Local authorities in Britain have been purchasing foster placements and related services from independent fostering agencies or providers (IFPs) for many years. These are often made on an unplanned or ‘spot purchased’ basis and many local authorities have incurred significant budgetary overspends or been criticized for poor child-care practice. In parts of the USA and Australia, governments have required public authorities to ‘outsource’ all or most of their foster-care responsibilities to private or voluntary agencies. Where these have been independently evaluated, a number of deficits have been identified. A middle position of local authorities and IFPs entering into service level or contractual agreements has emerged in Britain where each sector attempts to plan and match its respective needs and services and to predict and control costs. This paper explores how some local authority and IFP managers have developed working arrangements with one another in order to achieve this position. At a time when the British government is providing a strong policy steer towards inter-sector commissioning in foster-care, this paper suggests a framework for collaboration.