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Fostering is one of many care options that offers a child a home when they are unable to live with their birth family. Approximately every 20 minutes, another child comes into care needing a foster family. Around three-quarters of children living in care live with foster families. There can be many different reasons as to why children come into care. It could be due to a parent’s short-term illness or a temporary problem that requires the child to have care. Some children have experiences of violence or witnessed drug or alcohol misuse, others have been neglected or abused. Fostering provides these children with a safe and caring family, usually as close to their home and familiar surroundings as possible.

The Difference Between Fostering and Adoption

Adoption and fostering are two common types of long-term arrangement for children and young people. However, they are very different. Adoption provides a new family for children who cannot be brought up by their birth parents. If a child is adopted, they will lose all legal ties with their birth parents and the adopters will be given parental responsibility, whereas with fostering the child can maintain contact with family members and the state holds parental responsibility. Adoption is always considered a permanent arrangement whereas foster care can also be short-term.

Adoption is a process which legally removes the rights and responsibilities of the child's birth parent(s), and transfers them to adoptive parent(s). The child will lose all rights of inheritance from their birth family and will take the surname of their adoptive family.

Fostering does not provide the same legal security for either the foster carers or the child and would usually only continue until the children and young people are 18. However, it means the child can keep their ties with their birth family, who may remain involved in any important decisions being made about their child and would usually be encouraged to have regular contact with their child. When a child is fostered, foster carers will be asked to work in partnership with social workers as well as the child's birth family.

If you are considering fostering, it’s important to understand the different options you can specialise in as a foster carer. Each comes with its own rewards and challenges. You should consider what skills and experience you have, as well as what would suit you and your family best. Your fostering service will also advise you on this and will be able to give you more information about the types of foster care they offer and the people they need.

Are you considering becoming a foster carer? Get in touch with us today.