What is Fostering?

Fostering means looking after children or young people in your own home for either short or long-term placements, or for periods of respite, whilst their families are unable to provide care for them.

Whenever possible, children return to their birth family, but if they are unable to do so, other plans are made for them, such as long-term fostering, or adoption.

Many aspects are considered before a child is placed with a Foster Carer or Fostering Family and every effort is made to ensure that the child and a Foster Carer’s own family are well matched; this includes taking into account cultural and religious considerations.

There are many different types of fostering to cover the needs of the many children that require the care and security of a Foster Carer or family. Below are several types of fostering, this list is not exhaustive; however, these types of fostering are the most frequently requested.

Task-centred – this can mean anything from a few days to a number of months. The purpose of this type of fostering is to enable Social Services to offer support and assessment to the child’s family in order to make decisions about whether the child should return home or move to a long-term Foster Carer.

Long-term (permanency) – increasingly, long-term fostering is being referred to as ‘permanency’. This type of placement is for children whose families are unable to look after them until they reach adulthood, but who will continue to be very much part of the child’s life; because of this, adoption is not an appropriate option. There is an expectation that long-term Foster Carers will make a commitment to the child until they reach the age of eighteen years and beyond if necessary.

Respite – respite might be a period of a few hours, overnight or for several days or weeks. The purpose of this type of fostering is to give families help at times of crisis, such as a hospital admission, to support other Foster Carers who may need a short break from the fostering task, or to help if they have a personal situation which means they cannot foster for a brief period of time.

Parent and Child – often if a parent is very young (a teenager), or perhaps has special needs, Social Workers like to place the parent and baby with a family who will support and care for them while they learn the skills and responsibilities associated with parenting. This is a very important time for both the parent and the child, they will both need understanding and patience. Some young parents will not have the experience of a stable family environment and will have to learn valuable skills to parent their own child. Foster Carers who specialise in parent and baby fostering will need to be nurturing, patient and compassionate. The timescale of this type of fostering can be from several weeks to several months and will largely depend on the progress the parent makes in learning to care responsibly and appropriately for their child.

If you are thinking of a fostering career with Safehouses Fostering, please contact us for a brochure which will contain further information on the different types of fostering that there are.