Introduction to Fostering

At any one time there are over 92,000 children in care in the UK. These children have often been through traumatic, abusive or desperate circumstances. Some of these children need an occasional home where they can feel safe. Some need a home where they can stay on a longer term or permanent basis.

Fostering usually means offering a temporary home to children placed by social services, until they either return to the family home or move on to live with a relative, are adopted, or placed in a permanent foster placement. There are several different types of foster care:

Emergency Foster Care provides a placement for a child who needs somewhere safe to stay for a few nights.

Short-term Foster Care provides a placement where a carer looks after a child for a few weeks or months while long term placement plans are made for the child.

Short-break Foster Care provides pre-planned, regular placements for children who have disabilities, special needs or behavioural difficulties. It gives their parents or usual foster carers time to have a short break.

Respite Foster Care provides a placement for a looked after child for a pre-planned short stay. This is part of the support service for foster carers and them the chance to have a short break. A fostering service must provide foster carers with respite. It will be clearly outlined in their policies.

Remand Foster Care provides a placement for young people in England and Wales who are remanded by the court into care of a specially trained foster carer.

Parent and Baby Foster Care provides a home and support for a new mother and her baby, to help the mother care for her baby in the long term. The mothers are typically very young.

Long-term and Permanent Foster Care provides a long-term placement for looked after children. Not all children who cannot return to their birth families are adopted and some continue to have regular contact with their birth families. These children and young adults need a secure long term home until they reach adulthood.

Fostering an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child (UASC) is where a non-British child has arrived alone into the country and claimed asylum, and is cared for by foster carers in the UK. Unless the child can be returned safely to their country of origin they will be allowed to stay in the UK until they are at least 18.

Kinship Fostering provides a placement in which children who are looked after by their local authority are cared for by people they already know.

Special Guardianship is a formal court ordered placement that allows parental responsibility to a grandparent, close relative or family friend. 

Do I get paid?
All foster carers receive a fostering allowance which covers the cost of caring for a fostered child. These vary widely, but should always be at least the national recommended minimum, though some agencies offer more than this. There are additional allowances for children with particular needs.  The fostering allowance is also often accompanied by an additional ‘fee’ or ‘reward’ for the foster carer. This varies from agency to agency and for particular types of caring. Finally, there are additional tax exemptions and reliefs for foster carers. More information on this can be found here.

The process

Jason and Debbie

Jason and Debbie reflect on real hospitality and fostering.

'Because you look after me': Julia's story

Julia shares her story of adopting her son as a single person and how they have made it through challenges together, with a great support network around them.

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