What is fostering?

Fostering is a way of providing family life for children who cannot live with their own parents.

Fostering is often used to provide temporary care while parents receive help to sort out problems, or to help distressed and troubled children and young people through a difficult period in their lives.

Most fostered children remain in contact with their families and eventually return to their own homes. In some cases this cannot happen and the foster carer will help the child or young person prepare for their next move, maybe to move to a permanent foster care placement, or to be adopted, or to begin life as an independent young adult.

There are many reasons why a child or young person may need foster care. These can include:

  • Their parents are unable to look after them because of physical or mental health problems.
  • A member of the family may have a drug or alcohol related problem that seriously affects the safety and care of the child.
  • The child may have been neglected or abused and a decision has been made that it is not safe for the child to stay with the family.
  • A young person may be remanded into foster care by the court.
  • There are major problems and tensions in the family and regular, brief periods of care for the child or children enable the family to remain together in the long-term.

Families of a disabled child or children may benefit from short breaks, where the child enjoys time in a new environment and the parents have some time to themselves.