Children in long term foster care

foster care

A long-term fostering placement allows children and young people to grow up in a stable environment for long periods of time, usually until they reach 18. Could you give a child this much needed security?

What is long-term foster care?

Long-term fostering is when a child lives with a committed family normally until they reach adulthood, however it can be classed as anything over two years. Children and young people who need long-term fostering are unable to live with, or return to their birth family. There are countless reasons for this, ranging from abuse and neglect or the absence, illness or death of a parent. Long-term foster care, with all the personalised support, security and care that it provides, is preferable to placing a child into short-term care.

Long-term foster care gives children much needed stability and a chance to move on. Growing up in a permanent home during childhood and teenage years means children and young people feel part of a solid family unit and have a sense of belonging. It also gives foster parents an opportunity to have a deep impact on a child’s life. If you're wanting to foster with birth children, then it's wonderful to see the sibling relationships that develop over time. The bonds that are formed in these foster family relationships are often enduring, and we hear many stories of long-term foster carers being involved in the lives of former foster children long after reaching adulthood.

Are you thinking of fostering?

Download the FCA’s complete beginner’s guide to fostering a child. Find out more on how to foster a child and the process involved.

Download Guide

Role of the long-term foster carer

All types of fostering allow foster carers to have a big impact on a child's life, but long-term fostering gives you the chance to develop a deeper relationship and build a truly strong bond. It’s also true that many children needing long-term foster care support arrive with emotional or behavioural challenges. Their experiences might have resulted in disruptive behaviour for example, or an inability to form attachments. Whatever the issue, the role of a foster carer is to help the child deal with their past and come out the other side as a stronger, more confident individual. More often than not, this includes preparing them for their life as independent adult.

As a long-term foster carer, you won't have legal responsibility for the child but you'll still be acting as their parental role model. When it comes to key decisions about their life, you'll have a dedicated team of social workers, therapists and education specialists working with you to ensure every step forward is a positive one.

This includes getting them to school, encouraging their development, giving them wider experiences and opportunities and taking them on holidays. In other words, they’ll be a constant part of your life. As well as all this, we’ll ask you to keep records of the child’s achievements so that together we can help create a record of their life story. Last but not least, you’ll help the child maintain contact with their birth family and help them understand their experiences better.

If the young person is not ready to leave the care system after reaching adulthood, they may go into continuing care to help them transition into living an independent life. You would continue to support them until they are 21, giving them extra time to adjust to the changes of leaving care and beginning their next chapter.


long term foster carers

How to become a longer-term foster carer

To become a foster carer, the first step is to fill out our online form. From there, we’ll be in touch to talk to you more about fostering, check you meet the initial criteria to foster and of course answer any questions you may have.

Our team will then arrange to visit you at home, so find out in more depth about fostering and also give us the opportunity to get to know you better. You’ll then need to fill in an application form and, if accepted, you’ll start your full fostering assessment.


family talking about fostering types

Is long-term fostering different to permanence?

In Scotland, a permanence order can be sought when it's decided that a child will not be able to return to their birth family at all. Only the local authorities can apply for a permanence order, and they can allow foster carers to get some or all of the parental rights needed to make important day-to-day decisions. Permanence orders can also include a request that the child is put forward for adoption. Long-term foster care parents rights usually don't include any parental rights over the child, with decisions around travel, medical issues and even haircuts remaining with the birth family.

When deciding that a child should go into 'permanent' fostering with a permanence order, their welfare and care planning will always be the main points for the courts to consider.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between fostering and adoption?

Fostering and adoption are completely different.  Sometimes a child or young person may only need fostering for a few days, or care may be longer term lasting years. Adoption is always permanent, the court transfers all the parental rights for the child to their new parents, the child can take the family surname and their new family is entirely responsible for their care.  One of the main differences is adoptive parents do not get financial support like foster carers do.

Learn more about the different types of fostering.

What is fostering?

Fostering is providing a safe and stable family home for a child or young person who can’t live with their birth family. There are many reasons why children need foster care.

Learn more about fostering.

What is the process of becoming a foster carer?

Applying to become a foster carer involves a number of steps and starts when you contact us.

Step 1 - Get in touch

We’ll have a chat to you talk to one of our friendly fostering advisors by calling 0141 646 4805 or filling in our enquiry form

Step 2 - We’ll visit you at home

We will arrange for one of our fostering advisors to visit you at home to talk to you in more detail and what to expect and how we will support you and find out a bit more about you.

Step 3 - Start your application

If you decide you’d like to apply to foster with us, we’ll start you application process.  The process involves filling in an application form and once accepted we will then undertake your fostering assessment.

Step 4 - Fostering assessment

Following your application we’ll undertake a fostering assessment.  Your assessing social worker will visit you and your family at home a number of times to speak to you and collect information about you and your life.  It will help us to understand more about you.  In addition you will attend a preparatory training course to help you learn more about fostering and how to handle different situations.  The assessment process takes between four to six months.

Step 5 - Meet the panel

Once your assessment is finished you will go to a fostering panel who will make their recommendation.  The group is made up of people with fostering experience.  Your social worker will help you prepare and be there for support. Read our blog about panel to help you understand.

Once approved the real fostering journey starts.

Learn more about becoming a foster carer

The Roadmap to Fostering Process

What kind of support will I receive?

We wouldn’t expect anyone to foster without the right support, so when you foster with FCA Scotland you are not alone.

Become a foster carer with us and you have access to:

  • Social Work Support– you will have a dedicated supervising social worker who is your main point of contact and will organise monthly meetings and support for you whenever you need it
  • 24 / 7 support
  • Training and development - We will prepare you to foster and keep developing your skills with an ongoing training programme featuring both face to face and online courses through our Learnative portal.
  • Events and activities – we host a range of events and activities for all the family to enjoy.
  • Online portal – Join our online community with our Carer Portal The Exchange just for FCA Scotland foster carers. It gives you free and instant access to information and advice right when you need it – day or night, 365 days a year. Plus access to a range of discounts to some major retailers and online stores.
  • Fostering Network membership - useful and practical benefits, including insurance, legal protection, medical and stress advice helplines, as well as a foster care magazine.

Interested in becoming a foster carer with FCA Scotland?

Do you have the skills and compassion needed to be a foster parent? Enter your town or postcode to find your nearest office or get in touch today.

Find your local office by selecting your region below

foster children smiling

Fostering Allowances

You’ll receive generous fostering allowances for every week a child or young person is in your care, designed to reward your professionalism and commitment.

Find out what you could earn

Other types of fostering

Speak to our team

Whether you’re ready to start your journey or just want to chat to an expert, we're here to talk.

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