Types of Fostering

types of foster

Types of fostering.

Different ways to care.

There are different ways that people can look after children and young people in the UK; there is Fostering, Adoption, Kinship or Family and Friends, and Private Arrangement. These are outlined later in this page.

Types of foster care

Fostering Babies:

Fostering babies or toddlers is a type of fostering that’s rewarding as foster carers can see the baby thrive and develop in their care. Under 2’s are fostered short term for up to 6 months. Most return to their parent(s), or move on for adoption. Read more about baby fostering.

Mother and Baby:

Or parent and child. Usually a mother and her child are placed with foster carers to keep the child and mother safe and often to provide a foster carer assessment of the mother’s parenting skills. Read more about caring for mother and baby.

Special Needs:

Children needing foster care include those with medical conditions or physical or learning disabilities, such as autism, hyperactivity, attention deficits, or reading difficulties. More about special needs – disabled children.


A significant number of children who need foster carers are young people or teenagers, both girls and boys. Read more about fostering teenagers.

Specialised Therapeutic Fostering:

Foster care for children and young people with very complex needs and/or challenging behaviour. Safe care, control and discipline.

Fostering Refugee Children:

There are foster carer placements required where children and young people can feel safe and begin to build a new life for themselves. More about children and asylum seekers.


When children need foster care for a few nights. Emergency foster care is a type of short term care and a vital service.


Respite is usually part of a shared plan to ensure a consistency of care in the child’s life. More about respite fostering.

Short term:

When foster carers look after children for a few weeks or months while plans are made for the child’s future. More about short term.

Kinship Foster Care:

Or Family and Friends Foster Care. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings or other adults who are caring for a child, are providing kinship foster care.

Long term:

Not all children who have to live permanently away from their birth family need to be adopted so instead they can go in to long term foster care.

Different ways to be a carer

caring work fostering

National Fostering:

Means sharing the care of someone else’s child or children with the Local Authority and/or the birth parents. Most often the child returns home or moves on to independence in their late teens. As foster carers, you do not have legal ‘parental responsibility’ for the children you foster.

Most foster carers choose to be approved by their agency for a range of placement types. It is very important that carers look after children who are well matched with them and their family.

A recommendation about a new foster carer’s approval is made in the assessment report that is presented to the Fostering Panel.

If necessary, and with the foster carer’s agreement, a carer’s approval and types of fostering can be changed at any time by their agency.

Foster caring is therefore the choice for most people who wish to have a part or full time career working from home, and wanting to care for an open ended number of children throughout their time as foster carers.

National Adoption:

Is a legal process by which all parental rights and responsibilities are permanently transferred to the adoptive parents by the court.

The child becomes part of the adoptive family as if they had been born into it and the child usually takes the family’s surname.

Family and Friends/Kinship fostering:

A child who is the responsibility of the local authority goes to live with someone they already know, which usually means a family member, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers or sisters.

Private Fostering Arrangements:

A UK private foster carer is not a parent or close relative who cares for a child under the age of 16, or under 18 if disabled, for 28 days or more in a private arrangement with the child’s parent. The parent remains responsible for any financial support (fostering allowance) during the child’s stay.

Private foster carers may be a cousin, great aunt, a friend or someone unknown to the child. Immediate relatives such as grandparents, brother or sisters, aunt or uncles  and step-parents are not considered as private foster carers.

How to make arrangements
Arrangements are made without the involvement of the Local Authority; they are usually made by the parents of the child or another adult or on some occasions by young people themselves.

If you are a parent and want your child to stay with another adult who is not a close relative or an approved foster carer for more than 28 days (private fostering), you must let your council social services know, at least two weeks before the date of the move, letting them know what you intend to do.

The following are examples of the type of children and young people that might be involved in private fostering arrangement;

– arrangements made during parental illness or children living with other adults because their parents study or work involves long or unsociable hours.

– children staying with families whilst attending a school away from their home area or children from overseas whose parents are not resident in this country.

– young people who stay with friends because they have fallen out with their families.

The duty to notify your LA of a private fostering arrangement;
Under the Children Act 1989 (part IX), there are a number of responsibilities designed to safeguard children that may be privately fostered. The key points are:

It is the responsibility of the parent, carer, and anyone else involved in making the private fostering arrangement, to notify the local council of the private fostering arrangement.

Upon notification, it is up to the LAs to satisfy themselves that the welfare of the children who are privately fostered in their area is safeguarded and promoted. They also have to satisfy themselves that private foster carers are suitable and also ensure that private foster carers receive any information that they may need to help them care for the child.

Why should a LA be made aware of private fostering arrangements?

Safeguarding the child
Privately fostering a child is always a big responsibility, and the LA has a duty to oversee the arrangements to promote the welfare of the child and to ensure they are protected. It is important that the carer has a good understanding of the child’s needs.

Read more about national Private Fostering here: Notification of Private Fostering – Gov UK.

A change of direction

contact simply fostering

Being a foster carer can be challenging at times, however it is one of the most rewarding careers out there, providing you are approved by the agency that suits you best.

Being with the wrong agency can mean not having the number of children, types of placements and financial benefits you expected.

Deciding to care

Hopefully knowing more about the different ways and types of fostering in the UK will help you decide to take the next step and if so, we at Simply Fostering would like to thank you for starting on the exciting journey to make a difference.

foster care handbook

and receive a FREE Foster Care Handbook

We are always here as a source of reference about fostering and our free Handbook will help you to ask the right questions and to find answers about foster care in the UK.