Types of foster care

Foster care does not necessarily require a full time commitment. There are a wide range of children who need looked after for varying amounts of time. You can care for all ages of children ranging from babies to teenagers.

Foster carers who provide time limited placements at short notice. Emergency carers may be contacted late at night or over a weekend.

Respite foster carers care for children for short periods, usually on a regular basis to give birth parents or their full time foster carers a break. The length of break can vary from one weekend a month to a two or three week period.

Short term
Foster carers look after children full time in their home but the length of stay can vary depending on the child’s family circumstances. During this time Trust staff will work with the family to try to return the child / young person home. If that is not possible staff will look for a long term placement for the child / young person through fostering or adoption.

Longer term
Foster carers provide longer term care for children / young people who are unable to return to live with their parents in the near future.

Fee paid
There are a range of additional schemes within Trusts where financial packages are offered to foster carers. Your own local fostering team will be able to advise you about what is available within your area.

Kinship (Family / Friend) care
You will be considered a ‘kinship foster carer’ if you have been requested by social services to care for a child who is either related to you or is connected to you through friendship. All children in your care will be subject to Looked After Children (LAC) procedures.

Private fostering
Private fostering is when a child under 16 years of age (or under 18 if they have a disability) looked after by someone who is not a close relative for more than 28 days. For further information please click here.

Specialist schemes
The five Health and Social Care Trusts have various schemes that take account of the specialist needs of some children, e.g. adolescents. These will generally attract a fee.

Children with disabilities
Sometimes children who have learning difficulties or a physical disability may need to be placed in long term foster care. In other circumstances, there may be a need for a child / young person to be placed regularly with foster carers for a few days each week or each month in order to provide regular support to their birth families.

GEM Scheme
The ‘Going The Extra Mile’ (GEM) scheme is for existing foster carers. It reflects the role and contribution of these foster carers who continue to provide care, support and accommodation for young people aged 18 – 21 whom they have previously fostered. The aim of the scheme is to provide continuity and stability of living arrangements for young people coupled with supporting and enabling them to aspire to achieving better outcomes in relation to future training, employment, educational and career goals. Click here to read more about the GEM Scheme.