Long term fostering placements give a child or young person somewhere to live and grow for a number of years if they cannot return to the care of their own families. This can last for many years, usually until the child reaches 18 and becomes ready for adult life.
How does a long term foster placement work?
With a long term foster placement a foster carer makes the child or young person a fully integrated member of their family. Often a Care Order has been made by the Court, meaning that the local authority will be legally responsible for the child, as they have resumed ‘parental responsibility’ through the court process.
Children coming into a long term fostering placement need a stable, solid and loving home environment where they can feel truly settled and at ease. They may have already had the experience of being in several foster families, or they may have been in a children’s care home.
What is the difference between adoption and long term fostering?
Long term fostering allows a child or young person to maintain contact with their birth family if it is felt to be in their best interest. This may be only limited contact, but it maintains a link with the child’s parents which may be important to them or to their development. Adoption is a more permanent arrangement and is legally binding, giving the adoptive parents exclusive parental rights to the child.
The matching process
If you decide you would like to become a long term foster carer, your supervising social worker will look at your abilities and compare them closely with the needs of children who are awaiting long term foster families. If there is a child who appears to be a good match for what you and your family can offer, they will inform you and share all relevant information so that you can make the right decision. You will then have the opportunity to meet the child concerned and ensure it would be the best placement for everyone concerned.
It happens regularly that children who were initially placed on an emergency basis remain with the same family in a long term foster placement.
If you’d like to find out more about long term fostering, call UK Fostering and we’ll be happy to answer your queries.