Long-term or permanent fostering
There are a number of reasons why children or young people need to live away from their birth family. In some cases a Court will decide that a child needs to be placed outside of their birth family due to concerns for their long term welfare. In other cases it may not be possible for the birth parents or extended family to look after the child and it is their decision that their child is placed in care. In these circumstances the Local Authority will have to consider different options for permanence.
Long-term foster placements are an important 'permanence' option for children and young people in care. Foster carers commit to caring for a child or children until they reach an age where they can live independently.
What is permanence?
You may have heard the term 'permanence' and wonder what it means.
The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations Volume 2: care planning, placement, and case review (pages 22-23) provides a revised definition of permanence in England:
"Permanence is the long-term plan for the child’s upbringing and provides an underpinning framework for all social work with children and families from family support through to adoption."
Not all children who come into care can return to live with their parents. The courts will decide the best option to make sure children are safe, stable and can grow throughout their childhood in a ‘permanent’ home.
Other permanence arrangements include early permanence. Early permanence allows prospective adopters the opportunity to parent a baby or child during the early weeks and months of their lives.
Read more about early permanence placements in the adoption section.
Children that need long-term foster care placements
If a child or young person needs to live away from their birth family, we need to look at the best option for them. It's not always appropriate for them to be adopted. This may be due to their age, their need to maintain regular contact with their birth families or due to their needs. Some children also need to be placed with their siblings or have ongoing, regular contact with their brothers and sisters who may be placed elsewhere.
For those children we would consider a permanent foster carer who can look after them until they’re adults.
The advantages for children and young people
Permanent foster care provides a sense of belonging for children and young people. Many of our children may experience frequent placement moves and a long-term placement provides them with stability and continuity of care. They will benefit from being in a secure and stable environment, living with a loving family that can support them through childhood and beyond. Over time these children will develop a sense of commitment, identity and belonging.
Our permanent foster carers support children and young people by acting as role models, mentors and by demonstrating positive parenting. They help children to enjoy and achieve in their education and support them to develop skills for independence.
There is also the option of young people remaining with their former foster carers after they turn 18, to help them to prepare for the transition to adulthood. It can be hard leaving home for young people who have been fostered. They can feel socially isolated and struggle with the challenges of living on their own.
The young people that you foster long-term may benefit from receiving further support within the family and household before they strike out on their own. If so, we have Staying Put arrangements which can extend foster placements for longer.
What's involved in becoming a long-term foster carer?
We assess the foster carer's ability to meet the current and future needs of the child or young person. When doing this the wishes and feelings of the children are also considered and we identify any support that is needed to assist with this. We also consult with the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) and where appropriate the child's relatives.
Once the arrangements have been confirmed with the foster carer, the child and their birth parents, a new placement plan is prepared and signed by the foster carer.
We need you!
We are currently looking after many Lancashire children who would benefit from a permanent foster family. We're always looking to work with Lancashire families who can offer a loving home to children in our care.
Want to find out more? We'd love to help
Contact us for an informal chat or confidential advice. Our experienced staff are ready to answer your questions. You can contact the team in the following ways:
- Complete our enquiry form on this page
- Contact our team on 0300 123 6723.
Or why not drop into one of our fostering information evenings or fostering surgeries to find out more face to face?
Get in touch
Interested in fostering with us? We'd love to hear from you.
If you'd prefer to speak to someone then give us a call on 0300 123 6723