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Foster care and adoption

Foster care provides a family life for children who cannot live with their own parents and who require to be looked after away from home.

Fostering is provided by carers who have been approved by a fostering agency registered with the Care Inspectorate. Such agencies include local authorities, voluntary sector providers and independent providers.

Fostering can include:

  • providing planned short breaks for a child,
  • providing immediate but temporary care for a child with the aim of supporting them to return permanently to their birth family or permanent substitute family,
  • providing specialist care,
  • providing a permanent substitute home for a child who cannot return to live with their birth family, by means of a permanence order or other legal provision.

The Scottish Government begin to highlight the links between fostering and adoption when they say:

Foster care is a way of offering children a safe, secure and nurturing place to stay while their family is unable to care for them. Unlike adoption, fostering is a temporary arrangement - on either a short or long term basis - and many children in foster care will return to their birth family. Some fostered children are eventually adopted, either by their foster carer or by another family.

Foster care will often be the placement of first choice pursued by many social workers when an assessment is made that a child or young person can no longer live with their family. This is linked to a long-standing ideology and belief that family based care is the best alternative for children and young people. Whilst this may be true for a number of children and young people there are worrying examples of individual young people experiencing multiple placement breakdowns before other alternatives are explored.

There are a number of agencies in Scotland which provide services and supports to foster carers and adopters. These include The Fostering Network and Scottish Adoption.

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This article is from the free online course:

Caring for Vulnerable Children

University of Strathclyde