Short and Long Term Fostering
Temporary or Permanent Placements
Short term placements
Short term fostering is also known as mainstream, temporary or task centred fostering, a short term placement can be anything from one night, several months or the average of a year, depending on the circumstances and the legal situation.
Short term is the most used type of fostering and has less risk of disruption or break down than long term fostering. About 80 per cent of short term placements are with parental agreement and generally, most parents see temporary foster care as helpful.
Short term is used when a child can’t stay at home or needs to be removed to a safe place because the parents can’t be good enough carers.
Short term is the most needed sort of fostering because most of the children who come into care need short term solutions to a crisis or short term problems. After the reasons for being fostered are sorted out, the problems worked through and made safe, plans are decided for the future and these children usually return home.
If a return home is not possible, the child’s Local authority will find a permanent home (long term fostering or adoption) for the child.
Short term foster carers role
Foster carers help to prepare the child for his or her return home or move to a new family if long term fostering is needed. However, if it’s right for the child and the foster carer, the placement can be changed to long term.
All children and young people placed in foster care are the responsibility of the Local Authority in the area where the child’s birth family are living.
The key responsibility remains with that Local Authority regardless of whether they are placed in authority care or with an independent fostering provider.
A child is ‘accommodated’ if provided with accommodation by the Local Authority via a voluntary agreement with parents or others with parental responsibility.
‘Accommodated’ children or young people does not usually involve a care order but might involve other court orders. Over 16 year olds can ask to be accommodated without the agreement of their parents.
Short term allowances
Private fostering agencies pay an average weekly allowance of £380 for each foster child. Find out more about allowances and pay.
Long term placements
If a child is unable to return to the care of their birth family, but adoption is not appropriate for that child, long term foster carers may need to be found to care for them.
Long term foster carers will normally care for a child for a longer period of time than a short term carer, often through to independence. Children who need long term fostering are likely to be older children. These older children may benefit from keeping in regular contact with their brothers, sisters, parents and wider family.
Long term matching
Both children and young people can benefit from longer term foster care. The child’s age is not the deciding factor but it’s the child or young person’s feelings, thoughts and needs that are the most important when making decisions about the type of placement.
The decision for long or short term fostering can be made before the child or young person is placed in foster care, or during the course of a placement.
Deciding to foster long term means that the carer’s abilities and family dynamics will be looked at closely and then matched with the needs of children needing long term placements. If successfully matched, all relevant information will be shared so both the child and the carer can make the right decision.
Long term legal status
In many instances, a court has made a Care Order which means that the council or local authority have been awarded parental responsibility and are legally responsible for the child – To find out more about the law visit here: Taken into Care
Long term benefits
- Time to feel a real member of the family, to learn, to feel cared for, to feel encouraged and in a safe and stable family home.
- Time to build attachments, have trust in someone looking out for them and encouraging their ambitions, just like all parents should do for their own children.
- Time to feel settled, safe and where possible, have consistent, positive support to keep in touch with their birth family.
- Time to builds a positive sense of identity, to find out about their past and to better cope with the big changes to come in their lives.
- Time to settle in school, to move on to employment or be better prepared to move back to their family or to live independently
Long term gives carers the chance to help break the cycle of moves and it gives them a better sense of achievement when they see how a child progresses.
Foster carers are also given more authority to make day to day decisions for the children, which is more empowering and better meet the needs of the foster child or young person.
Long term allowances
Significantly, long term fostering provides improved financial stability to foster carers. Private fostering agencies pay an average weekly allowance of £380 for each foster child. Find out more about allowances and pay.