What is fostering? - Camden Fostering

What is fostering?

Fostering is providing a safe and secure home for vulnerable babies, children and young people who are unable to be at home with their own families. Sometimes this is for a few nights and sometimes for a few years. There are lots of different types of fostering, please see below to find out more.

Every 20 minutes in the UK a child comes into care, often from very challenging circumstances where they might have experienced abuse or been neglected. Other times there might have been family illness, a breakdown in relationships, or a young person may have arrived unaccompanied from abroad.

In Camden we need more Londoners who are willing to open their homes and their hearts to welcome in our vulnerable children and provide them with care, stability and consistency.

Types of Fostering

Children come into foster care from all different situations and with all different needs. There are lots of different types of fostering to ensure that each child gets the right type of foster placement.

Emergency placements

Sometimes children need to be placed with a foster family at very short notice. This might happen late at night or at the weekend. Emergency foster carers take turns to be on standby to welcome a child in an emergency. The child will stay with them until a longer-term plan or more suitable arrangement is made.

Short term placements

Short term foster placements last from a few nights up to two years. Children might need to be in foster carer short term while situations with their family are being resolved, so they safely return back home or move on to a more permanent home.

Long term placements

When it has been decided that a child is not able to return home to their family then we will find a long-term foster placement for a child. These foster families have agreed to make a long-term commitment to care for a specific child until they become an adult.


A respite foster placement can offer support to a family at crisis point or to a foster carer who needs to have a break. Respite foster placements might be for a weekend or a week in the holidays but can last up to 21 days. If you are only able to offer limited periods of time to fostering, then being a respite foster carer could be a good option.


Specialist foster carers look after children and young people with very complicated needs and challenging behaviour. These children might have experienced a lot of trauma and not be used to normal routines or going to school regularly. Specialist foster carers will have significant previous experience working with children or young people to bring about positive changes in their lives. These carers cannot be doing any other work while fostering and are paid a higher rate.  

Parent and child

Sometimes foster placements are needed for vulnerable new parents and their baby. These new parents might be quite young and will need support and guidance to learn how to care for and form a strong bond with their new baby.

Parent and child foster carers welcome a new parent and their baby into their home, helping the new mum or dad get used to becoming a parent. These placements are quite intense and usually last about 12 weeks, more information can be found here. These specialist foster carers will need to closely supervise the parent and make sure the baby's needs are being met. They will keep detailed records of how the parent is getting on, and these are used to make decisions about the plan for the baby.

Family Link (Short breaks)

Family Link foster carers look after children with disabilities on a short term basis. This gives the child’s family a break and gives the child a chance to try new experiences and activities with their Family Link foster carer. Family Link placements can include day care, overnight or weekend stays and foster carers will build up an ongoing relationship with a child and their family. This is another good option for people who only have limited time to give to fostering.

For more information, please read our Fostering in Camden Booklet





If you have questions about fostering or want to have an informal chat about your individual circumstances then please get in touch. Equally, if you are ready to start an application then we would love to hear from you. 

Email [email protected] to find out more about fostering for Camden.

We'll send you an information pack and be in contact within 2 working days.

You can also call us on 020 7974 6783 or 0800 028 1436 (Freephone).

Open evenings

We hold information sessions throughout the year for people interested in fostering.

These give an overview of fostering, different types of placements, what fostering for Camden is like and gives you a chance to speak with a fostering social worker in an informal setting.

For more information and to book a place to attend, please contact the fostering team or call 020 7974 6783.

If you would like to discuss fostering with us please call our duty.