Arguably, fostering a child or teenager in need is one of the most rewarding experiences for everyone involved. It won’t always be smooth sailing but providing a safe space for a vulnerable kid has more merit than it is sometimes given credit for. Yet, with such a pressing demand for foster carers in this country, not many people understand the basic and varied roles that you could take on. This guide is here to explain the five principal categories of carer to show the wide scope of fostering and all it entails.
A long-term placement’s main goal is for the child to stay in your home under your care until they reach adulthood. These placements are carefully considered for compatibility, advanced requirements, and reliability. Once entered into, it would take a lot to move a child on. Often, this type of arrangement comes about after a short-term placement sees a positive result and a valid relationship emerging between the child and the carer. It can also be an expectation from the start, with carers undertaking specialist long-term focussed training for the purpose of engaging with this trajectory.
Respite care is mainly there to provide a break for long-term carers. In the same way that a birth child may stay at their grandparents for the weekend, respite carers form a relationship with carers and child, social workers, and beyond, and provide weekends or a few nights where the foster child stays with them. Also known as short break fostering, if you sign up to be a respite carer you will have autonomy over your schedule and availability, but dates will be requested and there is an expectation that you try to accommodate wherever possible.
Mother and Baby Pairing
If there are concerns flagged while a woman is pregnant or with a young baby, social services will sometimes recommend a mother and baby foster placement. This is to minimise distress for both mother and baby and ensure there is not only a watchful eye to help them, but also that they are both safe and establish a strong attachment to one day live independently.
Sometimes, children need placements on short notice, for example, an hour or less. These are urgent roles where there are often high levels of distress for the child coming into your home. It is usually short-term until a suitable carer can be established. You have to be ready on short notice, but it is highly rewarding to know that your home can be opened to a child in immediate need.
These placements demand a little more training. As a carer, you would be looking after children who have suffered from traumatic events, potential abuse, or exposure to drugs and alcohol. This is an emotive position of privilege and an opportunity to help, learn, and give support where it is desperately needed.
Fostering has many advantages, the clearest being the positive impact on a child in need of a home and support. The list above can be added to, but the roles here highlight the core areas of fostering.
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