As long as you are a permanent adult (preferably 21+) resident or UK citizen, and you have a spare room, you have a chance to impact the lives of multiple children in a positive manner. Now, a child may need fostering for multiple reasons and due to how varied those reasons can be, not all foster parents are adequately equipped to handle every scenario. As we explain the different types of fostering in brief next, it should provide you with a better picture of what to expect, before you decide to take on the respective responsibilities.
Short-Term Foster Care
Short-term foster care is where most people new to the role of a foster parent start. You will need to open your home and heart up to the child/children for anything between just a week or two to a couple of years at most. Those looking to help as many children as they can through the foster system may continue to stay on the path of short-term fostering.
Emergency Foster Care
Emergency foster care can be categorised as a form of short-term fostering as well, but there are some key differences. Those who provide emergency foster care to children will often need to do so on very short notice and the child will only stay with them for a few nights. Providing a temporary, but safe domicile to the child is usually the primary goal in emergency foster care.
Respite Foster Care
Respite fostering is designed to give the primary caregiver a break. You could provide respite for other foster parents, or to parents of a child with disabilities who need the extra support. This is where respite fostering comes in as a form of relief. You will need to temporarily foster children for a few nights, or even as an ongoing arrangement each month, so that their long-term foster parents or birt parents can take a break, rejuvenate, and come back with renewed energy.
Therapeutic Foster Care
Not to be confused with disabilitiy foster care, therapeutic foster care involves taking care of and counselling children under considerable mental stress. The mental stress in question will in most instances be triggered by traumatic events such as the loss of one or both parent(s) or family guardian(s), and physical/mental/sexual abuse. You must have the necessary training to foster children in need of therapeutic care.
If one or more children stay with the same foster parent till they reach maturity (18), they are under long-term foster care. Once the child does reach adulthood, the foster parent will begin fostering a new child who needs long-term care.
Depending on the circumstances of a case and the nature of the crime, an underaged offender remanded by the court may at times be placed in foster care instead of custodial care. However, you must have the special training and skills needed to become a remand foster caregiver.
Now that you have a proper understanding of what each different type of foster care entails, matching them with your own preferences, availability, home conditions, etc. should feel easier. Sometimes, it is better to start with temporary roles as foster parents. The experience can help you understand the responsibilities first-hand and choose the right path as foster parents later.