Retention and recruitment of foster carers – research findings

In May 2023 The Fostering Network published timely research into the retention and recruitment of foster carers in England. The research aimed to explore how to achieve a diverse and stable foster care workforce in England. This research was supported by the KPMG Foundation and was conducted by the Centre for Evidence and Implementation (CEI). 

Ensuring there are sufficient numbers of skilled and knowledgeable foster carers is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the fostering sector. This research explores what works to retain foster carers – ultimately so we are able to meet all the needs of children in care, both now and in the future. It also sought to develop a better understanding of the recruitment foster carers in England.

Read the summary report 

Read the full report  

Key recommendations:

For Government

Based on the findings from this research, we are calling on Government to: 


  • Introduce buddy/mentor schemes to offer wraparound support throughout the approval process. 
  • Co-produce regional marketing and communications recruitment content with care experienced young people and foster carers. 


  • Improve the financial support available for foster carers, their access to short breaks/sleepovers and the allegations process in fostering.
  • Introduce information sharing standards to support positive matching.  
  • Develop a best practice framework that ensures consistency for the foster carer offer. 
For fostering services

Based on the findings from this research, we are calling on fostering services to: 


  • Ensure their application processes incorporate lived experience, facilitate the building of quality relationships, are flexible, transparent and culturally sensitive. 
  • Seek the relevant permissions to store the details of, and keep in touch with, people who enquire to foster but don’t submit an application or withdraw an application.


  • Ensure foster families are well-supported including by providing specialist out-of-hours and peer support. 
  • Provide timely transparent administration of payments to foster carers including what covers the allowance, fee and any other expenses.
  • Offer all resigning foster carers an exit interview to inform service development and retention and recruitment strategies.

A big thank you to our advisory group and those who took the time to participate in this research. 

If you have any further questions please email: