What types of foster care placement are there in the UK?
It’s not always the case that foster care placements are for a long time. Often, placements are relatively short periods.
In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of foster care placement that foster carers provide to young people in the UK.
As an independent foster care agency operating across London, Lika provides many of these types of placements on a regular basis. When you become a Lika carer you will be assessed for the kinds of placements that will suit you, your situation and your needs.
Emergency foster care
Emergency foster care placements usually occur with little or no warning. They usually occur on the same day or out of hours, when it is difficult for social workers to fully understand the child’s situation. These placements normally last a few days to a few weeks.
Lika doesn’t expect new foster carers to be placed in the situation of managing a new placement with little referring information. Emergency placements can be more common for experienced foster carers and only if they feel they have the skill to manage this level of uncertainty.
READ MORE: Can single people become foster carers?
Short-term foster care
Short-term foster care placements can last from a few days to up to two years, depending on a child’s circumstances.
When a young person is placed in foster care, a minimum period of stay is normally given by the Local Authority and agreed to by the foster carer and Lika. But plans are never certain, so many short-term placements can go on to become long-term, if everyone is in agreement.
There is never any pressure to accept placements that might develop into longer term ones. It needs to be a good fit for both the foster carer and the young person.
Long-term foster care
Long-term foster care is when social workers have assessed that children are unable to return to their birth family.
In these circumstances, many younger children are placed for adoption. For older children, a long-term and stable foster care placement will be found. If the young person was already living with you and is settled in, this placement could continue as a long-term arrangement. If there is an agreement from the foster carer, young person and professional network, this could be a longer-term placement until adulthood.
There is a process of permanence planning and ‘matching’ by the Local Authority which can involve some reporting and attending a Matching Panel. The legal status of the young person with you doesn’t need to change — nor does the practical or financial support you receive from Lika — but the message to the young person that you want them to remain with you until adulthood does!
Parent and child placements
Parent and child placements are used in situations where there are concerns about a parent’s ability to care for their baby. These parents can be of any age, and either male or female.
Parents can often be placed just prior to the birth of the child. Introductions and planning can take days or months leading up to the placement, depending on need.
Sometimes parent and child placements involve young mums who are deemed to be vulnerable and without support. Other times, it may be a parent struggling with their own difficulties, such as mental health problems or a learning disability.
It’s becoming more common that the father and child or both parents are placed with their baby in foster care whilst an assessment of their parenting capacity and risk to the baby are undertaken. These placements can last a matter of weeks or months, depending on the outcome of assessments from the Local Authority. As the foster carer, you will help the social workers decide the length of placement by reporting on the developments made while the parent and child live with you. In the event that neither parent (nor an extended family member) is able to care for the baby, adoption would be considered.
Lika only recommends that parent and child placements become an option for foster carers who have more experience as a standard foster carer (either as a foster carer who has been with the agency a number of years or who is transferring to us with experience). Due to the level of complexity that can develop with managing the need of parent and child placements, experience is essential.
Respite foster care
Respite fostering gives support to families if they need a short break from their caring duties. For many families this will be because their child has a significant disability, learning need or behavioural difficulties.
Normally, the family will be experiencing difficulties and stress and are in need of some rest. Respite can also be recommended and planned for times when things are going well, so that everyone stays recharged and rest breaks aren’t just used when everyone is feeling stressed. This can be anything from an overnight stay to a fortnight’s holiday.
Lika can offer respite to Local Authority foster carers or parents who need a short break. Predominately, Lika offers in-house respite to its own foster carers within the agency.
It’s common for Lika foster carers to build relationships which can lead to young people feeling part of other foster families. As long as this is risk assessed and supported by the child’s social worker and foster carer’s supervising social workers, respite arrangements with Lika’s own foster carers can become really fulfilling experiences for both the young person and foster carer.
Remand foster care
Remand fostering is an alternative to police custody or secure accommodation if a young person is awaiting court proceedings.
Being placed in the community with a supportive foster family is seen as a more positive way to provide a young person with an environment where they can rethink the decisions they are making about their life, and hopefully prevent further offending in the future.
Young people who are part of remand fostering can often have other challenges such as unstable home life, drugs and alcohol issues, mental health issues or disabilities, meaning extra support and nurturing at this point in their life is critical.
Much like parent and child fostering, due to some of the additional complexities with this type of fostering, Lika would only recommend remand fostering to someone who was already an experienced foster carer and receiving additional training.
In London and want to know more about Lika Family Fostering?
Being a foster carer is a role like no other. Successful foster care requires an excellent support network and team around the placement.
Lika is an innovative agency that uses systemic family therapy approaches as a model to guide everything we do.
If you’re interested to know more, give our team a call on 0208 667 2111 or email email@example.com
Lika recruits foster carers in the London boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Bromley, Merton, Lambeth, Westminster, Wandsworth, Lewisham, Southwark, Islington, Camden, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Ilford, City of London, Haringey, Newham, Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Kensington and Chelsea.