Fostering is a way of providing a short-term home for a child until a permanent solution can be found. It’s not always known how long a child will be in foster care for. The different types of fostering are explained below.

Short term

This is the kind of care that most of our foster carers provide. Children stay with them for anything from a few days, a few months to over a year.


Sometimes a child will be removed from home suddenly as a result of unexpected circumstances or if it has come to light that they have been victims of neglect or abuse. Emergency placements may be for as little as one night while a more permanent place to stay is found.

Long term

Children remain in long term foster care when a court rules that they cannot go back to live with their birth parents. If adoption is unlikely (they may be considered too old to adjust or have no wish for a new family) long term fostering is often the best solution. One or more children from the same family can stay with the same foster carer until they reach adulthood. Children in long term care remain our responsibility and their carers are not able to make decisions about their future.

Short breaks (respite care)

People who work full-time and who are not available to care for a child during the week can make a valuable contribution by becoming respite foster carers. They will usually provide weekend or holiday care for children whose parents may need a break or for other foster carers.

Respite carers typically look after children with physical or learning disabilities, or those who are experiencing difficulties at home and need time out. They may have a child to stay overnight at weekends a couple of times a month on a regular basis and are able to build a relationship with that child over time.

The process for becoming a respite carer is the same as for all other foster carers.

Parent and baby

Occasionally we need fostering placements for parents and their babies. In these cases the foster carer provides a place for them to stay. They offer stability and support to help young parents acquire the skills they need as parents and monitor the relationship as part of the local authority’s work in making future plans for the baby.

Family and friends

When a parent is unable to look after their child and the child becomes looked after by us it is sometimes possible for a family member or friend to take care of the child instead. People who take on this role become approved as the child’s official foster carer and receive allowances and support from us. Family and friend carers have to be assessed and able to work with our plan for the child.