Parent and Infant Unit
The Parent and Infant Unit is a residential support and assessment service for parents with infant children. While living on the unit, parents take part in a parenting assessment while also engaging in a programme of therapeutic support and key working tailored to meet their individual needs.
The Parent and Infant Unit’s framework is underpinned by Infant Mental Health, Parenting Development, and Trauma Informed Care principles. A recommendation on parents’ parental capacity is arrived at through understanding and weighing up risk and protective factors alongside a parent’s ability to receive intervention in relation to parenting and personal development.
This means is that at the end of the assessment, the team will make recommendations about parents’ ability to look after their infant, what support they may need to be able to do this safely in the community. Whilst the overall aim of support and development opportunities provided to parents whilst resident on the unit is to allow families stay together safely, sometimes if there is too high a level of risk posed to an infant child in its parents’ care, with no reliable support options available to them in the community, foster care for the infant is a recommendation of the assessment.
“It was suggested by my aftercare worker that I would go to Childhood Matters. At first, I was really scared to go there, I felt like it was a bad thing and I just didn’t like the thought of it…
But It turned out to be a positive experience for me…
I learned practical parenting skills: like feeding, different winding techniques, how to make bottles properly and I got into a good routine.
I loved ‘Baby Massage’ classes and ‘Babble’ group. In Babble group, I got to sit in a circle with my baby and other residents, I spoke about the positive things my baby did this week. There was also space to talk about what was causing me any stress. I was able to look at ways to be able to emotional regulate.
Since I left Childhood Matters, I have had another baby and I am using all the skills I learned there to benefit her. My time there has helped me to develop a good routine and how to interact with my babies. I continue to use the skills I have learned there. Attending Childhood Matters has been a positive experience in my life.
What staying with us looks like
The Parent and Infant unit is made up of a large newly renovated kitchen, two living room spaces and individual ensuite bedrooms. There is a large team made up of Social Care staff, Social Workers, Clinical/Counselling Psychologists and Therapists. The team are available 24/7 to offer feedback, guidance and advice throughout the assessment, in order for a parent to develop skills they need support with or may not have learned themselves when being parented.
The team at Childhood Matters use a relational model to support parents to achieve their best recognise the right of all persons to be treated fairly with dignity and respect. Through these relationships we provide guidance and support to each individual client to develop their self-esteem and learning of parenting, life and social skills. There is a strong emphasis on realistic expectations and parent(s)’s capacity to change.
Interventions offered :
In order to carry out the assessment and offer support, the unit is staffed all day and night to offer advice and support, through role modelling, parenting demonstration and parenting tools such as timetable and feeding charts.
A family living on the unit may be asked to engage with the following supports and interventions:
Parents! – Have you been referred to the Parent and Infant Unit?
If your child’s social worker or other professionals in your life have talked about you going to Childhood Matters, then this is probably because things are not going so well for you and they think you are in need of a parenting support and assessment.
This is probably not an easy time for you and you are probably scared, confused, annoyed or a combination of all these feelings. We in the Parent and Infant unit understand that it is a big ask to leave your family and all you know to come to the Parent and Infant unit for 16 weeks and live with other people and staff. We will do everything we can to make your experience in Childhood Matters a positive one.
There is a lot of information in this website but you still probably have loads of questions. Please ring Marie O’ Riordan, unit manager on 021 4357730 if you want to talk more about the Parent and Infant unit and she will try to answer your questions.
Any family where there are concerns for the infant’s safety, protection and/or welfare can be referred to the Parent and Infant unit. Infant up to 2.5 years are eligible to attend with their parent(s) of any age. Single parents or couples can be referred. Typical referrals include:
- Parents with drug and alcohol addictions and have demonstrated
a commitment to rehabilitation.
- Parents with additional learning needs
- Parents with mental health difficulties
- Single parents or couples who are teenagers
- Families who have previously presented a risk of violence or domestic violence
- Families where they may have been previous injuries to children
- Parents with a history of volatile behaviour
- Parents who are or have been in care of the state
- Families who have a history of neglect
- Pre- or post- birth parents who need supports while reflecting on
the future care of their baby
Not all referrals are accepted in the Parent and Infant unit. Where there is active domestic violence with no exit plan from the relationship, active addiction/misuse of substances without demonstrated commitment to recovery, or where parents experiencing acute mental health difficulties or relational issues that are not conducive to communal living, we encourage referrers to help parents seek appropriate help and support for themselves before attending the unit with their infant.