What Is Long Term Fostering?
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.
Children in long term placements
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.
The benefits of long term foster care:
- Time to feel like 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 foster care 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.
New regulations 2015
Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities (March 2015)
- The review of the delegation of authority to make decisions about looked after children to their carers;
- The arrangements for making, supervising, and reviewing long term foster care placements; and
- The assessment and planning arrangements where the responsible authority is considering ceasing to look after a child.
- The amendments include guidance for long-term fostering. This formal recognition alongside adoption is meant to confirm and improve children and young people’s sense of security and being part of the family.
The regulations now define long-term fostering which provides more consistency when placements are made and for current placements ensuring that certain criteria and conditions should be realised.
The government guidance document can be found here.
The main points:
Amendments are made to the Children Act 1989 Guidance: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (Volume 2) in order that;
Foster carers and residential child care workers are appropriately consulted and involved in decision making for children;
Where the plan for permanence is long-term foster care there is an appropriate planning process which considers the needs of the child and the capacity of the carer to meet these needs;
Where a long-term foster placement is agreed this is recorded in a child’s placement plan; and that appropriate and flexible visiting and case review arrangements are made;
Where a local authority, in consultation with the child and their family, is considering ceasing to look after a child, the authority appropriately assesses the proposed arrangements for the child and sets out the support that will be provided when the child ceases to be looked-after;
The authority consults appropriately with the child, their parents, and others to ensure that the proposed arrangements are in the child’s best interests and will safeguard and promote their welfare; and
The authority has robust arrangements in place to scrutinise decisions to cease to look after a child.
All good news for our children, young people, their families and foster carers!
Find out about short term fostering