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What is fostering?

Fostering is providing a safe, stable and nurturing family home to a child who is unable to live with their own birth family. There are many varied reasons why children are unable to be cared for by their birth families and may be placed into foster care by their Local Authorities:

Some families have periods of instability and are unable to care for their children due to life circumstances: emotional, mental and physical health conditions, bereavements, family breakdown, learning difficulties, alcohol dependency, substance dependency, and, families who simply struggle to cope. 

Some children experience harm from family members. This can be in the form of; neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and exposure to domestic violence. In these circumstances, parents have failed to adequately meet the child’s basic needs, exposed the child to inappropriate behaviour and/or risk, or, have deliberately caused harm to a child.

Some children do not have any surviving family members.

Some children’s birth family are imprisoned or in the care of the State themselves.

Some children have been abandoned or rejected by their birth family.

Some children have additional needs and their families are unable to meet these. Additional needs can include: severe physical disabilities, specific medical needs, learning disabilities or challenging/complex behaviour.

Where families are struggling to cope and/or their children are unsafe, Local Authorities must offer help and support to both the children and their families, to enable children to live happily and safely with their own family. If this is not possible the Local Authority must take steps to secure a child’s safety and wellbeing by providing them with alternative arrangements such as foster care. Being in foster care enables children to recover from the childhood trauma they have experienced, have a positive experience of family life within which they are able to thrive and reach their individual potential.