Recruitment and retention research

The Fostering Network leads on innovation in the field of recruitment and retention of foster carers, and has published a range of free-to-download research reports sharing new approaches with fostering services.

Retention and recruitment of foster carers in England 2023 

Read our latest research report into retention and recruitment here

Benchmark reports

The Fostering Service Benchmark report 2015/16

The fostering service benchmark reports, carried out over three years, provide statistical insight into the performance of fostering services in England. The information within the reports can be used by any service to compare performance against national averages for recruiting and retaining foster carers.

The initial benchmark report, published in 2013, was funded by the Department for Education. The Fostering Network repeated the survey for two further years to identify trend data on conversion rates, enquiry sources and the journey to approval along with key performance indicators. The reports uniquely combine data collected through Ofsted and CIPFA with the addition of pertinent fostering performance statistics, giving participating fostering services an exclusive snapshot of performance compared with other fostering services.

Exploring motivations to foster

Why Foster Carers Care - 2013

Understanding what motivates foster carers to come forward is an essential tool in both recruiting and retaining the future foster carer workforce.

To explore the psychology behind foster carers’ motivation, The Fostering Network partnered with consultancy iMPOWER, to use the pyschographic categorisation tool, Values Modes™, in a survey of foster carers to identify any trends in foster carers' intrinsic personalities.

Why Foster Carers Care reports the outcome of the research, funded by the Department for Education, including unprecedented findings in the history of the Values Modes™ theory and its application in helping fostering services recruit and retain foster carers.

Why Foster Carers Care Part II – 2015

The Why Foster Carers Care Part II report follows the research on the motivations and values gained from the first Why Foster Carers Care report, again funded by the Department for Education.

Foster carers approved from 1 April 2013 were surveyed to test a range of hypotheses and compare their motivations to foster and Values Modes™ with the overall foster carer cohort surveyed in 2013.

Both reports have powerful implications for the recruitment and retention of foster carers across the UK.

Fostering in Wales: Who Cares and Why? – 2013

In 2013 the Welsh Government funded The Fostering Network to research the values of foster carers in Wales to assist fostering services in their recruitment and retention activity.

Fostering in Wales: Who Cares and Why uses Values Modes™ theory, a psychographic profiling tool that identifies an individual’s core values and beliefs.

The report is also available in Welsh language, Maethu yng Nghymru: Pwy sy’n gofalu a pham?

Other reports

Supporting Fostering Services to Recruit and Retain Foster Carers: A Directory of Case Study Resources - 2015

The directory of case studies summarises the best practice achieved across two projects funded by the Department for Education. Supporting fostering services to recruit more foster carers, run by The Fostering Network, and four consortia of local authorities and independent fostering providers tested innovative ways to improve foster carer recruitment. Each case study outlines the action, objective, process, challenges and top tips for other services to investigate the potential for implementing similar actions locally.

Combining Fostering and Other Work - 2014

Department for Education funding also enabled The Fostering Network to conduct research to explore how current foster carers combine their role as a foster carer with additional work outside of the home. The Combining Fostering and Other Work report draws on a number of sources of information including a survey of foster carers and discussions with fostering services and employers. It includes recommendations for fostering services and employers, information about our Fostering Friendly employers initiative, and links to helpful resources.

Read our policy on combining fostering and other work