There are a number of different types of fostering placements. This article explains the different types of placement and explains why different foster carers tend to find they are suited to a particular type. You can find out more about the different types of foster placements here.
Understanding the difference in placements helps foster carers to understand which type of care they can provide. It also helps foster carers to understand the unique needs of the child being placed into their care.
Given that different types of placement can be used at different points in a child’s life, it is vital that the adults around the child understand the nature of each placement. This will lead to enhanced success and provide a good grounding for the child to settle well into the care.
The difference between short- and long-term placements
Within both short- and long-term fostering placements, there are a number of different types of placement. However, the first distinction we need to make is between these two types of placement.
In a long-term placement, it has been decided that a child will remain in foster care for the rest of their childhood until they reach adulthood. These placements are designed to offer the ‘permanent’ home the child needs to flourish through their childhood. This means that these placements can often last for several years. Where possible, it is essential that these placements are limited to one foster family.
With short-term placements, the fostering placement is a ‘short-term’ solution whilst longer-term decisions about a child’s future are made. These placements can, therefore, vary somewhat in length. They may last for just a few days. Mostly they continue for weeks or months. In some cases, they will last for several years, particularly where the decision is dependent on a court case.
Short-term fostering placements are a means of providing a home environment, offering security, while further plans are made. It is not designed to be permanent. The nature of this is that most children coming in to care, start off with a short-term placement.
Within both short and long-term fostering placements, there are then some further distinctions.
Types of fostering placement
Children come in to foster care from a range of backgrounds. This typically determines the nature of a placement.
- Emergency placement: If a child is brought in to care with very short notice, or with immediate effect, they will urgently need placing with a foster family until other arrangements can be made. This may also happen in situations where a parent is unable to care for their child, temporarily, perhaps due to sudden ill health, or a need for respite.
- Sibling placements: Sibling placements are simply those where the intention is to keep a sibling group together because this is deemed to be in their best interest. When children are experiencing the upheaval of being taken in to care, remaining with their siblings can provide much-needed security. However, these placements require a foster home to have more space and resources, so these placements are often tricky to find.
- Mother and baby placements: Mother and baby placements are where both a mother and her baby are placed together. These are a chance to support a mother in the early days and provide guidance and care to the mother so that she can nurture her baby, while also ensuring the baby is well cared for. There may also be a supervision element to this placement.
- Step-down foster placements: For children who have been in a residential care home, it is imperative to help them transition to normal family life. They may require additional and specialist support to enable them to feel comfortable in a family environment.
- Respite care: Some families are facing extreme challenges, such as caring for children with severe disabilities, bereavement, or health difficulties. Foster carers can provide respite placements to give these families a chance to recuperate and regain their energy to, once again, take up their caring responsibilities.
- Sanctuary-seeking children: Children who arrive in the UK, seeking asylum, may be without family, or not able to be with them. These children present unique challenges because they are often experiencing a cultural shock in addition to their experiences of loss and separation. These children need placements which focus on their unique needs. At Active Care Solutions, we can provide culturally appropriate placements for such children.
- Remand placements: A court will occasionally determine that a child who has been either charged with or convicted of, an offence, will be most appropriately cared for in foster care.
Which foster placement is for you?
Throughout the assessment process, you will have the opportunity to find out more about the different types of foster placement. Together with your chosen agency, you will then be able to determine which kind of fostering placement best suits your abilities and situation.