LONG-TERM OR PERMANENT FOSTER CARE
What is long-term foster care?
Long-term fostering (sometimes called
permanent foster care) is similar to adoption. The children
come to stay with
long-term foster carers between the ages of 7 and 12 years old, and
will stay with their foster family until they are ready to fly the
Children and young people in a long-term
foster care placement should feel that they belong and have a sense
of family membership; with this stability and security
they are able to develop relationships that will last after
they have moved on from the foster family home.
The key difference between adoption and
long-term foster care is that you share parental responsibility
with the child’s local authority.
Long-term fostering offers children the
normality of family life and the continuity of relationships that
is important for securing positive outcomes.
Why do children need long-term foster care?
their children dearly, some parents are unable to change their
lives in a way that will protect them. The local Children’s
Services teams work closely with families to try and enable
children to remain with their families, however, this is not always
Sometimes the family is in crisis, because of
ill physical or mental health or bereavement; perhaps the care
given to the children is poor, or places them in danger and they
cannot live with their family. In such instances, these
children will not be able to go back and live with their own
families, even though they may want to.
Some children are placed for adoption, others however, do not
wish to be adopted and wish to retain relationships with their
birth families. Some children may need the high-level of
support that long-term foster care offers them.
What are the benefits of long term foster care for the child
or young person?
- Long-term foster care provides a sense of normality, of family
membership, and the opportunity to experience a framework for
emotional and physical development that encourages the formation
and maintenance of stable relationships through to adulthood.
- It allows children to make mistakes, to learn, to mature and to
feel cared for and encouraged – in a safe and stable
- It allows children to build attachments.
- It means that children have an advocate and that someone
is looking out for them; supporting their ambitions and aspirations
in much the same way that parents do for their own children.
- It provides them with a sense of permanence that encourages
- Where safe and feasible for all concerned, it enables children
to stay in contact with their birth family.
- It builds on their sense of identity, creating a sense of
belonging without children having to choose, or feel disloyal
to their birth families.
- It allows children to have access to their personal histories,
extended family, and the stories that feed into their identify and
- It enables children to better cope with key changes in their
lives – like moving up to a new school, or from home into the
- It can allow children to grow up with their siblings.
- It allows young people to live for a period of time in a
particular area where they can build networks and be supported in
their education and into the world of work.
What is expected of a long-term foster carer?
As a long-term foster carer,
you will provide alot of the things that any parent would
for their children:
- Offer them the chance to grow up in a
safe and stable environment.
- Provide the care and attention they need
through to adulthood; while you support them to keep in touch with
- Reassure them that this is their home, and
will remain their home until such time as they are ready to move
on, at least until they are 18.
- Support them through emotional and unsettled
periods in their lives.
- Help them to stay (or to get back) on
track with their school work, to enjoy life and to set their own
goals and aspirations.
- Encourage them to be healthy by ensuring they visit the dentist
and eat a healthy diet.
- Care for them as a full member of your family and
support them to cope with change in their lives.
- Offer commitment to them so that they can make the
essential emotional attachments that all children need to learn to
trust and to have a feeling of safety in their lives.
- Sometimes you may offer additional support for children
who have a learning, mental or physical disability or may need
support with challenging behaviour.
- Some children are brothers and sisters who do not want to
be separated from each other and therefore if you have the space to
look after more than one child you could help two or more siblings
grow up together.
What role will a child or young person’s parents
depend upon each individual situation and the needs of the
children. Children who need permanent care will generally have
plans agreed and protected by a court order. The decision will
already have been made that a child cannot be cared for by their
birth parent. However, children in long-term foster care usually
retain relationships with their birth family. This can be
direct contact or indirect post box contact. Any care plan
will also consider the needs of the children relating to their
wider birth family, including siblings, grandparents, aunts and
What are the benefits of long term foster care for the birth
Birth parents of children in care usually want
the same as any other parent, but don’t have the means to provide
it. Through a planned process, they know what is happening to their
children and that they are safe and well. They are helped to keep
the child as part of their wider family.
On-going direct or indirect contact gives them
the opportunity to show their children that they are loved, and
allows birth parents and their wider family to help their children
to understand their histories; building on the child’s sense of
self and identity. When direct contact is safe and feasible
for all concerned, birth family members can often
build a meaningful relationship with the child and their foster
family. This builds the birth family members' own
self-esteem and confidence, and allows them to be involved in the
life of their child in a way that benefits everyone.
What are the benefits of long term foster care for the
There are many challenges, which are coupled
with many rewards for foster families in:
- Helping a child or children to deal with a difficult time in
- Encouraging development and growth - watching a child or young
person progress in life
- Developing your self and your family
- Offering local children and young people a home in their local
- Working as part of a dedicated team of people
- Attaining a sense of achievement as a foster family
- Continued support as a foster family as part of a professional
corporate parenting team
What support will I receive as a long-term foster
As with all types of
foster care, you will receive preparation and training from the
fostering team during your assessment. After approval you
- Intensive support during the initial stages of the matching
- On-going support and supervision from a dedicated social
- Out of hours support
- Ongoing training and development
- Regular support meetings
- A buddy mentor link with an experienced local foster
- A weekly allowance for the child as well as an enhanced long
term allowance (a foster carer fee equivalent)
How do I find out more about becoming a long-term foster
As with all fostering enquiries, if you decide
to take the next step, a social worker will visit you and your
family so you can talk more about what is involved; to help you
decide whether long-term fostering is right for you and your
family. After that you will make a formal application and go on an
initial training course. There will be background checks as well as
a detailed assessment. With long term foster carers the team
will start to look to see if your family is a potential match
for any waiting children as you go through your
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