Foster care is a way of offering children and young people a home while their own family are unable to look after them. This can be for a variety of reasons, from temporary illness to issues such as abuse within their home or the death of a primary carer. Before deciding to go into the field of foster care, there are some aspects of fostering which you should take the time to familiarise yourself with:
About Foster Care
• Foster carers are child care experts working alongside a team of professionals providing children with the highest standard of foster care.
• About 79 percent of children who are looked after away from home in the UK live with foster families.
• Foster care isn’t easy, but it offers the opportunity to make a huge difference to the lives of the children who need it. Fostering can be a very rewarding experience for those who are passionate about caring for young people.
• Foster care is often a temporary arrangement, and many fostered children eventually have the opportunity to return to their own families. Children who cannot return home but still want to stay in touch with their families often live in long-term foster care.
How is foster care different from adoption?
Foster care is seen as a separate process to adoption. Adoption is where a new, permanent family is provided for children who can no longer live with their own family. An adoption order transfers the child’s legal relationship from their birth family to the new adoptive family who then become their legal guardians in all respects.
Adoption is the best option for a minority of children, with around 4,000 children needing adoptive families each year. However, the vast majority of children in care do not need a new family, but rather to be given the highest standard of care until they can return to their own family or move on elsewhere. This is where foster care can provide the best solution for all involved.