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What is the difference between long-term and short-term foster care?

There are two main types of full-time fostering options, long-term and short-term. All types of care and support you can provide as a foster carer will make a huge difference to the lives of children.

It’s important to remember that children and young people come into foster care through no fault of their own. Each child has a unique set of needs; these needs are our top priority when finding the right family to look after them.

What is short-term foster care?

As a short-term foster carer, you will provide support for a child temporarily on a short term basis until legal arrangements are made for their future. These arrangements can range from a few days to a couple of years, depending on the legal needs of the child or young person.

Children can be placed in your care for a variety of reasons and you may not have a lot of time to prepare for their arrival.

“The most rewarding thing about being a foster carer is seeing the smiles and laughter from the children I support and knowing that they enjoy coming here. Most of my foster children didn't want their placements to end.” - Kara, short-term foster carer

What is long-term foster care?

A long-term foster carer provides a permanent home for a child who is unable to live with their birth family. This arrangement is in place until a foster child reaches adulthood. From the age of 18, they will receive support to care for themselves or remain with their foster family if they wish to do so.

“Who could have imagined that first day we walked in to the meeting to find out about fostering that one day my husband would walk our foster child down the aisle at her wedding, with our daughters as bridesmaids” - Wendy and Michael, long term foster carers

Long-term foster care and adoption are not the same. In foster care, the legal responsibility is usually shared between the child’s birth parents and a local authority. Day to day care is provided by the foster carer, who may have some delegated authority but no parental rights.

What type of foster care is right for me?

When starting your fostering journey, you will need to consider what type of fostering is right for you and your family. Lots of foster families form life-long bonds with children they’ve cared for.

You’ll continually benefit from the support and expertise of our team. Remember - our team is always on the other end of the phone to offer advice and answer any questions you may have.

You can make a difference

As a foster carer, you will make a positive difference in the lives of the children and young people in your care.

You will be providing children and young people with care and stability during a challenging time in their lives. You’ll provide a safe environment for them to grow and learn, helping to improve their confidence and happiness one day at a time.

Find out how you can become a foster carer.

Moving on

When a child leaves short-term foster care , they may be moving on to live with a long-term foster family, going to live with their birth family or possibly moving onto adoption.

Some families, especially ones with young children, may find it upsetting when a foster child moves on.

A child in long-term care will stay with their foster family until they reach the age of 18. However, as of 2016, local authorities across the UK must enable foster children to remain living with their foster family if they both wish to do so. This arrangement is known as ‘Staying Put’; it provides young people with the continued stability and support as they navigate into adulthood.

As they move on, all foster children will receive continuous support as they transition into new surroundings. Whatever their plan, care leavers will receive dedicated advice up until the age of at least 21 years old.

Support and aftercare as a foster carer

When a child is ready to move on, we will provide you with lots of support and advice to prepare for this transition. Plus, Bradford Fostering has a friendly and supportive community who are eager to share their advice and experience.

“Our foster children stayed with us throughout their childhoods and are still very much part of our clan, even though they are adults and live with their own partners now.” - Wendy & Michael, foster carers

Can you provide care to a child or young person in the Bradford district? Get in touch with our team to discover how you can make a difference.

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