Fostering can provide children with a permanent home, but other children move on from a foster family – back to their families or to another placement. The Fostering Network has resources, helplines and an online community to help support foster carers through what can be an emotional period.
There are many reasons a fostering placement may come to an end, for example, the child may return to live with their birth family. Or, older teenagers may be ready to live independently. In this case, the foster carer will probably have played an important role in helping prepare them to live alone, learning to budget, cook or use a washing machine.
Other times, the child will be moving on to live with other foster carers, possibly a place where they can stay long term. Some will be adopted. Foster carers can help make this as easy as possible by supporting the child and passing on useful information to the new foster carer or adoptive parent.
Sometimes, a child will move on because a placement simply isn’t working. Foster carers need to accept that there may be times that they will be unable to provide a child with the care they need. This does not make them a ‘failure’ as a foster carer, it simply means that in this case, someone else’s skills may be better suited to help that child.
Foster carers are not superhuman, and have the right to ask for a child to be moved on if they feel that would be best for them and their family.
Whatever the reasons, foster carers will experience a range of emotions when a child leaves their home. Sadness to see them go will often be mixed with happiness to see them move on to a more permanent situation.
Being open about these feelings and discussing them with friends, family, and other foster carers and with their supervising social worker is important. It is sometimes possible for fostered children to stay in touch with their former foster carers when they move on, and The Fostering Network is campaigning to ensure that all children are enabled to do so where this is in their best interests.