Allegations in foster care

Facing an allegation of abuse or neglect is something that some foster carers will, unfortunately, experience during their fostering career. This is inevitably a distressing time for everyone involved. The Fostering Network has resources, helplines, advice and mediation services and training to help foster carers and their families if an allegation is made.

What is an allegation?

An allegation is an assertion from any person that a foster carer or another member of the fostering household has, or may have, behaved in a way that has harmed a child, committed a criminal offence against a child or behaved towards a child in a way that indicates they are unsuitable to work with children.

Allegations are more serious than general complaints against foster carers because allegations have to be investigated under the local child protection procedure. Allegations should be treated differently from concerns about poor standards of care.

The public authority (the local authority or health and social care trust) in which the foster carer lives, the fostering service they work for, the public authority responsible for the fostered child and the police will all be involved in deciding exactly how a particular allegation is investigated.

Find out more about the relevant legislation, guidance and best practice around managing allegations across the UK.

How we can help foster carers

Allegations, concerns and complaints: information for foster carers and those who support them (Signposts in Fostering)

We have produced a guide designed to help foster carers understand what is likely to happen if an allegation is made against them or a member of their family. It contains:
  • an explanation of what allegations are and why they are made
  • suggestions of good practice to minimise the risk of an allegation
  • advice about what to do if an allegation is made
  • advice on how to seek legal support in the event of an allegation
  • information on what might happen once an allegation has been made
  • sources of further assistance and independent support.

Members of The Fostering Network can purchase our Allegations, concerns and complaints publication online for just £3 (the Signpost is available for £6 to those who are not members of The Fostering Network).

Publications and training

You can purchase our publication Safer Caring: a new approach (2012) which explores the wider theme of safeguarding children, including ways of thinking about the principles of safeguarding children and young people and the shared responsibilities of foster carers and children's services. 
We can also provide a training course on managing allegations, tailored to meet your fostering service’s needs. Contact our training team for more information.

Our helplines, and advice and mediation

Our helplines provide confidential, independent information and advice for foster carers and fostering services, in all four nations of the UK.
Some fostering services provide access to advice and mediation workers who are employed by us. You can contact them by telephone and some may be able to visit or attend meetings with you.

Legal protection insurance

The Fostering Network provides our members with access to a legal protection insurance scheme. Our retired foster carer membership extends this insurance to members who are no longer fostering.

Our online community

Our members also have exclusive access to our online community where you can log in to share your experience and get advice from other foster carers. The community is a safe and secure area to discuss topics including being a foster carer and looking after a child, as well as advice on finances. 

Our call to governments across the UK

In April 2022, we published a report focusing on the allegations process as experienced by foster carers. The report is based on our State of the Nation’s Foster Care 2021 survey, which provides the most comprehensive insight into fostering in the UK. As part of the report, we put forward a series of recommendations for improving the allegations investigation process, but our key call to governments across the UK is to conduct a ‘deep dive’ into allegation investigations in foster care similar to that completed by the Department for Education in England into allegations against teachers


Relevant guidance, legislation and best practice for managing allegations

In each country of the UK, the approach to managing allegations is determined by the legislation, guidance and best practice in place. We have included links to some of the most relevant guidelines below.

Northern Ireland


There are currently no fostering services standards in Northern Ireland. Based on the findings of our latest State of the Nation's Foster Care survey, we recommend the introduction of a clear regulatory framework for foster care in Northern Ireland, which would trigger the development of Northern Ireland standards for all aspects of foster care. Fostering services standards would include best practice guidance on managing allegations against foster carers and approved kinship carers. This would provide a transparent, clear pathway for those impacted by allegations.



Last updated: 04/01/2023