Short term fostering is when carers look after children while plans are made for the children’s future. As a foster carer, you probably won’t receive a lot of initial warning about a short-term placement, but whenever possible fostering services will take care to place a child somewhere that meets as many of their needs as possible. You may also have a chance to meet the child before they are placed with you – but this may not always be possible as short-term placements are sometimes made at fairly short notice.
Short term foster care also includes emergency care. This is when children or young people need somewhere safe to stay immediately for a few nights. Typically, you might get a call from your social worker asking if you can take a child, later that day, whose parents have been admitted to hospital or taken into police custody, or the child has just been removed from their home because of serious abuse or neglect.
Some carers specialise in taking emergency placements, but others may agree to take one because they recognise the importance of a safe, caring environment for a distressed and frightened child. You will need to be very flexible and understanding when a child comes to your home in these situations. You will probably know very little about he or she, and they will know nothing about you, so you cannot expect the child to instantly adapt to your family life. You will need to be adaptable and flexible to their needs.
Long term fostering is where a child lives with long-term foster carers until they reach adulthood ad are ready to live independently. Not all children who cannot return to their families want to be adopted, especially older children or those who continue to have regular contact with relatives.
As a foster carer, you will be asked to provide ‘permanency’ for that child, so they can settle into your family and have a sense of security and continuity. You should definitely have a chance to meet a child or young person before a long-term placement is made, and in some cases a fostering panel will need to approve the child’s placement. This is to ensure that the child has been matched as appropriately as possible with carers who can best meet the child’s long-term needs.
Emergency fostering is when children or young people need somewhere safe to stay immediately for a few nights. Typically, you might get a call from your social worker asking if you can take a child, later that day, whose parents have been admitted to hospital or taken into police custody, or the child has just been removed from their home because of serious abuse or neglect.
Parent and child care is when a parent moves into a foster home with their child or children. These arrangements may involve an ‘assessment’ of parents who have already had children removed from their care and where the risk is high that this will happen again; or may be purely to provide support and help for a young parent; or occasionally may reflect ‘pre-birth arrangements’, where the mother is already living in the foster home.
It is important that the child coming to stay with you, either for a planned break or respite care, feels that they are not being ‘sent away’, and people offering this sort of care usually try to ensure that the child gets some new experiences and happy memories from the visit. It is good to create a sense of occasion out of the child’s visit and, where possible, plan some activities and new experiences (however small) that they might not have at home so the child feels welcomed in your family, and looks forward to visiting you.
Remand fostering occurs when young people are ‘remanded’ by a court into the care of the local authority and placed with specially trained foster carers, as an alternative to custody, while they await trial or sentencing.
As a remand foster carer, you will normally be working with young people aged between 10 – 16, helping them to look at the causes of their offending behaviour, learn new ways of responding to stressful situations and managing their anger, and find new motivation and interests to replace those that led to them getting into criminal situations.
Being a remand foster carer is demanding and you will need to work closely with the local youth justice system. It is also important to have experience working with adolescents – either in your own family or in a professional capacity – and to be prepared to manage challenging behaviour.
Freedom Fostering is one of the leading independent fostering agencies in the West Midlands, serving much of central England.