What is fostering?

Fostering is a way of providing a safe and secure home for children who cannot live with their own parents.  Often, this is on a temporary basis whilst their parents get help to sort out problems, or to help children through a difficult period in their own lives. Children often return home to their parents after a period of being in foster care, once it is clear that the problems that brought them into care have been successfully resolved, and that their parents are able to look after them safely. Other children may stay in long-term foster care, some are adopted, and some move on to live independently.

What sort of fostering is there?

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Children's needs differ when they need foster care, so there are different sorts of fostering to meet those needs.

  • Short term - short term fostering is from a few weeks up to about two years.
  • Long term - long term fostering is often best for older children, to give them safety and security as part of a family that cares for them long term.
  • Emergency - sometimes children need to be placed with foster carers at short notice, so we need foster carers to look after them in these circumstances.
  • Respite - foster carers sometimes need a break from caring, so respite care gives them that break.
  • Private fostering - this is when a child lives with someone who is not a close relative, guardian or person with parental responsibility for 28 days or more.
  • Short break care - this is for children and young people with a disability who are not necessarily in care. It is to give them and their families a short break for a few hours per week up to a few days.

From September 2018, children in foster care will be entitled to 30 hours free childcare. Children in foster care will be able to receive 30 hours free childcare provided foster parents are engaged in paid work and it is in the child's best interest.