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What is fostering?

Fostering is a rewarding and recognised profession. It means looking after a child or young person in your home in situations where their own family is unable to look after them. 

Every child in our care is unique and they all have different needs. Children across Devon need foster homes for many different reasons; from bereavement, illness, family breakdown, substance abuse, domestic abuse or needing a safe place to stay.  

Some children will only need to stay with a foster family for a few days while their family accesses support, while others will need to remain on a longer-term basis.

Sometimes it won’t be possible for you to know how long a child may stay with you, but we’ll always keep you informed.

What to expect as a foster carer

Being a foster carer (sometimes known as a foster parent) involves working very closely with our team of social workers to support the child’s social and emotional development. As well as caring for their health and wellbeing you will also help them keep in touch with their birth family.

As a foster carer, you will receive our generous payments and allowances, enabling you to concentrate on being the best carer possible with the financial backing that comes with such a rewarding profession.

You will also receive ongoing professional support and high-quality training.

About the children you could foster

You can choose which age group or gender you would prefer to foster and we will do our best to accommodate this, however, we cannot make guarantees – and it’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re flexible and willing to take children of all ages, you’re more likely to have continuous children to foster.

Most fostered children will stay in contact with their ‘birth’ families. This could be through visits or in writing. Your social worker will talk to you about this.

In Devon, we currently need foster carers for children up to the age of 18 years, including sibling groups and some with behaviours that carers will need support to understand.

The difference between fostering and adoption

Fostering is the temporary placement of a child who is unable to live with their birth family. There are many different types of fostering, which you can read about in more detail on our Types of fostering page.

Whilst in foster care, the legal responsibility for the child lies with the local authority. Fostering Devon is part of Devon County Council, and we operate as a strict not-for-profit service, meaning complete wraparound support for the child and the foster parent.

Adoption is the permanent placement of a child or young person into a new home. The adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents, make all parental decisions and take on legal responsibility for the child. Adopting a child is a lifelong commitment.