Closed 23 Dec 2022

Opened 27 Oct 2022


At 31 March 2021, there were 3,530 looked after children in Northern Ireland, with 81% of these children in foster care placements (41% placed in kinship care and 40% placed in non-kinship or independent foster care placements). The Department of Health recognises the invaluable service that foster parents provide and the need to ensure that our fostering legislation supports both foster parents and children in foster placements.

It is our intention to introduce new Foster Placement and Fostering Agencies Regulations (“the draft Regulations”) to replace and revoke the current Foster Placement (Children) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996.  The draft Regulations were developed and consulted on in 2014, and received the broad support of stakeholders who responded to the consultation. However, for a number of reasons it was not possible to make the Regulations at that time.  Given the passage of time since the Regulations were last consulted on, the Department is carrying out this consultation exercise before proceeding to bring the draft Regulations back to Assembly.

The draft Regulations will allow Health and Social Care Trusts to engage fostering agencies to approve foster parents on their behalf, subject to written agreement. The draft Regulations will also bring fostering agencies within the scope of inspection and regulation by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority.

The consultation seeks your views on the same questions posed in the 2014 consultation. In order to inform your responses we have provided a summary of the consultation feedback received in 2014, as well as the Department’s responses to the issues raised. 

The Department is also seeking your views on some additional issues that have arisen since the original consultation took place.  Further information is set out within the consultation document.



  • Anyone from any background


  • Health and social care legislation