The right decisions for children in long-term foster care

Birgit Larsson, Gillian Schofield, Elsbeth Neil, Julie Young, Marcello Morciano, Yiu-Shing Lau

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

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The essential role of long-term foster carers in helping to transform the lives of vulnerable children in care is highlighted in a recent study by the UEA’s CRCF funded by the Nuffield Foundation. The analysis of government data showed that 40 per cent of fostered children – more than 20,000 in 2019 – are in long-term foster care. These children are placed with a plan for their foster family to provide a secure, loving family life through childhood to adulthood.

Although long-term fostering has existed for many years as an important part of the foster care service, it was only in 2015 that the government issued the first regulations and guidance on long-term foster care. The introduction of these Department for Education regulations and guidance was a welcome move to support long-term foster care with both kinship and non-kinship carers as a positive permanence option. The aim of this study was to investigate their implementation.

The new framework required all local authorities to undertake a full assessment of a child’s wishes and future needs and the foster carers’ capacity to meet those needs through to adulthood; to formally agree the match; and to provide a package of support, including maintaining links to the birth family. These processes were already established as good practice in some local authorities, but the aim of the regulations and guidance was to bring all areas up to the same high standard. It was also now expected that local authorities would identify all children in agreed long-term foster care placements and report that information to the DfE in their annual return.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Specialist publicationChildren and Young People Now
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • foster care
  • Long-term foster care
  • Permanency planning
  • Social Work
  • children in care

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