The National Minimum Standards (N.M.S.) together with Regulations relevant to the placement of children in foster care such as the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 (the 2011 Regulations), form the basis of the regulatory framework under the Care Standards Act 2000 (CSA) for the conduct of fostering services.
The NMS for fostering services are issued by the Secretary of State under section 23 of the CSA 2000. The Secretary of State will keep the standards under review and may publish amended standards as appropriate. Minimum standards do not mean standardisation of provision. The standards are designed to be applicable to the wide variety of different types of fostering service. They aim to enable, rather than prevent, individual providers to develop their own particular ethos and approach based on evidence that this is the most appropriate way to meet the child’s needs. Many providers will aspire to exceed these standards and develop their service in order to achieve excellence.
The standards are issued for use by Ofsted, who take them into account in the inspection of fostering services. They will also be important in other ways. The standards may be used by providers and staff in self-assessment of their services; they provide a basis for the induction and training of staff and carers; they can be used by parents, children and young people as a guide to what they should expect a fostering service to provide and to do as a minimum; and they can provide guidance on what is required when setting up a fostering service.
The standards apply to fostering services. Where a standard places an expectation on a foster carer, this should be interpreted as an expectation on their fostering service to support the foster carer to meet the standard.
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