Fostering hope

A review published in 2014 examines a wide range of parent-and-child (PAC) fostering schemes in the UK and internationally. Its recommendations for policy and practice include: ‘Providing more specialist parent-and child placements with dedicated training and support facilitating greater peer support, both for specialist carers providing parent and-child placements and for the parents themselves’

Project aims

Initially the aim was to conduct a qualitative study into the training and peer support opportunities for parent-and-child foster carers in order to develop appropriate online resources.  The outputs were a website, and a linked closed facebook group. The initial study was previously adopted by CLAHRC South London.  The current aim is to evaluate the impact of a new learning website and its linked facebook closed group and to add new content as an iterative process.

How the research will be carried out:

  • An event to launch the website and Facebook group, and raise the profile of the role and recommendations for best practice with other professionals and local authorities. 
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of the website and the closed group using surveys, online interviews, and a feedback facility on the website.  This information will be used in an iterative process of development, building in new content. User feedback already received highly values the vlogs by foster carers, subject specialists and a parent.  Further content will be added involving users in this development in a co-production methodology.  The process will be written up in a final project evaluation.

Who we will collaborate with to carry out the research

Foster carers, social workers, health professional (specialist midwives/HVs), local authorities, independent fostering providers, CoramBAAF, The Fostering Network and parents with experience of being fostered with a child.

Potential benefits of the project

This project will raise awareness of the need for high quality parent-and-child foster care provision at a time when the use of this provision is growing, and when the issue of parent assessments and high rates of infant removals have raised concern in the social care arena.

If this evaluation demonstrates that these resources improve the quality of provision of parent-and-child foster care, this will benefit vulnerable parents in the care system and their children.

How the public are involved in this research

For the initial phase of this project, foster carers from around the country were drawn from the study participants, and from those who had showed interest but not been able to participate to form a user advisory group.  Content was reviewed and contributions made by carers with particular interests.  Some of these carers and a parent contributed vlogs to the website.  Several professionals with expertise in different areas were part of the review process and some have contributed to the film section.  For this next phase, the process of iterative evaluation and improvement will involve users being invited to suggest new content and contribute vlogs, suggest links to other resources, or ask parents who have moved on if they would like to share their experiences in film or written fomat.

This research project was adopted by ARC South London in June 2020. It is funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust. It was completed by December 2020.

Resources and papers