FAQs on fostering


What is fostering?

Fostering involves a person, or people, other than a child’s birth parents taking care of the child. Fostering may happen temporarily, such as while the child’s birth parents are getting through a difficult patch in their life. Or, fostering may happen on a permanent basis, such as if the child’s birth parents have died or will be unable to take care of their children in the long term.

What is public and private fostering?

Public fostering happens when local authorities make arrangements for children in need of care. Private fostering, on the other hand, is where parents make private arrangements for their own children because they are not able to care for them at the time.

What are other types of fostering?

Short-term, emergency fostering can occur for a few nights, weeks or months, whilst families are unable to care for their children. Short-break fostering may occur for children with special needs or behavioural difficulties. Remand fostering may occur for young people who are "remanded" by a court after their involvement in criminal activities.

What’s the difference between fostering and adopting?

Adopting a child involves legally obtaining parental responsibility for the child. Fostering does not involve gaining parental responsibility. When a child is fostered, the child's parents or the local authority still have legal responsibility for them. Long-term fostering may be suitable for children who cannot return to their own families but who don’t want to be adopted. “Family and friends", or "kinship" fostering may be suitable when children are cared for by people they already know.

What laws apply to fostering?

The Children Act 1989 sets out the duties of local authorities to ensure the suitability of a foster placement and structures for visits by social workers to children in foster care. The law also imposes requirements on foster carers in relation to their care of the child. Additionally, it establishes a framework for record keeping, complaints procedures, fostering support, meetings and reviews, as well as access to representation.

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