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Types of Foster Care

Each child and young person is unique and their circumstances vary. To respond to this, there are several different types of foster care to suit every child or young person. Whether foster carers offer short term emergency support or a more permanent placement, their roles are key to the wellbeing and care of each and every child or young person who is reliant on foster care in Northern Ireland.

  • Short Term

    Short term foster care placements are made for temporary periods of time, from an overnight stay up until two years. It is hoped that in this way, foster care can provide a safe and secure home for a child or young person while a process of reunion with birth parents is undertaken.


  • Long Term

    Long term foster care indicates a more permanent foster care solution. This takes place when children and young people cannot be placed back into the care of their birth parents. In these circumstances, the child or young person can stay in a family where they feel safe while still maintaining contact with their birth family, until they can live independently.

  • Short Breaks

    Short breaks offer a child or young person a temporary and short term placement in order to provide their current carer (whether that’s their birth family, foster carers or adoptive family) a break. Care may be offered for a weekend, a month or a period of 2-3 weeks and may be part of the regular routine of the foster child or children.

  • Emergency

    Emergency describes out-of-hours foster carers who provide time-limited placements at short notice. Emergency carers may be contacted late at night or over a weekend. Foster carers who can offer emergency care will expect to receive a child or young person into their home to offer them safe and welcoming accommodation and care.

  • Fostering Teenagers

    The biggest need for foster carers in Northern Ireland at the moment is for teenagers. 33% of all admissions to care are aged between 12-17 years old.

    Think back. Being a teenager was tricky. It still is and even more for young people these days. Consider all the pressures of growing up as well as the additional pressure a young person in care will have experienced. The weight is heavy. It is hard for young people to deal with the pressures. Every young person deserves a safe and secure home and to be supported throughout their youth. 

    Many of our foster carers tell us the reason they love fostering teens if for the fun they bring. Young people can be great banter, and can offer the home a new perspective, a fun loving outlook and a new set of interests that the family can get involved in. 

    There are also teenagers who have travelled from outside NI who need fostered. Please read our Unaccompanied & Separated section below.

  • Fostering Finance

    We understand having additional children in your home brings additional costs and that is why we give you fostering allowances to cover the day to day costs of caring for a child and additional monies for birthdays and Christmas presents.

    You will receive the fostering allowances every 28 days.  Fostering allowances are paid for each child you are caring for.

    In some circumstances we pay an additional amount of money on top of the fostering allowances.  This additional money is in recognition of the additional time, skills and knowledge required to care for a specific child/young person.

    The fostering allowances are detailed on our FAQ page. Click here to view.

    For more information about our Specialist Schemes, contact us at 0800 0720 137.


  • GEM (Going the Extra Mile)

    The ‘Going The Extra Mile’ (GEM) scheme applies to existing foster carers. It reflects the role and contribution of these foster carers who continue to provide care, support, and accommodation for young people aged 18 – 21 whom they have previously fostered.

    The goal of the scheme is to provide continuity of living arrangements for young people in addition to the necessary support to enable them to move ahead in training, employment, education or career goals.

    Click here to download the GEM leaflet.

  • Children with Disabilities

    Some children in the foster care system have physical or learning disabilities and may need to be placed in long or short term foster care, emergency foster care or short breaks.

  • Kinship Foster Care

    Kinship foster care is when you are looking after the child of a relative or friend on a full-time basis, either temporarily or permanently.

    Training and support is vital for kinship foster carers. These foster carers face unique challenges as they care for children or young people who are known to them. We hope all kinship foster carers will undertake as much as possible of the training and support offered by all the local fostering teams.

    Please watch some of the following kinship foster care related videos to give you some more information and help you to understand how vital this type of foster care can be.

  • Young Refugees

    Young refugees come from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia arrive into Northern Ireland without a parent or responsible adult. Most of these children (mostly teenagers), are separated from their families and find themselves in a new country facing the challenge of different customs and a different language.

    We are actively recruiting foster carers and supported lodgings hosts who are in the position to support these vulnerable children and young people who come from a range of ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.

    In many cases, these young people are fleeing danger and war, they may have been victims of trafficking or exploitation, or their parent or carer has disappeared. These circumstances are hugely challenging and the children and young people desperately need a safe and welcoming home environment where they will receive practical and emotional support and care. It is our wish that these children will be able to integrate into local communities, making new friends and learning English. Ideally, we hope to find homes where there is a current, or potential understanding of the child’s heritage, culture, and religion.

    Please contact us on 0800 0720 137 if you think you could help.

    Click here to watch video of Kathryn, foster carer for a young refugee

  • Parent and Baby

    Across Northern Ireland, there are opportunities to be involved in Parent and Baby assessment placements. These involve offering a home to a parent and child while they are taking place in the assessment process. Foster care is essential to this process as it provides both the parent and the child help and day-to-day support. Parent and Baby placements are time limited.

  • Supported Lodgings / STAY (Supported Transition & Accommodation for Young people)

    Supported Lodgings / STAY (Supported Transition & Accommodation for Young people) is accommodation provided in the home of an approved individual or family, known as a ‘host’, who offers a safe and secure home for young people in care. These young people are aged from 16 to 21 years and are not quite ready to live on their own.

    Supported Lodgings Leaflet

    Watch the videos below to hear from supported lodgings hosts and Olivia, a young person who lives in supported lodgings.