Long term fostering

Long term fostering image

Long term fostering (sometimes called permanency)  

If a child or young person needs to live away from their birth family, we need to look at the best option for them and sometimes this might be a long term fostering placement. 

Why do children need long term placements? 

For some children, adoption is not appropriate; this may be due to their age, their need to maintain regular contact with their birth families or due to their needs. Some children may also need to be placed with their siblings or have ongoing, regular contact with their brothers and sisters who may be placed elsewhere.

What does long term fostering involve?

Long term foster carers commit to caring for a child or children until they reach an age where they reach adulthood and can live independently. One of the most rewarding things about being a long term foster carer is that it allows you to have a huge and long lasting impact on the life of a child, which will help them flourish.

Our permanent foster carers support children and young people by acting as role models, mentors and by demonstrating positive parenting. They help children to enjoy and achieve in their education and support them to develop skills for independence.

And you won't be alone - we will provide you with on-going training, expert advice and dedicated 24/7 support along your journey. 

The advantages for children and young people

Being brought up within one family, often over several years, gives young people in foster care more consistency and a greater sense of belonging. It also helps a child to settle within a local community and develop positive relationships. 

As the child settles into a more permanent routine, it benefits their education as they have more time to settle in at school without the disruption of being transferred between fostering homes. The permanent one-to-one support that a long term foster carer can provide is exactly what young people need in order to thrive.

Contact us today

If you're interested in becoming a long term foster carer speak to our friendly team today on 0303  333 1216 or by registering your interest online.

Watch a video of Alex's story

Alex, from Barrow, has been a long term foster carer since 2009

She said: "Every child has a right to be loved and nurtured. I came into fostering as a change of job, as I used to work in mental health, and I can honestly say it is the best thing I've ever done. 

"Long term fostering gives me the opportunity to work with the child who's moved into my home and have a real impact on their life. And it give the child a wonderful stability to know they won't be moved on or have to go anywhere else. 

"You also get to know their families, which is very important for the children to know where they come from.

"I spoke to my foster child last night and asked her what is good about long term foster care and she said 'it's great because I know I don't have to move on in a couple of years or have to worry about moving. I know when I come in the front door, I'm home. That's basically what long term means; they're home. 

"The reward for me is that you get to know these young people and you lose your heart to them and they become part of your family. It is just a wonderful thing to do and I would recommend long term fostering over any other type of fostering."

Watch a video of Wendy and Malcolm's story

Wendy and Malcolm, from Silloth, have been long term foster carers for four years, caring for a brother and sister aged 8 and 10.

Wendy says: "We thought about fostering for quite a long before we contacted the council. We started thinking about it first when our own daughters were younger and still living at home but we felt it wasn't the right for them at that stage, as they didn't want to share us. 

"But as they got older and did their own thing, they felt it was a good idea for us to foster. By then one of our daughters had left home and one was ready to move out and we attended an information event in Carlisle in the February to find out more. Before we knew it, we were on the Skills to Foster training course and then after going through a full assessment we went to panel to be approved as carers in the September."

Malcolm adds: "We lead quite a simple life and we could have drifted into retirement, nice and easy, but we felt we had something to offer. We are people who don't think about ourselves all the time, so fostering felt like a real opportunity to make a difference."

With a large spare room at home the couple were happy to take on siblings and were matched with their two foster children, a brother and sister, now aged 8 and 10. 

Wendy adds: "I think it has been easier because they have each other and they settled in almost straight away and seemed to immediately feel at home and we became so attached to them very quickly. This is their home now and they are so relaxed and they've taken to our immediate family, our girls and parents, and they are part of the family."

Since joining their family, the couple have seen a big change in both children. Wendy says: "Both children found it hard to show emotion at first but then we were watching a film, A Dog's Purpose, and our foster daughter started crying and it was massive, as we realised she trusted us enough to do that!"

Initially approved to foster short term, the couple were approved to foster the children long term last November, once it was decided this would be the best plan for their future. Wendy says: "We'd had the children nearly three years by then and we knew that if they were staying in care, then we wanted them to stay with us."

Malcolm adds: "When it came to changing our approval to long term, it was a big decision, we were going to have teenagers again and go through all the emotional stuff and we know that isn't easy but we had done it with our daughters and were confident we could do it again.

"Long term fostering gives the children some security and stability and it means we can plan for their future and plan our lives around it. This is their home for as long as they want it to be."

While fostering can be challenging, Malcolm says that they've had great support from the council: "We had two different support social workers and they've both been fantastic. If we need anything, they are just at the end of the phone."

The rewards of fostering definitely outweigh the challenges for the caring couple. Malcolm says: "Just seeing them grow and develop and doing so well at school. There is so much fulfilment, it's a joyous experience."

Wendy adds: "It's very rewarding to see what a difference we can make to the children's lives. Just seeing how happy they are and giving them the same opportunities we've given to our children and to see them thrive. It's been lovely."

Malcolm would encourage anyone thinking about fostering to consider a long term placement. He says: "I would ask people to think about long term as it encourages that stability so you can support the children into young adulthood."