Long-Term vs. Short-Term Fostering: Understanding the Differences

Business Insights

Both long term and short term fostering play vital roles in the lives of children, but in different ways.

Fostering plays a vital role in helping children who cannot live with their immediate family or other relatives to live in a supportive, nurturing environment. People who become foster parents act as primary caregivers to children of all ages, receiving plenty of support or training along the way — as well as a generous foster care allowance.

There's more than one type of fostering. Short term foster care lasts for up to two years, while long term fostering is a permanent arrangement that lasts until the child is eighteen. At Match Foster Caring, we welcome individuals who are interested in both long term and short term fostering.

Duration and Time Commitment

    Long-Term Fostering: Commitment and Duration Expectations

The majority of children who require foster care do so on a short-term basis, but there are some children who would benefit from long-term care. Long term foster carers typically provide care and support until the child is eighteen or until they're able to look after themselves.

Long term fostering is similar to adoption in that it's a long-term solution, but there is a key difference to be aware of: in fostering, and unlike adoption, the legal rights to the child remain with the local authority.

    Short-Term Fostering: Temporary by Nature

A short term foster parent will provide the same level of care, support, and love as a long term foster parent, just on a more temporary basis. These placements have a maximum duration of two years, though it may be as little as a night or two.

Tens of thousands of children require foster care each year, and with the vast majority only requiring temporary foster care, there's more demand for short term carers than long term carers.

Goals and Objectives

    Long-Term Fostering: Building Lasting Relationships and Stability

The objective of long-term fostering is to provide a loving, caring environment in which the child in foster can develop and reach their full potential. It allows the child to focus on other important aspects of their life, such as their education and future goals, all the while knowing that they have a home where the essentials of life can be taken for granted.

Long term carers form deep relationships with the children they look after. In the process, the foster child develops a sense of identity that can have a profoundly positive impact on their future prospects.

    Short-Term Fostering: Providing Immediate Care and Support

The simple answer to ‘what is short term fostering?' could well be ‘it is immediate care.' Children are placed in short-term foster care soon after they enter the foster care network, usually when they have been removed from a traumatic and unpleasant experience. Short term foster carers provide immediate support that provides a welcome level of comfort and safety to the foster child.

Challenges and Rewards

    Long-Term Fostering: Challenges of Attachment and The Rewards of Long-Lasting Connections

Looking after a child is challenging regardless of the circumstances. When you sign up to be a long-term foster carer, you are committing to providing care and support over a number of years. Forming a close attachment can be difficult, as can letting go when the moment comes that the child leaves your care. But that's usually offset by the rewarding satisfaction of knowing that you've made a positive impact on a child in need's life.

    Short-Term Fostering: Coping with Frequent Transitions and the Rewards of Making An Immediate Impact

Short term carers naturally look after more children than long term carers. Though placements can last up to two years, many placements are much shorter. As such, it can be challenging to deal with frequent transitions from carer to non-carer, and back to carer again. However, as with long term foster care, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you were there when a child needed you the most.

Preparation and Support

    Long-Term Fostering: Preparation and Ongoing Support

Long term foster care is a big commitment, but you'll never be alone. At Match Foster Care, we'll be right by your side, providing training, ongoing support, and anything else you need to feel truly comfortable in the role.

    Short-Term Fostering: Support Systems for Temporary Care

Match Foster Care will be with you every step of the way, ensuring you have the necessary skills and support to provide care on a short term basis. If you have any questions at any time, we'll be there to pick up the phone.


Whether it's on a short-term or long-term basis, being a foster carer can be a highly rewarding experience, one that makes a real difference to a child's life. If you're ready to get started, then don't hesitate to get in touch with our team here at Match Foster Care.

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