Whilst the majority of people are aware that the main difference between adoption and foster care is the temporary nature of fostering, they don’t necessarily realise that there are lots of different types of foster care placements. The placements available differ in time periods, enabling foster carers to cater for the varying needs of children in the care system.

When you choose to start the application process of becoming a foster carer, you will need to start thinking about which type of foster care placements you’d be interested in and how you think you’d best be able to help children and young people. To help you decide which type of foster carer you’d like to be and which placement/s you would be most suitable for before you start your fostering journey, below we have looked into the different lengths of fostering placements in more detail.

Emergency foster carer

This is a really unique type of foster placement and, when you’re an emergency foster carer, you will be given very little notice when a child needs to be placed into your care. There isn’t time for introductions or prior planning and you will often have less than 24 hours to prepare for someone to stay with you. 

A young person can require emergency foster care for various reasons, but it is usually a very short-term solution that will essentially be a stepping stone for them until a more suitable placement is found. This type of placement is really important and when you’re an emergency foster carer you will be ensuring a child is safe until other arrangements can be made for them. 

Short-term foster carer 

As the name suggests, short-term foster carers will look after children and young people for a short period of time. This is another temporary placement solution and often, as a short-term foster carer, you will have a child in your care for only a few days or it could be years. 

Again, this type of placement is used until longer-term arrangements can be made for a young person and the length of time you care for a foster child will differ from case to case. Short-term foster care placements can remain short term until the local authority has agreed long term funding and the placement has been confirmed as a long term placement.

Bridging foster carer

This is another short-term foster placement, however, it is a placement that is designed for babies and very young children. When you’re a bridging foster carer, you will temporarily care for a baby until they move into a long-term placement or, sometimes, before they are adopted by the family they will spend the rest of their lives with.

Although bridging placements are short-term placements, depending on the scenario, you may sometimes need to care for a baby or a very young child for a few months, or even longer. There is no guarantee of how long it will take to find a long-term solution for a baby and you will be required to care for them until they are placed somewhere else. 

Long-term foster carer

When compared to all of the other types of placements mentioned above, this placement is a much longer placement. As a long-term foster carer, you will look after a child or young person for a long period of time and sometimes, you can have someone in your care for up to 16 years. 

Often, this type of foster placement is required when adoption isn’t considered to be appropriate for a child and this solution can still provide them with a long-term home. Generally speaking, you will care for a foster child until they are old enough to care for themselves and they can start to build their own home. So, this type of placement is very common amongst older children who are in their teenage years and need some support until they’re an adult. 

Working with a Northampton fostering agency

Hopefully, if you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, the information above will be beneficial. Now that you know a little bit more about the different lengths of foster placements, you can start to properly consider which type of foster carer you’d like to be and which type of placement you would likely be most suited to. 

Should you wish to have an informal chat about becoming a foster carer, you can call our team here at Fostering UK in confidence today. We are a Northampton-based fostering agency and we will gladly answer any questions that you may have about the different types of placements. Chatting to an expert is the best thing to do if you’re interested in fostering and they can provide you with any additional information that you may require.

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