Matching in Foster Care


This procedure should provide parameters for the matching of children referred to foster care with available placements.

It should also give guidance to social workers in assessing the 'fit' of a child to a placement with an independent fostering agency.

1. Introduction

Matching is the process of identifying the most appropriate foster placement and facilitating the child's placement.

Good matching (and the full exchange of information prior to the placement) is linked with placement stability.

The movement of children for reasons other than their best interests, should not happen.

2. Personnel Responsible for Matching a Child and Placement

Responsibility for identifying a potential foster placement lies with the social worker from the Fostering Team.

In the case of placements with independent fostering agencies, the responsibility lies with the social worker from that agency.

The child's social worker has the final say in the suitability of the placement offered. That person knows the child and the child's needs and on advice from the social worker from the Fostering Team or the independent fostering agency, is able to identify strengths and vulnerabilities in the placement.

3. Matching Guidelines

The maximum number of foster children who are permitted to be accommodated in a foster home is three. Permission to place four children in one foster home is required from the Service Manager (Placements) but in the first instance, the Fostering Team Manager.

A foster carer may be asked to take a placement outside their terms of approval. Permission will be required from the Service Manager (Placements) but in the first instance, the Fostering Team Manager.

See: Fostering Exemptions and Extensions and Variations of Approval Procedure.

Child Qualities

The following characteristics should be used in deciding whether a particular placement is suitable:

  • Is the child part of a sibling group. Are there compelling reasons why the sibling group should not be placed together?
  • Age of child;
  • School;
  • Is there possibility of interference from the parent or extended family;
  • Behavioural issues;
  • Culture/language/racial identity/religion;
  • Health/medical factors;
  • Risk assessment;
  • Would the child be better accommodated in a two parent family;
  • Attachment needs/patterns;
  • Leisure activities.

Foster Carer Qualities

  • Size and composition of foster family. A useful 'rule of thumb' is that a foster child is best being the youngest and more than two years younger than the youngest child of the foster family;
  • Geography of the foster home in relation to the child's home;
  • Culture/language/race/religion;
  • Skills and experience;
  • Child care requirements;
  • Accommodation;
  • Registration;
  • Vulnerabilities.

4. Process

The social worker from the Fostering Team narrows down the choice of foster carers for a placement using all the information available about the child and the foster carers.

The option/s is/are communicated to the child's social worker. The child's social worker decides which placement is most appropriate for the child referred.

Following an indication of the preferred placement, the social worker from the Fostering Team contacts the foster carer for agreement to the placement.

The foster carer will decide as to whether to accept the placement.

Introductions will then follow.

Responsible authorities must be informed of any emergency placement moves within one working day.