Long term foster carer may last until the child or young person has aged out of the foster care system and becomes a care leaver.
Long term fostering refers to when a child or young person is not able to return to their birth family, or adoption is not possible. This type of fostering placement, also known as permanent fostering, will usually last until the child in care ages out of the foster care system by reaching adulthood.
Foster placements vary in length from a few days to a majority of a young persons childhood. In England long term fostering placements are defined under local authority based on 3 conditions and there is no set time for a long term foster care placement. In Scotland however this is described as anything over 24 months.
The conditions for a foster care placement to be classed as long term in England are:
People often wonder about the difference between long term fostering and adoption. Long term fostering allows the child or young person to remain in contact with their birth family, if this is appropriate, while providing a safe, secure home for them. However, adoption is more of a permanent arrangement and legally makes the foster child your own – separating them from their birth parents. In cases of adoption, the adoptive parents will have exclusive parental legal control.
When a child is adopted out from foster care, foster care allowances will also stop as the child is now solely your responsibility not that of the local authority. If you are still interested in adopting a child from within the foster care system, read our guide on Fostering vs Adopting for more information.
One of the benefits of long term foster care is that, although the contact may be limited, familial relationships can be maintained through long term fostering (where they wouldn’t through adoption) – which could prove to be beneficial for their development.
Another benefit of long term fostering is that the young person in care will receive a sense of stability and permanency through living in a stable, secure home. This is likely to help with their development and build solid attachments with their foster family.
The child’s education can also benefit from long term foster care – as there is more time to settle into a school routine without the disruption of moving repeatedly, like you may experience with short term foster care. This creates a positive environment for both personal growth and educational growth.
Foster parents who have long term foster placements will develop lasting and meaningful relationships with children in their care, often keeping in touch long after the child ages out of the care system. On top of a lasting relationship, foster parents will continue to receive the foster care allowance for a longer period of time with long term foster care placements compared to shorter placements.
Looking to become a foster carer? Or perhaps you’re already a carer who’s looking to specialise in long term fostering? With FosterCare UK, you will be provided with specialist fostering training and support – meaning you are prepared for your fostering placements. Find out more about the foster carer requirements if you are looking to become a foster carer, or, it you are an existing carer, contact a member of our team to express your interest in becoming a long term foster carer.
If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with FosterCare UK, fill out the form below.
An experienced fostering advisor from your local area will then be in touch.