By Eleanor Beeslaar

Before we get into the details of being a foster parent, let’s begin with defining foster care. Foster care is the temporary arrangement for an adult to care for a child or children whose birth parents are unable to take care of them. Foster care can be either short-term or long-term depending on the family’s situation. Additionally, the goal of foster care can vary between reunification with parents, placement of the child in the care of other family members, or adoption; however, the main goal is often reunification.

Although foster care itself is often temporary, the impact foster families have on children can last a lifetime. Therefore, it is crucial for foster parents to provide a safe, stable, and nurturing environment for the child/children they care for. Foster care creates an opportunity for children and families to heal, while also developing new skills and experiencing personal growth that will help them succeed as individuals and families in the future.

There are also several different types of foster care, which we will briefly cover here: Emergency or urgent care. With this type of foster care, foster parents agree to be available to accept short-term placements whenever they arise. This may include nights and weekends (AdoptUSKids, n.d.).

Kinship care. Kinship caregivers are family members, such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles who agree to care for children (AdoptUSKids, n.d.).

Therapeutic or treatment foster care. This type of foster care is intended to provide specialized care for children who have increased physical, social, behavioral, or mental health needs. Therapeutic foster parents receive specialized training to best address the needs of the children they are caring for (AdoptUSKids, n.d.).

Foster-to-adopt care. Although in many cases foster care is temporary and the goal is to reunite children with their birth parents, it can also be a pathway to adoption. There are many families who foster children with the intent of adoption. There are many benefits to this practice, including allowing the child(ren) to develop a bond with the family and reducing the number of foster placements a child experiences (AdoptUSKids, n.d.).

Respite care. Respite care providers step in to give foster parents a break when needed. This can range from a few hours during a week day to a longer period of time such as a weekend or more (AdoptUSKids).

We hope this information has helped you gain a better understanding of what foster care is, as well as what the different types of foster care may look like!


AdoptUSKids (n.d.). About Foster Parenting. Retrieved from


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