We’re looking for foster carers who can provide a safe and nurturing home environment for children and young people who are unable to live with their parents or family members.

Every child's circumstance is unique to them. They may need your support for different lengths of time.

Our team will give you information on the different types of fostering during the enquiry and application process. As part of the assessment, we’ll explore these with you in much more detail. 

Information about your preferences, current lifestyle and transferrable skills will be considered to reach recommendations about your approval.

You could be approved for:

  • respite or emergency care
  • short-term or long-term care
  • parent and childcare.

Foster care types

Find out more about the different types of foster care.

Long-term foster care means that a child or young person lives with a committed foster family until they reach adulthood or can transition to independent living.

A child usually has a plan of long-term fostering when care proceedings have concluded that they are unable to return home to their birth parents or other family members.

Children under the age of 6 are less likely to remain in long-term foster care, as they may be adopted or live with alternative family members. It’s children over this age seeking long-term placements.

Living with one family, often over several years, gives young people more consistency and a greater sense of belonging.

The foster carer makes a commitment to care for the child until they reach adulthood and provides a loving environment for a child to live and grow.

Placement summary

  • Looking after children who cannot return to their birth families
  • Caring for the child until they are 18 or up to 24 if still in education.

Short-term fostering, also known as temporary foster placements, provide a temporary home for a child or young person.

This could be until they:

  • return to their birth family
  • leave care
  • move on to long-term fostering or adoption.

It’s not possible to define ‘short-term’. This placement can be anything from one night to a few days, weeks, months or a couple of years.

This type of fostering placement involves a foster carer looking after a child until it’s clear what the long-term plans are to be for the child’s future.

The placement could start as emergency fostering. This is when a sudden trauma or event results in children needing immediate protection.

Short-term care may involve a plan for the child to:

  • transition to adoption
  • return home to birth family or a relative
  • move to independent living or permanency.

Placement summary

  • Having children aged 0 to 18 live with you full time
  • Looking after a child until long-term plans are made
  • Anything from one overnight stay to a stay of up to 2 years.

Short breaks involve looking after children who are supported by our 0 to 25 Disability Team and living at home with the birth family.

This type of fostering placement often involves looking after children with disabilities, special needs or behavioural difficulties for a short stay on a pre-planned, regular basis.

A short breaks placement covers several different types of part-time care, which allows birth parents or full-time carers a ‘break’ for short periods of time.

Planned, short break periods offer:

  • the main foster carers with time to themselves
  • the disabled children with the ability to experience new relationships and bonds outside of their everyday environments, as well as the ability to participate in activities.

Placement summary

  • Higher and more challenging needs
  • Learning, behavioural, disability and/or complex medical needs.

Respite foster care is like that of a short-term foster placement. It can range from:

  • a weekend
  • the duration of the school holidays
  • on a recurring basis
  • or even a few weeks.

Respite foster carers provide the foster child with a change of environment away from their foster family.

The primary aim is to support the child or young person and to promote and support placement stability.

Placement summary

  • Caring for a child in your home to give parents or foster carers a short break
  • Offering full-time carers and specialist carers support
  • Looking after their foster child for an agreed period.

Parent and child fostering provides a birth parent or parents, and their baby or young child, a home together, whilst the child is in the care of a fostering family.

This specialist type of care places a parent and their child under supervision and assessment.

Often people believe that this type of fostering is for young teenage mums who need nurture and support. In reality, these placements could be for:

  • a mother
  • a father
  • both parents.

These parents can be of all ages, had children removed from their care previously and could be experiencing several difficulties, such as:

  • struggling to adapt to the new baby
  • difficulties caring for the child or young person
  • struggling to prioritise the needs of their child above their own.

The parents may also have a learning need that effects their ability to develop their parenting skills, or it may be that the parent just can’t cope because emotionally it’s too much for them.

The purpose of the placement is:

  • for an assessment of the parents’ parenting skills to be made
  • to support the parent and teach them the parenting skills needed.

The placements are often directed via court proceedings.

The needs vary, but specially trained foster carers look after the parent or parents and child. They ensure safety while the parent or parents are assessed by an independent assessor usually from the local council or appointed by the court.

To undertake this type of fostering, further training and a parent and child assessment are needed to be approved to offer parent and child placements.

These placements offer parents a fantastic opportunity to learn how to parent their child. They can prove to themselves and others that they have the ability and actually want to achieve.

Placement summary

  • Encouraging the birth parent to develop their own skills
  • Occasionally looking after the child
  • Observing the birth parents' care of the child and keeping detailed records.

When children are living in long-term fostering placements, they often question why they still need to see a social worker so often.

Many overcome huge adversity, having understood and accepted that they will not be returning home to their birth family.

Frequent visits from professionals can have a negative impact on a child in these situations. That is why we seek to provide permanency for our children. A careful, considered and timely matching process will afford our children and foster carers the reassurance and knowledge that their fostering family will remain together until the child reaches independence.

When permanency is achieved, we know that the foster carer has the skills and ability to meet the child’s needs now and in the future. And whilst support is still available, our children and foster carers are more likely to enjoy family life without the day-to-day involvement of social workers and other professionals.

The positive impact of permanency for our children is unique. For them to be physically and emotionally secure without the fear of losing another home and more significant people from their lives enriches their:

  • well-being
  • identity
  • confidence
  • resilience.

Placement summary

  • Permanency is considered when a child is to remain in foster care until they reach 18 years old
  • Permanency is where children and foster carers have been ‘permanently matched’ due to evidence of the foster carers’ ability to meet the child’s needs now and in the future
  • Permanency enriches children’s physical and emotional well-being.

Supported lodgings carers provide an opportunity for young people over 16 and to care leavers aged 18 and older.

Find out more about our supported lodgings scheme.

A private fostering arrangement is a private arrangement agreed by the child’s parents or others with parental responsibilities for their child to be cared for by someone who is not a close relative within the community.

Find out more about private fostering arrangements.

If you have been thinking about becoming a foster carer, contact us for a friendly, informative chat.


Register your interest in fostering