Foster Parenting

Foster Parenting
Foster Parenting
Full Overview Of Foster Parenting

Foster parenting is an important part of social care, providing a temporary, safe, and nurturing environment for children who cannot live with their birth families due to reasons such as neglect, abuse, or family breakdown.

With solicitors specialising in probate and family law at DLS Solicitors, we understand the complexities and responsibilities involved in foster parenting. This overview aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of foster parenting, addressing legal aspects, responsibilities, challenges, and the support available to foster parents.


The Role of Foster Parents

Foster parents play a crucial role in the child welfare system. They provide a temporary home for children in need, offering stability and care until a permanent solution, such as reunification with their birth family or adoption, is found. Foster parents are expected to create a nurturing environment, attend to the child’s physical and emotional needs, support their education, and facilitate contact with the birth family when appropriate.

Foster care in the UK is governed by several key pieces of legislation, including the Children Act 1989, the Fostering Services Regulations 2011, and the Children and Families Act 2014. These laws outline the rights and responsibilities of foster parents, the duties of local authorities, and the safeguards in place to protect the welfare of children in foster care.

The Children Act 1989

The Children Act 1989 is the cornerstone of child welfare legislation in the UK. It emphasises the child’s welfare as the paramount consideration in all decisions regarding their care. The Act outlines the responsibilities of local authorities in providing care and accommodation for children in need and sets out the framework for fostering arrangements.

The Fostering Services Regulations 2011

The Fostering Services Regulations 2011 provide detailed requirements for fostering services, including foster parents’ approval, training, and support. The regulations aim to ensure that children in foster care receive high-quality care that meets their needs.

The Children and Families Act 2014

The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced several reforms to the child welfare system, including measures to improve the stability and permanency of placements for children in care. The Act emphasises the importance of long-term planning for children in foster care and includes provisions to speed up the adoption process where appropriate.

Becoming a Foster Parent

The process of becoming a foster parent involves several stages, including initial enquiry, assessment, training, and approval.

Initial Enquiry

Prospective foster parents typically begin by contacting their local authority or an independent fostering agency. An initial enquiry form is completed, and a preliminary meeting or home visit is arranged to discuss fostering in more detail.


The assessment process, also known as the fostering assessment, is thorough and involves several home visits by a social worker. The assessment covers various aspects of the applicant’s life, including their background, lifestyle, health, relationships, and motivations for fostering. References and background checks, including a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, are also conducted.


Prospective foster parents must complete pre-approval training, often referred to as the Skills to Foster course. This training provides an introduction to fostering, covering topics such as child development, attachment, trauma, and the practicalities of fostering.


Once the assessment and training are complete, the prospective foster parents’ application is presented to a fostering panel. The panel reviews the information and makes a recommendation to the fostering service, which makes the final decision on approval.

Types of Foster Care

There are several types of foster care, each designed to meet the specific needs of children in different circumstances.

Short-Term Foster Care

Short-term foster care provides temporary care for children while plans are made for their long-term future. This type of care may last from a few days to several months.

Long-Term Foster Care

Long-term foster care is for children who are unlikely to return to their birth families and for whom adoption is not suitable. Long-term foster parents commit to caring for the child until they reach adulthood.

Respite Care

Respite care offers short-term placements to give birth families or other foster carers a break. This can be for a few hours, a weekend, or longer, depending on the needs of the family and the child.

Emergency Foster Care

Emergency foster care provides immediate, short-term placements for children who need somewhere safe to stay at short notice. This can occur at any time of day or night.

Specialist Foster Care

Specialist foster care is for children with specific needs, such as disabilities, behavioural challenges, or complex health issues. Specialist foster parents receive additional training and support to meet these needs.

Responsibilities of Foster Parents

Foster parents have several key responsibilities, including providing day-to-day care, supporting the child’s development, maintaining records, and working with other professionals.

Day-to-Day Care

Foster parents are responsible for meeting the child’s daily needs, including providing food, clothing, and a safe and nurturing home environment. They must also ensure the child attends school and healthcare appointments.

Supporting Development

Foster parents play a vital role in supporting the child’s emotional, social, and educational development. This includes helping the child build self-esteem, develop positive relationships, and achieve their academic potential.

Maintaining Records

Foster parents are required to keep records of the child’s progress, any significant events, and any concerns they may have. These records are shared with the fostering service and other professionals involved in the child’s care.

Working with Professionals

Foster parents work closely with a range of professionals, including social workers, teachers, and healthcare providers. They attend meetings and contribute to planning for the child’s future.

Challenges of Foster Parenting

Foster parenting can be incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with challenges.

Emotional Impact

Caring for children who have experienced trauma, neglect, or abuse can be emotionally challenging. Foster parents need to manage their own emotions while providing support to the child.

Behavioural Issues

Many children in foster care exhibit challenging behaviours as a result of their experiences. Foster parents need patience, understanding, and skills in behaviour management.

Working with Birth Families

Maintaining contact with birth families can be complex and requires sensitivity and professionalism. Foster parents must facilitate this contact in a way that is safe and supportive for the child.

Legal and Administrative Responsibilities

Foster parents must navigate various legal and administrative responsibilities, including attending court hearings, complying with regulations, and maintaining records.

Support for Foster Parents

Foster parents are not alone in their role; they receive support from fostering services, training opportunities, and financial allowances.

Support from Fostering Services

Fostering services provide ongoing support to foster parents, including regular visits from a supervising social worker, access to 24-hour support, and respite care.

Training Opportunities

Foster parents have access to a range of training opportunities to help them develop their skills and knowledge. This includes mandatory training and additional courses on specific topics such as attachment, trauma, and behaviour management.

Financial Allowances

Foster parents receive a weekly allowance to cover the cost of caring for the child. The amount varies depending on the child’s age and needs and the type of care provided. Some foster parents may also receive a fee in recognition of their skills and experience.


Foster parenting plays a vital and rewarding role in the lives of vulnerable children. Though it comes with challenges, foster parents receive support and training to ensure they can provide the care and stability these children need. At DLS Solicitors, we are committed to assisting foster parents with the legal aspects of their role and helping them navigate the journey of foster care. Understanding the legal framework, responsibilities, and available support is crucial for providing the best possible care for children in need, whether you are considering becoming a foster parent or are already in this invaluable role.

Foster Parenting FAQ'S

Foster parenting involves caring for a child or young person who cannot live with their birth family. Foster parents provide a temporary, safe, and nurturing environment for the child until they can return home, be adopted, or move to another permanent placement.

In the UK, foster parents can be single, married, in a civil partnership, or living with a partner. They must be at least 21 years old and undergo a thorough assessment process, including background checks and home visits, to determine their suitability.

The assessment process includes a detailed application, background checks, home visits by a social worker, interviews, medical evaluations, and references. This process ensures that prospective foster parents can provide a safe and supportive environment for a child.

Foster parents receive support from their fostering agency, which includes training, financial allowances, access to support groups, and ongoing advice and guidance from social workers.

Yes, foster parents receive a fostering allowance to cover the cost of caring for the child. This includes expenses for food, clothing, and other essentials. The amount varies depending on the child’s age and specific needs.

Foster parents can specify their preferences and abilities regarding the age, gender, and needs of the children they are willing to foster. However, placements are made based on the best match for both the child and the foster family.

The duration of a foster placement can vary widely, from a few days to several years, depending on the child’s needs and circumstances. Some children may stay in short-term placements, while others may require long-term care until adulthood.

Foster parents do not have the same legal rights as birth parents or legal guardians. They provide day-to-day care for the child, but major decisions about the child’s welfare, such as medical treatment or education, are made by the local authority or the child’s legal guardian.

Foster parents can apply to adopt the child they are fostering, but the adoption process involves legal proceedings and assessments to determine the child’s best interests. Consent from the birth parents or the court is typically required.

If a foster placement breaks down, the fostering agency will work to find an alternative placement for the child as quickly as possible. Foster parents and the child will receive support during this transition to ensure the child’s needs are met.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th July 2024.

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