DfE coronavirus helpline

Telephone: 0800 046 8687
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm
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In these unprecedented times of uncertainty, confusion and conflicting advice, the team here at FosterTalk wanted to tell you that You Are Not Alone. Foster carers are needed now more than ever and you will undoubtedly face situations that were totally unexpected when you became a foster parent, but you are resilient, strong and resourceful (that’s why you are a foster parent) and you will prevail. 

FosterTalk are here to provide support and guidance along the way and try to answer any questions you have about your role and responsibilities and the impact of coronavirus on you and the children in your care. To help you, we have added links to government regulations and guidance on our website, which will be regularly updated as and when news comes in, and we have also compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help you in your role.

FosterTalk – supporting you every step of the way!

  • During these uncertain times, we want to remind you that all of our helplines will be remaining open. We have ensured systems are in place in order for our services to continue running to best support you. These helplines will be open for our standard fostering-related concerns and queries, as well as those which have come about due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Our counselling, medical, legal and educational lines are also still running. During these times of high stress, we especially want to look out for and support our members!
  • We all need a little extra support at times. That’s why we offer around-the-clock confidential counselling helpline that is delivered by a team of clinically trained and qualified experts.
  • FosterTalk also provide members with detailed advice as self-employed people. Remember our specialist tax, benefits and national insurance team are still here to help you.
  • We will be constantly supplying up-to-date government updates on social media and our website to keep you in the loop.
  • Remember, our qualified fostering advisors are working to support you throughout this pandemic. FosterTalk is here for you; call us if you need to talk!

Covid Lateral Flow Tests for Foster Carers

The government recently introduced twice-weekly asymptomatic testing for foster carers in order to keep you and our most vulnerable children and young people safe.

You can order your kits at: Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

Update On How You Record Your Data 

Following feedback on the test result registration/uploading process since March, NHS Test & Trace has decided to make small changes to the way in which those involved in children’s social care should identify themselves when recording results on the NHS COVID-19 test results portal.

The changes are due to come into effect from 2 June and designed to allow the government to monitor more clearly the effectiveness of their testing programme and highlight any areas or groups within the children’s social care system who are not engaging in testing – so they can identify potential barriers.

This means that foster carers will need to take into account the updated recording pathway at Annex A for each completed asymptomatic LFD rapid-test.

If you have any queries about ordering kits, please contact the helpdesk on 0800 046 8687. Any other questions should be addressed to DfE Children’s Social Care COVID-19 Unit at: COVID-19.CSC@education.gov.uk

ANNEX A:  Guidance on uploading lateral flow device test results for Foster Carers

Please go to the NHS COVID-19 test results portal.

In the section, ‘Did you take this test for your job?’ please select the ‘no’ option.

In the following section, ‘Tell us why you took this test?’ please select ‘As a foster carer’.

You can then proceed to answer the following questions to register your result as appropriate:

  • When was the test taken?
  • What’s the test strip ID number?
  • Where did you get this test kit from?
  • What’s your name?
  • What’s your date of birth?
  • Which of the following is on your medical records?
  • What is your ethnic group?
  • What is your home address?
  • Is this the address registered with your GP?
  • Do you have an email address?
  • What’s your mobile number?
  • Do you know your NHS number?

Support for The Self-employed

FosterTalk has also provided members with detailed advice for foster carers as self-employed people. Remember our specialist tax, benefits and national insurance team are still here to help you.

Find out more here >

Extension to Self Employed Income Support Scheme (seiss)

The government has announced that the SEISS will be extended to 30 April 2021!

Find out more here >

The Martin James Foundation

FosterTalk is the Centre of Excellence UK for the Martin James Foundation and associated group and recognised as the “go to” organisation for fostering advice, practice guidance, training and independent support for both foster parents and fostering services alike.

The Martin James Foundation has released two practice briefings which aim to support foster  carers and practitioners to talk and listen to children and young people in alternative care about Covid-19.

Considerations for home visits and face-to-face interventions with children and families

Find out more here > 

COVID 19 CRISIS: Talking with and listening to children and young people in alternative care!

The Martin James Foundation has released a practice briefing which aims to support carers and practitioners to talk and listen to children and young people in alternative care about Covid-19.

Find out more here >

NHS Guidance & Guidance from an NHS Nurse about Coronavirus

With all the uncertainty around the current situation, regarding Coronavirus, we thought this information would be beneficial to you all, shared with us by an NHS nurse.

Find out more here >

Coronavirus Legislation and Guidance

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, governments across the UK have made changes to regulations and issued new guidance which affects local authorities and fostering services. Each UK country has its own regulations and guidance, which change rapidly as the government moves to ease lockdown and we will continue to update this page as changes occur.

For more information about the rules in your region see below:

What am I allowed to do across the UK at the moment?

Exact rules may vary between nations and – in Scotland – between areas:

Who can I meet at the moment?

Rules vary for each UK nation:

  • In England, groups of up to 30 can meet outdoors and six people or two households can meet indoors (and stay overnight)
  • In Wales, three households can form an extended household and mix in private homes; up to 30 people can meet outdoors in a public place or private garden; up to six people from six households (not including under-11s) can meet inside pubs and restaurants
  • In Northern Ireland, up to six people from two households can meet in private homes (and stay overnight) and 15 people (including children) from no more than five households can meet in private gardens
  • Rules are more complicated in Scotland and you should check here

Coronavirus: guidance for children’s social care services in England

The Department for Education (DfE) has updated guidance for children’s social care in England on 24 May 2021.  Areas covered by the updated guidance include vulnerable children and young people’s attendance at educational settings, risk assessments, alternative provision, respite care and Ofsted inspections.

Read the guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children’s social care services
National lockdown: stay at home


Coronavirus: social care services in Wales

The Welsh Government has published a control plan for social care in Wales, to help social care services understand the measures to expect in each level of restrictions. The plan includes a section for children’s residential care setting out how practice should be adjusted to comply with restrictions for alert levels 1 – 4.

Read the plan: Coronavirus control plan: Alert levels in Wales for social care services for adults and children


Updated Guidance for Children’s Social Care Services

The government updated its coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children’s social care services on 25 September 2020. The guidance has been updated to:

  • reflect that the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 have expired
  • update with the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No2) Regulations 2020
  • reflect the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020 – the rule of 6

All documents relating to COVID-19 guidance for children’s social care services, including the updated list of Amendments from 24 September 2020 to existing regulations, are on the Gov.uk website.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 includes new laws that affect foster care to help to slow the spread of the virus. Read the legislation

The guidance:

  • advises on flexibilities in delivering statutory duties, and the principles they should apply, to manage any increased risks to vulnerable children as a result of COVID-19;
  • acknowledges there needs to be flexibility under statutory duties;
  • offers key principles to guide thinking such as being child-centred, risk-based, and collaborative; and
  • sets expectations that risk assessment of every child, and identifying those most at risk will be important and that vulnerable children are expected to attend school

The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 were introduced on 24th April and have significant implications for family placement work in England. CoramBAAF have produced a summary of the changes, and the full regulations can be found here.

The Department for Education has provided some general practice guidance for local authorities on children’s social care that includes a section that is specific to fostering.

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory have provided guidance on managing family contact during the coronavirus crisis.

National Association of Child Contact Centres (NACCC) has issued an update on how Child Contact Centres are operating during the Coronavirus crisis.


The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill was passed on 1 April 2020.Provisions of direct relevance to child protection, foster and kinship care, children’s hearings and secure care have been developed for inclusion in the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill 2020.

Guidance on looked after children and children’s hearings provisions, published 7 April This guidance elaborates on the above Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. It includes information on: children’s hearings, placement limits and certain time scales being extended.


The Welsh Government has, for the time being, decided against relaxing regulations around fostering. It has instead published guidance for Children’s social services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is also additional guidance regarding vulnerable children and young people and education safeguarding.

Children’s Social Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Updated Guidance

The Welsh Government has updated its guidance on how children’s social care providers can change their services to support young people during the coronavirus pandemic. This operational guidance is aimed at local authorities, adoption services, fostering services and providers of care homes for children and is intended to:

  • encourage a flexible and pragmatic approach to maintaining support for looked after and vulnerable children during the outbreak of novel coronavirus and as measures are relaxed
  • recognise the areas of provision where local authorities will struggle to meet their statutory requirements, and provide guidance on the measures that should be put in place that are in the spirit of the law
  • minimise the impact of novel coronavirus on Children’s Services and partners, when resources available to cope with additional burdens are reduced, and as alternative working practices are being introduced and delivered
  • promote partnership working across the breadth of services that support families

The guidance document is available on the Welsh Government website >

Coronavirus: vulnerable and disadvantaged learners returning to school in Wales

The Welsh Government has published guidance for supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged learners returning to school settings. The guidance covers: the legislative background; preparing an approach from September 2020; and preparing for a further lockdown or blended learning approach.

Find out more here >

Northern Ireland

The Department for Health have issued COVID-19 Guidance for foster care and supported lodgings. This was updated on 13 May 2020.

The Children’s Social Care (Coronavirus) (Temporary Modification of Children’s Social Care) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020

Full changes to the The Foster Placement (Children) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1996 regulations: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisr/2020/78/regulation/3/made

Guidance to accompany the changes: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/health/childrens-social-care-temp-modification-regs.pdf