Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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6.2.7 Exemptions from the Usual Fostering Limit


This chapter covers the reasons a variation to the usual fostering limit may be considered and the process for this.

Section 63 (12) and Schedule 7 of the Children Act 1989

(Regulation 23 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010


See also Fostering Network.


This new chapter was added to this manual in January 2017. This topic was previously covered in a combined chapter along with the exemptions from the usual fostering limit. Both subjects are now addressed in separate chapters.


  1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children
  2. Reasons why an Exemption may be Considered
  3. The Process for Exemptions
  4. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions

1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children

Section 63 (12) and Schedule 7 of the Children Act 1989 set a usual fostering limit of 3 children unless all the children fostered are siblings This does not include the birth children of the foster carer, or other children who reside within the household for significant period of time but who are not fostered. It does include any children who are privately fostered.

In all other circumstances, foster carers may only exceed this number if an exemption has been agreed.

2. Reasons why an Exemption may be Considered

Applications for an exemption will usually be made because of the following exceptional circumstances:

  1. The child concerned was previously placed with the foster carers and his or her placement elsewhere has disrupted;
  2. The foster carers have special skills to meet the child's needs which are not available elsewhere;
  3. The placement of the child over the limit is the most appropriate way of meeting the child's needs arising from disability, race, religion, language and/or culture;
  4. The placement is required to keep siblings together.

Applications can only be made with the agreement of the foster carers concerned. Exemption must relate to a named child and when considering an exemption the local authority must have regard to the following factors:

  1. The number, ages and circumstances of all the children concerned;
  2. The arrangements proposed for the care, accommodation and welfare of the children concerned;
  3. The relationship between the foster carers and the children concerned;
  4. The period of time over which the placement is likely to last;
  5. The likely effect on the children concerned and any other children living in the household;
  6. The foster carers' capacity to provide sufficient care for all the children in the placement;
  7. The need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the fostered children / young people and any other children / young people who live in the foster home.

3. The Process for Exemptions

3.1 Planned Exemptions

The need for an exemption will be identified at the point when the duty fostering social worker is seeking to identify a suitable placement for a child or children.

Where a foster carer is identified as the most appropriate option to meet the child's needs, and this is agreed by the supervising social worker for the carers and the foster carer, the duty social worker should consult with the manager and if agreed prepare an application for an exemption.

The social worker(s) to any other child in the placement should also be consulted in order to seek their views on any impact (positive or negative) from a further placement commencing.

All applications for planned exemptions for foster carers living in the local authority area must be made in writing, supported by reasons, to the Chair of the Foster Panel for initial approval and then the Group Manager. The written application will be prepared by the supervising social worker for the foster carers in conjunction with the relevant child's social worker.

The decision whether or not to grant an exemption will be recorded in writing, together with reasons. Any exemption will be specific to a child or children and can be subject to conditions. The foster carer will be notified in writing (a qualifying determination) that the fostering service proposes to temporarily revise the terms of approval. The foster carer will be advised that they may submit any written representations within 28 days of the date of the notice. [Reg 28 (7)] or apply to the IRM for a review of the qualifying determination. (Copy kept on the foster carers file).

Upon the granting of an exemption, a time limit will be specified and an exemption can only extend beyond that date if the Panel Chair or Group Manager authorises it.

The decision must be recorded.

The decision will be reported to the next available Fostering Panel for ratification.

Decisions in respect of exemption requests for foster carers approved by another fostering service but living in Slough Borough Council much be made by the Group Manager or Panel Chair. Notifications of decisions on such request must be sent to the foster carer as well as the placing authority as it is the carer who is granted the exemption not the local authority.

For Slough Borough Council approved foster carers living in another area, requests for an exemption must be made to the local authority in which they live. However, an exemption in principle must also be obtained from the Fostering Panel.

3.2 Emergency Exemptions

The Duty Manager for the Out of Hours Service can agree for a child to be placed in a foster home above the usual limit in an emergency i.e. without the agreement of the Designated Manager (Exemptions and Extensions). This agreement will only last until the next working day.

An application for exemption beyond the next working day must be made to Group Manager or Panel Chair) as soon as practicable thereafter and any such exemption needs to be presented to the next available Fostering Panel, as with planned exemptions.

An interim decision may be necessary on an emergency basis pending full consideration of the exemption.

As with 3.1, the emergency and interim approval can only be given by the local authority for the area where the foster carers reside. Depending on the local authority involved, there may be arrangements in place for a Duty Manager within the local authority to agree an emergency or interim exemption. If such arrangements exist, an application for an emergency or interim exemption must be made to the relevant manager in line with their procedures. Otherwise an emergency exemption cannot be granted.

Any emergency decisions to grant an exemption must be confirmed in writing and copies of the decision, together with the reasons, must be placed on the child's file and the foster carer's case record. A copy must also be sent to the foster carer.

The decision must be recorded.

4. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions

The Fostering Panel will be responsible for the ongoing monitoring of the exemption.

The Fostering Service is responsible for recording the ending the exemption when the exemption is no longer required.