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Which type of fostering is best for my family?

While we encourage foster parents to be open to all kinds of fostering, it’s natural that certain types will appeal to you more than others.

July 9 2024 - 10 min read

If you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent, you may be wondering which type of foster care would best suit you and your family.

There are more ways to foster than you may think, and each comes with challenges and rewards. Let’s explore which types of fostering would suit you and your family the most.

What are the different types of foster care? 

Explore some of the different types of fostering below...

What is short term fostering 

The goal of short term fostering is to provide a child with somewhere safe to stay while they're not able to stay at home. You'll be caring for a child until they can be reunited with their family, or until a longer-term plan is established. Short term fostering can last a day, week, month or several years, and often takes place while a family is going through court proceedings or a caregiver is temporarily unable to care for their child. 

Who can become a short term foster parent? 

  • If you choose short term fostering, it’s important that you’re good at building and maintaining relationships with people. It’s the responsibility of everyone involved in the child’s care to do their best to keep up good contact with their birth family.
  • The ability to build effective, meaningful bonds quickly can be a brilliant asset when looking after young people in short term care.
  • As a child’s short term foster parent, you may be given the opportunity to transition with the child to long-term fostering, as there is potential for a short term arrangement to become long term if it’s decided that the child is unable to return home.

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What is long term fostering?  

Long term foster care is one of the most rewarding types of foster care. This is when it’s decided that it’s in the best interests of a child to remain in foster care rather than return to their family. Most children who are fostered long term will stay with their foster family until they reach adulthood and are ready to leave home.

Long term fostering offers children a wonderful family experience and a sense of belonging when they’re unable to live with their birth family. These children will often form lifelong familial bonds with their foster family, and in some cases may go on to be adopted by them.  

Who can become a long term foster parent? 

  • Perfect for those who want to have a long term impact on a child’s life and development, and who feel that their skills and time would be best invested in helping one child, or a small number of children.
  • Creates a sure and steady home environment. Some families who have children of their own may prefer the continuity of this type of care.

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What is emergency fostering?  

Emergency foster care is a vital service which helps children when they are in most immediate need. Children will be placed into emergency foster care in crisis situations, such as if their caregiver has been hospitalised or if there has been an incident which means that they must be removed from their family home immediately.

Emergency foster parents offer a safe place, comfort and a sense of stability to children who are experiencing an incredibly frightening and uncertain time. This type of fostering typically lasts between a few hours to a few days while the local authority decides if it's safe for a child to return home, or until they have established an alternative arrangement for them to join another foster family.

Who can become an emergency foster parent? 

  • Emergency foster parents are essential in helping children through the hardest of times. This type of fostering is a fantastic choice if you’re passionate about helping a wide range of children.
  • If you want to become an emergency foster parent, you must have a flexible schedule, particularly evenings and weekends, as emergency arrangements can come at very short notice.
  • You can offer emergency foster care alongside other types of fostering placement.

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What is respite fostering?  

Respite fostering is where you look after a child for up to a fortnight while their foster parents are away. It provides an essential service for other foster parents, allowing them to take time to feel refreshed and reinvigorated.

At Orange Grove, we aim to make it like a little holiday or an extended sleepover for a child in care. You'll have the opportunity to meet with the child and establish a relationship with them before they come to stay with you, to help them feel welcome and comfortable during their time away from home.

Who can become a respite foster parent? 

  • Great for foster parents who want to provide children in care with a sense of comfort and stability while their usual caregivers aren’t around.  
  • Many foster parents who’ve been approved for other types of care choose to also offer respite foster care if they have space in their home.
  • Respite foster carers go through the same training and are given the same level of support and guidance as other types of foster parents. They can also take advantage of our fantastic rewards scheme, which entitles you to discounts from hundreds of popular shops and websites. 

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Fostering siblings

Wherever possible, we do our best to keep siblings together. This is because we understand how vital it is for children to be able to retain their family connections, and having a sibling by your side during the ups and downs of the fostering process can help children feel settled and safe. Siblings can be placed in any of the above types of foster care.

Could you help to keep siblings together? 

  • Ideal for those who have space in their home for more than one child.
  • Fostering multiple children can have its challenges, so you must have the energy, time and dedication to support all the children in your care.
  • Provides an excellent opportunity to really change the lives of children, by saving them from losing out on their precious relationship with their siblings and helping them to maintain their strong bond into adulthood.

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Parent and child fostering 

Parent and child fostering is a wonderful way of helping to keep families together. This style of fostering forms part of a parenting assessment, and involves a foster carer welcoming a child along with one or both of their parents into their home. It's a really worthwhile and rewarding type of foster care, which can have fantastic outcomes for parents who need some additional support in learning how best to parent a child, and who might otherwise have been separated.

This type of fostering usually lasts for three months. The parent’s progress is then reviewed by the local authority, who will decide the next steps for the parent and their child. 

Could you provide a safe space for a parent and child to grow together?

  • Perfect for those who have space in their home to accommodate more than one person.
  • Offers a less hands-on role, where the foster carer offers support and guidance to parents and steps in to help where needed, as well as tracking the parent’s progress to help with their assessment.
  • Can be a life-changing gift to parents in need and their children, giving vulnerable families the chance to stay together, grow together and thrive.

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Fostering sanctuary seeking children

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children may be fleeing war, abuse, or may be attempting to reunite with family members already in the UK. They often arrive in Britain scared, alone, and having undertaken a dangerous and frightening journey. A safe home with a loving foster family can make all the difference to a child’s life as their application for asylum in the UK is processed.

Could you provide a safe home for a sanctuary seeking child?

  • Many sanctuary seeking children speak little or no English when they arrive. Matching them with a foster family who can speak their language and who share their culture can be invaluable.
  • We encourage all our foster parents who share different backgrounds from the child in their care to go out of their way to learn more about their language and culture, which is enriching for every member of your family.
  • Sanctuary seeking fostering is a great route for those interested in fostering teenagers, as most sanctuary seeking children are aged 14 or above.

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Fostering children with additional needs 

Many of the children who we look after have additional needs. These can include physical disabilities, developmental needs, and neurodiverse conditions such as Autism and ADHD. A child may also be considered to have additional needs if they need specialised therapeutic support as a result of their adverse childhood experiences. Foster parents who are specially trained to care for children with specific additional needs play a valued and vital role in fostering.

Could you help a child with additional needs? 

  • Great if you have had previous experience, for example, if you've been a care worker, teacher or classroom assistant working with people with additional needs. The skills you have learned could be perfectly transferrable to fostering children with disabilities or other additional needs. 
  • Perfect for those with the time to dedicate themselves fully to fostering as a career. This allows you to give the child in your care the extra support they may need.
  • With Orange Grove, you'll receive expert training in your area of choice to offer your young person the highest standard of care, tailored to their needs.

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Start your fostering journey here

Download our brochure and discover everything you need to know about fostering with Orange Grove.