The 10 types of foster carers

Thursday 24 March 2016

It is a common misconception that fostering is about long-term care for those that have not found adoptive parents. In fact there are 10 different types of foster care, each as important as the next in providing the right kind of support for children and young people.

Start your fostering journey today
  1. Emergency carers – When a child is suddenly in a situation deemed unsecure, the priority is to place them somewhere safe as quickly as possible. Emergency carers are prepared to take children at very short notice, for a few nights, whilst the situation is assessed.
  2. Short-term – Carers can look after children for anything from a few days to up to two years. A minimum period of stay is normally given, but the focus is on enabling plans to be made for the child’s future.
  3. Long-term – When children cannot return home, they can be placed for adoption or put in long-term foster care until they reach adult-hood. Sometimes it is more appropriate for the authorities to opt for the latter. This does not mean they are going into a more transient level of care; children are very much part of the foster carers family. In some cases this can even be part of their extended family.
  4. Bridging placement – Moving into long-term foster care or adoption can be very confusing for young people. This is a short-term arrangement that allows the foster carer to prepare them for their new home.
  5. Respite carers – Families who care for children who are disabled, have special needs or have behavioural difficulties need a break once in a while. This is where respite foster carers step in, giving them some space to concentrate on the rest of the family and themselves. In many cases the children go to the same foster setting, which helps their continuity of care as they know their carer.
  6. Remand – Children and young people who are fostered on a remand-to-care basis will be looked after in a family environment whilst they await a court date for the offence they are alleged to have committed. The idea is simple: in a safe and secure environment they can demonstrate positive changes to their behaviour. Placing them in custody or in secure accommodation does not necessarily do this.
  7. Bridge to Foster – This is a longer version of the bridging placement, where professionals spend 12 weeks working with a young person to help them make the transition from residential care into a family setting.
  8. Sibling group – When families have been shaken, it can be very hard on children to be separated from their siblings. Sibling group foster carers can take a group of various ages and numbers so that we can keep them together.
  9. Parent and child arrangements – You don’t normally hear of adults being fostered, but in some instances it is important to keep the parent with their child, for example mothers who are experiencing difficulties with their baby and need support in becoming more independent, or women that are pregnant.
  10. Specialist fostering – There are many children with specific and complex needs. These can be physical difficulties, challenging behaviours or learning problems. Foster carers must be able to cope with the complex needs so that they can best support the child or young person.

Feeling inspired?

If you’re thinking about becoming a foster carer, check out more information on types of fostering or get in touch with your local team to take the next step.