Fostering legislation in Scotland

Fostering is a devolved issue in the UK. Legislation about care and foster care therefore varies across the UK. In Scotland, the main legislative body is the Scottish Parliament, which has introduced a wide range of law and guidance that has relevance for foster care. Scotland’s care and justice system for children and young people is called the Children’s Hearing System.

The Children’s Hearings System

The Children’s Hearings System is the care and justice system for Scotland’s children and young people up until the age of 16 (for some children, until 18). Children and young people are referred to the children’s reporter because some aspect of their life is causing concern. This could be for a variety of reasons, including not attending school or committing offences, but it is generally because there are significant concerns about the child’s safety, health and welfare.

Typically, referrals to the reporter are made by social work, the police, health or education. However, anyone may make a referral to the reporter. If the reporter receives a referral about a child or young person, they investigate it and determine whether or not compulsory measures of supervision are required. If they are required, the case is referred to a children’s hearing.

Further information is available about children's hearings on the SCRA website, including an information resource for foster carers and also on the Children's Hearings Scotland website.

The links below are a starting point to the laws and guidance relating to fostered children and young people in Scotland, rather than a comprehensive list.


Children (Scotland) Act 1995 – available at

The Adoption and Children Act (Scotland) 2007 – available at

Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 – available at

Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 – available at

Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 – available at

The Continuing Care (Scotland) Order 2015 – available at

Statutory Guidance

Guidance on Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 and the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 - available at

National Care Standards: Foster Care and Family Placement Services (Scotland) - available at

Good Practice Guidance

Getting it Right for Every Child: Guidance on Overnight Stays for Looked After and Accommodated Children – available at

Managing Allegations Against Foster Carers and Approved Kinship Carers: How Agencies Should Respond – available at

For more information, contact Fosterline Scotland