Foster with Dorset Council

Dorset Council fostering service puts the children who need loving, local foster homes at the heart of everything we do. Our focus is on keeping local children close to their schools, friends and birth families.

Thanks to our local knowledge, good connections to essential services and 24/7 wrap around support, we’re best placed to find great foster carers for children and young people across Dorset.

Our aims

We want our children and young people to:

  • be safe wherever they are
  • enjoy positive relationships
  • know their personal strengths and qualities
  • feel that their voices are heard and listened to
  • be confident and successful learners who can succeed in life
We have recently developed a strategic recruitment and retention strategy. This aims to support our recruitment of foster carers from a range of different backgrounds to reflect the needs of our children, and to grow our foster carer numbers. We are particularly in need of carers to support:
  • Children aged 11-15 years
  • Children with disabilities 
  • Unaccompanied asylum seeker children

Here are some of the other different types of foster care. 

Short-term foster carers look after children before they move to a longer-term family or return to their family home. The care and attention they give the children can help prepare them for their next move.

Long-term foster carers will look after children throughout their childhood or sometimes beyond under staying put arrangements. Foster carers will support children to keep in touch with the people and places that are important to them to maintain lifelong links and at every step be working towards independence. 

Parent and child foster carers offer a home to both parent and child, providing extra help and care to support parents to successfully care for their child.

Family and Friends or Connected Carers care for a child who they know or who is part of their family

Respite foster carers provide care for children over a short period of time for example at weekends or overnight during the week. Respite carers provide families and foster carers with a network of support. 

Harbour specialist foster carers: 

The Harbour is a service for young people on the edge of care, in care and leaving care.
We have created a residential hub in Weymouth where there is a dedicated team which includes:

  •  A clinical psychologist;

  • A speech therapist

  • Youth practitioners

  • Specialist foster families who are part of and supported by the professional team.

Harbour specialist foster carers look after young people who need a family, supporting them to help them develop the confidence and skills needed to return to living in a family environment. As a Harbour specialist foster carer, you will build a relationship with the young person and are always there for them when they need some extra support. Living with you can be seen as a stepping stone towards independent living and you do not necessarily have to be near Weymouth. Between placements, you will also work some shifts in The Harbour children’s home, College House giving you the opportunity to develop a relationship with the young person before you look after them.

Mockingbird Hub Home carer  is a new role within the fostering community, based on the licenced Mockingbird Family Model of Fostering, supported by Fostering Network. Hub home carers will be supporting up to 10 foster families, up to 18 children within those families, holding delegated authority for those children and attending any necessary meetings for those children amongst other responsibilities. Find out more about The Mockingbird Family Model here.

Foster for adoption carers are carers who care for babies and young children where the plan may be for adoption or return to their birth family. 

Supported lodgings carers provide homes for young people aged 18 to 25 years, who need a guiding hand as they move towards independence. 

Staying Put arrangements are when a young person who has been living in foster care remains in the former foster home beyond the age of 18.

Do you want to open your heart and open your home to make a difference to a young person’s life?

 What is Supported Lodgings?

Supported Lodgings helps young people leaving care to move towards independent living in a safe environment.

You could become a Supported Lodgings provider and help a young person leaving care, ranging from age 16-25, on their journey towards adulthood and independent living.

Providing a home for a young person can give you many of the same rewards as fostering, without the time-commitment of providing full time care. You’ll be able to continue with your work and other activities.

How does Supported Lodgings differ from Foster Care?

In Supported Lodgings the emphasis is on supporting the young people towards independent living.  It is a transitional period where the young people should be encouraged and supported to look after themselves, with nurture and focus on goals and aspirations.

You could help a young person grow in confidence and life skills with the aim that they will be prepared to live in their own home when they leave your care.

Could you be a Supported Lodgings Provider?

You could be considered if you:

  • Are at least 21 years old.

  • Already have a job.

  • Come from any walk of life.

  • Have a spare bedroom and are willing to share your home with a young person.

  • Enjoy supporting young people with life skills, gaining confidence and education.

  • Want to make a difference.

As a Supported Lodgings provider, you will receive:

- Training and support

- Financial help towards living costs for the young person.

- A weekly payment

- Support from existing Supported Lodgings Providers to share their experiences with you.

- Regular visits from our support team.

If you have a spare room and want to make a difference, please get in touch.

Our foster carers come from all walks of life. Whether you’re looking for a new challenge or simply want to use your skills and experience to make a difference, we’d love to hear from you. 


New to fostering 
Returning to fostering
Looking to transfer     

Equality and diversity 
We welcome applications from foster carers from diverse backgrounds to reflect the needs of the children we look after. We welcome applications from people of all religions, sex, genders, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and marital status. 
As the only fostering service dedicated entirely to serving the county of Dorset, we understand the local area better than anyone.  

We are committed to placing children and young people with local families. This is so that we can keep them in their current schools and close to their friends and birth families wherever possible. 
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) 
This service offers therapeutic support to children and young people with emotional and behavioural difficulties. This may be via the CAMHS social worker, psychologist, or other therapeutic specialists. Psychiatric input is available for more severe mental health difficulties. Specialist advice, consultation, and support is also offered directly to foster carers and fostering social workers by two psychologists attached to the Fostering Service on a part-time basis. 
Dorset Virtual School 
Dorset has a specialist team of workers from the ‘Virtual School’ who ensure that the particular needs of the looked after child are prioritised through Personal Education Plans (PEPs). Staff from the Virtual School ensure that looked after children’s readiness for learning is assessed, their progress monitored, and also that there is support where there is a need for accelerated progress to be made. 
National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS)
The National Youth Advocacy Service provides the independent advocacy service and independent visitors for Dorset’s children in care. The advocates work with children and young people on a one to one basis to help them access their rights and express their point of view. An independent visitor is a trained volunteer who provides children and young people in care with friendship and support. 
By becoming a foster carer with Dorset Council, you'll benefit from our 24/7 wrap around care and support, and will have access to all of our training and essential services. 

Find out more about our training and support.
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I'm new to fostering

Our focus at Dorset Council is to make sure that you’ve got all the information you need to help you decide if becoming a foster carer is the right path for you.
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I'm returning to fostering

We don’t need to tell you how rewarding being a foster carer is, or how challenging it can be – as you already know!

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I'm looking to transfer

We don’t need to tell you how rewarding being a foster carer is, or how challenging it can be – as you already know!

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Start your fostering journey with Dorset Council.
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Find out more about fostering with Dorset Council.
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Download your free information pack today to discover more about becoming a foster carer and making a difference to a child's life.