Ofsted annual fostering data collection

Guidance and a suggested template for local authorities and independent fostering agencies to use when sending fostering data to Ofsted.

Applies to England


Fostering portal codes and guidance 2021–22

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Fostering data collection upload template 2021–22

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Fostering data collection portal


The 2020-21 fostering data collection is now closed.

The next collection, for 2021-22, will open at the beginning of April 2022 (exact date to be confirmed). Please see ‘Ofsted fostering dataset returns: changes for 2021-22 onwards’ for details of any upcoming updates to the collection. You can now download the fostering data template and guidance on fostering portal codes from this page.

Please submit your data via the fostering collection portal. We will not accept spreadsheet-based submissions. Ofsted has provided agencies with a login. We recommend using the form template provided, as it has been tested to work with the portal, but agencies can create their own templates if they wish, as long as it matches the format the portal is expecting. View a training webinar on the system.

Agencies: if you would like to get a login for the training webinar, find out more or send us your feedback, please email

About Ofsted’s fostering data collection

Each year Ofsted asks local authority fostering services and independent fostering agencies for data about their fostering services. This is the only national data collection that provides an overview of the fostering landscape.

We ask all 151 local authority fostering agencies and around 280 independent fostering agencies (IFAs) to provide data on:

  • characteristics of foster carers
  • terms of approval of fostering households
  • capacity and the use of fostering places
  • recruitment and retention of fostering households
  • data on complaints, allegations and numbers of brother and sister placements

This provides a unique insight into a sector that affects the majority of children in care.

Published 23 April 2018
Last updated 11 January 2022 + show all updates
  1. Added the fostering data template and guidance on fostering portal codes for the 2021 to 2022 collection.

  2. The 2020 to 2021 fostering data collection is now closed. The next collection, for 2021 to 2022, will open in April 2022. We have also confirmed changes for the next collection.

  3. The 2020-21 fostering data collection is open for agencies to use. We've updated the upload template and guidance documents following recent testing on the portal.

  4. Added fostering data template and guidance on fostering portal codes for the collection covering the financial year 2020 to 2021.

  5. Updated with planned changes for next year's data collection.

  6. Updated guidance and data collection files for 2019–20.

  7. Added note on the changes to the data collection template and the portal for 2019 to 2021.

  8. In preparation for the launch of Ofsted’s annual fostering data collection 2018 to 2019 the upload template, guidance and troubleshooting page have been updated. The fostering collection runs from 15 April 2019 until 30 June 2019.

  9. Added 'Ofsted fostering dataset returns: changes for 2018 to 2019 onwards'.

  10. Added details of a recent system update to fix an issue that was incorrectly causing validation errors.

  11. Added details of known validation issues.

  12. Added guidance on using the portal.

  13. Added link to fostering data collection portal and updated data collection template.

  14. First published.