Types of fostering

There are different types of foster care depending on the needs of both the child and their family. These include short-term care for just a few days or weeks, longer-term placements as well as care for children with a range of needs.

Categories of foster care

Emergency

When carers provide time limited placements at short notice to children who need somewhere safe to stay. Emergency carers can be contacted at any time including weekends.

Short-term

When carers look after children for a few weeks or months while plans are made for the child's future.

Short breaks

When children with a disability, children with special needs or children with particular difficulties, regularly stay for a short time with a family so that the child's  parents or usual foster carers can have a break.

Long-term

Children will be provided with longer term foster care while retaining connections with their birth family where appropriate if:

  • they are not able to return to live with their own families
  • adoption or a Residence Order is not an option

Kinship Foster Care (also called family and friends)

A child who is the responsibility of a Trust goes to live with someone they already know which usually means family members such as grandparents, aunts and uncles or their brother or sister.

Specialist therapeutic

For children and young people with very complex needs and/or challenging behaviour.

Fee Paid

These foster carers look after children/young people with more complex needs and/or challenging behaviour. In recognition of the skills and knowledge provided a fee is paid in addition to fostering allowances. Fee paid foster carers are in the main specialist therapeutic foster carers.

Private fostering

A private fostering situation is an arrangement whereby an adult, who is not a relative of the child, cares for a child under the age of 16 years (or in the case of a child with a disability under 18 years) for more than 28 days.

Under the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, a relative is defined as a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt or step parent or someone with parental responsibility.

In contrast to foster care, the Health and Social Care Trust does not place the child in a private fostering arrangement but anyone privately fostering a child, or the child’s parents, must let their local Health and Social Care Trust know.

 

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