Types of fostering

There are many types of fostering, some of which can work alongside each other if you are able to and if you have space to foster more than one child. 

  • You can foster full-time or part-time and you can change the type of fostering you do whenever you're ready too.
  • We have children and young people from 0-2 years up to teenagers who need loving fostering households where they can feel safe and thrive.  You can talk to us about which age you think would suit your situation and experience when you begin fostering.
  • We have a special 16+ Supporting Independence team for foster carers looking after teenagers, and as the local authority, we have local social workers and specialists to provide wrap-around help for all our looked after children of any age, and for you as foster carers too.

Watch the video below, where one of our foster carers describes the different types of foster care and what it feels like to her to make a difference to a child's life.

- Types of foster care

Watch on YouTube: "Types of foster care"

- Fostering teens 16+ comes with different rewards and challenges. It is often more flexible for you to work alongside your fostering career if you want to, and although they still need your guidance, teens are more independent.

Watch on YouTube: "Fostering teens 16+ comes with different rewards and challenges. It is often more flexible for you to work alongside your fostering career if you want to, and although they still need your guidance, teens are more independent."

Could you provide a safe place for a child, for up to two years?

The children you will be looking after come into care for different reasons. Their parents may be unable to look after them, and there may not be other family members or friends who could do so. They may have suffered abuse or neglect. Their family may be in crisis due to marital breakdown, violence, mental health or drug misuse problems.

Coming into foster care can be a very strange and unsettling experience. You would be welcoming children into your home to be part of your family, helping them to feel safe and secure.

A couple of years or a year of calmness, love and affection can make a big difference to a child’s life.

Jo – foster carer

How to become a foster carer

Respite foster care

Could you provide a child with a one-off or regular break?

Respite is provided to give parents, or other foster carers a break or offer additional support.

As a respite carer you might look after children for regular weekends, a week in the school holidays or the occasional 'one-off'. It’s a way of being able to foster even if you work full time or have other commitments. 

Bridging foster carer

Could you care for a child for a few days or weeks?

Sometimes children are moving to live with carers who cannot accommodate them straight away. We need to find somewhere else for their care for a set period of time. The child or children may then move onto adoption, or long-term foster care elsewhere.

Emergency placements

Could you care for a child in an emergency?

We have a rota of foster carers who have a spare room available for a child at short notice, with contact sometimes out of office hours. You would need to have some experience as a foster carer or relevant transferrable skills before offering to join the rota.

It’s making children feel part of a family. If we can give them good memories or a feeling of love, that’s what goes with them.

Anja – foster carer

How to become a foster carer

Could you provide a permanent home for a child or young person?

“When a little one puts their arm around you and snuggles into your neck, you know they feel safe and a part of the family. That’s really important.”

Sometimes it’s not possible or safe for a child to return to their own family so we look for a permanent foster family for them, if they are aged seven or above. Younger children will usually be adopted.

Offering ‘permanence’ means you will be including a child as a complete member of your family. You will be caring for them throughout their childhood and helping them gain the skills they need to eventually live independently. They will always be a part of your family.

You won’t be on your own, there is always a team of people to help. You will have your own fostering social worker and the child has their own social worker too.

Although you will be looking after a child permanently, their birth family are still important to them. There are usually arrangements for them to keep in touch – this could be meeting occasionally up or exchanging cards and letters.

I suppose it's hard to explain why they are special but they are because they took me in when nobody else wanted me.

Young person in foster care

Who can offer this sort of care?

You need to have experience of looking after children perhaps as parents, foster carers, or adoptive parents. If you feel you could offer a permanent home to a child we would try and ‘match’ you and your family to the right child or children.

How to become a foster carer

A child with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) may have a variety of needs. This could be a learning difficulty, physical disabilities or medical conditions. We need foster care for children with SEND for respite and longer term care.

Disabled boy in wheelchair with carer playing with plastic bricks. Wording in logo says Foster with trust, foster with us.

Skills you need

You need to be patient, a good communicator, and comfortable advocating for a child. If you are, then you already have the qualities that you need for this rewarding role.

Previous experience of caring or working for children with additional needs is useful. It is not essential though as training is always available. Adaptations to make your home more accessible or special equipment can be provided.

Support we offer

You are never on your own. You will have your own fostering social worker and the child has their own social worker too. You’ll also have access to advice from a helpline 24/7. Many carers get support from other foster carers through informal groups and networks. There is support every step of the way.

It’s not to think of them as having special needs. It’s just to think of them as a child.

How to become a foster carer

If you are open to caring for a child with additional needs, please speak to us. You don’t have to choose between fostering a child with or without additional needs. You can still choose to be a short-term or long-term foster carer, or a respite carer.

Karen's story

Watch Karen’s story to find out what it’s like to foster a child with special educational needs and disabilities.

- Being a foster carer for a child with additional needs

Watch on YouTube: "Being a foster carer for a child with additional needs"

P&C 1 July23

Could you provide support and guidance in a family-based placement in your home for a parent (sometimes parents) and child together?

Foster carers play an important nurturing part in the team assessing a parent's ability to care for their child.  It is a busy role involving the usual baby/toddler needs, appointments and activities, whilst making progress observations (not judgements). With frequent meetings with your supporting social workers, we also arrange regular breaks for you (placement support is provided).

Placements last 12 weeks on average. You would need to be there for the family on a 24-hour basis and promote good parenting.

Foster carers have said they find parent and child placements challenging, but worthwhile and incredibly rewarding.

Weekly allowance rate for parent(s) and child placements:

  • £804.38 to £1,048.81

This role is particularly suited to those who have previous experience in fostering, nursing, childcare professionals and other related roles.  But please get in touch if you think that your life experiences could be shared to help give parents and their young children the best chances as they start their own parenting journey.

I’m here for the parent 24/7. It is different to other types of foster care but we all work as a team to get the best for the child.

Gaynor – foster carer

How to become a foster carer

If you look after somebody else’s child (or have arranged for your child to be looked after by somebody else) then this is known by law as private fostering.

This law does not apply if the child is being looked after by a close relative, such as their:

  • grandparent
  • step-parent with parental responsibility
  • brother or sister
  • aunt or uncle.

Read more about being a family and friends carer, including the qualities and abilities that makes someone a good carer.

What should I do if I am not a close relative?

If you are looking after a child or young person for more than 28 days, whether you are being paid or not, you legally need to notify the Single Point of Advice team.

Why do I have to tell you about a private arrangement?

The law says we must make sure that all privately fostered children in East Sussex are safe and supported. We work with you to check and assess how suitable the arrangements are for you and the child you are looking after and make sure they are getting the support they need.

Am I now the legal guardian of the child I am looking after?

The child’s parents still have full parental responsibility even though you are looking after them. Both you and the child’s parents should tell us before you agree to look after the child.

What will happen when I call you?

We will ask you for the following information:

  • the name of the child or young person
  • your details
  • your address
  • when the arrangement started or is due to start
  • reasons why the child is living with somebody else.

What happens next?

We will visit both you and the child or young person within seven working days and explain our role in more detail.

For more information and to tell us about a child or young person you are looking after please contact the Single Point of Advice team.

Transferring from an agency?

If you are currently working with a private fostering agency and are considering changing agency, please get in touch with our Fostering service. Our Recruitment and Assessment Team will contact you to talk through our simple transfer process (whether you have a child currently in placement with you or not).

Read more about Transferring from a fostering agency.