Types of fostering
Discover the many different types of fostering that are available. We can help you decide which suits you best.
People foster for different reasons, but they all want to make a difference to the lives of the children they foster. Whether you want to use your existing skills in a different way, improve your work-life balance or start a new career, we can help you. All carers' home situations are different. It is important that the type of fostering you do fits with your individual family circumstances.
Short-term (temporary) fostering
Our short-term foster carers look after children for periods ranging from a few days or months up to two years. Children in short-term placements may return to their birth families or they may move to a permanent placement either through long-term fostering or adoption.
Long term (permanent) fostering
Our long-term foster carers provide children and young people with a family to support them into adulthood. As a local authority we always strive for children and young people to be cared for by their own families but there are times where this is not possible. Long term fostering usually allows a child to keep in contact with their birth family but to be cared for by foster carers.
Short break (respite) fostering
Short break, respite or shared care are all terms used to describe the roles of our part time foster care for children. Part time care may be needed to help families in difficulty, providing a break for parents, children or full time foster carers. This could be a weekend, during holiday periods or at times when foster carers are unable to fulfil their roles for personal reasons.
Home from home foster care
Home from home foster carers provide disabled children with regular short breaks by linking them with another family. The children come to stay with their home from home carer. This gives the child an opportunity to spend time with others, enjoy new activities and build new relationships. It also gives the child's parents the opportunity to spend time with their other children or to simply relax themselves. Some carers may provide care for children for one weekend each month whilst others may spend as much time with the children as their own parents do as part of a 'shared care' arrangement.
Parent and child foster care
Sometimes, foster carers are needed to support young parents in caring for their new baby or very young child. The parents and child will live in the foster carer's home and be supported by their foster family. The foster carer will encourage the young parents, without taking over their parental responsibilities. This helps to build their confidence as parents and develops their parenting skills.
A relative or close friend who cares for a child under a fostering agreement is known as a 'connected carer'. If a child cannot live with their own parent or parents they may be looked after by a family member or close friend. This can be done through either of the following:
- a private arrangement between a parent and carer for 28 days or more for a child aged under 16 years old (or under 18 years old if disabled).
- a child arrangement order, issued by a court, giving the holder parental responsibility for a child. They share this responsibility with anyone else who has parental responsibility.
- a special guardianship order, issued by the court, giving the holder parental responsibility. Although the holder does not have 100% of the parental responsibility they can, make decisions without the agreement of anyone else who may have parental responsibility.
Please refer to our connected carers page for more information on fostering as a connected carer.
The difference between fostering and adoption
When you foster a child, you are caring for them on behalf of the local authority and the birth parents. You have no legal rights or responsibilities in respect of the child. It is usually a temporary arrangement, although some fostering placements can be long-term. When you adopt a child you become their legal parent. This is permanent and the child has exactly the same legal status in your family as any other family member, which continues throughout their life. You can find out more about adoption at Adopt North East.
Could you foster a teenager?
Teenage years can be difficult for anyone, particularly for a child who has experienced a challenging upbringing. This is a critical stage in the lives of our children. With the right support, you can have a huge and positive impact on the child's life.
Could you foster brothers and sisters?
Whatever the reason that children need to spend time with a foster carer, it is undoubtedly a difficult process for them. A child in foster care will have to adjust to huge changes in their lives including being away from their birth family. This can be particularly difficult for the child if they are separated from their brothers or sisters.
Your story starts here
The first step to becoming a Foster Carer in Gateshead is to fill out our fostering enquiry form. A member of the fostering team will then contact you to gather some further details.