SCIE Knowledge review 04: Innovative, tried and tested: a review of good practice in fostering
By Clive Sellick and Darren Howell
Published: November 2003
Fostering has attracted considerable policy attention in recent years. Major government investment has helped local authorities to address the current crucial issues in fostering, for example, placement choice and stability. The introduction of National Minimum Standards and the 2002 Fostering Services Regulations have changed and clarified the way all fostering agencies operate. Statutory inspection and registration have been introduced for fostering agencies across all sectors for the first time. Research scrutiny has also increased and there is now extensive knowledge about what works in foster care. Many services are now built on sound practice informed by research.
The review looked at innovative fostering practice in the UK, identifying and collecting examples of good practice across key areas of national interest from the statutory, voluntary and independent fostering agencies.
This review is intended to inform all those who plan, organise, deliver and use fostering services of current good practice in the field.
Messages from the knowledge review
- Many fostering agencies are successfully using local recruitment schemes, including word-of-mouth and articles in the local press, to recruit foster carers.
- The training of foster carers has become an embedded and integral part of the overall service. There is innovative training practice, consistent with the training foster carers say that they want, in these key areas:
- managing contact between fostered children and members of their birth families
- dealing with fostered children's difficult behaviour
- supporting fostered children's education and liaising with schools.
- Information and communication technology is playing an increasingly important role in key areas, including training, information, and user evaluation.
- Agencies are developing a wide range of retention schemes, for example, loyalty payments, 'buddying' arrangements, stress management and services for carers' own children.
- Some agencies are providing carers with career choices within or connected to fostering. The benefits include retaining carers, using their skills flexibly, and increasing their job satisfaction.
- Partnership working and commissioning enables many agencies to improve the availability of both general and specialised placements.
- There is evidence of the growing development of specialist placements for children with complex and special needs, some of which have been researched and evaluated.
- Many agencies now offer additional services to help fostered children, such as psychotherapy, which are benefiting both the children and their foster carers.
- Fostered children and young people are consulted quite often about decisions affecting their lives although their opinions are rarely communicated to senior managers or elected members to inform policy.
- Foster carers participate in the evaluation of many aspects of fostering services.
- Parents and other relatives of fostered children are given few opportunities to participate in shaping fostering services.
All SCIE resources are free to download, however to access the following downloads you will need a free MySCIE account:
- Innovative, tried and tested: a review of good practice in fostering
- Innovative, tried and tested: a review of good practice in fostering: Summary
- Innovative, tried and tested: a review of good practice in fostering: Welsh summary