Having a new baby is stressful for any parent, but can be full of difficulties for teenage mums in unsafe situations or who are struggling to take care of themselves.
Sometimes, when these tough situations come up, fostering teenage mums can give a new mum the support she needs to become a confident and capable parent – like Jen, who came to her foster family with her baby.
“Living with Rehana and Peter has made me gain confidence and helped me become a better parent than I was in the past,” Jen says. “I’ve gained a lot of confidence and can be ‘Mum’. It’s given me and my child a better life.”
Why teenage mothers go into foster care
Parent and child fostering happens when a new mother (or sometimes father) isn’t able to care for their new baby on their own. Abusive relationships, a history of drug abuse, or having been unable to care for previous children can all result in a mother going into foster care with her child.
The need for parent and child fostering has grown since 2002, when a European Court of Human Rights ruled that taking a baby from a mother at birth is extremely harsh and detrimental to both child and mother. At Compass Fostering, 59% of parents in foster care with their babies are under the age of 24.
Mums can join a foster family straight from the hospital with their newborn, or can arrive before the birth or a little while after. While many are teenagers, mothers in this situation can range in age – the common factor is that they aren’t capable of caring for a baby, and some may not even be capable of caring for themselves. Learning difficulties, mental health problems and a lack of support can all contribute to a mother being unable to cope on her own.
Supporting mum and baby for the future
The goal of fostering young mothers and babies is to support a mum in learning how to parent and care for her baby. Being in a foster care situation can help teen mothers grow into confident and capable parents.
Mother and baby fostering helps new mothers learn parenting skills such as:
- Caring for a baby, including feeding, sleeping and bathing
- Household skills like cooking and cleaning
- Budgeting and planning for the future
- Managing social situations like toddler groups
- Navigating clinic and health appointments and other meetings
Mother and baby fostering payments
As a parent and child carer you will receive a higher weekly fostering allowance than you would for a standard placement – some as much as 1.5 times higher!
Who can care for mother and baby placements?
Mother and baby carers are typically experienced foster carers, as these situations require lots of skill, patience and confidence. Compass provides specialised training to help carers prepare to welcome a parent and new baby into their home. Unfortunately, some mums may not feel able to stay with their baby, so carers also need to be able to take on the care of the baby themselves, if it comes to that.
A key part of being a parent and child foster carer is keeping detailed daily records of how the mum is doing and how well she can look after her child. These records will be used to help determine the mum’s ability to look after her child on her own, and may be used in court or to support future decisions about the wellbeing of the baby.
A mother and baby foster placement is one very important way that foster carers can help set families up for a good start in life, and break poor parenting patterns that may go back decades. Time in foster care with her baby prepares a new mum to create a safe and supportive environment for her child and start a new cycle for future generations.