Fostering a Child

What is Foster Care?

The aim of Darlington Borough Council Children’s Service is to try and keep families together. However, there are times when this may not be possible. Foster Care is a service for children and young people who are unable to live with their own families.

Foster Carers

Foster carers are people approved by the Council to look after children in care, up to the age of 18 and beyond, in their own homes. The length of time that children can stay with foster carers will vary from child to child. Foster carers provide a stable, protective environment for a child or young person until the time is right for them to return home or move on to a permanent family.

Types of Foster Care:

There are many different types of foster care:

Short Breaks (Respite) – this involves having children to stay with you for a short time so that their families can have a regular break. This could involve a few hours a week, a weekend, a month or in an emergency to provide help and support. The important aspect of short breaks is that it gives the children an opportunity to establish a close relationship with another adult and understand another adult cares for them.

Short Term - This is when a foster family cares for a child due to difficulties or illnesses in the family, from an overnight stay, a few weeks or few months. Offering a safe place for them to live, you will understand what is happening and be able to offer support, whilst everything is done to return the child home as soon as possible.

Long Term – Sometimes a child may need to move in with a foster family for a longer period of time because they cannot be cared for within their own family. Foster carers can help by offering a child the chance to grow up in a safe and supportive environment, receiving the appropriate care and whenever possible the opportunity to keep in touch with their family.

Parent and Child Placement – There are times a young parent is in care and requires a foster family to help develop their skills as a capable parent. Foster carers would encourage the safe and happy care of the child and the parent is supported in their role. The parent would move on when it is deemed they are ready to care for their child independently.

Supported Lodgings – Young people leave the care system years earlier than the average person leaves home. Supported Lodgings is the next step in a young person’s road to independence. Support Lodgings Providers offer a private bedroom, support and encouragement to a young person learning the necessary skills for life. For more info visit the Supported Lodgings page.

Who can be a Foster Carer?

We have many families who enjoy fostering and there is no such thing as a typical foster carer, each individual has unique skills and experience. You don't have to married, in a relationship or own your own home.

Foster Carers can be:

  • Single
  • Married
  • Male
  • Female
  • With a partner
  • Parents
  • Have no children
  • Unemployed
  • Tenant
  • Homeowner
  • Straight
  • Any ethnic background
  • Have a disability
  • Gay
  • Any religious belief
  • Little childcare experience

Social workers are responsible for matching the child or young person to a family, ensuring all the needs of the child will be met within that family.

Children in foster care, are ‘Looked After’ children and will be visited and reviewed by social workers on a regular basis. Any children placed with a family will have detailed Care Plans, any supported services needed to meet the child’s needs will be included in the plan.

Contact with a parent

When children and young people are being cared for in a foster family, contact with their parents and siblings, if agreed, is important. Foster carers may on occasion be involved in transporting the child to see the parents in some cases, may allow parents to visit their home.