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Thinking about fostering - types of foster care

Types of foster care

The types of foster care we offer at Stoke-on-Trent City Council range from short break to long-term care, as well as more specialised types of foster care such as therapeutic fostering.

Short Term

This can be children from birth to 18 that come into care and are placed with foster carers while decisions are being made about the child. It's a very special, important role which may involve close work with the child's birth parents to improve their relationship with the child, and preparing a child for a move to a permanent home.

Long Term

Long term fostering placements usually last until the child or young person reaches 18 and becomes a care leaver. This is when a foster child is unable to return to their birth family and adoption is not suitable. The child may come from another foster carer where they have been with short term foster carers. Children are placed into permanent care when they first need help– often they enter the care system with the expectation of returning home once the circumstances that led to them being placed into foster care have been resolved. If the child’s home situation cannot be remedied, a court order is issued giving the local authority legal responsibility.

Short Break

Disability short break carers provide regular short breaks for a child or young person with a disability- the child may live with other foster carers or a family member. The breaks may be for one weekend a month, but generally are a flexible arrangement for the foster carers, the child and their family. There are children of all ages with a range of disabilities who need help. Many of our disability short break carers work full or part time as well as caring. We also have specialist disability short break carers who may care for more than one child or carry out this service on a full-time basis.


Emergency fostering placements are needed when children and young people need to be placed in emergency foster care, particularly when there's an immediate risk of harm at home. This can be where a child comes into care late on a Friday night or over the weekend.


This is a type of short-term placement where a child is placed with a foster family to provide support to the current family whether it is a birth family, adoptive family, special guardian or foster family. As a respite foster carer, you could have placements which last as short as a single weekend, or up to a week or two during the summer holidays to provide a break for parents and carers’. In these instances, the respite family can be part of a regular routine for the child in care.


Therapeutic specialist step down foster care is supporting children and young people to transition from residential care to foster care. All our foster carers are offered regular training and workshops and enhanced support from a Clinical Psychologist and the staff team.

Respite Therapeutic

A respite therapeutic specialist foster carer offers weekend or week breaks for therapeutic foster carers.

Parent and Child

Parent and Child fostering is where a parent needs support from a foster carer to help guide them in caring for their own child, with the view that they are then able to independently parent.


Each year, many children come into care with their brothers and sisters and we need carers to be able to care for them together so that they can continue to live together as a family.

image illustrating key points in the fostering journey, meet the team, check eligibility and applyUnderstand fostering and introduce yourself to the team Meet the team and complete the assessment Work with us as we find the right placement for you Your fostering journey has just begun