.

This chapter was added in September 2022.

1. Parent and Child Foster Placements Policy - Introduction

There is a growing recognition that parent & child placements can offer a positive and non-institutional alternative to residential provision, and that with the appropriate preparation, support and supervision such arrangements can and do offer a good opportunity to enable a parent and child to remain together. Hertfordshire Fostering Service's parent and child scheme promotes a 12 week programme from the start of the formal parenting assessment, with a further 6 weeks of outreach support, determined by the child's need for timely resolution of permanence plans. However, there is also recognition that timescales need to be flexible and focused on the specific needs of the child and parent. Any placements expected to be longer in timescale would need to be agreed by the Fostering Service Manager and a clear rationale recorded as to this decision. Such situations may be where there is a parent who is under 18 and CLA, where there is a need for support and supervision over an extended period of time or when there are care proceedings underway which require a longer period of assessment.

The aim of the programme is to use foster carers' skills, knowledge & experience to initially help teach, model, support & develop a parent's parenting capacity during the first 4 weeks of placement. Over the following 8 weeks, carers will gradually reduce their involvement, encouraging the parent to take on full responsibility for the care of their child by the end of the placement. Whilst the aim is to enable a parent & child to remain together, the welfare of the child must always be the paramount consideration.

This policy should be implemented following:

  • A pre-birth assessment; or
  • Child Protection Conference which recommends a parent and child placement;
  • During Public Law Outline Procedures (PLO); or
  • At the direction of the Court during Care Proceedings.

Parent and child foster care is an exceptional arrangement for very young babies and their parents. It is a complex fostering task and foster carers need to be experienced, skilled and able to work closely as part of a team. Parent and child placements carry unique risks and challenges due to the vulnerability of very young children being placed. Roles and tasks must be clearly defined at the outset of the placement. Foster carers will need support to ensure they are not compromised by the competing roles of safeguarding the child, providing mentoring, support, undertaking observations and monitoring to contribute to a parenting assessment whilst living alongside the adult parent.

Working within this framework provides clarity around the placement's purpose, its duration, and the responsibilities of all parties involved. All placements will have an assessment component and the primary aim of any placement should be to assess the safe parenting capability of the parent. However, whilst specific training will be provided for foster carers, there is no expectation that they will take on responsibility for undertaking a parenting assessment. The foster carer will be informing the assessment, which will need to be undertaken by a qualified social worker, with the foster carer contributing to this through daily recording, observations and feedback. Where a decision is made for a child to be removed from a parent during or at the end of the placement, the foster carers will need considerable support to provide objective evidence whilst maintaining a good relationship with the parent.

There are four legal scenarios that apply to parent and child fostering, with different implications depending on the regulations that apply (Refer to Coram BAAF Good Practice Guidance 2020).


Age of Parent

Legal status of parent

Legal status of child

Relevant Regulatory Context


Under 18

Looked after

Looked after

Parent and child both subject to Care Planning Regulations 2010 and Fostering Regulations 2011


Under 18

Looked after

Child 'placed with parents' Care Planning Regulations 2010, 15 to 20

Care Planning Regulations 2010 relevant to both parent and child.
Fostering Regulations 2011 relevant to the parent only.


Under or over 18

Not looked after

Looked after

Placement with parents regulations do not apply with this scenario. Only the child is subject to the 2010 Care Planning and 2011 Fostering Regulations. Parent will be considered as part of the household.


Under or over 18

Not looked after

Not looked after

Neither the 2010 Care Planning nor the 2011 Fostering Regulations apply.

The Fostering Statutory Guidance (2011) states that the responsible authority must take particular care to clarify the nature of the arrangement and clarify the respective roles of the foster carer and parent in relation to the child.

The table above will confirm that clarity regarding the nature of the arrangement is essential from the outset. Key questions during the referral process are as follows:

  • What is the proposed legal status of the parent and child?
  • Who is being 'looked after'?
  • What are the aims, tasks and proposed duration of the arrangement?
  • Who is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance in relation to all parties?
  • Who is carrying out the specific risk assessment of any adult parent prior to the arrangement starting, and what information will this be based upon?

A note about the Usual Fostering Limit

Given the potential for confusion regarding legal status explored above, it is important to emphasise that the usual fostering limit remains three in relation to parent and child arrangements. No fostering household may foster more than three children unless all the children are related to each other as siblings or an exemption has been agreed in relation to specific placements. The statutory guidance outlines that, even though an adult or non-looked after parent is not counted as one of the three, the fostering service should be mindful of the additional responsibilities of the foster carer and care should be taken not to overburden them. Any additional skills, training, support and insurance necessary should be considered. The impact of the parent being within the household must be taken into account in considering the placement of any looked after children.

DBS and PNC Checks for Adult Parents

For all Parents over the age of 18 a DBS check is required as they will be included as part of the fostering household. If this is not possible to undertake prior to the placement, the Social Worker for the child will need to request a Police National Computer (PNC) check and the results will be fed into the Parent and Child Risk Assessment. If there is refusal to undertake this check the highest level of risk will be assumed and the parent must not be left unsupervised with any other children or young people in placement. Reflecting the requirements of Regulation 12(2), a specific risk assessment must be carried out to assess the safety of all children in the household.

There must be written agreement from the Specialist Services Operations Director that this has been discussed and fully covered within the Parent and Child Risk Assessment prior to the placement and reflected in the Placement Planning Agreement. As soon as practicable the SSW will carry out a DBS check, especially where other children (including birth children) are in the placement.

It is important to note that when a parent has committed a specified offence they can only be considered for a parent & child arrangement under the exemption to fostering regulations set out in Regulation 26(8) because they would be deemed a member of that household and are related to the child. The foster carers' approval would need to be reconsidered and the welfare of the child(ren) being fostered taken into account. No other unrelated child could be placed whilst that parent is part of the fostering household.

3. Recruitment, Matching and Approval

Hertfordshire Fostering Service is committed to ensuring that only those foster carers with the relevant experience, skills and qualities provide parent and child arrangements. In summary, the qualities sought by the Agency can be described as follows:

  • Heightened child protection awareness and ability to ensure the safety of children within their home. Serious Case Reviews/Child Safeguarding Practice and other case reviews remind us that the child can quickly become 'invisible' when professionals become drawn into an inappropriate advocacy role in relation to birth parents. This risk is aggravated by the nature of parent and child arrangements. Foster carers taking on this role need to be vigilant for a range of risk factors. They must be very clear about when they need to step in, and when they need to contact professionals for advice and guidance or pass on safeguarding concerns.
    Objectivity combined with a willingness to take decisive action when needed, are therefore essential qualities. Some of the risk factors may relate to the parent's own personal networks (e.g. relating to previous or current drug misuse or domestic abuse) and foster carers will need to understand how these factors may impact on parenting capacity and on the child's health & development. They must be sufficiently robust to manage this with a clear child focus. Equally, a lack of adequate supervision and care for a young infant must be responded to quickly and effectively;
  • Working with Birth Parents and ability to accept "good enough" parenting. By definition, parent and child arrangements require a high level of engagement with birth parents, at a level quite unlike other types of fostering. With parent and child fostering, the relationship between the foster carer and parent is crucial and the ability of the foster carer to form strong, warm, nurturing and supportive relationships with parents, while retaining a clear child focus, is essential. The foster carer will not be the primary carer for the child, however will be required to observe, support and facilitate the parent in providing care. The challenge for foster carers may be around enabling the parent to provide "good enough" parenting, which may conflict with their views about their perceptions of good parenting;
  • The Parent and Child Carers will have knowledge of attachment issues and how to promote attachment between the parent and child placed. The primary attachment the baby needs to make is with his/her parent and the foster carer must be enable the parent to take responsibility for their child's care, as outlined in the placement contract. Written records will need to include observations of the parent's interaction and attachment with the child;
  • The foster carer will need to have an understanding of the background factors which may impact upon the parent, such as previously being in care, learning disabilities, experience of domestic abuse, mental health issues, CSE or drug & alcohol use. Some parents in parent and child placements are under 18 years and therefore carers will need to have knowledge and understanding of working with teenagers. This will include an understanding of the impact of past experiences on how the parent is functioning in the present;
  • Parent and child carers will also need to be familiar with child development and up to date knowledge of guidance relating to the practical care of babies, covering areas such as weaning, changes in bottle feeding and more recent research about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which stresses the need to avoid any bed co-sharing at night and offers general guidance on safe sleeping arrangements. Foster carers will need to work closely with Health Visitors and other health professionals and support the parent to develop their parenting skills. Carers should be encouraged to access specialist resources and support developed for parent and child carers at;
  • Carers will need to have good communication skills and an ability to keep excellent written records. The extent to which the foster carer's observations will inform the assessment of the parenting of the child will depend upon the specific legal context of the arrangements. However, common to all parent and child arrangements is the need for the carer to be confident in giving advice, guidance and constructive feedback. They will also need to keep excellent, up-to-date written records, which clearly distinguish between fact and opinion. When appropriate, the records will be needed to contribute to assessments and may be used as evidence in court. Foster carers may also be asked to give evidence and should this be required, they will be supported with this process. Whilst the scheme does not support foster carers taking sole responsibility for the assessment of parenting capacity, which should remain a professional responsibility, contributing to an assessment is an important part of the role;
  • Practical considerations - Sufficient space is essential for successful parent and child arrangements. Balancing the need for privacy against the need for appropriate supervision is a judgement that will need to be made on a case-by-case basis, dependent upon on-going risk assessment of the arrangement, and informed by the placement plan;
  • The foster carer must have sufficient time and availability to ensure that an appropriate level of supervision can be guaranteed throughout the duration of the arrangement, as well as being able to provide practical and emotional support to the parent to attend appointments, attend community groups, contact etc. The carer will also be required to provide childcare and babysit on occasions as agreed in the placement agreement. Given the potentially stressful nature of such arrangements, particular focus upon the proposed foster carer's support network is also good practice;
  • An ability to work as part of a team - related to the above points, the ability to work alongside professionals - an essential task for all fostering - is particularly important in relation to parent and child arrangements. Foster carers must be prepared to work to an agreed plan and contribute to the urgent revision of this plan when appropriate;
  • Experience and capacity for the role - there are specific requirements for carers wishing to be approved as Parent and Child foster carers. This applies to carers transferring to Hertfordshire Fostering Service, newly recruited and current carers. This includes:
    • Minimum of 1 years' experience of active mainstream fostering or experience of working in a relevant child-care, social care or health profession;
    • To have full time availability to support and supervise the parent. It would therefore not be possible for the carer to work or have other significant family commitments;
    • For both carers to evidence that they have completed both mandatory training and specific parent and child fostering training, alongside any other training in preparation for the role;
    • A large bedroom/additional bedroom space, must be available and provide reasonable living space for a parent/s and child/ren. If the requirement is for the baby to sleep in carer's room then this room must have sufficient space to provide for reasonable living space for a cot/ sleeping arrangements for the baby;
    • To be able to evidence skill in objective record keeping and report writing and making verbal representations in professional meetings including giving evidence in court.

The above requirements must be evidenced in the foster carers' assessment and/or subsequent reviews for presentation at panel for change of approval using the Parent & Child Assessment Addendum (see Appendix 1: Parent and child fostering assessment report) If the carer is a new applicant and seeking approval for Parent and Child Placements the requirements must be evidenced in the assessment. Existing carers who want to change their approval will need to be assessed and an addendum to be added to their existing assessment or review which should be presented at panel for change of approval. The foster carer will remain subject to the usual annual foster care review mechanism.

It is expected that foster carers approved for the parent and child scheme will not have any other children placed with them, unless in exceptional circumstances such as if a young person in placement becomes pregnant and wishes to remain in the placement and there is another child or young person already placed. Where such a situation arises, the same previously mentioned criteria will apply to their carer regarding assessment and change of approval. A full risk assessment will need to be completed to consider any potential risks and the potential impact in regard to all the children and young people in placement. The child's social worker would need to be consulted for their views and agreement to the new arrangements.

4. Placement Planning Guidance

Hertfordshire Fostering Service recognises the duty to foster carers and parents to ensure that the best help and support is provided from the outset. The 2010: Care Planning, Placement & Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (regulation 9) state that:

'Before making any foster care placement (other than an emergency or immediate placement) the responsible authority shall prepare a placement plan for the child, which covers all matters specified in Schedule 2, which must be agreed with and signed by the foster carer. If it is not reasonably practicable to prepare the plan before the placement, it must be done within five working days of the start of the placement'.

Given the potential complexity of parent and child placements is it essential all available information, legal documents, referrals, risk assessments, and previous Care Plans are made available to inform the placement prior to placement or immediately upon commencement of the placement. The Parent & Child referral form, which includes the risk assessment (see Appendix 2: Parent and child fostering referral form) should be completed by the child's social worker and sent to the Brokerage Accommodation Team and shared with the foster carer.

The risk assessment, pre-placement planning meeting, placement agreement (see Appendix 3: Parent and child fostering placement/arrangement agreement) and updating of the foster carer's safer caring policy are essential tasks to be completed prior to any placement. Completion of these is critical to ensuring that all everyday risks and practicalities are understood and agreed. Establishing a clear placement agreement also clarifies roles and responsibilities for all parties involved. Failure to do so could result in delay in making a placement, or a poor placement outcome. For a Parent and Child placement to successfully meet its objectives there must be multi-agency working and assessment which needs to be agreed in the planning meeting. The child's social worker will need to take the lead in negotiating with other agencies to ensure that every placement is fully supported by all relevant professionals.

A pre-birth assessment is expected in all cases, except where the pregnancy has been concealed or only identified at a late stage. In these cases, where a placement is required in an emergency, an initial assessment should be completed as soon as is practicable. Where the child is in placement and subject to either an ICO or a Care Order, Parental Responsibility is shared and the Local Authority will need to negotiate with the parent (s) the most appropriate arrangements for exercising their respective parental responsibilities. These arrangements must be discussed, agreed and recorded in the pre-placement meeting.

5. Timescales of Placement

A parent & child placement should be agreed for 12 weeks from the start of the parenting assessment. However, during the pre-birth or pre-placement stage, consideration should be given for time for the parent to develop a relationship with the foster carer, who may be able to support the parent both on a practical and emotional level. Additional time will also need to be considered for transitions/outreach work following the end of the placement.

5.1 Pre-placement

As above, the SSW will need to convene a pre-placement planning meeting where the placement agreement & risk assessment will be discussed and agreed. Those present at the meeting should include:

  • The parent(s) or those with parental responsibility;
  • The foster carer;
  • The foster carer's supervising social worker;
  • The child's social worker;
  • The parent's social worker;
  • Anyone else taking an active part in the welfare of the child/young person.

At the pre-placement meeting a clear statement as to the objectives of the placement and the timescale for assessment must be provided by the social worker, outlined in the agreement. Any known or potential risks to foster carer and family from members of the child's family or others must be assessed and included as a risk assessment as part of the agreement. No foster carer or member of the fostering household should knowingly be placed at risk as a consequence of providing a placement. The risk assessment will need to be reviewed and updated in every foster carer supervision or if there are incidents or concerns which emerge.

The pre-placement planning meeting must ensure that the foster carer is very clear about their roles and responsibilities in respect of the parent and child, including how delegated authority is permitted. In particular, clarity around the level of supervision, when the foster carer will be expected to intervene, expectations around recording, contact/visitor arrangements, babysitting, house rules, finance and equipment must be agreed (see sections 5 & 6). The meeting will need to specify multi-agency involvement and consider any additional therapeutic support needed. Discussions need to consider how the child and parent's cultural, diversity and inclusion needs can be met within the placement, how life story work will be included and any additional support which may be needed.

There will also need to be a decision recorded about whether the foster carer needs to be in the home at all times or whether the parent and child can be left on their own, or whether the parent can leave the placement with the baby. Those involved in the meeting must agree how progress towards meeting the objectives will be tracked, and how success will be measured. This must be made clear to both the parent and foster carer, who should be given a written copy of the agreement within 5 days of the meeting. It remains the responsibility of the Child's Social Worker to fulfil their primary legal duty to produce a Care Plan.

Prior to the placement starting, foster carers will be expected to meet with parents and agree home visits to help the parent familiarise themselves with the household and build a relationship. The meeting will also outline what support they will offer in the pre-birth or pre-placement period, including helping support the parent with preparation tasks, providing practical & emotional support and attending appointments.

5.2 Reviews of the placement

Regular reviews are a requirement of all placements as this will prevent drift and enhance timely decision-making. The SSW must arrange and chair reviews at the following intervals, although if there are significant changes then consideration will need to be given to holding these earlier:

  • Within 72 hours of the placement starting;
  • 2 weeks of placement;
  • 4 weeks of placement;
  • 8 weeks of placement;
  • 12 weeks of placement.

Placement reviews should be structured around the original placement plan & agreement, however the child may also be subject to the Children Looked After Review mechanism according to the statutory schedule, as will the parent if also looked after. In some circumstances, it may be appropriate for placement reviews to be incorporated into the CLA review process e.g. a date within 20 working days of placement will be needed for the first statutory CLA review, therefore this may be combined with the 4 week review. The reviewing process should highlight placement progress and any identified areas of concern/development. Every review should consider placement exit and the future plans for the family.

An extension to the placement timescale can only be agreed in exceptional circumstances, if there is an identified need for continued parenting support work or assessment which is not possible within the 12 week timescale. This may apply in particular where the parent is also a Child Looked After. In such cases, realistic timescales for independent living should form part of the assessment and planning. The proposed timescales of the placement will need to be agreed jointly by the relevant Children's Service Managers (Family Safeguarding and/or CLA) and Fostering Service Manager.

5.3 Placement

Weeks 1-4

In line with regulations, there should be a placement planning meeting held within 72 hours of the start of the placement involving all parties who attended the pre-placement meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to review the agreement drawn up in the initial pre-placement planning meeting, confirm that the placement meets the child & parent's needs and make any adjustments required to the placement agreement. If the parent is also looked after then a separate placement planning meeting should take place in order to ensure that the parent's needs are fully considered both separately and in conjunction with those of their child.

At the placement planning meeting, the child's social worker will be responsible for confirming the information already contained in the 'draft' LCS Placement Plan and to complete the blank sections. This must then be recorded on LCS by the social worker and sent to the Team Manager for authorisation. Copies of the fully completed and signed Care Plan, LCS Placement Plan and placement agreement must be circulated to parent(s) and carer and recorded on or attached to LCS.

During the initial 4 weeks of placement, the foster carer(s) will be expected to offer 24 hour support and provide guidance and assistance to the parent in managing the care tasks for the baby, including transporting the parent & child when appropriate. At this early stage, the key tasks for the foster carer will include direct instruction or modelling, responding to questions and provision of practical support such as accompanying the parent to parent/baby groups, health visiting clinic, shopping etc. The placement should provide a safe, warm and friendly environment to provide supervision and support to the parent, to improve and consolidate parenting skills, recognising the parent will need time to settle into the placement. The foster carer should promote and support the key attachment between child and parent.

The foster carer will be expected to keep a daily record noting observations of the parent's ability to respond to their baby's needs, manage the routine, and manage the practical tasks of washing, ironing, shopping, budgeting etc. These observations will inform any parenting programme or assessment that has been agreed. The foster carer will be expected to be open and honest about the parent's strengths and difficulties when recording their observations and the parent must be given the opportunity to read and comment on these observations.

Weeks 5-8

If the placement progresses positively it must be expected that the parent will demonstrate less reliance on the carers support. This will be discussed and reviewed at the 4 weekly placement review meeting and CLA review. In weeks 5-8, the Foster carer will be expected to allow the parent to take on more responsibility for their child, only prompting or intervening when necessary in a supportive way.

Weeks 9-12

The parent will be expected to take on full responsibility for their child. The foster carer should only intervene if there are safeguarding concerns and if the level of risk to the child from their parent would be detrimental to the child's welfare. Foster carers will need to regularly check on the care and safety of the child in placement and therefore must have access to the child at all times whilst in the home environment.

A meeting will be held in week 12 to conclude the parenting assessment. At this meeting, the future plan and practical arrangements for moving on will need to be agreed, alongside consideration of support required by the foster carer in supporting the transition moving forward.

5.4 Post-placement

At the final placement review meeting, consideration should be given to what support is required from all agencies and the foster carer to ensure a successful transition from the parent & child placement to the identified move-on accommodation. The foster carer will have an established relationship with the parent and child and the value of this should be recognised. The foster carer and/or identified support carers may be able to provide ongoing practical or emotional support & mentoring on an outreach basis for 6 weeks following the end of the placement. This will need to be agreed in advance by the foster carer, parent, child's social worker and SSW with clear expectations and timescales. During this period the carer or identified support carer would be available to undertake home visits initially daily, then less frequently until parent and child are settled back into their accommodation and community.

5.5 Placement Endings

Should the placement be terminated because of a serious breach of the agreement, where the safety or wellbeing of the child is compromised, because the parent has left the placement without the agreement of the authority or if there has been a negative parenting assessment, separate plans will need to be made for the parent and child in discussion with the respective social work teams. The expectation will be that initially the parent will move out and the child will remain in the placement. Following this, wherever possible the baby will also be moved to a suitable new placement in order for the foster carer to take on a new parent and child placement. Only in exceptional circumstances will the baby remain in placement with the parent and child carer.

Where the parent is also Looked After various scenarios could apply. If the parenting assessment concludes that the parent is able to safely parent the child then the aims and timescales of the placement must be re-negotiated to include clear criteria for moving on into independent living, or to another form of supported arrangement not involving fostering.

6. Role of the Foster Carer

Foster carers will need to be provided with full information prior to placement from the child's social worker in relation to both the parent and the child. If the information has not been received the carer must inform the supervising social worker 2 days before the placement commences. If a placement is made on an emergency basis the foster carer should expect to receive relevant information within 5 days.

Foster carers in Hertfordshire will receive specific training and support to provide parent and child placements. Foster carers will be selected for their skills, experience and understanding of the complexity of the task. They will be expected to adhere to the following criteria, which will be discussed and agreed at the pre-placement planning meeting:

  • To ensure that the parent's circumstances and history is strictly confidential to them as named foster carers. Parents need to feel reassured that no discussions will take place between family members and friends;
  • The foster carer will respect and give recognition to the importance of a parent and child's ethnic origin, cultural background, religion, language, gender, sexuality and disability;
  • The foster carer will provide a fully furnished bedroom complete with bed, cot, and cot linen and ensure the parent has use of a sitting room with home entertainment, a bathroom and a kitchen with laundry facilities. The foster carer will make available and provide full use of toys and equipment for both inside and outside the home;
  • The foster carer will be expected to show the parent how any technical appliances work so that they are able to use cooking, cleaning & laundry facilities appropriately;
  • The foster carer will need to complete accurate daily written evidence-based reports (see Appendix 4: Parent and child foster carer recording) which will be shared with the parent by the foster carer to highlight strengths and encourage further discussion on areas for development. These reports will be signed by both parties and may be used in Court Proceedings. The reports will be shared with the child's social worker & SSW every week;
  • The foster carer will complete and provide an updated safer care policy in relation to the individual parent and child placement. The foster carer will discuss with the parent the household rules and routines. All parties will also be expected to discuss, agree and sign the carer's household safer caring policy;
  • The foster carer will always seek medical advice or treatment for any fall, bruising or injury that a child has sustained. A report of any injury should be made to the child's social worker and supervising social worker as soon as possible and a written record completed;
  • The foster carer will be expected to attend all relevant meetings in relation to the child and parent following the pre-placement meeting. This will include placement review meetings, CLA Reviews, Core Group Meetings, planning Meetings, Child Protection Conferences and any other meetings required;
  • The foster carer will liaise with both the child's and patents social worker, health visitor and supervising social worker and any other professionals involved on a regular basis;
  • The foster carer may make random room checks to ensure safety of parent and child and therefore all bedroom doors must be kept unlocked;
  • The foster carer will baby-sit for one evening a week, subject to agreement in the placement planning discussion, provided this is agreed in advance and at least 24 hours' notice is given;
  • The parent and child foster carer will be also linked to a peer support foster carer buddy, who will provide 8 hours a week to support the placement; how these hours should be used will need to be agreed at the placement planning meeting but likely to be offering additional practical support e.g. supporting parents to attend appointments or community services.

If there are any differences of opinion on childcare these should be discussed and recorded in the record sheets. However, the parent will need to accept the final decision from the foster carer who will endeavour to contact the child's social worker and health visitor at the first opportunity. Should a dispute arise within the placement, the SSW and child's social worker will initially undertake a joint visit, involving any relevant other professional. If necessary the child's social worker will then arrange a follow up meeting to include parent, SSW, carer and team manager for both the child and the parent.

It is not appropriate for a foster carer to take fostering leave during a parent and child placement, and no respite will be agreed during the duration of the placement, unless this is as a result of an emergency or has been pre-arranged at the pre-placement meeting.

7. Responsibility of the Parent(s)

In line with fostering regulations, parents over the age of 18 will be subject to Disclosure and Barring Service Checks and the results will be fed into the pre-placement risk assessment. The expectations of the child's parents will be discussed at the pre-placement planning meeting and agreed/signed as part of the written placement agreement. This will outline the expectations of the child's parents as below:

  • Parent(s) will be expected to care for their child at all times. A list of daily tasks for parent to complete, in relation to the child, and their own routine, should be discussed to support expectations of parent;
  • This will include getting up during the night, bathing, feeding & changing. In the initial 4 weeks of placement, this will be with support, mentoring & modelling from the carer. In the subsequent 4 weeks, the level of support provided will be gradually reduced, with the expectation that by the final 4 weeks the parent will manage the child's care without support. However, there will remain a level of supervision & monitoring from the carer throughout the duration of the placement, until it is agreed it is no longer necessary;
  • Parent(s) will be expected to manage the day and bedtime routine, which fits in with the foster carer's household. When the parent is settling a child for bed it is their responsibility to check on the child throughout the evening and during the night as required;
  • Parent(s) will be expected to demonstrate their competence in attending to all their child's physical needs as well as interacting positively with their child;
  • Parent(s) will be expected to shop, budget and cook for themselves and the child;
  • Parent(s) will attend to all clothes washing and ironing;
  • Parent will keep their room tidy and leave the kitchen, bathroom and any other communal areas in a tidy, clean condition after use. Personal clothing and belongings must be kept in the parent's own room. The foster carer cannot be responsible for property or articles that are lost or damaged;
  • The parent understands the foster carer may make random room checks to ensure their and their child's safety and therefore all bedroom doors must be kept unlocked;
  • Parents will contribute to the wellbeing of everyone in the foster carers' home and in public by demonstrating non-aggressive, non-threatening behaviours;
  • Parents should inform the foster carer and child's social worker of any appointments and check if childcare cover is required. The child's social worker should check out any arranged appointments and childcare cover that needs to be provided by the carers;
  • Regard must also be given to the parent's contact with their family members & arrangements for time out (with and without baby);
  • If agreed in the placement planning meeting, the foster carer will offer babysitting one evening per week. This must be agreed in advance with the foster carer and the child's parent will provide at least 24 hours' notice for request.

One of the key placement aims will be for the parent to gradually achieve greater independence and skill in all the above areas. Other considerations to be agreed in the agreement include the following:

  • The Hertfordshire County Council policy is that foster carers who smoke should not have children under the age of 5 years placed with them. Smoking or vaping is therefore not permitted inside the foster carer's home. If a parent smokes or vapes, then there may need to be some flexibility around this, for example, it may be agreed that a parent may smoke or vape in a designated outside area. Agreeing boundaries and expectations around this will need to be discussed at the planning meeting, such as how often this should occur, the expectations around the foster carer being available to care for the baby and on returning into the home, the parent must wash their hands before contact with their baby;
  • If there are other children in the household the parent in placement must not provide any practical or supervisory care;
  • No alcohol should be kept by the parent in the carer's home;
  • No involvement with any illegal substances is permitted in the foster carer's home. However, it is recognised some parents may be supported in a parent and child placement whilst the parent is supervised by a treatment programme for drug or alcohol misuse;
  • The child's social worker needs to consider the second parent and supporting contact arrangements where agreed. Attention and scrutiny must be given to the parent's relationships, both of their involvement in the assessment process and future planning.

8. Role of the Supervising Social Worker (SSW)

All Parent and Child foster carers offering this specialist service must be fully supported by a designated and experienced supervising social worker. The SSW will need to chair the pre-placement planning meeting and all subsequent reviews. They will need to ensure that the foster carer has the essential parent and child information from the child's social worker prior to placement commencing, alongside any previous assessments. If this is not the case, then the SSW should inform their team manager who will, in discussion with the Fostering Service Manager, make a decision if the placement goes ahead or is delayed.

The SSW will be responsible for monitoring, supporting & supervising the placement. They SSW will visit in the first week of placement and at two weekly intervals thereafter to provide supervision and support, ensuring that they are able to utilise and access specific parent and child foster care support (e.g. accessing support and specialist resources from Fostering Hope at They will provide weekly phone contacts and support carers at meetings as required. The SSW will also undertake unannounced visits in line with Hertfordshire policy and procedures. They will read, sign and pass on all daily record sheets to the child's social worker and report any issues that are appropriate. The carer's SSW will discuss with the carer their recorded observations to ensure objectivity remains.

As part of the pre-placement meeting, the SSW will support foster carers to ensure they have the contact details of all relevant professionals involved, including the duty number for the childcare team. They will also support the foster carer to research/access parent and child or parenting support groups in the local area. The SSW must ensure that the foster carer is linked to a peer support foster carer buddy, who will provide 8 hours a week to support the placement and ensure that there is agreement as to how these hours should be used at the placement planning meeting. The carer will also need to have contact details for the fostering team's duty line, the Fostering Out of Hours Service line and the Safeguarding Out of Hours number.

9. Role of the Child's Social Worker

The child's social worker must ensure that the carer has all relevant information by the date of the pre-placement planning meeting. If the placement is made in an emergency basis, placement information must be supplied within 5 days.

The child's social worker must visit the placement every 2 weeks and make weekly phone/email contact in addition to the SSW contact with the carer. During these visits the social worker should discuss both individually and together with parent and carer how the placement is going in relation to the placement agreement. They should provide an opportunity for the foster carer to share their observations and any concerns or worries, the progress checklist may be a useful tool to consider areas of positive change and areas for development (see Appendix 5: Parent and child foster carer progress checklist). During these visits the child's social worker should also view the parent and child's bedroom.

The child's social worker will need to liaise with housing benefits and senior management if there is agreement from Service Managers to continue the placement beyond 13 weeks. At this point, if the parent is in receipt of Housing Benefit then their entitlement will cease, unless they return to their property and sleep overnight once a week. The alternative is for the Local Authority to pay the rent to secure the tenancy.

The child's social worker should also provide parent(s) with copies of the HCC compliments and complaints procedures leaflets. They will also inform the foster carers/SSW of any arranged annual leave of one week plus and arrange for suitable cover during such periods, ensuring any arrangements are clearly communicated to the parent, carer, SSW and other involved professionals.

10. Looked After Parents

If the parent is Looked After, their social worker must visit the placement at a minimum frequency of every four weeks to meet with the parent and the foster carer. The parent's social worker / support worker (either from Family Safeguarding, CLA or CLS Team) will provide an opportunity for the parent to discuss any issues or worries, and will assist the parent to address them. There is an expectation that the child's social worker, parent(s) and SSW must work closely together in monitoring and reviewing the placement.

The placement planning meeting is an essential meeting in preparing for a change of placement for the looked after young person. The parent's responsibilities will be referred to, and the placement plan will need to be adjusted within the meeting where the placement agreement will be discussed and agreed. Foster carers will be expected to support the parent in relation to education, home tuition and legal appointments as well as provide transport and childcare as agreed in the contract.

11. Finance

Payments when a parent and child are placed with the carer

The foster carer will receive an enhanced parent & child skills payment, which is the current ARC Level 3 rate for carers x 1.5. They will also receive the current child allowance (including pocket money & clothing element) and an allowance for the parent based on the payment to carers for 16-17 year olds (including pocket money and clothing). If the parent is in receipt of Universal Credit and Child benefit, the pocket money and clothing elements will need to be deducted from the carer's payment.

Payments when the carer does not have a parent or child placed

Parent and child carers will receive the ARC level 3 skills payment as a retainer during any periods when there is no parent/child placed.

Payments when family move back to community or the placement changes:

When the family move back to the community, the carer will move back to the standard skills retainer payment (ARC level 3 rate) and also receives a 'community based support payment' for hours agreed to support the family in the community. This will be paid at the foster carers sessional rate.

If the parent leaves the placement, wherever possible the baby will also be moved to a suitable new placement in order for the Parent and Child carer to take on a new parent and child placement. If the baby stays with the Parent and Child Carer, the carer will receive the ARC level 3 skills payment plus the child's full allowance.

Parent and Child Foster Carer Buddy payments

The foster carer linked to the parent and child placement will provide up to 8 hours a week to support the placement. The buddy carer will receive payment at the hourly sessional rate.

Parent Benefit Claims/Guidance and Entitlements

The parent may require support to ensure they are claiming benefits they are entitled to. What an individual is entitled to will depend on their circumstances and therefore it is always advisable for the parent to be signposted and supported by the social worker to ensure they are claiming benefits they are entitled to. Further guidance on Benefits can be found on the GOV.UK website.