A foster family is a family that takes in a child for what is usually a short time to provide care that the parents are unable to provide. Though occasionally a foster child lives with his foster family for years, that situation is not the norm.
Foster families are available through a state's social services department, which has specific regulations regarding eligibility and training of foster families. When a child needing a temporary home enters the system, the agency matches the child to an available home. Some foster families are single-parent families, while others are two-parent families. Some include other foster children or the couple's own children. Once in a while, a foster family adopts the foster child if the situation prevents a return to the family. Foster parents are paid a nominal amount for taking care of foster children.