Are you wondering what sort of foster care is right for you? There are several different types of foster care and we will help you decide which one will best suit your circumstances. This page will take you through the different types.

Short term

Some children need a home for just a short period of time, from overnight to as much as a couple of years. This might be for many reasons, from helping to cover a family crisis to completing an agreed programme, so you will need to be flexible.

Relief and short break care

Some children need to be looked after for a short period on a regular basis to give parents or other foster carers a break. You’ll be providing regular care for short periods such as weekends or during the holidays.

Emergency fostering

In an emergency, children may require a home immediately and we keep a list of foster carers with vacancies who are prepared to do this. Emergency placements are usually only for a couple of days and nights but, of course, could be for longer if necessary.

Parent and child

Parent and child placements provide an opportunity for a young parent to be placed in an environment where they can be supported and encouraged to provide for the needs of their child.

These placements can also assist social workers to assess parenting capacity and help determine whether or not a young parent has the ability to care safely for their child independently.

Children with disabilities

Some children with disabilities need to be looked after for regular short breaks or longer periods of time. They may have a significant learning disability and also have further needs such as physical disabilities, complex health needs and challenging behaviour. You don’t need to have experience of disability to be a disability foster carer, although this would be helpful. We provide training to improve your skills and support you. However, you do need to have time, energy and flexibility and enough space in your life and home plus a willingness to have any necessary adaptations made to your home, e.g. a ramp, a hoist or even a lift in extreme cases. Disabled children needing care range from babies to teenagers and disability fostering can consist of short term, long term or short breaks - say, an afternoon each month.

Family based short breaks provide opportunities for children and young people with disabilities to have enjoyable social experiences with their foster family as well as providing a valuable break for their parents or carers.

Long term

Long term fostering is providing care for a child until independence. The definition of “Independence” can now vary with the 'Staying Put law' (find out more), which means that a young person can stay with you to at least 21, if that’s what you both want. It can even go beyond 21 if they still need support, particularly if they are disabled, or needing to establish themselves in education, employment or training.

Other types of foster care

There are other types of specialised foster care which don’t always fit any of the patterns we’ve talked about above, so we have produced leaflets for each of them.

Fostering for adoption

Fostering for Adoption places a child with adopters who are also temporarily approved as foster carers. If the court agrees that the child should be adopted and the adoption agency approves the ‘match’ between the carers as adopters and the child, the placement becomes an adoption placement. For full information download the Fostering for Adoption (CORAM) leaflet.

 Friends and family care

Friends and family care refers to the care provided to children whose parents are unable to look after them on a short or long-term basis. This could include care provided by other relatives, like grandparents, uncles, aunts or siblings or alternatively also by adults who have a connection to the child, such as neighbours or a close friend of the family.

Friends and family care may be a permanent arrangement which is sometimes formalised through a legal order or could be temporary and informal.

Friends and family carers are also often referred to as kinship carers or connected persons carers. Depending on the specific circumstances and arrangements, friends and family carers will have different rights, responsibilities and support available to them.

The connected persons and special guardianship team provides assessment, training and support of friends and family carersPlease visit our friends and family care page for further information

Private fostering

If a private arrangement is made for a child aged under 16 (18 if they are disabled) to stay with anyone who is not closely related for 28 days or more, this is known as 'private fostering'. Private fostering is legal, but by law you must notify us as soon as the arrangement is made (in other words, not after 28 days!). Please visit our private fostering page for further information.

Foster carers handbook

Do you want more information? See the foster carers handbook (online guide).

Let's talk

Complete our contact form to discover all there is to know about becoming a foster parent. We’ll give you a call, when’s it’s convenient for you, answer your questions, and go from there.

Or if you’re free now, why not give us a call. We look forward to hearing from you.

Contact fostering team

Address: Fostering Team, Civic Centre, Stockwell Close, Bromley, BR1 3UH

Telephone: 020 8461 7701