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 well-being 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.

  • Fee Paid

    There are various schemes that take account of the specialist needs of children. These will generally attract a fee.

    Every 28 days, a fostering allowance is paid for each child or young person in your care. The allowance is provided to cover the costs associated with day to day care.

    You cannot claim child benefit for a child or young person you are caring for as this payment is included in Foster Care allowances. Your supervising social worker will advise you about other benefits you may be entitled to.

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


  • GEM Scheme

    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 leaflet to learn more about the GEM scheme.


  • 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 Trusts.

    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.

  • Unaccompanied and Separated Children and Young People

    Unaccompanied and separated children and young people 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 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.

  • 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.