There are many different reasons why children need fostering and there are different types of foster care, some of which may suit your circumstances better than others. Placements last for different lengths of time and involve children from different backgrounds and situations such as toddlers, teenagers, single children, sibling groups, through to those with behavioural requirements or more complex care requirements.
Emergency placements placements take place with little warning and are used when children need somewhere safe to stay for a few nights.
Short term placements are planned and foster carers provide temporary placements for children and young people until plans for their future are confirmed. This can be anything from a couple of days to a couple of years.
Respite care is designed to support children within their own families or their foster families and can be anything from an overnight stay to a couple of weeks.
These placements are for when adoption is not an option and the child or young person lives with the foster carer for the long term, throughout their childhood and until they are ready to live independently. Thereafter, contact and support would continue for as long as both consider necessary.
Parent and child
Parent and child placements are for young people under the age of 18 who are parents. The parent is placed with their child so that the foster carer can provide support and assess their parenting abilities. The parent continues to provide daily care to the child and the foster carer plays a role in encouraging, helping and teaching them so that they are well prepared for the responsibilities of being a parent.
Supported lodgings is a scheme for young people leaving care who are in education, training or employment and aged between 16 and 21 (up to 24 if in full time education). This type of placement is a stepping stone to independence and aims to promote independence skills, education and employment or training. Some young people will just need a safe place to live, while others will need a higher level of support to enable them to develop skills for independence. As a carer you will need to be flexible enough to provide the level of support needed by the young person in your care.
Some children and young people who need foster care have exceptionally complex needs which require high levels of support. In these situations we will seek a solo placement to meet their needs. Interested applicants will need to ensure there are no other children aged under 16 living in the home and be able to provide a child with the intense level of care and supervision they need.
In addition to foster carers providing respite for foster children, we have a separate scheme to provide respite for families of children with disabilities. This is called the short breaks scheme.
Private fostering is very different from fostering for your local authority. Private fostering is when a private arrangement is made for a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) to live with someone for a period of at least 28 days, where: the carer:
- The carer is not a parent or a 'close relative' (A close relative in this situation is defined as a step-parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt)
- The carer does not have parental responsibility from a Court
- The child has not been placed by a Local Authority
Children's Services must be informed by anyone who has been involved in making arrangements for a child to be privately fostered.