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Types of fostering

Foster care is as varied as the children, young people and families who need your help. Find out about the different types of fostering.

Types of fostering

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There are lots of different types of fostering and you might find that one type interests you more or better fits with your existing commitments. Our team can talk you through the different options and as part of the application process we'll look at what might work best for you.

Short-term fostering

Sometimes, short-term foster care is needed before children can be moved to a family for the long-term or before they can be reunited with their birth family. This type of fostering helps local children through a vulnerable and challenging time, and you'll be giving them stability and the care and attention they need to process what’s happening. This type of placement can last from just 2 days to 2 years.

Babies, children, and young people arrive in short-term foster care for various reasons. They might be at risk from harm at home, for example, or their parents have health or addiction problems, or are temporarily unable to look after them.

This temporary foster care arrangement ensures they are in a safe environment while discussions take place about their future. They might return to their families or be placed with long-term foster carers or adopters. You'll be supporting them through this challenging time, and you might be expected to liaise with professionals, birth parents and adoptive parents to make sure the child can process and adjust to the changes in their lives.

This type of fostering can be particularly rewarding, as you'll play a major role in helping lots of children through a difficult time of their lives. It is the most common type of carer, particularly for newly approved carers.

Long-term fostering

Long-term placements are required when a judge decides that a child cannot return to their birth family and it's in the best interests of the child to have the stability of a long-term foster home. Sometimes the best option is for a child to remain with a foster family for several years or up until they are ready to take care of themselves.

Where possible and appropriate, adoption may be the most suitable option for younger children. Long-term fostering often suits older children who will remain in a stable and permanent home until they are ready to take care of themselves.

Children placed long term are very much a part of the foster carer's family and the relationships formed with the child often last past the age of 18. This type of foster care is hugely rewarding for the child and the foster family. Long-term foster care allows you to have a huge, lasting impact on the development and outcome of a child's life. You’ll be a child’s caregiver and role model and support them to transition into adulthood.

Given the importance of providing a child with long-term stability, we carefully consider these matches to give you every chance to succeed.

Short breaks

A short break foster carer provides short-term care for children.

Learn more about short breaks

Fostering siblings

Given the challenging circumstances that lead to children needing foster care, we do everything possible to keep siblings together. We know that keeping brothers and sisters together can provide much needed comfort and a sense of belonging during a vulnerable and difficult time in their lives.

You may need more space at home to foster siblings although siblings of the same-sex can share a room.

Fostering a baby

Fostering a baby is a demanding role with a lot of responsibility. It's considered to be a specialised role suitable for an experienced foster carer with additional skills and training. If you want to foster babies, you might also consider fostering young children.

Babies can come into care for a variety of reasons, some of which might mean that they need additional care and support. Babies are often placed at very short notice and need a safe space and high levels of care in their vulnerable early days. You'll be expected to comfort and nurture them as well start teaching them the skills they might be expected to do at their age.

Babies under the age of 6 months need to stay in the room of their caregiver, but as they get older they'll need to have their own bedroom.

Supported lodgings

Our supported lodgings scheme helps young people leaving care become fully independent.

Learn more about supported lodgings

Unaccompanied children

Unaccompanied children include asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who have arrived in the UK without their parents or close family members to take care of them.

As well as needing the usual foster carer skills, you'll also need to support children as they recover and process the trauma of moving and being apart from their family. They may have fled a very difficult situation or experienced great trauma in their journey to the UK. You will likely need to support them with learning English, adapting to a new and different culture, and helping them through the process of applying for permission to stay in the UK.

Forward to foster

Forward to Foster is for children who are moving from residential care into a foster home. This can be a very big step for young people who will be moving on from the place, people and structures they have known to become part of a family home.

Whilst for most children this is something they have been looking forward to, it is a significant step and can come with challenges. Through Forward to Foster you'll be helping a young person to leave their residential home and become part of a safe and loving family home.

Carers who undertake Forward to Foster placements receive an enhanced fostering allowance in recognition of the skilled role. We offer training for this role, so even if you're a novice foster carer, you can still support a young person through this transition.

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Emergency fostering
Emergency foster care arrives at short notice, when a baby, child or young person needs to be rehomed immediately.
Learn more about emergency fostering
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Private fostering
Private fostering is an arrangement made between a child's parents and a carer of their choice.
Learn more about private fostering
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Specialist fostering schemes
Learn about our specialist fostering schemes including children with disabilities and contract care.
Learn more about specialist fostering