Foster care is a system by which a certified, stand-in "parent(s)" cares for minor children or young people who have been removed from their birth parents or other custodial adults by state authority.
Responsibility for the young person is assumed by the relevant governmental authority and a placement with another family found. There can be voluntary placements by a parent of a child into foster care. Foster care is just a short term alternative while on the way to determining one of the three permanent plans for the child. According to Dorsey et al.. , the three permanent plans are:
“Reunification with the biological parent, conversion of the foster home to a legally-permanent guardianship or adoption, or placement of the child into another legally permanent family” (p. 1404).
Foster placements are monitored until the birth family can provide appropriate care or the rights of the birth parents are terminated and the child is adopted. A third option, guardianship, is sometimes utilized in certain cases where a child cannot be reunified with their birth family and adoption is not right for them.