Foster carers and other adults in the home

Foster carers come from a diverse range of backgrounds with a range of life experiences. No two families are the same and for some foster carers, for whatever reason, relationships can change, as can their partners. 

Some foster carers may be approved when they are single, but form a new partnership or significant relationship during their fostering career. Others may experience a breakdown in relationship with their partner, or a partner may move out of, or return to, the household due to work or other commitments. Both birth and care experienced young people living in the home may also have partners of their own who are regular visitors to the home. 

Relationships are personal and intimate and foster carers have the right to as normal an experience as possible. However, any major change to a foster carer’s circumstances, such as a change in relationships, needs careful consideration, as it is likely to have an impact on the wider fostering household, including children cared for. While relationships are a part of normal family life, it is important to ensure that children with a care plan are safeguarded and cared for in families that are safe, loving, and secure.

New partners
This new partners practice information note sets out some considerations in relation to a new partner to ensure that single foster carers can have a relationship while safeguarding children. In this context, ‘partner’ means a significant person with whom the foster carer is having/intending to develop an intimate relationship, which is committed and serious. 

Local guidance from the fostering service should also help foster carers to navigate changes to their household and the impact this may have, and the service expectations at every stage need to be clear. 

Other relationships and change in circumstances can include:

  • Partners living or working away from the home 
  • Former foster carers 
  • Bereavement (loss of foster carer)
  • Other adults in the home, such as adult birth children, their partners and young people remaining with former foster carers.


Underpinning principles

  • Safeguarding and the welfare of children is paramount.
  • Foster carers, and those in the household, are entitled to have committed, intimate and personal relationships.
  • From application through assessment and approval, relationships, and their impact within the household should be considered.
  • Foster carers are required as part of their foster carer agreement to inform their fostering service of any change in personal circumstances such as a new birth, marital status/divorce, a significant change in their health and a relationship with a new partner.
  • Every fostering service should have a transparent and accessible policy about reviewing a foster carer’s approval where there has been a change in circumstances which should be available in the foster carers’ handbook.