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What is fostering?

Fostering is a way of providing a family life for children who cannot live with their birth parents.

There are many reasons why a child may be removed from their birth family. In some cases parents request that their children are looked after by us or agree when the Children and Families Service considers it necessary. In other cases, the service may need to apply to the court for a care order, to safeguard a child.

Wherever we can, we try to keep families together, but where this is not possible we need foster carers. As a foster carer, you help us to ensure that children live in a safe, happy and supportive family settings, so these children can grow up enjoying a stable and secure life.

In many cases, it is also important to maintain links with the child’s birth family. This can be through regular ‘contact’ meetings, which you will help facilitate.

Fostering involves different types of care arrangements. From emergency to long term placements as well as respite and short breaks. It all depends on the needs of the child and their family situation.

Types of fostering

Fostering placement will vary depending on why the child has come into care. Where it is safe to do so, we will work with families so that a child may return to their birth families.

Emergency placements

These placements are usually undertaken by experienced foster carers, who are able to take a child at very short notice; usually over the weekend. This type of placement is made when a child has come to us in an emergency and lasts until longer term arrangements have been made.

Short term placements

This can be anything from 2 weeks to 2 years (or more). These placements are made in order to keep a child safe whilst the family situation is being resolved, or a suitable long term arrangement is made.

Long term placements

These are for children who need to remain in care for an extended period of time; usually until they are 18 (or 21 under the staying put agreement). Foster carers should be willing to provide the commitment and support to this child until they reach adulthood.


Can be for long term foster placements or to support families that are experiencing difficulties. It can provides parents a ‘time out’ to get support they need, in order for a child to return to a more stable family environment. This is also offered to foster carers. Respite can last up to 21 days and will sometimes occur a few times a year.

Short breaks

Gives families who have a child with a disability a break from caring for their child. This can be a very positive experience for the child as they are able to form new and ongoing relationships with their short breaks carers and be involved in new experiences and activities. This care can be varied and includes day care, overnight and weekend care on an agreed basis.

Specialist fostering schemes

The length of a placement differs for specialist teenage fostering and the parent and child scheme. Please contact us for more information.

Who can foster?

Hackney recruits a diverse range of foster carers to reflect our community.

There’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ foster carer; but as part of the approvals process you will need to meet the following criteria:

  • be over 21 and capable to meet the demands of parenthood
  • in reasonably good health, fit and well enough to care for children into adulthood
  • able to offer a secure home with a spare bedroom for one or more children. You do not have to own your own home
  • have the time and ability to foster. You don’t need to give up work to foster, as long as your work is flexible enough to cope with the demands and you have a support network in place

We do not discriminate on the grounds of class, race, culture, sexual orientation or disability. We also welcome enquiries from single people wanting to foster.

Check if you can foster

Page updated on: 4 July 2019

Fostering Recruitment


Corporate Parenting
Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
E8 1DY


Opening times

  • Mon to Fri 9am - 5pm