What is fostering?
When children are not able to live with their own families, the Local Authority (council) in which they live have a responsibility to ensure they are provided with a safe place to live; fostering is when a child or young person is cared for by somebody in a family home as opposed to a residential or ‘children’s home’. This could be with one or more adults, birth children, other foster children or family pets. The intention is to help children feel ‘at home’ and provide them with a nurturing, family-feel style of care. Each individual child and young person will have different needs and issues due to their experiences so a wide range of families is needed to help meet those needs.
Children and young people may have suffered neglect, physical, emotional or sexual abuse; some children may have parents who have passed away and some may have behaviours that are difficult to manage. What all these children and young have in common is that they are not able to live with their families.
To meet the demands of looking after these children and young people, there are different types of fostering placements available. These include;
Children or young people can be taken out of their family home in an emergency. Sometimes little is known about the child or situation, but foster care is needed to provide immediate safety. Emergency placements can last from 1 night to several months or may be needed in the middle of the night.
Short term fostering is providing a child or young person with a place to stay until they can return to their own family, or if that is not possible, until a more permanent plan is made for the child; this could include long term fostering, Special Guardianship or Adoption . Short term fostering is a very important part of our service since many of the children who come into our care may only need a short term solution to issues whilst their families access support. A short term foster placement can last from a few days to several months depending on the circumstances.
Depending on the circumstances, some children and young people are not able to return to their families so a plan for long term fostering may be needed. Young people may stay with their short term carers if they are happy and settled, or sometimes a specific long term carer will be identified who can meet the long term needs of a child or young person. Long term fostering usually lasts until the young person feels ready to live independently.
Remand care is an alternative to young people being held in police custody. It is a specialised type of fostering placement and it aims to get young people and children out of a police environment into a more appropriate setting. These types of placement may last for one night or several months depending on the reason for the young person’s arrest.
Mother and baby
Parents (mother/father/both) can be placed in foster care together with their baby/child/children in order to support the parent/s in learning to parent their children safely and appropriately. The needs of these families will vary but specially trained foster carers support the parent(s) and child during a period of assessment. The aim of these placements is to help parents to live independently with their children in a safe environment.
Sometimes children and young people have additional needs because of a physical or learning disability. This can mean they need specialist carers who are able to meet their individual needs in a safe and nurturing way. Fostering Ltd works in partnership with Local Authorities to identify and train carers who feel they have the skills to care for children with additional needs on a short term, long term or respite basis. Extra training is provided to ensure children with additional needs are provided with the best possible care.
Sibling placements are for brothers and sisters who need to be placed together whilst they cannot live with their family. Fostering Ltd strongly advocates that wherever possible, siblings should be placed together; research shows us outcomes for these children are better than when young people are separated from their brothers and sisters. Sometimes it may not be in the best interests of the children to be placed together and in this circumstance it is expected that foster carers will still support children to have regular contact with their siblings to help maintain positive relationships.
All the above placements are designed to
- Provide a stable, nurturing and child centred home for a child/young person whilst they are unable to live with their own families through illness, abuse, neglect or offending behaviour
- Provide young people with a safe place to live whilst their families are experiencing turmoil or disruption
- Support families and young people to repair damaged relationships
- Allow families the opportunity to change dysfunctional lifestyle choices with the help of a support network