Foster Care

How Long Can You Foster a Child?

The length of foster care depends on different factors — their parental situation, their needs, and more. Learn how long you can foster a child.

When you become a foster parent, you build a connection between you and a child in care.

But how long does that connection last? How long can you foster a child for?

Below, we’ll get into the specifics of the length of foster care. First, let’s define foster care and why children need it. 

What is Foster Care?

Foster care offers a safe and loving home for children in need who can't live with their own families for different reasons. Foster parents give these children love, help, and a stable home where they can grow and thrive. 

There are many reasons why children may be placed in foster care, including:

  • The need for a safe and clean environment - For a child to grow and thrive, they need a safe and clean home.
  • The passing of a loved one - If a child’s parents unfortunately pass away, family members or foster parents may need to step in to provide care.
  • Behavioral health - Certain challenges in a child's home may cause trauma that requires a specific type of care moving forward.
  • Voluntary placement - In some cases, a parent might decide that they can't provide the level of care for their child that they'd like to give.

How Long Does Foster Care Last? 

The truth is that foster care stays are different in every case — it all depends on the situation.

Foster care can involve short-term care or long-term care. The average foster care stay in the US is around a year and a half — however, some stays are much shorter, and some are much longer.

For example, emergency foster care may require a low-notice placement overnight, but could only last a short while before parents can care for their children again.

On the other hand, if a child’s parents are unable to resume care and there aren’t any suitable adoptive families out there, foster care can last longer — as long as the child needs care. 

Factors That Affect A Child’s Stay

So, what other factors play into the length of time that a child stays in foster care?

Let’s look at a few of those:

  • Status of birth parents - As we said earlier, the goal of foster care is to reunite a child with their parents. This may take additional time if a child’s parents aren’t quite ready to resume care.
  • The right adoptive parents - The next route is adoption. However, finding the right adoptive parents can take time — especially if there aren’t many parents out there looking to adopt.
  • Individual needs of the child in care - Every child in care is different and has different needs. Any specifics, such as behavioral trauma, could mean that a stay in foster care will last longer. 

Foster Parenting is a Commitment

No matter how long the stay in foster care is, becoming a foster parent is a commitment — a highly rewarding one! 

Building a connection with a child in care is a special thing. There aren’t many better feelings than providing the love and care that a child needs to thrive and grow into adulthood. 

Whether it’s short or long-term care, giving the stability that a child in care needs will change their lives for the better.

Learn More About Foster Parenting in Our Upcoming Webinar 

Looking for more information on foster parenting?

If so, our upcoming webinar can help point you in the right direction.

By attending a Foster Parent Information Session Webinar and learning more about the fostering process, you can take the first step toward becoming a foster parent and providing a safe, loving, and supportive home for a child in need. 

Sign up for our webinar today!


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