Types of fostering

There are many different reasons why children need to live in a foster family, and it is often the case that the full picture can take time to become known, especially if the parents or the child are unable or unwilling to share the full details of the situation with local authority social workers.

This is why the plan for a child’s care (‘care plan’) can change, and why short-term fostering can become long-term or additional support is needed when it had not been put in place from the start.

Because of this, there are different types of fostering, providing care for different needs.

The different types of foster care

Short-term fostering

For children and young people who may return to their parents within a few days, weeks or months. During this period the child usually still retains regular contact with their birth parents.

Long-term fostering

For children who cannot return to their parents and need to remain in foster care until they are ready to leave home and lead an independent life. This may also include unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC).

Respite fostering

For short, regularly planned stays, to give birth parents, or foster carers time to rest and reflect. We arrange planned respite where possible, so the child can build a trusted relationship with the respite carer.

Fostering siblings

For children who come into care with their brothers and sisters, being separated can make the trauma of going to live somewhere new even worse. We always try to find foster homes where all the children can stay together, so long as this is right for each individual child.

To foster siblings, we provide a higher fee and allowance, but you’ll also need more room in your home. Sometimes it is possible for brothers, or for sisters, to share a bedroom, depending on the circumstances.

You’ll also need more time available to attend meetings with us and other professionals, and for school appointments, especially if the children are enrolled in different schools.

Fostering teenagers

While there are lots of preconceived ideas about what fostering a teenager can be like, but this is not necessarily true although adolescence usually has its challenges - but also its rewards.

Foster carers for teenagers generally do not need to take them to and from school, and, depending on their age, can be left alone in the home for short periods. Depending on the circumstances, this can offer you more flexibility.

Foster carers for this age group often say they ‘enjoy the banter’ with young people, and there is a great sense of personal fulfilment in supporting a young person to achieve academically and prepare for independence.

We provide an enhanced fee and allowance package to help you to meet the needs of this group.

Fostering children with disabilities

Children with disabilities can be especially vulnerable and we are looking for people to come forward for this group with some experience in caring for children with additional needs.

Children and young people may have a physical disability, or a learning disability and special educational needs, global development delay or foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or profound disability.

You will need to fully engage with training, and it may be that you’ll need to agree to modifications in your home to better accommodate a child.

Fostering children with disabilities can be long-term, or short-term, or for a ‘Short Break’, such as a week or a weekend.

We provide an enhanced fee and allowance package to help you to meet the needs of this group.

Emergency foster care

Emergency fostering comes at short notice, it is when a child or young person needs to be rehomed immediately because it is not possible or safe for them to stay in their home.

There are many reasons why a child or young person might need to be placed in emergency foster care. Their home might be unsafe, their parents or guardians may have health problems, or they may be unable to cope. Children may also come due to unexpected bereavement. Because of the sudden need for the placement, the child placed might come with little possessions, in some circumstances they may only have the clothes that they are wearing.

Emergency foster care provides children or young people with a safe home environment while care proceedings take place or an alternative long-term placement is arranged. The length of care could vary from a couple of hours, days or even months.

When children or young people need an emergency foster carer it can be a confusing or frightening time for them. They may be traumatised by the situation and need a secure and caring environment to help them understand what has happened and help them unravel.

It’s important that foster carers are able to offer a welcoming and secure environment and to show understanding and sensitivity. Emergency foster carers need to be flexible and adaptive to changing circumstances, and they must have a spare room available at all times in their home for these emergencies.

Where a child moves to a new placement or returns back with their parents or guardians, they will need help with the transition into their new environment with the help from their foster carer.

Parent and child fostering

Parent and child fostering is about supporting a young mother or father, or sometimes both parents together, to take their first steps as a new parent.

Typically, a young parent and their child, usually a baby, but sometimes during pregnancy, will come to live with you with the aim of learning from your own parenting experience in a way that they themselves may not have experienced when they were children.

Your role will be quite different from fostering a child or young person, because you will be guiding a young parent to do things for themselves and their child, rather than taking care of them directly.

As a ‘parenting mentor,’ you will provide a secure and supportive home environment whilst teaching the parent and sharing your observations about their progress with social workers.