Fostering legislation in England

You are here

Fostering is a devolved issue in the UK. Legislation about care and foster care therefore varies across the UK. In England the main legislative body is the Westminster parliament and primary responsibility for fostering in England is held by the Department for Education.

The below legislation is a starting point and is not a comprehensive guide to all legislation relating to children and young people in foster care in England.

Legislation

Children Act 1989 – available at www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1989/41/contents.

This is the primary legislation governing looked after children and fostering services.

Care Standards Act 2000 – available at www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/14/contents.

This sets the regulatory and inspectoral regime and establishes National Minimum Standards.

Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 – available online at www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/35/contents.  

This is the primary legislation governing services for care leavers which has now been incorporated into the Children Act 1989.

Children Act 2004 – available at www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/31/contents.

This requires local authorities to promote educational achievement of looked after children, and introduced the children’s commissioner, Local Safeguarding Boards, directors of children’s services, lead member for children’s services and minimum fostering allowances.

Children and Young Persons Act 2008 – available at www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/23/contents.

This amends the Children Act 1989 regarding placement of looked after children, and strengthens visiting requirements and the role of the independent reviewing officer. Section 8 will become new Sec 22D in Children Act 1989 – LAC reviews should be held before a child is moved from a regulated placement (unless the child is at imminent risk of harm). Also relative carers are now entitled to apply for a Residence Order or Special Guardianship Order if a child has lived with them for at least one year (they needed leave of court before, while foster carers did not need).

Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 – available at www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2011/581/contents/made.

These regulate all fostering services, replacing the Fostering Services Regulations 2002.

Independent Review of Determinations (Adoption and Fostering) Regulations 2009 – available at www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2009/395/contents/made.

These extend the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) to fostering.

Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 – available at www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/959/contents/made.

These specify requirements for care plans and placement plans, placement decisions, monitoring and review of looked after children.

The Care Planning and Fostering (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2015 – available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/495/pdfs/uksi_20150495_en.pdf.

These introduced a legal definition of a long-term foster placement, set out the conditions that must be complied with before a child can be place in a long-term fostering placement and provision as to the frequency of reviews. 

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013 – available at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/984/contents/made.

These make a new regulation which allows a person who is approved as a prospective adopter to be temporarily approved as a local authority foster carer for a named looked after child (foster to adopt). The regulations amend the child’s placement plan to include identifying any delegation of responsibility to make decisions about the child’s care and upbringing to the local authority and the foster carer. The regulations also introduce a Stage 1 and Stage 2 assessment process with the preliminary stage 1 assessment allowing a fostering service to reject a fostering application if considered unsuitable and applicants do not have the right to make written representations (as they do in Stage 2). The regulations also enable a fostering service and approved foster carer to agree a change in terms of approval without delay.

Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010 – available at www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/2571/made.

These are designed to ensure that young people leaving care receive the same support that would be expected of any reasonable parent.

Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure (England) Regulations 2006 – available at www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/1738/contents/made.

These regulate how local authorities (and some others) deal with representations made under the Children Act 1989, including those concerning the usual fostering limit.

Statutory guidance

Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards (2011) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/192705/NMS_Fostering_Services.pdf.

These replace the standards published in 2002.

Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 4: Fostering Services (2011) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/274220/Children_Act_1989_fostering_services.pdf.

This contains the requirements set out by Government to support local authorities, working with fostering service providers, in giving the best possible care and support to children in foster care. Replaces the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 3: Family Placements (1991).  

Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers: Amendments to the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 4: Fostering Services (July 2013) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/275764/20130522statutory_guidanceassessment_and_approval_of_foster_carers_final.pdf.

Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulation Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2010) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/441643/Children_Act_Guidance_2015.pdf.

This provides a central reference point for local authority work with looked after children, which now incorporates delegated authority, long-term foster placement and foster to adopt.

Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers (2010) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/397649/CA1989_Transitions_guidance.pdf.

This is statutory guidance on how to meet the requirements of the Care Leavers (England) Regulations 2010, which now incorporates accommodation with former foster carers (‘staying  put’ arrangements).  

Court Orders and Pre-Proceedings for Local Authorities (April 2014) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/306282/Statutory_guidance_on_court_orders_and_pre-proceedings.pdf.

This is about court orders and the roles of the police and the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS).

The National Minimum Fostering Allowance and Fostering Payment Systems: Good Practice Guidance (2006) – available at http://media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/n/national%20minimum%20allowance%20for%20foster%20carers%20and%20fostering%20payment%20systems.pdf.

This is Government practice guidance, rather than statutory guidance.

IRO Handbook: Statutory Guidance for Independent Reviewing Officers and Local Authorities on their Functions in Relation to Case Management and Review for Looked After Children (2010) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/337568/iro_statutory_guidance_iros_and_las_march_2010_tagged.pdf.

This guides independent reviewing officers in the discharge of their responsibilities towards looked after children, with the aim that they receive the support and services required to meet their full potential.   

Sufficiency: Statutory Guidance on Securing Sufficient Accommodation for Looked After Children (2010) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/273812/sufficiency_-_statutory_guidance_on_securing_sufficient_accommodation_for_looked_after_children.pdf. This explains the duty of local authorities to secure sufficient accommodation within their area to meet the needs of looked after children.     

Short Breaks: Statutory Guidance on how to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Disabled Children using Short Breaks (2010) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/271205/Short_breaks_-_how_to_safeguard_and_promote_the_welfare_of_disabled_children.pdf.

This seeks to improve outcomes for disabled children through short breaks provision.    

Promoting the Education of Looked After Children: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities (July 2014) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/335964/Promoting_the_educational_achievement_of_looked_after_children_Final_23-....pdf.    

Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Looked After Children: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS England (March 2015) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/413368/Promoting_the_health_and_well-being_of_looked-after_children.pdf

Statutory guidance on the planning, commissioning and delivery of health services for looked-after children.  

Working Together to Safeguard Children: A Guide to Inter-agency Working to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children (March 2015) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/419595/Working_Together_to_Safeguard_Children.pdf.   

Family and Friends Care: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities (2011) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/288483/family-and-friends-care.pdf.

Statutory guidance that sets out a framework for the provision of support to family and friends carers, including the assessment and support of family and friends foster carers.

Statutory Guidance on Children who Run Away or go Missing from Home or Care (January 2014) – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/307867/Statutory_Guidance_-_Missing_from_care__3_.pdf.   A flowchart showing roles and responsibilities when a child goes missing from care is also available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/271820/Flowchart_when_a_child_goes_missing_from_care.pdf

Getting the Best from Complaints: Social Care Complaints and Representations for Children, Young People and Others – available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/273895/getting_the_best_from_complaints.pdf.

Statutory guidance relating to the Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure (England) Regulations 2006.