Exemptions and Changes to Foster Carers Terms of Approval


Please note that applications for exemption in relation to foster carers living in a different local authority area must be made to the manager of the fostering service for the local authority in whose area the foster carer lives.

See also: Forms/Practice Guidance for 'Exemption to the Usual Fostering Limits' Form and 'Kent Fostering Change in Foster Carers Terms of Approval Policy'


In July 2020, this chapter was revised locally.

1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children

A person may not foster more than three children in each foster home except where all the children are siblings.

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. When considering an exemption the following factors should be regarded.

  1. The number, ages and circumstances of the children concerned;
  2. The arrangements proposed for the care and accommodation 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

As soon as an exemption is identified as being necessary to place a child(ren) with suitably matched Foster Carers (approved with either KCC or an IFA) within the Local Authority of Kent, an application must be made in writing to the relevant area Head of Fostering. The In-house Fostering Service use the Liberi 'Exemption from the Usual Fostering Limits' Form. All other Fostering Agencies in Kent contact HeadofFostering@Kent.gov.uk for an Exemption form. These will be completed by the Fostering Social Worker for the Foster Carers in consultation with the child's Social Worker and with the approval of the relevant Fostering Team Manager. The views of social worker(s) to any other child(ren) in the placement must be sought.

Where the Foster Carers live in a different local authority area, the application for the exemption must be made to the manager of the Local Authority Fostering Service for that area.

On receipt of the 'Exemption from the Usual Fostering Limits' Form the relevant Head of Fostering will decide whether or not to grant an exemption and record the reasons in writing. Any exemption will be specific to the household and record information about all children and young people, with clear start and end date and can be subject to conditions set out by the Head of Fostering.

In an emergency, agreement for the exemption must be sought from the relevant Head of Fostering prior to the placement being made and the Exemption Form submitted to the Head of Fostering by the next working day.

Following the Head of Fostering decision the Fostering Social Worker will ensure that the Foster Carer is notified in writing and the child's Independent Reviewing Officer and the Area Assistant Head of Virtual School Kent are informed. This is to ensure that the team around the child are aware of additional pressures within the fostering family and the potential impact on children in placement.

If an exemption is required to extend beyond the specified date, further Exemption Forms must be completed and the same process for agreement to the exemption followed.

Exemptions extending beyond six months must be presented to the Fostering Panel using the Liberi 'Exemption from the Usual Fostering Limits' Form. This should be assigned to the Fostering Agency Decision Maker for that panel.

4. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions

The Fostering Panel will be responsible for the ongoing monitoring of exemptions over six months or at the discretion of the Heads of Fostering, including those from IFAs or other Local Authorities.

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

5. Changes to the Foster Carer's Terms of Approval

If the placement of a further child or children with a foster carer would mean making a placement outside a foster carer's terms of approval then the Kent Fostering 'Variation and change of approval policy' must be followed.