Types of Foster Care

There are various types of foster care placements you may be asked to consider, such as short term fostering, long term or emergency foster care.

The types of foster care placements can be broken down into the following list:


Some children are in foster care on a long-term basis. This can be from a young age until they are old enough to leave care and live independently at around the age of 18. Often, short term or emergency foster care can turn into long term foster care, and these are also be known as ‘permanent foster placements’.

Short-term foster care, also known as ‘temporary foster placements’, provide a temporary home for a child or young person. This could be until they return home to their birth family or leave care, or before they move on to long-term fostering or adoption. Short-term fostering often begins as emergency fostering – from when a sudden trauma or event in families results in children needing immediate care.

Find our more about the key differences between long term and short term fostering.

Children can be taken out of their family home in an emergency. Sometimes little is known about the child/situation, but foster care is provided to look after the young person. This could be due to an incident that has happened in the home where the child is no longer safe – and needs immediate protection/sanctuary. Emergency foster care is a type of short-term fostering.

Therapeutic fostering is a type of fostering which requires special training and education in looking after children with complex needs. Therapeutic foster carers then become part of a specialist therapy team and work with professionals to help meet the needs of the child. The clinical team will also work directly with the children and young people to support their development. Therapeutic fostering placements can be long-term or short-term. Carers have more training and a more comprehensive toolset to deal with more challenging behaviours. Find out more about our therapeutic fostering.

Parents (mother/father/both) can be placed in foster care together with their baby/child/children. The needs vary but specially trained foster carers look after the parent(s) and child(ren) and ensure safety while the parent(s) are assessed. This could be when a mother has a baby and it’s a difficult experience for her, meaning she needs extra help - yet adequate support is not always available from her family or friends. In a lot of cases, the mother of this placement could also be a young girl herself.

Following on from the above, parent and child fostering requires an assessment period, which takes place over a three-month period. This is usually undertaken by a qualified Capstone social worker, or a social worker from a local authority. Learn more about what is assessed during the parent and child assessment period, and what happens when the parents are signed off from the foster care placement.

Also known as ‘respite foster care’ this is a type of short-term foster care where a child would be placed with a foster family in order to provide a breather to the current family and the child. This could be for the birth family, adoption family, or a foster family. Planned breaks foster care typically lasts from between a weekend to a weeklong break, and it can be made a regular part of the foster child’s routine.

Regardless of the different types of foster care you can be part of, your local authority is always looking for a safe place for children and young people to stay. Although there is a need for all types of foster families, short-term foster care is the most common.

If you’re still unsure on which type of fostering is for you, we’re here to help. Here at Capstone Foster Care, we are able to work with carers and provide the support and benefits needed. Our knowledge centre is filled with articles to help answer common questions on all aspects of fostering.

Now you know more about the types of fostering, why not take the next step and call one of our advisors on 0800 012 4004 to find out more about your next steps in becoming a foster carer, or complete the form below.

Or are you still wondering if you are the right person for the job? Learn more about who can foster

Thinking of fostering?

If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with Capstone, fill out the form below.
An experienced fostering advisor from your local area will then be in touch.

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Ways to

Start the conversation today. Our team of friendly advisors are on hand to answer any foster care questions you may have. We can offer you honest and practical advice that can help you decide if becoming a foster carer is the right path for you. 

Request a
call back

Contact us by completing our online form and one of our fostering advisors will respond to your enquiry within 24 hours.

Call us

Contact us by phone and one of our friendly fostering experts will be on hand for any foster care advice and support you require.

Download a Brochure

Download our helpful guide to becoming a foster carer with Capstone Foster Care.