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Long Term Foster Care

More information about long-term foster care



What is long-term foster care?

Long-term fostering (sometimes called permanent foster care) is similar to adoption.  The children comeA Fostering Family for All Seasons 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 nest.  

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?

fostering and adoptionDespite loving 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 possible. 

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 environment.
  • 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 positive behaviours.
  • 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.fostering
  • It allows children to have access to their personal histories, extended family, and the stories that feed into their identify and self-image.
  • It enables children to better cope with key changes in their lives – like moving up to a new school, or from home into the wider world.
  • 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 their family.
  • 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 play?

Building relationshipsThis will 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 uncles etc...


What are the benefits of long term foster care for the birth family?

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 foster family?

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 their lives
  • 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 community
  • 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 carer?

fosteringAs with all types of foster care, you will receive preparation and training from the fostering team during your assessment.  After approval you will receive:

  • Intensive support during the initial stages of the matching process
  • On-going support and supervision from a dedicated social worker
  • Out of hours support
  • Ongoing training and development
  • Regular support meetings
  • A buddy mentor link with an experienced local foster carer
  • 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 carer?



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 assessment.


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