What happens if foster carers divorce?

Being a foster parent is both a challenging and rewarding experience, however despite taking this on as a couple, sometimes foster carers can find themselves in a position where their relationship breaks down. But what happens to the fostered child when its carers separate or divorce? How does this affect the foster care placement? Read on to find out more.

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At any time during a foster care placement, if a ‘significant change’ occurs at the family home, then it will require the fostering situation to be re-evaluated.

What amounts to a significant change in foster care?

A significant change could arise from many situations, but most commonly includes a death in the family, the possibility of relocation, and separation, or divorce of the foster carers.

Foster carers should report any significant changes to their appointed social worker, who will then undertake an assessment of the situation. The social worker will complete an interim report which will then, with the foster carers approval, be presented to the Fostering Panel.

A professionals meeting will be arranged to discuss the practicalities of the children remaining with the foster carers or being taken to another placement. If the children are to remain in situ, a review of any additional support required by the household will be carried out. If one of the foster carers has left the home, they will be encouraged to offer their resignation unless they wish to be assessed as a single foster carer.

There will be regular reviews to make sure the remaining foster carer has sufficient support to continue to meet the needs of the children.

What will the assessment contain?

The assessment should contain the following information:

  • Details of the foster carers – names and addresses, dates of birth
  • Date and terms of approval
  • Last review date
  • Details of the children in placement
  • A brief summary outlining the separation and how the couple is managing
  • A brief summary of the arrangements that have been put in place for the children and foster carers, giving the children’s wellbeing the highest importance

Within 6 months of the date of separation, an annual review on the foster carer must be completed. This will focus on the work done during the intervening period since the last review, but should also reference how the foster carer will continue to meet the children’s needs and expectations, and comply with fostering standards as a single carer.


What happens at the Annual Review?

A detailed report giving a brief chronology of the relationship break down, arrangements for the children and how the couple are managing the split is presented to the fostering panel at earliest opportunity after the annual review. The purpose of the review is to approve the primary carer as a single carer, so all checks and references should be up to date and include sufficient information to enable the panel to make a recommendation in respect of a change of approval.

What happens if the couple re-unite following a period of separation?

If a couple reunites after a period apart which had been notified to the fostering panel, an annual review will need to take place when they get back together. The supervising social worker will need to carry out an assessment of the couple’s relationship looking specifically at the safety and stability of the relationship. The assessment will look at the factors which led to the separation, how they arose, how they have been resolved, and what has changed to ensure the future stability of the relationship.

How do I get a single carer assessment?

If a foster carer wishes to continue to foster as a single carer, then their supervising social worker should aim to have a household review completed within 3 months, although some flexibility on timescales may be involved depending on the local authority concerned.

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