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Types of fostering

There are many different reasons why children and young people need to be fostered, so we provide different types of fostering stay. You can choose to specialise in one but may decide to change the type of fostering you do throughout your fostering journey.

We always aim to match our children and young people with carers and the home which will best suit their individual needs, and our team of staff will discuss this with you in detail.

The ongoing support and training offered by Fostering Devon will allow you to develop your skills and expertise in particular areas of fostering.

In time, you may like to consider our specialist schemes, helping families stay together through our Child and Parent scheme or looking after young people on remand.

Our team of fostering experts will always work with you to help decide what type of fostering is going to suit you, your family and your lifestyle.

Mainstream fostering

Our foster carers normally begin their profession as mainstream carers. This is the most common form of fostering and means giving a child a safe place to stay, perhaps for a night or two, through to months or a longer-term arrangement. You may even be able to support them through to independent living as a young adult.

You can also be asked to offer ongoing support to a family or another foster carer by looking after a child on a regular basis, say one or two weekends a month. If you have the space, you can look after brothers and sisters who would otherwise be separated.

In most cases, a child will wish to stay in touch with their birth family and you will be providing the safe and stable environment that makes this possible.

Some foster carers provide round-the-clock care, helping children with the most distressed and challenging behaviours and additional needs to find a safe haven, a supportive family, and a place in society. This level of foster care comes with additional support and training.

Short breaks

There are times when you may be asked to provide short break care to care for children and young people and to give family or foster carers a break. This type of care can give families time to repair relationships, or it can provide support to another foster carer as required. We require at least two weekends a month and help through the school holidays.

Short term

This can be for a limited time, but usually lasts until the child has a long-term arrangement – It may be for as little as one night or up to two years.

Long term

Provides a home for a child who cannot live with their birth family long term.

Fostering sibling groups

Keeping brothers and sisters together is incredibly important to us at Fostering Devon. It can be heartbreaking when siblings are no longer able to live with their parents or other family members and must be separated, so we try as hard as possible to keep them together in the same home.

Their relationships with each other, the support they provide to one another and their shared experiences all greatly affect how successful their time in care is.

Ideally, we need carers who can offer a nurturing home with a bedroom for each child. Carers need the time, space, energy and resilience to meet the individual and collective children’s needs and should expect to be busy!

Caring for siblings can be extremely rewarding. Giving the opportunity for brothers and sisters to be able to support and comfort one another at a difficult time in their lives is an amazing thing to do.

Keeping teenagers together with young siblings can be especially helpful as the older child will often be aware of a younger child’s likes and dislikes, needs and routines.

We are keen to recruit foster carers for Devon’s sibling groups – both experienced carers and those who are new to fostering.

Fostering a teenager

Whilst it can help if you have prior experience parenting teenagers or working with young people; perhaps as a teacher, youth worker or nurse, this is not essential.

We need people who can offer teenagers a safe and secure home. Somewhere they can find their feet, and build their self-confidence and independence, leading to them learning how to become successful and responsible adults in the future.

Child and parent fostering

This type of fostering is for specialist and experienced carers. We need carers to support and assess people with parenting difficulties and work together with a team of staff and the birth parents to help them to improve their parenting skills.

This enables the birth parents and their child to stay together, increasing the likelihood that the parent and baby can bond in those crucial early months.

It also allows the parents to stay in their local area, offering them stability and consistency in their lives.

Sal and Keith recently moved from mainstream into child and parent fostering and you can read about their journey.

Devon Young People’s Accommodation Service (DYPAS)

As part of our recruitment, we are also looking to increase the number of host families in the Devon Young People’s Accommodation Service.

DYPAS provides a safe, healthy and nurturing environment for vulnerable young people aged 16+ who need to develop independent living skills so they can face the world as young adults.

Find out more about DYPAS.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children

We need more foster carers to look after unaccompanied asylum seeking children as part of the National Transfer Scheme.

Some of the children and young people need short-term emergency foster homes, while others will be looking for longer-term foster care.

We’re looking for foster carers who are highly resilient, patient and understanding. Part of the role is to prepare these young people for independent living and support their emotional, language and cultural needs.

We’ll support you with specialist training, and links to volunteers with skills to help the young people integrate.

We have specialist guidance for carers supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children. It covers topics from mental health to education and includes a directory of services including places of worship, shopping and eating, and support organisations in Devon.

The Department for Education has published this further in-depth guidance Safeguarding Strategy for unaccompanied asylum seeking children and refugee children.

If you are interested in fostering unaccompanied asylum-seeking children you will need to follow our normal application process.

Family and friends fostering

Family and friends fostering (sometimes called ‘connected care’ or ‘kinship care’) is when a local authority places a child or young person with a relative or friend because the child cannot for whatever reason be provided with care from a parent that meets their needs.

As the child is a ‘looked after child’, the local authority must approve the relative or friend as a foster carer. 

The child may be accommodated voluntarily with the agreement of the parents or may be subject to a care order.

If the long-term plan is for the child to remain with the carer under a fostering arrangement, a full fostering assessment must be completed and submitted to the fostering panel and agency decision-maker for approval. 

Family and friends foster carers need to meet the national minimum standards for fostering and are eligible for the same support as other foster carers.

More information about family and friends fostering is available on the Family Rights Group website or within Devon’s children and families procedures manual.

Private fostering

Private fostering is when someone who is not a close relative looks after a child under the age of 16, or 18 if they have a disability, for 28 days or more – and the arrangement is made privately rather than through Devon County Council.

We need to be notified of a private fostering arrangement and will assess its suitability.

A close relative is defined as parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles but not cousins, great aunts and great uncles or close friends.

The child is not a child looked after by the Local Authority and parental responsibility remains with the parents.

Find out more about private fostering

Fostering for adoption

Fostering for adoption is for babies and toddlers in care who are likely to be adopted, but still have a chance of being reunited with their birth family.

Carers have the satisfaction of providing stability and security for a baby or toddler at the critical early stage of development – with the possibility that the infant may become their legally adopted child.

This type of fostering is administered by Adopt South West – and their website provides more information about fostering for adoption.