Foster care seems like a simple enough concept: a family provides a home and takes custody of a child in need.

In reality, however, there are several different types of foster care depending on the scenario. At our foster care agency in Pennsylvania, we field many questions about the differences between foster care types. As such, we created this resource to outline the different types of foster care you might need to understand.

Different Types Of Foster Care

In all cases, foster care refers to a setting where a child needs more support than they are currently getting. Here are the primary types of foster care:

Family Foster Care

At FCCY, we specialize in family foster care (also called straight foster care). In this situation, the state or local government places a child with a foster family with no relation to the child. Foster care placements can be both short- and long-term, depending on the home environment from which the child came.

Kinship Foster Care

As the name suggests, “kinship” foster care is when a child is placed with a relative as the foster parent. This situation isn’t always as regulated or reported as family foster care. Indeed, many relatives unofficially take charge of a child and take them into their homes when a family member is unable to do so. Think of situations where grandmothers raise children and the parent isn’t in the picture full-time.

Treatment Foster Care

When children in need of a home also have specialized conditions, they enter treatment (or therapeutic) foster care. In these scenarios, children are placed with foster families who have specific training on the medical, behavioral, emotional, or physical need. For instance, a child in a wheelchair will be placed in a home that has wheelchair-accessible features.

In these situations, foster families generally receive more training and are limited to how many foster children they can have in the home.

Group Settings

Sometimes called “group homes,” group settings (also referred to as congregate care and institutional care) involve a community-based home where multiple children live with a full-time staff. These children almost always have special needs or are involved in the criminal justice system.

Emergency Care

In the event of a dangerous environment or situation, a child can be placed in an emergency care setting. This might be a temporary group facility placement or placement with a trained foster family. Respite care is a similar concept, where a youth might need temporary placement with a foster family during holidays, weekends, or short periods of time.

Shared Family Care

Shared family care involves the parent and child living together with a host family. The foster family is trained specifically to support both adults and children and to provide a safe reunification environment.

Foster Care In Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, there are nearly 20,000 youth in need of foster care services.

As a foster care agency in Pennsylvania, FCCY provides the following foster care services:

  • Family-based
  • Kinship care
  • Independent living
  • Emergency placement
  • Respite care
  • Adoption services

If you’re ready to help a child in need, work with our foster care agency today!