Published on
14 September 2021

Are you considering becoming a foster carer?

Maybe you think you don’t have time to foster or you’re not the right type of person. However, there are many different types of fostering.

What is a foster carer?

Foster carers offer children a loving home when their biological parents or wider family can’t care for them. This can be on a short or long-term basis.

Foster carers ensure the children in their care feel safe and secure. It is an important role, and their love and support can get a child through a difficult time.

Who can foster?

Many people rule themselves out of fostering, thinking that there is only one type of person who is suitable. What a lot of people don’t realise is that there are many types of foster carer, just as there are many ways to foster a child. Single people, couples and families of all ethnicities, cultures, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, ages and backgrounds form our UK-wide community of Barnardo’s foster carers.

The main requirements for becoming a foster carer are that you:

  • are at least 21 years-old

  • have a spare bedroom big enough for a child or young person to live in

  • are a full-time resident in the UK or have leave to remain

  • can give the time to care for a child or young person

It’s also important that carers can offer a smoke-free environment.

Types of Foster Care

We’ve established that people from all walks of life can become foster carers. What about the different ways they can provide foster care?

Short-term fostering

When a child needs support for a short period of time, which could be either days or months, they will be placed with a short-term foster carer. This is usually an interim arrangement until they can return to their birth family, or a suitable long-term placement is made.

Find out more about short term fostering.

Long-term fostering

Sometimes it can be months or years before a child can return to his or her birth family and in some cases, they may never be able to do so. In these cases we need foster carers who can provide safety and stability to children on a long-term basis.

Find out more about long term fostering.

Short break or support care

Short break, or support care provides children with planned short-term breaks away from their birth families or carers. Short-term breaks are an opportunity for children to gain new experiences and develop new bonds outside of their everyday environment.

Find out more about short break or support care fostering

Parent and child placements

Parent and child placements give parents with young children the opportunity to develop their parenting skills, by living with a specially trained foster carer. These placements can help to keep families together.

Emergency care

There are times when a child may need to be placed in care due to unforeseen circumstances. Providing emergency care at short notice means children can be placed in a safe environment sooner rather than later.

Remand placements

Remand fostering can be a helpful and beneficial alternative to custody for children who are awaiting court proceedings

Fostering for adoption (concurrent care)

Some children in care are placed with concurrent carers who have the potential to become their adoptive parents if a decision is made that they cannot return to their birth parents. This provides greater stability for the child.

Children who have been trafficked or sexual exploited

Specialist foster carers take care of children who have previously experienced trafficking or sexual exploitation.

This type of foster care may be of particular interest to people who are experienced foster carers interested in developing new skills or are in the health, social, education or youth professions. Specialist carers receive additional support, training and finance and are fully supported by childcare professionals.

Supported lodgings

Supported Lodgings placements are a stepping-stone to independence for young people at risk of homelessness, and those leaving the care system.

Providers offer emotional support and the chance to learn vital practical skills in a safe place. Providers don’t have the same legal responsibilities as a parent or foster parent. The young person will have their own dedicated Barnardo’s project worker. Find out more about what it takes to become a Supported Lodgings provider.

Further information

By choosing to become a foster carer you can make a huge difference in a child's life - and yours. We've got plenty more information about fostering on our website.

If you’re interested in having a no obligation chat with our experts, you can make an enquiry about fostering with us without making any commitments. A member of our team will call you back to talk you through the fostering process, answer any questions you may have and ask you a few questions about yourself and your motivation to foster.

  • Foster carer Cathy Evans

    Fostering near me

    Our team of dedicated social workers will support you throughout the whole of your fostering journey. Our fostering services are placed right around the UK.

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    Fostering journey

    We understand the decision to foster is a huge step and we'll provide you with support every step of the way. Find out more about the journey to fostering.

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    Become a foster carer

    The first step towards joining the Barnardo's family is getting in touch. Complete our online form or find details about alternative contact methods here.