The length of a placement can vary from just a few days up to a number of years. Some children need foster care from birth and can potentially remain in the care system beyond the age of 18. Children do return to their birth families in some instances, some may need to be supported with continued foster care until they are able to live independently and some children will move from foster care to a more permanent adoption.
There are several different types of fostering placement available. As an approved foster carer for your local authority, you’ll have the opportunity to consider all of the types of placement detailed below.
Short term fostering
This is probably the most common type of foster care placement. When a child first comes in to the care of their local authority, they will typically be allocated a short term placement. While in placement, the local authority will be working to find a permanent home for the child. Where possible we would hope the child can return to their parents, but we may need to look at a more long-term fostering placement or adoption. Whatever the time involved in a short term placement, it is the responsibility of the foster carer to provide a safe, stable and loving home for the child when they need it most.
Long term fostering
If the decision is made that a child cannot return to their birth family, then a long term fostering placement will be consider. This type of placement would allow a child to remain in a stable and secure home until they are ready to live independently at the age of 18+. Providing a child with long term foster care will give them the environment they need to flourish and reach their full potential.
Parent and child fostering
Becoming a parent for the first time is a huge learning curve for anyone, but this can be even more difficult for a very young person or a person with a disability who has little support from their family. Foster care for a parent and child placement will mean providing a home for both the parent and their child. The aim of the foster carer will be to provide supervision, advice and support to the parent so that they are able to look after their child independently in future.
Some children will need to be looked after for a short period of time to give their family a break. These breaks are known as respite. These breaks can be from as little as a weekend a month or to cover a family holiday. Respite care is an important way of preventing a family breakdown as it gives parents or other foster carers a break. Respite could be the only type of foster care you can provide, or be offered in addition to other short and long term placements.
For young people aged 16-21 who are leaving care and are developing independent living skills. By offering supported lodgings, you will provide safe, supported accommodation where care-leavers can use the facilities and develop skills such as cooking, housework and budgeting and the young person will receive support from the 16+ service. Supported lodgings providers do not have the same legal responsibilities as a foster carer.
There are occasions when a child will need to be immediately placed at very short notice. These emergency placements need a safe and secure environment for a day, up to a week. Some foster carers will train specifically for this kind of placement.