Foster carers provide placements to children and young people who have particularly complex needs. Many of them are teenagers who may have been abused, have a disability, or been in a remand placement; sibling groups with complex needs; or parent and baby placements.
You'll need specialist skills for fostering and experience of caring for children, preferably those with complex needs. This could be through fostering previously, or working with children through health care, social care, education, youth work or similar settings.
All children who come into foster care are different. The type of foster care they need depends on their circumstances - some need placing in an emergency, for respite, or for a short time, while others need a long term placement.
Once you've made the important decision to foster, you need to think about the kind of fostering that's right for you, your family and your situation. We'll help you do this during our assessment process.
These are the kinds of care our children can need:
Short term fostering is where children are placed with a foster carer for a limited period, from as little as an overnight stay to over a year. If you choose to foster short term, you must be able to offer the child a safe and secure home life and care for them until we can reunite them with their family, move them to a long term placement, or find them a permanent adoptive family.
Long term fostering
Most children and young people will return to their birth families, but for those who can't, we'll find them a long term foster carer. If you choose to foster long term, the child would become a member of your family and live with you until they're 18. Where possible, you would help the child maintain positive links with their birth family.
Short break and respite care
Short break foster care is where vulnerable or disabled children, or those with behavioural difficulties, enjoy pre-planned regular stays with a new family to give their parents or usual foster carers a break. If you choose short break care, you can expect to look after a child for a day, a night, a couple of days, or a week. You could also help give a child a break away from their parents, for example helping them to get involved in social activities during weekends, holidays or after school.
It's beneficial for brothers and sisters to stay together, so wherever possible, we'll try to find carers who can foster more than one child.
Parent and baby placements
Some young mums or dads have very limited support networks and find themselves unable to meet their baby's basic needs. They may need a place to live with someone who can encourage and support them without taking over their parenting responsibilities.