Foster care is full-time or part-time substitute care of children outside their own home by people other than their biological or adoptive parents or legal guardians.
Foster care is the preferred option for children who cannot live with their parents as a result of abuse and/or neglect and their parents’ inability to care for them due to a combination of difficulties in their own lives. Foster carers look after other people’s children, caring for them on a daily basis. This includes working closely with social workers, parents and other professionals who are involved in the children’s lives. Foster carers are expected to support contact with the children’s parents and family.
Foster care can be provided by the State (i.e. the Child and Family Agency) or by non-statutory, voluntary or private fostering agencies. All foster carers, excluding those under Section 36(1)(d) of the Child Care Act 1991 (emergency placements), regardless of the method of recruitment, must be approved by the Child and Family Agency prior to any child being placed with them.