Short-term fostering is temporary foster care for children or young people whose care plan has not been formally confirmed yet.
This type of fostering will usually last until the final decision about plans for a child’s care have been made. These plans could be for a child to return home; be placed with extended family; remain in long-term fostering; or be placed for adoption.
Short-term fostering is the most common type of foster care. Most newly approved foster carers start out as short-term foster carers, and nearly all foster carers will be involved with children as short-term carers at some point in their fostering career.
How long does short-term fostering last?
Short term fostering can last from a few days to a couple of years, but the length of time a child remains in short-term foster care usually falls somewhere between these two extremes. The complexity of a child’s situation can influence how long assessments take to determine what the long-term plans for their care should be.
Many of our short-term foster carers here at Fitzgerald Fostering go on to offer long-term placements, often to children that are initially placed with them on a short-term basis. We attribute this to good initial matching when first making a placement and high levels of support and guidance from the start. All of which contributes to positive outcomes for the children placed with our carers.
Emergency foster care
Emergency foster care is a type of short-term care where young people who are living in unsafe circumstances come into foster care on an emergency basis. That is a placement is needed immediately to ensure their safety.
Emergency foster carers can expect to be called upon for urgent care and should be very good at adapting to instant change. Children or young people placed because of emergency situations can often present as anxious and distressed, and carers have a key role in supporting them understand and adapt to their new situation through the nurture and care they offer.
Importance of short-term fostering
Short term care is where the child or young person lives until a more permanent form of placement is either decided on or identified (this can include returning home). It can help provide stability for the child during a time that is often full of uncertainty whilst plans and decisions are made.
Short-term foster care has a key role to play in ensuring children are safe, stable, and cared for during an extremely difficult time. Children can come into care for a wide variety of reasons and their first short-term placement is critical in shaping their experiences of being looked after away from their family environment. Foster carers need to be caring, flexible, and understanding of how children’s experiences can shape their behaviour. Fitzgerald will support you in achieving these goals through support, guidance, and training. We are available 24 hours a day to help you look after the children placed with you.
What you can expect when providing short-term fostering
Being a short-term foster carer, involves understanding several things such as:
● You will not be the sole decision-maker in relation to any child placed with you. In most cases, you will most likely consult with birth parents, social workers and other professionals to make any decisions concerning the child.
● It is important to remember that all children placed in short term care have experienced some form of trauma prior to coming into care. Therefore, the role of the short-term foster carer is crucial in helping them makes sense of their experiences and supporting them through an exceedingly difficult set of circumstances. Although challenging offering this support can be hugely rewarding for foster carers.
● Short term fostering is by its nature temporary. This means in most cases children will move on from their short-term foster carers to the place where they will be looked after long-term (including returning home). Although saying good-bye can be sad short-term foster carers play a crucial, and very positive, role in preparing children for their future.
What children need from short-term foster care
The most important thing in short-term fostering is to make the situation better for the child when they are placed with you. To do this, you could consider:
● Think about what things are good about their existing situation (school, hobbies etc.) and how do you ensure these can continue.
● How do you make them feel as safe and secure as possible?
● Often children in foster care feel powerless. Make sure you listen to them and involve them where appropriate in decisions to help them feel valued and secure.
● What can be done to maintain their routine as much as possible? Can you replicate the things they liked (e.g., food, tv shows, activities, etc.) when they were at home? What can you do to make them feel part of your household/family no matter how short a time they will be spending with you?
● In many cases maintaining links with their existing schools, friends, and communities can be critical in supporting children through this challenging time.
For further information on how we could help you with short-term fostering please contact us today: 01753 550031 or Fill in the contact form.