How Long Can a Child Remain in Foster Care?
No two children are alike and therefore there can be no definite answer to the question: “how long can a child remain in foster care”.
Fostering provides a home for a vulnerable child or young person who can no longer stay with their family. The reasons why children enter the care system will often play a part in the type of foster care the child receives and therefore the length of time they will remain in care.
There are many different types of fostering. When a child is taken from their family by local authorities, social workers will decide what type of care is best for the child and their individual circumstance.
Some of the most common types of placement are:
Emergency: This is when a child has been removed from their family with quite short notice and needs an immediate place to stay. Emergency foster families may look after a child for just a few days while more formal care plans are made for the child.
Short term: This ranges from a few weeks to a few months and sometimes can be up to two years. An emergency placement may even turn into a short term placement. This type of care is used as a temporary solution while a care plan is worked on for the child. Long term plans can be reunifying the child with their family, putting them up for adoption, or moving them to a long term foster home.
Long term fostering: Long term foster care is when a child lives with their foster parent, usually until they reach adulthood. This provides stability to the child and allows them a safe, stable environment for them to grow, develop and progress. Long term care is great at providing a child with a more permanent home when they cannot return to their birth family and when adoption is not a viable option.
Respite: This placement is a short one, usually supporting their current placement . It is a type of care arrangement used to provide regular support to a child’s full time carer or family. A respite carer will look after the child for a set period of time, usually on a regular basis. This gives the full time carer time to rest and recuperate.
As you can see, the length of time a child will remain in foster care depends greatly on the type of placement. If long term fostering is decided as the best option for that individual, then the child can remain with that one family until they age out of the system at age 18 and become a care leaver. You can read more about care leavers in our blog post here.
As with any foster placement, the end goal is always to keep families together. Social workers will work with the birth family and provide them with the support they need to provide a safe and stable home. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and sometimes returning to birth parents is not a feasible option. This is why long term fostering is such an important role within society!
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in contact by giving us a call on 03301 239 355 or click here to fill out our contact form.
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