There are so many ways you can grow your family nowadays. Foster caring is a rewarding way to give a child a loving and supportive home when they need it most. Whether that child eventually moves on to different carers, returns to their birth family, or you go on to adopt them, having the right support is essential.
As Crisp & Co, our family law solicitors can provide sensitive practical advice relating to children to individuals, couples and families.
We can help you handle all private legal matters associated with fostering a child, including:
- Adopting your foster child
- Fostering to adopt
- Concurrent planning
- Fostering and adopting a child in kinship care
Why do children need foster carers?
Children are taken into care for so many reasons, but typically it is because their welfare is at risk. Often, the child’s parents simply cannot care for them, for example, because of health issues or because there are domestic violence concerns.
Care is always a last resort. In most cases, the local authority (social services) will work with parents and to help them improve their circumstances so they can provide a safe home or develop the skills they need to fulfil their child’s needs. However, if this is not possible, it may be necessary to take the child into care where they will usually be placed with a foster carer or even be placed for adoption.
Care can be temporary measure. For example, if the child’s parent is in hospital and is temporarily unable to look after the child, a foster carer may be asked to step in – these types of placement can last just as little as a few days or weeks.
However, sometimes it becomes clear that the child will never be able to return to live with their birth parents. In some situations, the parents may even agree that they should no longer care for the child. In these types of cases, the child may go to live with a long-term foster carer and may eventually be adopted.
Babies and very young children can sometimes be fostered by their adoptive parents while the adoption process is ongoing. This is called fostering for adoption.
Becoming a foster carer
Fostering is a wonderful way to give a child a safe, stable and loving home, either for a short while or in the long term.
Anyone over the age of 21 can be eligible to be a foster carer. You do not need to be married or in a civil partnership; you do not even need to have a partner.
To become a foster carer, you should speak to your local authority or fostering agency who can provide advice and support about the assessment and what you need to do.
Fostering and adoption
It is possible to become a foster carer specifically to adopt a child. To do this, you can be dual-approved as an adopter and a foster carer. Often, the local authority will have already decided that the child should be adopted before placing them with you (although not always).
You may also be able to adopt a child you are already fostering. Of course, this usually only works with long-term foster placements where the local authority has decided that it is in the best interests of the child to be adopted.
How our fostering solicitors can help
Our solicitors can help foster carers will all types of adoption processes and are highly experienced in fostering law. Whether you are already a foster carer looking for advice about adopting your foster child, or you need advice about becoming a foster carer specifically to adopt, we are here to help.
We can also provide advice to people who are caring for a relative under a ‘kinship care’ arrangement (such as your niece, nephew or grandchild).
With all types of foster child adoption, we can provide professional advice and support. There is an important legal process to go through to become your foster child’s adoptive parents, including applying to family court for an Adoption Order.
We will handle all the heavy-lifting on your behalf, ensuring that all documentation is completed to the highest degree of accuracy and giving you the best possible chance of being successful. We are also here to provide emotional support through this challenging process.