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Difference between short-term and long-term fostering

Understanding the difference between short-term and long-term fostering is important before making the decision to become a foster carer. Find out the difference between the two, and which type of foster care is right for you.

What is short term fostering?

Short term fostering placements include anything from a single night of care from an emergency foster placement, to a multiple year placement. The duration of care in a short-term fostering placement is dependent on a number of factors – including whether it’s safe for the child to return to their birth family; whether long-term care is being sought for the child and if legal proceedings are being finalised.

During the short-term foster placement, long term plans for the foster child will be confirmed – with reunification with their birth family typically the most common goal, or moving a more permanent fostering solution. Most children are likely to begin their time in the foster care system on a short-term plan, also known as temporary fostering.

What is long term fostering?

Long-term foster care refers to the type of care plan the young person is on, rather than the duration of the placement. Long term fostering means the child should remain in a specific fostering placement until reaching adulthood, or leaving the foster care system.

Also known as permanent fostering, this type of care provides more consistency to young people in cases where they are unlikely to return to their birth family. This type of placement is likely to last years rather than months, but it also depends on the compatibility and external factors around the situation.

Which type of foster care is right for me?

Regardless of whether you choose temporary or permanent foster care, you will undoubtedly have a huge impact on children and young people’s lives. However, it’s important to acknowledge the effect both short-term and long-term fostering options may have on your family life.

Short-term fostering can often lead to a disruption to the family – as this type of fostering may provide a lack of consistency, as you’re likely to experience a number of different placements. However, this type of fostering is often preferred by foster carers as it leaves them without the commitment to long term foster care.

Long term fostering creates a permanent home for foster children, which, often, they will be in for years. This type of foster care provides not only consistency for the foster child, but for the whole family, too. We are actually searching for long term foster carers due to a national shortage, so we urge long term foster carers to come forward to help change a young person’s future.

Find out more about the fostering process, or get in touch with a member of our specialist team now for more information on the difference between short-term and long-term fostering.

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