Statutory guidance

Children Act 1989: fostering services

Volume 4: statutory guidance on fostering services for looked-after children.

Applies to England



This statutory guidance is for:

  • children’s services social workers
  • front-line managers with responsibilities for looked-after children
  • lead members for children’s services in local authorities
  • directors of children’s services
  • managers of services for looked-after children
  • commissioners of services for looked-after children
  • virtual headteachers, independent reviewing officers and other professionals with responsibilities in relation to looked-after children

Statutory guidance sets out what you must do to comply with the law. You should follow the guidance unless you have a very good reason not to.

The guidance will also be relevant to:

  • children’s services partner agencies as set out under section 10 of the Children Act 2004
  • registered fostering agencies
  • children who are fostered and their families
  • foster carers and their families

This guidance sets out the functions and responsibilities of local authorities and independent fostering agencies in relation to fostering services for looked-after children.

Paragraphs 3.9 to 3.24 of this guidance, concerning delegation of authority to looked-after children’s carers, has been replaced by paragraphs 3.192 to 3.223 in ‘Children Act 1989: care planning, placement and case review’.

Fostering services: assessment and approval of foster carers’ outlines changes to the following paragraphs of this guidance:

  • 5.29 to 5.38 concerning the assessment and approval of foster carers
  • 5.42 to 5.44 concerning the independent review mechanism
  • 5.46 to 5.53 concerning the usual fostering limit
  • 5.59 to 5.63 concerning reviews and terminations of approval of foster carers
  • 5.39 to 5.41 concerning the decision maker

The flow diagram illustrates how stages 1 and 2 of the assessment process fit together.

The guidance does not cover private fostering arrangements, which is the subject of separate statutory guidance:

This is volume 4 in a series of 5 related statutory guidance publications.

Published 8 March 2011
Last updated 3 July 2015 + show all updates
  1. Updated paragraph references to 'Delegation of authority to foster carers' as it has been included in the 'Children Act 1989: care planning, placement and case review' document.

  2. First published.