Guide to Qualifications and Training: Fostering

Charlotte Goddard
Thursday, September 1, 2022

In 2021 69,807 children were living with around 55,510 foster families across the UK. The Fostering Network says 9,265 new foster families are needed. Record levels of enquiries were received between April 2020 and March 2021 with 160,635 expressions of interest in England. However, only six per cent went on to apply to foster. Some councils are offering welcome payments.


The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care proposed new regional care co-operatives to take responsibility for recruiting and supporting foster carers and extra funding to improve foster carer support. It also called for a national recruitment programme to approve 9,000 new foster carers over three years. Recruitment should focus on areas of the country with most need, targeting ethnic minorities and carers able to look after older teenagers, babies and parents, unaccompanied children, siblings and children on remand. There should also be a clearer route for adults who already know a child, such as teachers, to be approved as carers.


Foster carers can foster for local authorities or via independent fostering agencies. Potential carers must do pre-approval training such as The Fostering Network’s The Skills to Foster course. Once approved, carers in England must meet training, support and development standards set by the government in their first 12 months – or 18 months for family and friends carers.

Induction training is offered alongside ongoing professional development as part of regular supervision and reviews. Carers may take specific courses to meet the needs of a particular child or broaden their skills. Some are offered the opportunity to work towards the Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce.

The Fostering Network runs courses covering issues such as fostering unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and looking after parents and children. In February 2022 it launched a new course developed with Internet Matters to help foster carers support children’s online safety.

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 placements and specific roles such as therapeutic foster carers.

Read more in CYP Now's Children’s Workforce Guide to Qualifications and Training

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