There are many different types of fostering to accommodate the wide variety of children and young people that are in need of care.
Short-term Fostering / Emergency Fostering
This is the most prevalent type of fostering required nationally. Short term placements are required whilst local authorities assess how best to meet the young person’s needs in the future. On many occasions we are called to work alongside local authority colleagues to support young people returning home after the issues that lead to them coming into care have been addressed. Short term foster carers provide a temporary place to stay until the child can return home to their own family, move into a longer-term fostering placement or an adoptive family is found; This can last anything from a few hours to a couple of years. Many children and young people are placed in emergencies. This is often due to situations of risk where the need for urgent action is required to make a child safe. These placements can last for either a short time or develop into longer periods of a few months, depending on family circumstances.
Long-term / Permanent Fostering
When a child or young person cannot return home, decisions have to be made to find a permanent family for the child. These placements will usually last until the young person leaves care at 18 years of age. Sometimes, they remain as part of the carer’s family even when they have moved into independence. Permanence provides children with the opportunity to develop a sense of identity and form attachments through long-lasting family membership. Placement stability is a key factor that can make a difference in a child’s life and improve their chances of achieving positive outcomes through childhood and beyond. There are all sorts of children for whom permanence is the most appropriate type of fostering: children and adolescents; children with special needs; siblings who need to grow up together – for whatever reason, they all need a permanent family. A carer offering this type of placement is offering a lifelong commitment to a young person providing them with a safe and loving home. Our carers who offer permanent placements often stay in touch with young people they have cared for, long after they have left home. Many children return at holiday times, or keep in touch after they have started a family of their own. The real reward of permanence in foster care comes from seeing young people mature and develop – through the good times, and the more challenging times!
Respite fostering involves children living with their own family or foster carers, but having short stays with another foster family to give child/their family/main carers a break. This is a very common type of fostering. It usually involves looking after a child or young person for a weekend or one to two weeks.
Parent and Child
Parent and child carers offer a very specialised form of fostering. Carers have a role as a teacher of parenting skills whilst also contributing to the assessment process, which will determine the care plan for the child in placement. There is an expectation that carers will endeavour to educate, advise and support parents in placement and also model appropriate parenting behaviour. At all times the welfare of the baby/child in placement is the paramount consideration and the foster carer has to have that as their primary focus. The foster carer should be working to assist the parent to develop a secure and loving, healthy attachment relationship with their child.
Therapeutic fostering is a placement where a child or young person has undergone significant neglect or trauma and would benefit greatly from therapeutic care. This type of fostering provides a child with a supportive family where they can build a trusting relationship with a foster carer whilst they receive therapy to help them to overcome a traumatic experience or period in their lives.