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Different types of fostering

girl in wheelchair out for a walk with family

There are four main types of therapeutic fostering. They differ in thlength and nature of care. These are: 

  • part-time respite care 
  • short-term fostering for up to a year 
  • permanent fostering until the child is 18 
  • fostering children with disabilities 

There are also two types of specialist fostering schemes: 

  • Fee-paid short breaks for children with disabilities, which you can do full-time or part-time
  • Parent and child fostering 

Supported lodgings is a way you can support a young person aged 16-18. 

Part-time respite care 

Respite care is when you look after a child from as little as a weekend a month to a few days or weeks at a time to give their usual foster carer a break or holiday. You provide care on a part-time basis. Respite care is most often needed in the school holidays. 

Respite foster care usually suits people who: 

  • have just started fostering 
  • have a full-time job that is flexible that you want to continue with
  • don’t want to commit to full-time or long-term care at this time.

As a new carer when you provide respite care, any child or young person will be  matched with you. Introductions are planned so you can get to know each other. You will receive information about the child or young person, their routines, needs and any contact with their birth family you might need to support them with.


Short-term fostering 

Short-term foster carers usually look after a child for a few weeks or months at a time. This is while social workers and professionals assess and support families to see if their child can return home. However, you might care for the same child for up to a year. 

Short-term fostering usually suits people who: 

  • are new to fostering 
  • do not want to commit to a long period of fostering 
  • would like to help more children. 

You can earn between £220-380 per week for short-term fostering, plus an allowance of £180.81- £272.72 depending on the age of the child. 

Permanent fostering 

Permanent fostering is when you look after a child until they are an adult.  

Permanent foster carers have a special role as they become the primary long-term carer for a child. They offer a loving home and a sense of security and stability for children who will have experienced trauma prior to being fostered.   


Permanent fostering usually suits people who: 

  • want to bring a child into their family long-term 
  • will commit to meeting the child’s needs as they grow up.

You can earn between £220-380 per week for providing permanent foster care, plus an allowance of £180.81- £272.72 depending on the age of the child. 

Fostering children with disabilities 

Short- and long-term placements 

Fostering a child with disabilities is when you look after a child with disabilities on a short or long-term basis. You can care for a child for a few weeks or months and sometimes through to when they are ready to live independently if that is the plan for the young person. Children often have learning difficulties, autism and sometimes physical disabilities. 

Short and long-term placements usually suit people who have personal or professional experience of caring for children with disabilities, or transferable skills 

You can earn between £550 to £1,090 per week per child plus an allowance.

Specialist fostering schemes 

Full-time fee-paid short breaks for children with disabilities

Fee-paid short breaks involves looking after children with disabilities either full-time (five nights) or part time (three nights) per week, 48 weeks per year. You care for a small number of children who have more complex needs. 

Fee-paid short breaks usually suit people who: 

  • have experience working with children and young people with a range of disabilities in education, residential care, health and social care.  You may also have transferable skills from working with adults with disabilities.
  • want to take a more active role in supporting children with disabilities and their families. 

You can earn up to £630 for three-night short breaks and £1050 for five-night short breaks. The fee is paid from when you are approved and continues to be paid whether you have a child in placement or not to allow for careful matching with you.

Part-time short breaks for children with disabilities

Short breaks are a type of respite care especially for children with disabilities. Children who need short breaks will have learning difficulties, autism or physical disabilities. 

As a short breaks foster carer, you look after a child from as little as a weekend a month or a few days at a time while their parent or full-time carer gets a break. Often to do ordinary things with the rest of their family which they are not normally able to do.  

These short breaks are different to the fee-paid short breaks in that it is only part-time. It is a more flexible way of providing a valued break for children with disabilities.

Short breaks usually suit people if: 

  • You have some personal or professional experience of caring for or working with a child or children with Autism or a learning or physical disability or transferable skills from working with adults with disabilities .
  • You would like to continue working and can provide respite foster care at weekends. 
  • You would enjoy supporting a family in providing ongoing respite care for their child and building positive nurturing relationships with both them and their parents.   

You can earn £12.91 per hour up to 11 hours plus a £100 overnight fee as a short breaks carer for children with disabilities.

Parent and child fostering 

Parent and child fostering is when you have a young parent and their child living in your home. Social workers may choose this type of joint placement if they are unsure whether the parent can care for their child effectively. It can be easier to assess their abilities when they are living within a foster family. 

Parent and child fostering usually suit people who: 

  • have experience fostering 
  • have childcare skills and the ability to work and communicate with young people 
  • want to support a young parent and show them how best to care for their child. 

You receive £550 per week if you provide parent and child fostering, plus an allowance for the parent and an allowance for the child. 

Supported lodgings

Some young people aged 16-18 (and up to 21) who are leaving foster care need help to live on their own before they move into independent living. 

We need more supported lodgings providers to support these young people who have suffered trauma in their past and guide them on their journey to independence. They need emotional support, stability and to feel safe.

All sorts of people can provide supported lodgings. It doesn't matter what age you are, what job you have, or what kind of home you live in. If you have space for a young person and the ability to provide emotional support and a nurturing environment, you will be great at supporting a young person.

You receive £270 per week, per young person and the young person receives an allowance of £87.20. Find out more about housing a young person in the Supported Lodgings section of our website.


Next > What do foster carers earn?

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“What we get back from fostering our two boys is so much more rewarding than the work we put in. We can see the difference we are making to their lives, and we wouldn’t have it any other way."


















“My role not only provides support and care to the child, but also to parents and siblings. From my point of view I truly love my job and the support is great! It is without doubt the best job I have ever had!” Sally, foster carer.