National Care Standards: Foster Care and Family Placement Services

National Care Standards: Foster Care and Family Placement Services Edition


The Scottish Commission for the Regulation of Care ('the Care Commission') has been responsible for the registration and inspection of a range of services, including fostering and related services (sometimes known as family placement services), provided by fostering agencies since April 2002.

Fostering agencies may be voluntary and independent services or they may be local authorities acting as fostering agencies. All fostering agencies must comply with these national care standards. They have been developed to make sure that the services that they provide are of high quality.

Fostering agencies provide a wide range of services. They may provide longer-term placements or short breaks. They may provide substitute care where a child's family is unable to provide care. They may provide complementary care to provide additional opportunities for a child or to give parents a break. These carers are sometimes called respite or family placement carers. The term foster care is used to describe all these situations.

All providers must provide a statement of function and purpose when they are applying to register their service. On the basis of that statement, the Care Commission will determine which standards will apply to the service that the provider is offering.

The standards cover the following activities:

  • recruiting, selecting, approving, training and supporting foster carers;
  • matching children and young people with foster carers;
  • supporting and monitoring foster carers; and
  • the work of agency fostering panels and other approval panels.

The standards do not apply to the services provided directly by foster carers themselves. The UK National Standards for Foster Care, published by the National Foster Care Association (now the Fostering Network) in 1999, are comprehensive service standards that apply to fostering services provided directly by foster carers, social work services and other agencies involved in the provision of child care services.

The national care standards

Scottish Ministers set up the National Care Standards Committee ( NCSC) to develop national standards. The NCSC carried out this work with the help of a number of working groups. These groups included people who use services, and their families and carers, along with staff, professional associations, regulators from health and social care, local authorities, health boards and independent providers. Many others were also involved in the consultation process.

Using the national care standards

Services for children (standards 1 to 4)

These standards are for children and young people who go to stay with foster carers.

Services for foster carers (standards 5 to 12)

These standards are for people who are or who wish to become foster carers. They also set out how agencies should work to recruit families for children.

Management and staffing (standard 13)

The standards in this section are addressed to everyone who uses the foster care service. They reflect the importance of knowing that the people who are responsible for the agency have the necessary experience, skills and training.

The principles behind the standards

The standards are based on a set of principles. The principles themselves are not care standards but reflect your recognised rights. These principles are the result of all the contributions made by the NCSC, its working groups and everyone else who responded to the consultations on the standards as they were being written. They recognise that services must be accessible and suitable for everyone who needs them, including people from ethnic minority communities. They reflect the strong agreement that your experience of services is very important and should be positive, and that you have rights.

The main principles

The principles are dignity, privacy, choice, safety, realising potential and equality and diversity.


Your right to:

  • be treated with dignity and respect at all times; and
  • enjoy a full range of social relationships.


Your right to:

  • have your privacy and property respected; and
  • be free from unnecessary intrusion.


Your right to:

  • make informed choices, while recognising the rights of other people to do the same; and
  • know about the range of choices.


Your right to:

  • feel safe and secure in all aspects of life, including health and wellbeing;
  • enjoy safety but not be over-protected; and
  • be free from exploitation and abuse.

Realising potential

Your right to have the opportunity to:

  • achieve all you can;
  • make full use of the resources that are available to you; and
  • make the most of your life.

Equality and diversity

Your right to:

  • live an independent life, rich in purpose, meaning and personal fulfilment;
  • be valued for your ethnic background, language, culture and faith;
  • be treated equally and to be cared for in an environment which is free from bullying, harassment and discrimination; and
  • be able to complain effectively without fear of victimisation.


If you would like to comment on these standards you can visit our website and send a message through our mailbox:

You can also contact us at:

Care Standards and Sponsorship Branch
Community Care Division
Health Department
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh EH1 3AG

Tel: 0131 244 5387
Fax: 0131 244 4005

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