Types of foster care

There are many types of foster care. The application process is the same for all types.

Long term

You foster children who cannot go back to their birth family but do not want to be adopted. Usually, you’ll be their foster parent until they’re an adult.

Short term

You look after children for a few weeks or months while plans are made for their future.

‘Family and friends’ or ‘kinship’

You care for a child who you know or is part of your family - for example, your grandchild. Contact your council for information about becoming a ‘family and friends’ or ‘kinship’ carer.


You give a child somewhere safe to stay for a few nights. This is usually unplanned and you could get less than 24 hours’ notice.

Respite and short breaks

You care for children who have disabilities, special educational needs or behavioural issues while their parents or usual foster carers take a break.


You take care of young people who’ve been remanded by a court. You’ll usually need specialist training to be this type of foster parent.

Fostering for adoption

You foster babies or young children who you may go on to adopt. If you’re fostering for adoption you’ll be entitled to adoption pay and leave from when the child comes to live with you.

You need to have been approved as an adopter by a local council or agency to do fostering for adoption.

Specialist therapeutic

You provide specialist therapeutic care to children and young people with complex needs or challenging behaviour. This is for experienced foster parents or those with certain skills.