Fostering offers children and young people a safe and caring home when they are unable to live with their birth family. This is often a child’s first positive experience of family life

There are around 65,000 children in the UK living with around 55,000 foster carers. Another child comes into care every 20 minutes. In Reading, we have more than 250 children and young people in our care. Not all can be in Reading though, which is why we need more local foster carers.

What does a foster carer do?

Foster carers provide a stable, secure, supportive environment at what can often be a difficult time in a young person’s life.

Often, their self-esteem has been eroded and they look to their foster carer to rebuild confidence in themselves and in others around them; to demonstrate clear values and help them with the social and life skills they need as a firm foundation for adulthood.

In short, they need someone they can trust and believe in.

Could that be you?

What are the different types of foster care?

Foster care is about matching the needs of both carer and child. Many carers need to fit in additional commitments, such as work, study or caring for other members of their family. Because of that, we have a range of fostering options.

Respite fostering

Providing a few days’ care to give a child’s family a short break.

Emergency fostering

Providing care, often at very short notice, for a brief period of time – for one night up to 28 days.

Short-term fostering

Regular stays of anything between a few days, weeks, months or occasionally over a year.

Long-term fostering

Permanent care for a young person until they reach 18.

Supported lodgings

Specifically caring for young people of 16 and above.

Short breaks

Providing short breaks for children with physical or learning disabilities

Parent & child

Mentoring and assessing a mother or father with their child in your own home

Staying put

This means a young person has the right to stay with their foster family when they reach 18 and beyond, if both sides agree. It is not the same as a foster placement. Find out more at The Fostering Network.

What is family and friends foster care?

When a child cannot be cared for by their parent/s or another person with parental responsibility and is in the care of the local authority (in Reading, that means us), we have a duty to explore whether the child can be cared for by an immediate or wider family member.

This may include grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles or a family friend. If a potential carer is identified, they can be assessed and approved as Family and Friends Foster Carer/s before the child is placed with them.
In exceptional circumstances, Brighter Futures for Children can temporarily approve a family member or friend as a foster carer for a time limited period, while the child is placed with them and the fostering assessment is completed. For this to happen, a viability assessment will be undertaken to determine whether the proposed placement is the most appropriate for the child.

Both fostering and adoption are needed when a child cannot stay with their birth family. Fostering is usually a temporary arrangement, whereas adoption means a child will become a permanent member of the adoptive family.

With fostering, the parental responsibility sits with the local authority and the child’s birth parents, although some of this may also be shared with the foster carers. This is usually a temporary arrangement in place while other arrangements are being made for the child in the long term. There is also long-term fostering, where the child will stay with the foster carers until they are 18, or until they are 25 if a ‘Staying Put’ agreement is put in place.

When a child is adopted, there is a legal procedure whereby all the parental responsibility will move to the adopter. The child will then become a permanent member of the adoptive family.

Brighter Futures for Children is an independent fostering agency. If you are thinking of adopting or would like to find out more, we work with Adopt Thames Valley.

Adopt Thames Valley

What is private fostering?

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a ‘close relative’. This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, for 28 days or more. If you are currently private fostering or thinking of entering a private fostering arrangement, you need to notify your local authority. In Reading, this is Brighter Futures for Children.