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Difference between short and long-term fostering


Looking to foster? Knowing the difference between short-term and long-term fostering is important before making your decision to foster. Find out the differences and which type of foster care is right for you today.

What is short term fostering?

Short term placements can include anything from a single night for an emergency placement up to a two-year placement. The child in care will stay with you while their legal care proceedings are finalised, which usually takes around 25-26 weeks. Here, the child’s long-term plans will be confirmed – the decision of whether they can return to their birth family or whether they will move on to a long-term fostering solution is often being made in these circumstances.

Most foster children are likely to start out on a short-term foster care plan, which is also known as temporary fostering. Short term foster care is more common with young children – and is mostly to support the child in care while care proceedings or care hearings are happening to determine the young person’s future.

What is long term fostering?

When long-term foster care is referred to, it’s not purely based on the length of time the child is in care for – it instead refers to the type of care plan the young person is on. Long term foster placements mean the child should remain in a specific fostering placement (in most cases) until reaching adulthood and leaving care.

This type of foster care is also known as permanent fostering – as it provides a more permanent consistency to young people who are unlikely to return to their families. Once reaching adulthood, they are out of the care system and able to care for themselves. For more information on this, read our What Is A Care Leaver? guide.

Which type of foster care is right for me?

Whichever type of foster care you choose, it will undoubtedly have a huge impact on a young person’s life – and can be extremely rewarding. However, it is important to acknowledge that either long or short-term fostering will have an impact on your existing family’s life.

By choosing to foster short term, this can often lead to disruption in the family – and lack of consistency from placement to placement. However, foster carers often prefer short term fostering as it leaves them without the commitment to longer term foster care – while still having the ability to change a young person’s future.

Long term foster carers set out to create a permanent home for a young person that will often be in their care for years. There is currently a national shortage for long-term foster carers with most placements being short-term – so long-term fosterers are urged to come forward to help change a young person’s future.

Interested in finding out more about becoming a foster carer? Get in touch with our helpful team – one of our foster care experts will be in touch to provide you with help and advice.

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

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