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Different types of fostering

Information on the different types of foster care available.

Contact usShort-term Foster Care

The word short does not necessarily relate to the length of time that a child is going to stay in foster care.  Short-term carers can look after a child for a few nights, a few months or, sometimes, for more than a year.

The word 'short' in this context refers to a task and is not an indication of time.  Short-term carers will be moving a child on to one of the following:

  • Back home to birth parents
  • To an extended family member
  • To an adoptive family 
  • To long term foster carers
  • To independence

Some short-term foster placements are planned, in that there is a certain amount of notice that the placement will be needed.  Sometimes a placement is needed in an emergency.  Sometimes the local authority may have a lot of information about the child needing placement.  Sometimes they will have none.

Short-term foster carers may help many children and young people throughout their time as a carer.  Their skills lie in caring for children through periods of uncertainty, whilst plans are made and then helping the child move on.  Their rewards come from knowing that they have contributed to the child's health and well-being and hopefully increased the chances of them having a hopeful and settled future.

Long-term Foster Care

Some children cannot return home and need a long-term placement.  Some of these children might be placed for adoption but others are placed in long-term foster care.  Many children do not want or will not benefit from the legal separation that adoption might bring.  Long-term foster care allows them to have a stable family life whilst maintaining links with their birth family.

Long-term foster carers look after a child usually through to independence.  This can mean up to the age of 24 under new guidance called "When I'm Ready".  This ensures that young people do not have to move on to independence at too young an age.  It also supports them to attend further education and leave foster care when they are really "ready" to.  They never become the legal parent of the child and will always have to work as part of a team which will include the local authority and the birth family.

Respite Care (also called Support Care or Short Breaks)

Respite carers can provide short breaks for children who are living at home or with other foster carers.  Often they are linked with a particular child and offer breaks on a regular basis.  This provides support to the placement or to the family where there might be difficulties and gives everyone a break, including the child.  Respite carers help to sustain situations that might otherwise break down.

Parent and Child Foster Care

This type of foster care involves caring for a child and their parent, this can include mum, dad or sometimes both.  Parent & Child foster placements normally involve offering a short-term home to support and encourage a parent to learn parenting skills whilst caring for their own child with your guidance.

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