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Types of Foster Care

If you’re considering foster care, one of the first decisions you need to make is what type of care you feel led to pursue. Here is a brief description of the different types of foster care:

  • Respite care. Every parent needs a break. Respite care providers step in to give foster parents needed time off—from a few hours to a weekend or more—usually on a regularly scheduled basis.
  • Emergency or urgent care. These foster parents agree to be on call and to accept short-term placements as the need arises, including at night and on the weekends.
  • Kinship care. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members who agree to care for children are called “kinship” caregivers. Kinship care can be an informal or legal arrangement. Kinship Caregivers and the Child Welfare System(575 KB PDF), from Child Welfare Information Gateway, provides information about both arrangements.
  • Therapeutic or treatment foster care. Children and youth who have a higher degree of social, behavioral, or mental health needs, and who may require more intensive services, are cared for by therapeutic foster parents. These caregivers receive additional special training and support to be part of the care team responding to the needs of children in their home.
  • Foster-to-adopt care. Many families foster with the intention of adopting, a practice that an increasing number of states are encouraging. Fostering to adopt has many benefits, including reducing the number of placements a child experiences, and allowing a family to bond. This is sometimes referred to as “dual licensing.”

No matter which type of foster care you choose to pursue, you will need to work with an organization to complete paperwork, a background check, training, and a home study. A licensed placement agency can also help answer specific questions about which type of care is best suited to you and your family.

*Definitions taken from the Adopt US Kids, https://adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/overview/foster-parenting