This is the definition page from my agency in Texas. I am working on this page and hope to add to it soon.
When children are removed by the state due to abuse or neglect they are placed in foster homes while the biological parents work services in order to be able to provide a safe living environment for that child. If the parents are able to show the court that they can care for the child, the child is then returned to the biological parents. Other family members, such as aunts, grandparents, cousins may also tell the court that they would like to care for the child. If these family members are seen to be able to care for the child the court can decide to place the child in a kinship placement. Family friends may also be able to provide a safe home for these children and the court can place the child in a fictive kinship placement. If none of these options are available an adoptive family is sought.
You can help by providing:
Foster care – giving the children who have been removed due to abuse and neglect a safe home to live in while their parents work services and the court decides which placement would be best for them.
Foster to Adopt – this is also providing a safe home once a child has been removed, however, if the court decides there are not other options, the foster to adopt home would have the right to proceed in adopting the foster child.
Respite care – provides the foster parents with short-term 24 hour child care services that offer temporary relief so that the family can go on vacation etc. this type of care is between 72 hours – 14 days. The caregivers must be verified just as a foster family is.
Transitional care – although the family providing transitional care must be verified the same as a foster family, this type of care does not house children who are in the custody of the state. These children, typically infants, are voluntarily being placed for adoption by their biological parents and need a safe place to stay while the legal paperwork is being sorted through and before an adoptive home is chosen. This type of care can last 1 week – 4 months (could be longer in certain instances).
Foster friends – Some specialized training is required, but not the same as being a verified foster home. These families are partnering with verified foster families committing to provide babysitting (under 48 hours), bring meals when a placement occurs, bring diapers or formula if needed and anything else that might support the foster family and the foster children placed in their care
A tale of two moms… Beautiful blog on the heart of foster care.
Click here to check out Christian Homes for even more information on Adoption and Foster Care