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Parenting or Fostering? - The Key Differences

Parenting V Fostering Webp

Parenting and fostering have many similarities, but there are also some distinct differences.  In this article, we will explore some of the key differences between being a parent and being a foster carer.



Legal Relationship and Decision-Making Rights

One of the main differences between parenting and fostering is the legal and decision-making rights. As a parent you have full legal rights and responsibilities over your children, and the authority to make decisions on behalf of them, whether that be medical care, education, and religion.

Whereas for children in foster care, their legal rights lay with the local authority and not foster carers. Every foster carer must follow instructions and guidelines provided by social workers and other professionals, and there is often a need for permission to be granted for everyday tasks.



The purpose of parenting is to raise and nurture a child from infancy to adulthood, and often beyond! Parents are responsible for providing their children with a stable and loving environment, meeting their basic needs, and instilling values and beliefs.

Fostering is usually a temporary arrangement, where the goal is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children and young people. Fostering placements can however last for multiple years, and even into adulthood, but this is not guaranteed. Foster carers may also face additional demands such as attending meetings which are specific to the foster child.


Training and Support

Another significant difference between parenting and fostering is the level of training and support that foster carers receive. Most parents do not receive any formal training before becoming parents. They may seek advice from family and friends, but ultimately, they learn through their own experiences.

In contrast, prior to them being approved, foster carers are required to undergo a training course called Skills To Foster, and, depending on the type of fostering they intend to do, potentially additional training. Once approved, foster carers are expected to complete core training and encouraged to attend as much additional training as possible. Calon Cymru foster carers benefit from a tailored training programme and ongoing support and guidance from their Supervising Social Worker, and other professionals, as well as around the clock support from our team on duty.


Financial Support

Financial support is another key difference between being a parent and being a foster carer. Parents are financially responsible for their children and must provide for their needs. Although certain benefits may be claimed, being a parent is not something you are paid to do.

Foster carers receive an allowance which is used to cover the basic needs of the children in their care. A part of the fostering allowance also allows for financial reimbursement for carers. The are several factors that influence the amount of fostering allowance that foster carers receive, including the age of the child in their care, and any special requirements they may have.


Fostering insights


  • Foster Carer
  • Support
  • Birth child(ren)

Date published

20 February 2024

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