Emergency foster care arrives at short notice, when a baby, child or young person needs to be rehomed immediately. The nature of this urgency means that emergency foster carers must be flexible, prepared, calm and patient.
Babies, children and young people need emergency foster care for a range of reasons. Their home environment might be unsafe, or their parents have health or addiction problems, or are temporarily unable to cope. Children can also need emergency foster care due to unexpected bereavement. Sometimes they arrive with only the clothes – or pyjamas – they are wearing.
Emergency foster care ensures they are in a safe home environment while care proceedings take place or an alternative long-term home is arranged. During this time – which may take hours, days or even months – they might experience a range of emotions and reactions to their situation. They need to feel they have been welcomed into a safe and secure environment.
Children in emergency foster care might have additional needs. They could display challenging behaviours that need addressing, or have physical or learning disabilities that require specialist skills. They might be babies who are suffering from substance withdrawal and need extra soothing and care.
Where children are to be adopted or reunified with the parents, they will need to make a transition into this new situation with help from their foster carer.
What you get from being an emergency foster carer
This is challenging but highly rewarding work that demands an empathetic, sympathetic and stoic mindset. Does this sound like you?
Being an emergency foster carer is such a varied role and it’s very rewarding to be able to step in and help a child in need. You do need to be organised and ready for anything, including liaising with professionals, birth parents and adoptive parents to make sure the child can process and adjust to the changes in their lives.
Our emergency foster carers don’t do this alone: National Fostering Group provides excellent support and training. You have a dedicated Supervising Social Worker who is backed by an experienced local team, access to 24/7 advice and excellent training delivered in your area.
We pre-approve foster carers – both couples and individuals – for emergency foster care. Emergency foster care is sometimes suitable for people who work full time. If you think this type of fostering would suit you, please enquire now.
Experiences being an emergency foster carer
Marie and Carol arrived at their foster carers as emergency foster care for siblings. The eldest, Marie, was timid and pale, whereas her younger sister Carol was more chatty. They showed violence towards each other and swore a lot. Their school attendance was poor.
Both girls were underweight and knew little about personal hygiene. They arrived with too-small, dirty clothes that were full of holes. Their emergency foster carers showed them patience, affection and discipline, and the girls transformed as they learned how to thrive in their new home. They have been with the same carers ever since.