Any good parent wants to make sure their children enjoy good emotional and physical health, an excellent education and a wide range of opportunities to enjoy their childhood. For the majority of looked after children the quality of the care provided by foster carers is an essential part of that parenting. This guidance 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 the children they look after.

The guidance sets out the functions and responsibilities of local authorities and their partner agencies in relation to fostering services under Parts 3, 7 and 8 of the Children Act 1989. It also sets out the responsibilities arising from the Children Act 2004 and the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 in relation to fostering services.

In addition, it gives guidance to independent fostering agencies about their responsibilities under the Care Standards Act 2000. Local authorities, in acting as commissioners of placements with independent fostering agencies, should be aware of and take note of the requirements on those providers under this legislation and reflect it in their commissioning standards and contract specifications. This guidance helps them to do so.

The guidance is designed to provide a framework for practice in providing a fostering service, which emphasises the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of individual children. It has been informed by the views of looked after children and young people, who were asked by the Children’s Rights Director to comment on how they feel they should be cared for and the standards there should be for their care.


  • Introduction
  • Responsibilities of local authorities and foster carers
  • Ensuring the best for children and young people
  • Management and staffing of the fostering service
  • Approving and supporting foster carers
  • Annexes