Tips for Foster Carers

Tips for using inclusive language when discussing children in care

Language is a way of showing how we see and think about the world and its people.

At Beacon Fostering, we believe that the pasts of children who enter foster care do not define them, and that they are valued, loved and deserve to be seen and heard. Continue reading about common phrases and terms you might hear when discussing children in care, and alternative wording you can use.

The children who enter the care system

The Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers advises that, where possible, children in care should not be referred to as a ‘placement’, as it can reduce their identity to an object in the care system.

Depending on the context, they recommend referring to the child by name, or as a child in foster care – though ‘placement’ is acceptable when saying that a foster carer has had six placements in the last few years, for instance.


Discussing family in regard to foster children can be a challenge, especially when distinguishing between their biological family and foster family. Merely using ‘family’ is not particularly helpful, since children in care have relationships with more than one of these.

Their first family should be referred to as their biological, their first family or their family of origin.

The foster home/placement

Referring to a foster child’s new home as a ‘placement’ is also discouraged, as, like its use to refer to the child in question, it sets them apart from their non-care friends and schoolmates. Describing the home as such, in contrast, creates a sense of belonging and stability for the child, allowing them to feel a sense of normality in spite of their circumstances.