Most children remain in care for relatively short periods of time ranging from a few days to a few months while support and counselling services are put in place with their families. Then they return home. The maximum length of temporary care is 12 months for children under six years of age, and 24 months for children over six years of age.
A number of children, however, cannot return home if it appears that the risk is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. In these instances, the Court makes an order of Crown Wardship, which makes the child a permanent ward of the state until age 18. Crown Wards reside in foster homes, or may be placed for adoption. Older Crown Wards may also live on their own in preparation to be independent adults.