Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF): independent fostering agencies

Guidance on how Ofsted inspects independent fostering agencies.

Applies to England



This framework sets out Ofsted’s process for inspecting independent fostering agencies.

Our approach is underpinned by the following 3 principles that apply to all social care inspections:

  • to focus on the things that matter most to children’s lives
  • to be consistent in our expectations of providers
  • to prioritise our work where improvement is needed most

View the letter of notice that we send to the agency, notifying them of our inspection and setting out practical arrangements.

Published 22 February 2017
Last updated 2 February 2024 + show all updates
  1. Additional guidance on deferring an inspection, inspector conduct during inspections, when and how the provider can raise issues, concerns or complaints during and after the inspection, supporting the well-being of the provider’s managers and staff during inspections and visits, attendance at keeping in touch meetings, discussions with staff and feedback meetings and who the provider may share provisional and final inspection outcomes with.

  2. Guidance added to the ‘Inadequate judgements: next steps’ section on feeding back to local authorities.

  3. Minor changes to the evaluation criteria to align, where applicable, with other framework changes on children’s progress, the management of risk, the use of restraint and the need to appoint a registered manager, if the post is vacant, within 26 weeks. Small change to guidance for inspectors on recording evidence in the inspection database.

  4. Minor edits for clarity in the 'Monitoring visit' section and revised text referencing the updated 'Ofsted code of conduct' policy.

  5. Added SCCIF guidance for April 2022: updated with additional guidance for when inspectors discover possible unregistered provision.

  6. Removed guidance on assurance visits, as we are no longer carrying these out.

  7. Guidance on inspecting independent fostering agencies during COVID-19 restrictions. Updated guidance to reflect changes to Ofsted’s post-inspection processes and complaints handling (including the timeline) that we introduced in September 2020. Minor edits for readability.

  8. First published.