Limit on the Number of Children in Foster Homes


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 are the foster carer lives.


This chapter was reviewed and refreshed where required in December 2020.

1. Usual Limit

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. Applications for Exemptions

Applications for an exemption are in exceptional circumstances and will usually be made because of the following 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 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 and can be made by Knowsley fostering service and or will be made by other agencies whereby the carer resides in the Knowsley area.

The factors to be taken into account in considering whether to grant an exemption are as follows:

  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.

Applications for exemptions must be made to the Fostering Manager of the fostering service. The team manager will then request a decision from the ADM and inform Fostering Panel at the next available opportunity.

In relation to foster carers living outside the borough placed with another Authority or independent fostering agencies, an exemption can only be granted by the Designated Manager in the respective agency or Local Authority. It should therefore be noted if Knowsley wish to request an exemption for a carer who lives outside of the Knowlsey area the request should be made to the specific ADM.

All exemptions should have the oversight of Knowsley fostering panel.

3. Planned Exemptions

All applications for planned exemption for foster carers living in Knowsley must be made in writing, supported by reasons, to the Fostering Panel. The recommendation of the Fostering Panel will then be presented to the Agency Decision Maker (Exemption from Fostering Limit) for approval. In an emergency the Agency Decision Maker can make a decision and the Fostering Team Manager will provide the information to the next scheduled fostering panel.

Decisions 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 of the decision.

All applications for planned exemptions for foster carers living in the local authority area must be made in writing, supported by reasons, to the Agency Decision Maker (Exemptions and Extensions) for approval. Where the foster carers live in a different local authority area, the application must be made to the manager of the fostering service for that area. The written application will be prepared by the supervising social worker for the foster carers in conjunction with the relevant child's social worker.

Upon the granting of an exemption, a time limit will be specified and an exemption can only extend beyond that date if the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) for the relevant local authority area authorises it.

The decision must be recorded on ICS.

4. Emergency Placements

In exceptional circumstances a child can be placed above the limit. However, it is expected that a child will not be placed with a Knowsley foster carer above their normal approved limit without the agreement of the ADM (Exemption from Fostering Limit).

An application for exemption must be made to the Fostering Manager (Exemption from Fostering Limit) within 24 hours and any such exemption needs to be presented to the next available Fostering Panel.

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

Any emergency decisions to grant an exemption must be confirmed in writing using form CFER1 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 on ICS.