What is fostering?
Different types of foster care for the individual needs of local children
Fostering is looking after someone else’s children temporarily
when it’s not possible for them to live with their own family.
This could happen for several
- neglect or abuse by parents or other family
- adolescents in need of structure, boundaries
- parent’s serious illness, including mental
health issues, where support is needed
- practical problems (i.e.:- unsupported single
parents or poverty)
- problems with relationships - parents &
children need a break
- moving into a family environment from
residential children’s homes
- asylum seekers
- supporting short breaks for children with
disabilities and their families
The foster carer is responsible for the
child’s every day care needs and welfare. You work with the local
authority and/or the parents regarding major decisions made about
the child, involving the child where appropriate.
The aim ultimately is to help children return
to their families; this may mean getting back with their parents,
or helping them to move in with a member of their wider birth
family such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle. If this is not
possible, you will help them to move to an adoptive or permanent
Fostering placements can last from one night
to an entire childhood; the current average is about nine months.
The number of children in need of fostering in the UK far outweighs
the number of carers willing to take them in. There’s a huge demand
to care for children who can’t stay with their birth parents. The
shortage across the UK is nearly 9000 foster carers; we need 400
more households in the North East alone.
Different types of fostering
There are different types of foster care that
you can provide for local children and young people depending on
their individual needs and the needs of their families.
With advice and guidance from our fostering
team you can choose which type of care would be best for you.
Some foster carers offer all different types while others focus on
Have a look at the different types of fostering by clicking
on the links below:
Whatever age children our foster carers look after, they all have an important role to play. We may be helping a child or young person of any age (any age of child) work through challenges and extraordinary times in their lives, so all ages of children and young people can bring different rewards and challenges to the foster carer.
Those caring for very young children are doing a vital job of getting the children into daily routines and helping to support critical child development. Then at the other end of the age scale, the teenage years are when most young people are finding their feet, often testing out their boundaries. The rewards of helping a young person to develop confidence, prepare for independence and make plans for the future often outweigh the challenges.
Our children and young people have told us that staying together is very important to brothers and sisters who have had changes in their lives. They need the security and comfort of each other, as much as they need you.
Sometimes it is best for siblings to live separately while we help them work through things in their lives; however, we are always looking to recruit people to look after sibling groups. If you have the physical space in your home, please do give consideration to helping us achieve this for our children and young people.
(Sometimes referred to as ‘short to midterm foster care’, ‘short term foster care’, ‘holding placements’, ‘emergency bed carer’)
Time Limited Fostering is the typical type of foster care most people think about. It ranges from a few nights to up to 2 to 3 years depending on the care plan for the children. It’s for all ages of children and young people.
Time limited foster carers can offer emergency beds to help a family or foster family over a crisis, but their main function is to provide intermediate placements; helping the children to return home or move in with a new permanent family.
Foster carers for teenagers are good role models, helping them to develop and work through any situations they are facing in their lives. A big part of this is helping them to gain skills and prepare for either a move into independence or for moving back in with their families. With the support that comes from a secure home-life and dedicated carer, they can deal with their challenges and go on to lead constructive and happy lives.
The greatest need, across the UK, is foster care for teenagers. Our young people ask you to put yourself in their shoes and recall your own experiences of growing up and to (please) forget teenage stereotypes. Often people don’t realise that they have the capabilities to help teenagers, but many of you do and benefit from the supports and training we provide to help you and our young people succeed.
(Sometimes referred to as ‘permanent foster care’)
Sometimes children will not be able to return to live with their own families and need a long term foster family. Most of these children are already in short-term foster care, and would generally be aged between 7 and 12 years old when they come to stay with their long term foster family.
Long term fostering is often the right type of family for a child or children; over a return to their birth family or being adopted. It allows a child to grow up in a safe and supported family environment while retaining the connection with their birth family.
Often new long term foster carers will work on a concurrent basis, where they start off providing short term placements for children, with a view to a suitable long term match with a child or children. Other families go straight into providing long term foster care.
(Sometimes referred to as 'Mother and Baby Care'; 'Parent and Child Fostering')
Some foster carers offer support to a parent (mother or father) who is experiencing difficulties. The majority of the time this will mean offering a home to mothers (aged both under and over 18 years of age) and their baby. They will:
- Help the parent learn and develop their parenting skills and responsibilities
- Have an important role observing and recording how the parent looks after the child
- May provide parental care, if required, for the child
(Sometimes referred to as 'Shared care' or ‘Part time fostering’ or ‘Short breaks’ or ‘Support care’)
These terms are interchangeable between different agencies. A respite or short break carer may be providing a service to one child or to several children on consecutive weekends, depending on how much time they have to offer. Respite and short break carers receive the same support and training as that described for time limited foster carers.
These services provide the child or young person with the opportunity to gain positive experiences away from home but in a family environment. It also provides a much needed break for the families and offers an opportunity for parents and carers to spend specific time with their other children.
In Northumberland, the terms are split as follows:
Respite can be offered for both families in the community, who need that extra bit of support at particular times, as well as other foster families. This is usually for weekend or holiday placements for children and young people, but can occasionally be required for weekdays. These stays may be planned during regular breaks and / or ad-hoc breaks to support children and families.
- Short breaks for children with disabilities
Our short-break care service offers respite to local families who have disabled children. By planning ahead and giving their children regular short breaks with the same foster carer, the families are more able to care for their own children long term. Short breaks are usually 2 or 3 days. Some occur weekly, others monthly and some just in the school holidays. This form of foster care can suit people who are not in a position to offer full-time care.
(Sometimes referred to as 'fee paid foster care', 'specialist foster care', 'professional foster care')
We have a small team of carers that work as part of a tight knit project team, generally with children aged 10 plus. These children need individual care, where there are no other children under the age of 16 in the household. Use of your own car is essential for this scheme.
This scheme has a limited number of vacancies – details will be posted on the website when we are recruiting.