The Department for Education has revised and modernised the regulatory framework for fostering in England which includes national minimum standards, fostering services regulations and related statutory guidance.
The standards and regulations, which come into force on 1 April, provide a framework for the inspection of fostering services and will work in conjunction with new statutory guidance for fostering services.
The National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services apply to local authority fostering services, independent fostering agencies and voluntary organisations. The standards are issued for use by Ofsted who take them into account in the inspection of fostering services. Together with regulations relevant to the placement of children in foster care, such as the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011, they form the basis of the regulatory framework under the Care Standards Act 2000 for the conduct of fostering services.
The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 revoke and replace the Fostering Services Regulations 2002. They make provision about the way in which fostering agencies and local authority fostering services are managed and run, and in particular about the process for approving foster carers and safeguarding children placed with foster carers.
The guidance, Volume 4: Fostering Services 2011 Statutory Guidance, sets out the functions and responsibilities of local authorities and their partner agencies in relation to fostering services including setting out the responsibilities of local authorities and foster carers, how to help ensure the best for children in foster care, management of the fostering service and approving and supporting foster parents. The guidance is issued under section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970.