This page was updated on 14 January 2021. To view changes, please see page updates
As mentioned earlier, partnering with parents is essential to achieving better outcomes for their children in care, and supporting our carers in partnering with parents is crucial for children in care.
The most identified factor contributing to positive outcomes for children involves meaningful connections and lifelong relationships with family (Campbell, as cited in the Intensive Practice Module Series). Positive and healthy relationships between parents and carers are vital for achieving better outcomes for children in care.
Regardless of the amount of time children are in care, they are likely to return home to parents or extended family once they exit the care system. With this in mind, we must do everything we can to nurture the parent and child relationship while in care, to be able to support the young person’s development and their ability to return home safely as an adult. This helps practitioners to partner and build relationships with parents and their children, particularly when seeking and supporting a care arrangement.
There are many ways parents can partner with carers to co-parent their children while they are in care, contributing to the child reaching better outcomes and maintaining a healthy relationship with their parents. It is up to the practitioner to set this expectation with the parent from day one and remind them they don’t stop being parents when their children enter care. Some ways parents and carers can partner and co-parent children include:
- speaking positively of each other at all times
- having a communication book where the carer provides updates on the child for the parent
- parents and carers attending safety and support network meetings together
- parents having the contact details of the carers
- parents having input to the child’s daily routine and schooling arrangements
- nurturing the child during family contact to prepare them for the grief and loss at the end of family contact
- carers attending family contact
- carers meeting the parents and extended family members important to the child
- carers placing phone calls to parents to celebrate momentous occasions (for example, the child scoring a goal at football) and parents being able to call the carer to share their success stories with their children (for example, the parent got a job)
- carers taking photos of momentous occasions and providing them to parents
- parents attending their child’s activities (such as sporting games) with the carers
- parents attending events such as school sports days
- parents attending doctors’ visits and supporting their child (together with the carer)
- parents providing cultural information to the carer and showing them how they can support their child’s cultural needs
- parents and carers being clear on each other’s roles in the child’s life
- carers referring to the child as ‘your child’ when speaking with the parents
- parents and carers deciding together what name/title the child should call them/introduce carers as, for example, ‘for now parents’, ‘aunty’, ‘mum’ and so on
- carers talking with the parents directly about daily decisions such as haircuts, style of clothes and so on
- carers welcoming parents into their home for visits.
Some other ways parents can partner with carers, to support and promote lifelong relationships between children and their family members may include the following, adapted from the Bridging the Gap resource developed by Denise Goodman:
To see how partnering between parents and carers can lead to positive outcomes, watch this short video.
There are many processes children in care require, such as having a current and meaningful case plan, cultural support plan, education support plan and so on. Parents may be able to play a part in these processes, which may increase their capacity to parent and improve their relationship with their child.
The following list is a snapshot of activities, processes and meetings parents can actively contribute to, attend and participate in:
- case plan and cultural support plan development
- education support plan development
- child information form (CIF)
- PSS referral
- child health passport.
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Terminology change - placement to care arrangement