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Cheshire East Council Cheshire West and Chester Halton Borough Council Knowsley Council Liverpool Council St Helens Council Warrington Borough Council Wiral Council
A collaborative service for: Cheshire East Council Cheshire West and Chester Halton Borough Council Warrington Borough Council

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Types of Fostering

There are many different types of fostering, and each Local Authority has slightly different schemes.

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Request an information pack to find out more about the types of fostering you could undertake in your Local Authority.

As a foster carer, you can decide the type of fostering you’d like to do, or be open-minded. Where they have the space to do so, many of our carers do a combination of a few types. You can also let us know your preferences in terms of the age range of children you’d like to care for, for example teenagers or babies and pre-school aged children. This is often influenced by your skills, family make up and other circumstances.


This is caring for children at short notice, often following a phone call at weekends or during the evening. This is usually for up to around 6 days, whilst longer-term plans are made.


Respite care is providing care on a one-off or regular basis, supporting another foster carer or a child’s family member to sustain the longer term care for a child. For example, a respite carer may help another carer by caring for the child they have in placement for one weekend a month, to help give everyone a break. Respite carers may also support other carers or family members in times of crisis or ill health.

Short Term

Caring for a child short term is essentially caring for them whilst future plans are made. This is often whilst court proceedings take place, and can be anything from a few days to around 18 months. The majority of our carers start as short-term foster carers.

Long Term

Caring for a child long-term is committing to care for them until they reach independence at 18+. For some children, long term care helps to give them the stability of being part of a consistent family unit, but also allows them to maintain the bonds they have with their own families, including their parents and siblings perhaps.

Parent and Child

Caring for a parent and child can be incredibly rewarding. As a parent and child carer, you care for both a parent, often a young mother, and their child, often a new-born baby. The aim of parent and child fostering is to keep them together. As a parent and child carer, you will be modelling positive parenting, providing support with things such as feeding and sleep routines, and will work closely alongside social workers to help them to undertake parenting assessments.

Short Breaks for Disabled Children

With all types of fostering, some children may have additional needs. The short breaks schemes are slightly different, in that the children you look after will not necessarily be children in care. Short Breaks for Disabled Children help families who have children with additional needs to have a regular short break from caring. This can help families to spend time with their other children perhaps, or just help to manage the demands of caring. As a short breaks carer, you would be matched to a child or children and give them a regular break, perhaps one weekend per month.

Fostering to Adopt, Concurrent Planning, Adoption, Special Guardianship and other Permanence

In addition to fostering arrangements, there are also other forms of more permanent care, that provide enhanced or complete parental responsibility for a child of young person.

Special Guardianship

Special Guardianship is a legal option intended to provide permanence for children who are not being raised by a biological parent. Special Guardianship is an alternative legal status for a child that offers greater security than long-term fostering but without the absolute legal severance from their birth family which an adoption order would serve to do. A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) gives the Special Guardian parental responsibility for the child. Unlike adoption, under a SGO the parents remain the child’s parents and retain parental responsibility. However, Special Guardianship overrides the parental rights and responsibilities of the biological parent, whose ability to exercise their parental responsibility are extremely limited.

For more information about SGOs, please contact your individual Local Authority:

Cheshire West and Chester 0151 337 6493

Halton 0151 5116762

Warrington 01925 446281


Adoption is a way of providing the security, love and permanence of a new family for children who can no longer be cared for by their birth families.
It’s a legal procedure in which all parental rights and responsibilities are transferred to the adoptive parents. The child will take on your surname and become a legal member of your family for life, just like a biological child.

Fostering to Adopt 

The below information is taken from the Coram Baaf website:

The process known as “Fostering for adoption” was designed to help more children live with foster carers who could become their adoptive family as soon as possible after leaving their birth family and so avoiding them being moved from carer to carer too often. Fostering for adoption applies to England only although in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, placements may also start on a fostering basis.

Fostering for adoption usually involves the following circumstances:

  • the child has been removed from their birth family but the court hasn’t yet decided whether they should go back home, live with family members or be adopted.
  • the local authority wants to minimise the number of potential moves for this child and does not support the child returning to their birth family.
  • the local authority is willing to assess approved adopters as temporary foster carers for this specific child and this decision is made by the local authority decision maker, or the local authority or approving adoption agency are able to agree “dual approval” as a prospective adopter and a foster carer.
  • the family will care for the child while the local authority and birth family retain joint parental responsibility. They will receive a foster allowance. They would expect to have limited, if any, contact with the birth family.
  • the family caring for the child is willing to accept the uncertainty of the placement i.e. that the court may decide that the child should be returned to their birth family, knowing that it is better for the child to have a secure placement where attachments can start to develop from an earlier age and to avoid unnecessary moves.
  • If the court later decides that the child should be adopted the adoption agency will then approve the “match” between these carers as adopters and the child and the placement becomes an adoption placement.
    If you are considering this route to adoption, there are many things you need to take into account.

Concurrent planning is a way of finding permanent families for babies and children under two who have been removed from their birth family, and who may either be adopted, or go back to their birth parents. To find out more, please visit the Coram Baaf website.


For information about Fostering to Adopt or Adoption, please visit our regional adoption agency websites or contact them on the numbers below:

Together for Adoption 01942 487242 (for Cheshire West and Chester, Halton, Warrington, plus St.Helens and Wigan Councils)

Adoption Counts  0300 1232676 (for Manchester, Salford, Stockport and Trafford Councils)

Supported Lodgings 

For young people who are getting ready to live independently, Halton and Warrington both offer Supported Lodgings schemes.

Please visit Supported Lodgings Scheme Re-Launched in Warrington – Foster 4 for information on Warrington’s offer.

Please visit Supported Lodgings (halton.gov.uk) for information on Halton’s offer.


Private Fostering

Private Fostering is not to be confused with fostering services provided by private agencies- Independent Fostering Agencies (IFAs).

Private fostering is very different from the care of children provided by local councils under the Children Act 1989.
Children under 16 (or 18 if disabled) are classed as privately fostered when they are cared for on a full-time basis by adults, who are not their parents or a close relative (brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or grandparents by birth or marriage) for a period of 28 days or more. Usually a birth parent chooses and arranges private foster placements, which could take many forms. These include:

  • children coming from abroad to access the education and health systems
  • children living with a friend’s family after separation, divorce or arguments at home
  • teenagers living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • people who come to this country to study or work, but antisocial hours make it difficult for them to care for their own children.

Sometimes it’s the young person themselves who chooses to live elsewhere and their parents do not object. There are many reasons why a parent may be unable to look after their child full time, such as:

  • Being admitted to hospital
  • Going abroad for lengthy periods
  • A breakdown in relationship between a parent and young person

People who believe they may be privately fostering a child, or professionals who become aware of such circumstances are legally required to notify their Local Authority. You can find out more about Private Fostering on the national Private Fostering Website.