Many people who are looking to foster or adopt feel that very young children would be a good fit for their family. After all, babies are cute bundles of joy- but it’s important to remember that looking after a baby is very hard work for any parent. So, can I foster a baby?
Simply put, it is possible to foster babies, but it is rare that very young children come into care immediately within a long-term placement plan.
If the idea of fostering babies caused you to start your research into fostering, then your willingness to help is already an indicator that you could be a fantastic foster parent. Below we explain the reality of fostering babies and the types of fostering young children often come in to.
The realities of fostering babies
Just 5% of looked after children in the UK are under the age of 1, with 13% of young children being aged 1-4 years old. The question ‘can you only foster babies?’ is asked a lot when people enquire to be foster carers, or sometimes when people are confused between adoption and fostering. Generally, fostering only babies is a rare option for foster parents, but if you are highly trained there is always a need for specialist foster carers.
Often, babies are brought into care under a short-term fostering placement. Meaning that they needed to be removed from their birth parents quickly, to keep everybody safe. Sometimes this is so the immediate problems at home can be resolved, or if this is not possible, short-term foster care would change to long-term or they may be adopted.
Why are babies placed into foster care?
Babies in foster care are often removed by the Local Authorities from their birth parent(s) due to abuse, neglect or the parent(s) may be experiencing substance abuse. There are many reasons why babies and young people are taken into care, but ultimately it is because their biological parents are unable to look after them in their current situation.
Some birth parents may give their children over to child protection service, but this is uncommon. If they do, it is likely because they are aware that they will not be able to care for their child well enough.
Parent and child foster care
Many babies in foster care come with one, or sometimes both, parents. This is called a Parent and Child fostering arrangement. These types of arrangements are in place so the foster parent(s) can provide support and guidance for the new parent(s).
Between 2018 and 2019, 14% of Independent Fostering Agencies’ foster parents were approved to be Parent and Child carers compared to just 1% within Local Authorities. If you are interested in this type of fostering, Compass offers extensive training and support for our Parent and Child carers, you can read more about it here.
This type of placement is designed to help support new parents to be able to look after their child once the arrangement comes to an end. Sometimes, this isn’t always possible if the mother or father are unable to meet their baby’s needs. If this is the case, the baby will be kept in foster care- sometimes with the original foster carer or will go on to be adopted.
If you are interested in finding out more about fostering young children that need a safe and stable home, please get in touch with us. Our supportive team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.