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We feel that we are appreciated members of the team and that we are included in decisions that affect us.

John - Foster Carer

What is foster care?

A picture of young people on a bed

So what is fostering? Fostering is about giving children and young people a safe and secure home – that is the real definition of foster care. Many children are unable to live with their parents, so that’s where our amazing foster carers step in.

Although just as important, fostering differs from adoption. The main difference is that fostering means the local authority remains responsible for the child. This means social workers and foster carers are essentially joint parents with the local authority, as they keep legal responsibility for the child. In adoption, this legal responsibility is passed on to the adopting parents.

The reality of fostering is that many children and young people haven’t had a stable, supportive upbringing. Many foster children have faced uncertainty in their lives, some experiencing neglect or abuse. As you can imagine, these experiences affect these children in many different ways making it difficult to define a ‘typical foster child’. This can make fostering a challenge, but one that can also be fun, rewarding and hugely worthwhile too.

Fostering doesn’t take just one form, there are lots of ways to help and support a child in need. As a foster carer, you could provide:

    • Emergency care – offer support in times of uncertainty and emergency.
    • Weekend or ‘respite’ care – give a main foster carer a much deserved break.
    • Short-term care – foster a child for a period of days, months or years.
    • Long-term care – give a child a home throughout their formative years.

Whether it’s for a night or an entire childhood, foster carers offer something very special indeed – a happy and secure environment.

Foster carers come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing always remains the same – you can make a massive change to a child’s life.

We train our carers to become real experts, capable of looking after complex placements. Thanks to the specialised training we offer, you can become a specialist in areas such as sibling care, care for teenagers, remand care and caring for children with disabilities or challenging behaviours.

This skill and dedication means our carers can have an even bigger impact on the lives of our most vulnerable young people.

We understand our wonderful foster carers often need just as much support as the children they care for. As one of Britain’s leading fostering agencies, we are on hand with 24-hour support, expert training, mentoring and generous financial allowances.

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a foster carer? Why not take our quick and easy quiz to see if you could be a good fit for fostering.

For more fostering information, such as what the next step might be for you, please see our how to become a foster parent guide.