Skip to main content

Different types of fostering

girl in wheelchair out for a walk with family

There are four main types of 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 work 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  
  • don’t want to commit to full-time or long-term care. 

When you provide respite care, you usually get to meet the child or children before they come and stay with you. You get information from their full-time carer about their needs and routines. 

Short-term fostering 

Short-term foster carers usually look after a child for a few weeks or months at a time. This is often while social workers are deciding who should look after them long-term. 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 £250-350 per week for short-term fostering, plus an allowance of £157- £236 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 might have had a difficult start to life. 

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 
  • have decided adoption isn’t right for them. 

You can earn between £250-350 per week for providing permanent foster care, plus an allowance of £157- £236 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 with the option to foster through to independence. Children tend to have learning difficulties, autism or physical disabilities. 

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

You can earn between £500 to £1,000 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 and they usually have more complex needs. 

Fee-paid short breaks usually suit people who: 

  • have experience working in health, social care, education or caring for disabled children 
  • want to take a more active role in supporting children with disabilities and their full-time carers or families. 

You can earn up to £570 for three-night short breaks and £900 for five-night short breaks. 

Part-time short breaks for children with disabilities

Short breaks are a type of respite care especially for children with disabilities. Children who take short breaks tend to 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 full-time carer gets a break or takes a holiday. 

These short breaks are different to the fee-paid short breaks in that it is only part-time and you do not need to commit to three or five days a week. It is a more flexible way of providing temporary care for children with disabilities.

Short breaks usually suit people who: 

  • have just started fostering 
  • have a full-time job 
  • don’t want to commit to full-time or long-term care.  

You can earn £12.91 per hour up to 11 hours and a £90 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 £250 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 who are leaving foster care need help to live on their own before they move into independent living. These 16 to 18-year-olds are looking for supported lodgings, where a host provides a bedroom and access to bathroom, kitchen and communal facilities. The young person lives independently, but they may look to their host for advice and support in developing life and social skills.

Many people in Essex choose to provide supported lodgings as it can be seen as less of a commitment than fostering and you can continue to live your life as normal.

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 a caring environment, you will be great at supporting a young lodger.

Find out more about housing a young person in the Supported Lodgings section of our website.


or to talk to our friendly recruitment team call 0800 801 530




















































“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.