What is fostering?

Fostering or foster care is a way of providing a stable family life for children and young people, who are unable to live with their birth family. Children and young people need foster care for variety of reasons. For example- if the parents are too ill to care for their children or if they are struggling to provide adequate care due to their past experiences, drugs or alcohol misuse.

Foster carers, also known as foster parents, can make a real difference to a child’s life chances by caring for them when their family can’t. Foster Care allows children the chance to thrive in a safe, secure, loving and caring home environment with foster carers and provides the opportunity for professionals to work with their families to help resolve their issues.

Foster children come from a diverse range of socio-cultural backgrounds and some may have additional needs as a result of their previous experiences. Foster carers are supported by a team of professionals to provide a positive care experience for the child.

There are several different ways of providing foster care.  As a foster carer, you could provide a child with a home on an emergency basis for a few nights, or for a short-term period ranging from a few weeks to a few months or on long term or permanent basis, or you could help a parent or another foster carer by providing respite care. 

The main difference between fostering and adoption is to do with the legal arrangements. As a foster carer you do not become the legal parent of the child whereas as adopters do.