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Types of Foster Care

Types Foster Care

People come to fostering for all sorts of reasons: maybe their parents were foster carers, they grew up in care themselves, or their birth children have now left home, and they’ve realised they still have more love to give. Or it is simply that they are one of life's angels, making the world a better place by investing time and energy into a child, changing the course of their life to one where they are valued, believed in, and loved.

Whatever the pull is towards fostering, with it comes questions: Am I too old/young to foster? How will this affect my birth children? What age would the foster child be? What happens if we simply don’t get on?

And a classic: What are the different types of fostering?

As well as tackling these questions on our social media and website, please remember Marcus Reeves, our New Carer Engagement Manager is on hand to answer any of these queries for you – there is nothing that Marcus can’t answer or talk through!

In this article, we will look at the five central types of fostering placements at Blue Sky and who they may be best suited for.


Fostering insights


  • Advice
  • Support
  • Respite
  • Long-term fostering
  • Foster Carer
  • Therapeutic
  • Parent and Child
  • Young person
  • Siblings

Date published

06 December 2023

5 Types of Foster Care

1. Respite Care

Respite care can be anything from an evening, a weekend a few weeks or even a few months on some occasions.

Some respite may be required in an emergency whilst other respite placements will be planned, you may care for the same child or a variety of children depending on your availability.

Although the placements are short, respite fostering is vital in offering stability to foster placements be that for a holiday or a need for the whole fostering household to have an emotional reset.

The children on respite with you will be known to Blue Sky and therefore you will be provided with relevant information about the child to allow you to best support the child for their time with you.

Questions to ask yourself:

What’s your availability?

Could you provide respite support for: Regular respite, weekends, weekdays, school holidays or for longer periods for young people between placement searches.

Suited for:

Those who are not able to commit to fostering full-time but are happy to open their home to children for short periods.

We are looking for carers who can connect and build relationships with children quickly, who are nurturing and can provide a warm and welcoming environment, providing consistent care in line with the needs of the child.

2. Mainstream

We believe that all children in care require a nurturing, stable, consistent, and caring environment to support them with their trauma. Children in care will have experienced separation from their main caregiver/s and will be coming into or are already in care for a variety of different reasons.

Our mainstream children are often aged between 4 and 18 and may receive additional support via other external sources. The relationship between carer and child is crucial in supporting the child to feel safe enough to be able to process their experiences.

The length of a mainstream placement can vary depending on the needs of the child and placements can be classed as short term or long term. Mainstream placements can be planned or at times needed quite quickly due to an emergency.

Suited for:

Those who are kind, empathetic, a great advocate, and have a willingness to learn and understand a child’s experiences in the context of their needs.

3. Therapeutic-Led Care [TLC]

We believe all children should have the opportunity to flourish in a loving and safe family environment. Due to their experiences, some young people require additional therapeutic support to both settle and thrive in a family home. This is why our therapeutic service was created.

Therapeutically Led Care, also known as TLC fostering, is Blue Sky's established and thriving therapeutic service that has been successfully supporting carers and young people since 2012.

Our TLC service is very much a team around the child approach, both our children and foster carers receive trauma informed support and guidance from our therapeutic team. In addition, our foster carers receive ongoing specialist training to help them further understand and meet the needs of children who require TLC.

Suited for:

To be a TLC carer, you don’t need to have a therapeutic background, all we ask is that you can nurture, be reflective, willing to learn and ready to parent in a creative way that involves turning traditional parenting on its head and instead utilises trauma informed therapeutic re-parenting.

4. Complex Needs

Complex placements sit between Mainstream and TLC.

The children who are cared for within our mainstream service can sometimes require an additional layer of support. Our complex service allows us to provide this input in the context of the child’s individual needs.

5. Parent & Child

The purpose of a Parent and Child foster placement is to enable the child to live in a safe environment whilst their parents capacity to safely parent is being assessed by the Local Authority.

Alongside the local authorities assessment, the foster carers role is to provide support,  guidance and practical skills to the parents whilst monitoring and completing recordings. The information provided by the foster carer will be used to support the local authorities overall assessment to determine if the parent can appropriately and safely meet their child’s needs.

The parent can be Mum or Dad or both – the child can be of any age from newborn to 2 years old however it is more common for the child to be under 12 months of age. There are occasions when the parent may find the process difficult to navigate and may choose to leave the placement therefore, carers may be expected to continue to care for the child under a mainstream package whilst their long-term care plan is decided.

Suited for:

Those who are nurturing, patient and supportive who have good verbal and written communication skills. You need to be able to provide constructive guidance in a sensitive manner and be able to offer praise without being perceived as patronising whilst modelling good parenting.

You will need to create an appropriate balance between encouraging parents without misleading them into thinking their care is ‘good enough’ if it is not. All this requires a sensitive, nurturing, and calm personality, combined with good judgement and a willingness to make use of professional support.

6. Siblings

Whilst not a specific type of fostering, we want to give a special mention to those who can foster siblings. Often due to a lack of homes with more than one fostering bedroom available, we can find that siblings will be separated when they should remain together.

If you have more than one room available for fostering and are willing to open your home to more than one child, you could be an ideal candidate to keep a sibling group together.