Fostering – Children's Workforce Guide to Qualifications and Training

Charlotte Goddard
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

In the UK in 2020, 69,793 children were living with around 54,620 foster families. The Fostering Network says more than 8,600 new foster families are needed in 2021.


The pandemic seems to have boosted interest in fostering. Ofsted figures show 137,200 people in England expressed an interest between April 2019 and March 2020, up seven per cent. However, applications are going down. The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care raised concerns about England’s approach to recruiting foster carers in its Case for Change report, saying it had less national focus than adopter recruitment.


Foster carers can foster for a local authority or via an independent fostering agency. Potential foster carers must do a pre-approval training course such as The Skills to Foster, developed by The Fostering Network. Once approved, foster carers in England must meet standards set by the government in their first 12 months – or 18 months for family and friends carers – supported by training covering topics such safeguarding. Induction training is often combined with training for the Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce (Social Care Pathway).

Regular reviews allow carers to access ongoing professional development. They may take specific courses to help them meet the needs of a particular child or broaden their skills. The Fostering Network runs courses covering issues such as fostering unaccompanied asylum seeking children and looking after parents and their children. The network also delivers courses for those who train and support foster carers.


Recent years have seen increased professionalisation of the role alongside the creation of specialist fostering placements for particularly vulnerable children such as refugees, and specific roles such as therapeutic foster carer. The Case for Change report called for a further increase in specialist foster care for children with complex emotional or behavioural problems.

In May 2021 the DfE announced a £33 million investment in Staying Put, a scheme which allows care-experienced young people in England to remain living with former foster carers after they turn 18. This is a 40 per cent increase on funding in 2019/20.

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