What is fostering?
In principle fostering is when a family take on the responsibility of caring for a child or young person when their birth family are unwilling or unable to care for them appropriately. There can be a multitude of reasons why a birth family cannot effectively care for their child, this can include abuse or neglect of the child at home or perhaps illness or death of a parent.
Foster Carers work as one of the many ‘professionals around the child’ to effect short and long term change for a child in need.
Fostering is challenging in numerous ways but it allows families to effect real change in the lives of children who are desperately in need of love and care. Foster carers will often describe fostering as one of the most rewarding things they have ever done.
Fostering can be both a temporary and permanent arrangement. Some children will have the opportunity to return to birth family after a period of time, whereas others will remain in foster care until adulthood. Children in fostering homes will likely have ongoing contact with their birth families.
How is foster care different from adoption?
Fostering has fundamental differences to adoption. Adoption involves a family becoming the legal parents of that child and becoming fully responsible as they would do for their birth child. Government support and intervention is limited unless the adoptive family require some initial support at the early stages.
A child in Foster Care remains the legal responsibility of the local authority and foster carers care for that child in line with a jointly agreed ‘Placement Plan.