- What are fostering regulations? What legislation & standards are involved?
- Where do these regulations come from?
- What values underpin fostering regulations? Why are they important?
Fostering Regulations and Related Standards
Regulations exist to give a framework for how fostering services are organised. Basically, they’re designed to help make sure children who need to be fostered are safe and given the best chance they can to achieve and do well. They help keep you as a foster parent safe too and help make sure everyone knows their rights and responsibilities in relation to foster children.
As well as the regulations themselves, there are other pieces of legislation, guides and standards that come together to help agencies and foster parents to meet children’s needs.
- Some of the key legislation comes from the Childrens Act (1989). It was amended in 2015. The 1989 Act requires the Local Authority to safeguard and promote the welfare of looked after children. Volume 4 lays out statutory guidance in relation to fostering, covering topics including the role of the local council; making sure children have a voice that is understood and listened to, approving and supporting foster carers and managing and staffing fostering agencies.
- The Care Standards Act (2000) establishes ‘National Minimum Standards’ for fostering and the inspection and regulatory framework.
- The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 lays out the regulations for all fostering services in England.
There’s also a variety of other legislation that makes sure children’s special educational needs and disabilities are met. It also ensures their education and health needs and considered and reviewed. Legislation also exists that recognises long-term permanence as a fostering option, and that governs arrangements for children leaving care.
Some of the thinking behind regulations and requirements came from Every Child Matters, a 2003 green paper that followed the awful death of Victoria Climbié. Amongst other things, the paper suggested that every child (regardless of their background or circumstances) should have the opportunity to:
- Be healthy including physical and mental health
- Stay safe and be protected from harm and neglect
- Enjoy and achieve in life, and develop the skills needed for adulthood
- Make a positive contribution to the community
- Achieve economic well-being and achieve their full potential in life
While the policy isn’t actively in use, the thinking within it still influences fostering and the wider system around children and young people today.
In terms of the fostering regulations, they are built on the understanding that values are really important and need to be central to making sure children in care do well. The national minimum standards for fostering are underpinned by loads of values. A summary of these is:
- Children should have an enjoyable childhood where they are kept safe, parented excellently, receive an excellent education and grow up in a loving home that meets their needs. Their feelings and wishes should be listened to and taken into account.
- Individual and personalised support will be given to meet children’s needs, including their disabilities, educational needs, and needs around contact with birth parents and family
- Foster parents are core members of the team supporting children. This will be taken into account and they’ll be given full information about the child and necessary support. Foster parents should ensure children in their care have as full an experience of family life as is possible.
- Genuine partnership between all of those people and agencies involved in fostering children is essential to make sure children have the best outcomes they can.
These values are threaded through 31 fostering national minimum standards (including child-focused standards and standards of the fostering service), all of which come together to provide a framework for fostering.
Changing Futures makes sure that the agency and foster parents work in line with all of the relevant legislation and standards to give you the support and guidance you need to be super parents to the children you care for.