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Short-term foster care

  • Short term fostering is when a child stays with a foster family for a finite amount of time.  
  • This usually occurs whilst the child’s long-term care plan is being worked out, this can vary from a few days to a few years.  
  • Short term fostering is a great way to begin your career as a foster parent and gain experience in the role.  

Short term foster placements are for children and young people who need to be looked after temporarily and is the most common type of fostering placement. It is usually for children and young people who are either in care proceedings or whose parent(s) or care givers are unable to look after them.  Some of the reasons why a child or young person may need to go into short term foster care include:

  • Their parents are finding it difficult to cope with caring for a child at that time
  • The family is going through care proceedings – so the child goes into foster care while decisions are made about who will look after them in the future
  • The child is waiting to be adopted

The term short term can be misleading and suggests that children live with foster parents for a finite length of time whether it be a few weeks or a few months, but in reality, short term simply refers to the fact that permanent plans for the child’s future have not yet been formally agreed. Short term fostering can mean children staying with their carers for up to two years whilst the court process and the permanency plan is finalised.

During a short-term placement, the child’s link worker will carry out an assessment and determine the appropriate care plan for the child, which could mean reunification with their birth family, remaining in a foster home on a long-term basis or perhaps adoption. Short-term placement could involve the carer having a high level of contact with the children’s birth family to support the possibility of their reunification home. Short term foster parents could also play an important role in introducing children to their new long term fostering or adoptive families.

Families who haven’t previously fostered often chose to start their career by offering short-term placements because it can provide foster carers with an opportunity to get used to their new role without the pressure of offering a long-term commitment. Every situation is different however and sometimes children placed with a foster family on a short-term basis can then go on to remain there long-term if all parties agree that this in in their best interests.

Short term foster care can provide an opportunity to really make a difference during a time of immense change in a young person’s life.

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