Types of Placement (including changes e.g. Adoption)


  1. Introduction
  2. Types of Fostering
  3. How Many Children can I Foster?
  4. Exemptions
  5. What If I want to Adopt my Foster Child
  6. Special Guardianship and Child Arrangement Orders

1. Introduction

There are many different types of placements and some fostering agencies may not offer the full range. If you are considering adopting your foster child please see below.

2. Types of Fostering

Short-term Fostering:
Short-term carers provide temporary care for a child/young person, who is unable to live with their family. The placement can last from a few days or weeks, months or longer. The placement is temporary while plans are made and carried out. Regular contact with significant people such as birth family is an important part of short-term fostering. Carers work with the child/young person and their families towards reunification or prepare the child/young person for joining adoptive or long term/permanent fostering families or for moving to semi-independence.

Permanent Fostering:
Carers offer permanent homes where adoption is not suitable for a child/young person.  A long term foster child is likely to continue living with foster carers whilst in full time education and beyond they will be expected to support the child with their living arrangements whether they continue to live with the carers or independently.

Short Breaks Scheme for Disabled Children:
These carers provide respite care to children with disabilities living with their own families.

Respite Care:
Respite carers offer support to other foster carers. Whilst we are aware that children and young people are unlikely to benefit from respite care within their foster placement we are also aware that foster carers do sometimes need this support to ensure placements continue to succeed for all concerned. This is different from supporting other carers informally which is sometimes called respite.

Connected Carers:
These carers provide placements for a child/young person who cannot live with their birth parents but can live within their extended family network, or a friend of the family. These placements help to provide continuity of care, family, school and friendships, networks and keep the child/young person’s cultural and individual identity.

Specialist Fostering:
Specialist fostering is for young people who need an intervention or particular programme in order to help them remain living in a family setting are going through difficulties and have a high level of need that cannot be met within general fostering.

Parents and Baby/Child Fostering:
For parents and their baby/child who are in need of support and assessment of their parenting skills. These placements are time limited.

Emergency Care:
Emergency carers provide time-limited placements for a child/young person in emergencies, these placements usually happen out of office hours.

Private Fostering:
Private fostering is when a child/young person under 16 (or if disabled 18) is cared for, for more than 28 days by an adult who is not a close relative and the arrangement has been made between the carer and the parent.

Sibling Groups:
Where brothers and sisters are placed together.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children:
Foster carers who provide placements for a child/young person seeking sanctuary and asylum from their own country of origin.

Foster to Adopt
Where a child is placed with foster carers who have been specifically approved to adopt that child.

Staying Put Arrangements
Staying Put arrangements are arrangements to extend the foster placements into a 'Staying Put 'arrangement by agreement between the care leaver and the carer, in order to support the young person until such time that they are fully prepared for adult hood. They young person will no longer be cared for under the fostering regulations as the Staying Put arrangement occurs when the young person turns 18.The arrangement ensures the young adult can experience a transition similar to their peers, avoid social exclusion and be more likely to successfully manage their independence when they do move on. Your supervising social worker will discuss this with you when your foster child reaches the age 16 years as part of their care planning.

3. How Many Children can I Foster?

On approval the fostering service will decide on how many children you are approved for, what age, sex and category of approval. There are times, however, when the fostering service may ask you to take a child/young person outside your approval range if it is felt this would be way to meet the child’s needs.

When this happens the fostering service can vary your approval for a short time either to allow for longer term plans to be made or for a review of your approval as a foster carer to be done so that your approval status can be changed in order to accommodate the child for a longer period.

4. Exemptions

The 'usual fostering limit' is three, so nobody may foster more than three children unless:

  • The foster children are all siblings (then there is no upper limit), or
  • The local authority within whose area the foster carer lives exempts the carer from the usual fostering limit in relation to specific placements.

In considering whether to exempt a person from the usual fostering limit, the local authority must consider:

  • The number of children whom the person proposes to foster;
  • The arrangements which the person proposes for the care and accommodation of the fostered children;
  • The intended and likely relationship between the person and the fostered children;
  • The period of time for which he/she proposes to foster the children; and
  • Whether the welfare of the fostered children (and any other children who are or will be living in the accommodation) will be safeguarded and protected.

5. What If I want to Adopt my Foster Child

Adopting a child is very different to fostering. This is about making a forever commitment to the child so this needs to be considered carefully. The most important thing is that there is a Permanence Plan for the child to be adopted and if this is the case and you would like to find out more then speak to your Fostering Social Worker.

You will need to put your wishes in writing to the child’s Social Worker.

If the decision is to proceed, an assessment will be done focusing on the potential of you as a prospective adopter and whether this will be in the long-term interests of the child. You will receive the same assessment, preparation and training as other prospective adopters.

6. Special Guardianship and Child Arrangement Orders

If an Adoption Order is not the right legal solution, alternative orders can be considered such as Child Arrangement Order or Special Guardianship Order (SGO).

Special Guardianship, addresses the needs of a significant group of children, who need a sense of stability and security but who do not wish to make the absolute legal break with their birth family that is associated with adoption. It also provides an alternative for achieving permanence in families where adoption, for cultural or religious reasons, is not an option. You can apply for a Special Guardianship Order once the child has lived with you for one year immediately preceding the application.

Both orders confer Parental Responsibility, but in different ways and lead to the ending of the care order or Looked after status.

For more information on these permanent options see Permanence Planning Guidance in the Kent County Council Children’s Social Care Procedures.