Fostering comes in several different forms. Fostering can, therefore, be seen as an umbrella term for broadly similar types of care. All placements have in common the home and family environment where care is nurturing and focused on the child’s needs and development. Let’s look at the different types of fostering placements, and the types of foster carer they are best suited to.
Types of Foster Care Placements
Foster care placements are designed to suit the needs of the child both in the immediate short-term, but also on a longer-term basis. It stands to reason that a child in care may ‘progress’ from one type of placement to a long-term placement.
- Short-term fostering: Short-term fostering is designed to be on a temporary basis for a variety of different reasons. It isn’t an ‘end’ solution but usually a ‘stop-gap’ or to give some time for things to settle or become finalised elsewhere. That said, it can vary considerably in length: It may be just a few days or weeks. However, short-term placements can and do run into months and years whilst the most appropriate long term solution is made available and arranged. Typically, these types of placement involve a higher level of contact with the child’s birth family and the foster carer will be integral to facilitating this.
- Long-term fostering: Long-term fostering is entered in to intending for it to be a much more lengthy time period, likely until the child reaches adulthood or is able to live independently. Long-term fostering is usually a viable option after care proceedings are finalised and a child is not being adopted. The aim is to provide long-term stability.
- Disability fostering: Disability fostering is a specialised form of fostering suited to those who have undergone specialised training. The role is to care for a child with a disability or health needs. These could be physical, mental or developmental. These placements typically require additional support.
- Respite fostering: Respite fostering is a placement to enable a break between a child and their regular carer. There can be a range of different reasons why respite care is needed and therefore it can vary enormously from one placement to another. It may be necessary because of the regular carer’s own health needs, the child’s disability or health needs, or behavioural needs. Typically, these placements are for a short period and as such as often filled by full-time foster carers who are currently between placements.
- Parent and child fostering: A unique placement is for parent and child, most usually mother and baby. The purpose of this placement is to support a family with the ultimate aim of enabling their own independent family unit. These are specialist placements requiring specialist training. You may also need to contribute towards parenting assessments.
- Remand fostering: Another specialist placement is for young people who have committed an offense. The decision for this type of care is taken by the court or children’s hearing. Again, this is a specialised placement with the goal of reducing the chance of reoffending in the future.
- Transitions fostering: When young people are transitioning from one type of care or care environment to another, they can require additional support. This is particularly true when children are transitioning from institutional care to home-based care.
- Sanctuary seeking fostering: This short-term foster care is for children and young people who have been separated from their family from abroad. They are seeking asylum in the UK. These children may have come from political unrest, warzones and may not speak English.
- Emergency fostering: Emergency fostering is another short-term type of fostering which can be needed with just a few hours’ notice. It is not unusual for these types of placements to take on a longer nature, but they arise out of an immediate and urgent need. Children being taken in to emergency foster care from a huge range of backgrounds but can have suffered loss and trauma, abuse or neglect, and as such typically present with additional care needs. The predominant aim at the outset is to ensure the child’s safety.
- Kinship or family and friends fostering: This simply describes an arrangement whereby a child in the care of the local authority is fostered by someone already known to them.
- Fostering for adoption: When a foster carer has a dual approval as both a fosterer and an adopter they may be fostering with a view to formal adoption further down the line. This isn’t routinely offered and is still relatively unusual.
Who Suits Which Type of Foster Placement?
The type of fostering which you offer will depend on a variety of different factors. These include your skills, attributes, training and experience. It will also include your lifestyle factors, flexibility, home circumstances, and preferences. Your foster carer assessment will also help determine which placements you are best suited to. You may be suited to more than one type of foster care placement.
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