The transfer of foster carers between fostering services is governed by a protocol which has been agreed with the main fostering organisations and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS).

The most recent version of the protocol was published in 2014 and reissued in 2015 alongside the newly developed guiding principles. The principles of the transfer protocol recognise that all foster carers have the right to freedom of movement between fostering services and that  fostering services should not coerce or entice foster carers to transfer to a new service in order to ensure the continuation of a child’s placement with them.

The transfer protocol 2014 is supported by the ADCS and is compliant with the requirements of The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 (as amended) taking into account the legislative changes which came into force on 1 July 2013. The Transfer Protocol recommends that good practice guidelines are followed when an approved foster carer wishes to transfer from one fostering service to another.  The guiding principles seek to reinforce the ethos of child-centred care planning and child-centred decision making in fostering and that financial factors alone should not determine a placement move.


The protocol and guiding principles should be read and used together and are designed to inform decision making and practice across the fostering sector,

A full copy of the Transfer Protocol is available to do download here although they are not mandatory.

The Guiding Principles are available to download here

Key points to note:

Where there is no child in placement, the foster carer should inform their existing fostering service that they wish to transfer to another service. Once this has been done, the new fostering service is free to commence an assessment.

Once the assessment has been completed and the recruiting service informs the foster carer that they intend to seek their approval as a foster carer through the panel and decision maker, the foster carer should give written notice of resignation to their current service.

A foster carer cannot be approved by more than one fostering service at the same time, and so they must not be approved by the fostering service to which they are transferring before the date that their previous approval ends.

Fostering Regulations state that an approval will be terminated 28 days from a written notice of resignation being received from a foster carer (The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011, Reg 28 (13).

Where there is a child (or children) in placement, foster carers must give written notice of their intention to consider moving to another agency both to the current service and to the placing authority/authorities.

Upon receipt of the written notice, the placing authority must inform the child’s IRO of the intended change in placement provision [4.7 Volume 2, Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Statutory Guidance (2010)] and shall, within 28-days, convene a meeting of:

  • The placing authority/authorities – this may include commissioning/contracting officers as well as the children’s social workers
  • The current service.
  • The recruiting service
  • The foster carer/s.

Where there is more than one placing authority, agreement should be reached on which authority will take responsibility for convening the meeting. Generally, the authority that has had children placed for the longest period with the foster carer will be considered the ‘lead’ authority. By agreement with the placing authorities, and when it is more convenient, the recruiting service may organise the meeting.

The meeting must consider the following:

  • How the move of the foster carer to another service may affect each child in placement, including the potential loss of or changes in the relationships, activities and support services that a child has developed and/or established whilst in placement with the current agency.
  • The particular support needs of the child and the foster carer and how they will be provided by the new service.
  • The circumstances in which the recruiting service may use any other placement vacancy once the transfer has been completed.
  • The arrangements for approval by the recruiting service and termination of the foster carer’s approval by the current service. The arrangements should be co-ordinated to ensure continuity of approval, and that transfer is made on a mutually agreed date.
  • Parallel arrangements for timing a transfer of responsibility for the payment of fees and allowances to the foster carer.
  • The views of the child, parent and any other interested parties. (These views should be sought and represented by the placing authority).
  • A timetable for the approval of the foster carer by the recruiting service. The expectations are that assessment and training will take place and that they will be completed within two to four months of the meeting taking place. There will be occasions when this timescale cannot reasonably be adhered to. In such cases, all parties will be kept informed about developments and the anticipated time to completion.

For full details please refer to the Transfer Protocol link above