Close this search box.

Theme of the month: Allegations

Allegations can be one of the most challenging aspects a foster carer may face, bringing stress and uncertainty not only to them but also to their family and the foster children in their care. This theme of the month, March 2024, delves into the complexities surrounding allegations in the fostering context, aiming to shed light on the process and offer guidance for those affected.

Allegations arise in various forms, often stemming from the complex backgrounds of children who enter foster care—many of whom have experienced abuse, neglect, and trauma. These experiences can lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations of situations, which sometimes result in allegations being made against carers. It’s important to note that a significant number of these allegations are found to be unsubstantiated, highlighting the need for a fair and thorough investigation process.

The handling of allegations is governed by the National Minimum Standards (NMS), specifically STANDARD 22, which outlines the responsibilities of agencies and foster carers in ensuring the child’s protection while supporting the carer involved. An allegation can trigger a detailed investigation process involving various parties, including local authorities and the police, leading to an outcome that may significantly impact the carer’s fostering journey.

The Allegation Process Explained

Upon receiving an allegation, the fostering agency collaborates with the child’s social worker and local authority to determine the nature of the incident. If deemed an allegation, it is referred to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), initiating a complex strategy meeting. This meeting, which foster carers do not attend, discusses the next steps and may lead to a decision on immediate safeguarding actions, such as the temporary removal of children from the household.

Investigations can be lengthy and emotionally taxing, with foster carers often feeling left in the dark due to confidentiality constraints. However, support is available throughout this process, from both the fostering agency and independent organisations like Fostertalk, providing advice and reassurance.

Outcomes of the Investigation

Following the investigation, outcomes range from substantiated to unfounded allegations, each with its implications. The process seeks to protect all involved parties while ensuring the best interests of the children are at the forefront.

Tips to minimise the risk of allegations and protect yourself: –

Record, Record, Record – We can’t emphasise this one enough – records are the best way of safeguarding your role as a foster carer. Ensure you keep a daily log of events and everyday happenings, and include anything unusual, out of character and any tensions/conflicts.

When an allegation is made, your logs will be required immediately – they will be cross checked against the date/time the allegation is alleged to have occurred – they can : give a context/alternative account of what has been reported; at times,  may evidence immediately that the allegation could not have occurred as logs show you/the child was in a completely different place at the time; and  can help you work out, retrospectively, any events that the child may claim have happened. Keep your logs factual and concise, be mindful of the language and tone that you use to describe children, behaviour and situations, and don’t add your opinions.

– If something occurs which is unusual or concerning, however small, don’t wait until you complete the logs to share information, send an immediate email to your SSW/child’s SW maybe just alerting them to a situation, in a brief and clear manner – you have it in writing then, also dated and timed, and is irrefutable evidence if you need it.

– If a child threatens to make an allegation, i.e. make a call to Childline, speak with your SSW or their SW –

try to respond in a low-key way, offer them your phone to use

– if you over-react, it’s likely to escalate. Do also ensure that is recorded and your SSW informed.

– Practice safe caring, as a way of life,  by  taking standard precautions – ie leaving doors open to ensure other people can see what is occurring can  save you from allegations (especially if you are dealing with a difficult situation/conversation), be aware that the use of CCTV  within the home is not usually permitted; and implementing the child’s Safer Caring Policy, which will include practical guidance to minimise the risk of allegations being made.

– If you are struggling to manage challenging behaviour, do speak with your SSW for training and support as there is a greater potential for allegations and complaints if you feel out of your depth, or unsupported in managing challenging behaviours

– it’s easy to slide into inappropriate responses and sanctions. – Do reflect on your own emotional health as when you’re feeling particularly stressed, worn out or frustrated, you may not be able to think “mindfully”, and may react and respond to the child differently and project your feelings onto the child. Do discuss with your SSW, and seek to attend training to learn strategies and techniques for emotional regulation.

– Do sustain “mindful” professional behaviour, communication and presentation towards all other professionals, even when your emotions have been aroused. There are ways of addressing any conflict/tension which your SSW will advise you about – Share information wisely – Remember that details about your children, their families and your fostering are highly confidential, so don’t share those verbally or on-line, including photographs, with those outside of the professional network.

–  Be vigilant and learn to spot the early warning signs that there may be an allegation brewing ie the child may say something like “you’re only doing this for the money”, or child/birth parents seem particularly critical and negative about you, and share this with your SSW.  


As a foster carer, there is a significant risk that, within your fostering career, an allegation may be made against you. Take the precautionary actions to minimise the risk, but if it happens – try not to panic, understand and prepare yourself for the process; access the support available to you; and look after yourself.

FAQ on Handling Allegations in Fostering

Q: What should I do if an allegation is made against me? A: Stay calm and seek support from your Supervising Social Worker (SSW) and legal advice if necessary. Remember, the investigation process is in place to uncover the truth.

Q: How can I minimize the risk of allegations? A: Maintain thorough records of daily activities and any incidents, practice safe caring, and communicate openly with your SSW. Training on managing challenging behaviour and emotional regulation can also be beneficial.

Q: What happens if an allegation is found to be substantiated? A: You will be formally notified, and depending on the seriousness, further actions may include additional training, reassessment, or in severe cases, deregistration.

Q: Where can I find support during the investigation process? A: Your fostering agency, Fostertalk, and your SSW are key sources of support. It’s crucial not to isolate yourself; reach out to fellow foster carers and family for emotional backing.