DfE coronavirus helpline

Telephone: 0800 046 8687
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm
Find out about call charges

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 >

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:

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

Children returning to school in England

As children return to school in England, the government has issued guidance to schools, colleges and early years providers on how to manage the risks from coronavirus. Key messages from this guidance are:

  • nationally, education and childcare settings are open, and attendance is mandatory (for schools) and strongly encouraged (at childminders, nurseries and colleges
  • the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has made it clear that the overwhelming majority of children and young people still have no symptoms or very mild illness only
  • Secondary schools and colleges have been asked to prepare for on-site testing at the beginning of the autumn term
  • children and young people aged under 18 years 6 months who usually attend school, and have been identified as a close contact should continue to attend school as normal
  • your child does not need to remain in a consistent group (‘bubble’)
  •  the government is removing the requirement to wear face coverings in law but expects and recommends that they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you don’t normally meet

If you suspect your child has coronavirus or has a positive test

Do not send your child to their nursery, childminder, school, college or to an entry test for a selective school if:

You should follow public health advice on when to self-isolate and what to do.

Support for children and young people

Get free, confidential support at any time by:

  • texting SHOUT to 85258
  • calling Childline on 0800 1111
  • calling the Mix on 0808 808 4994

Find help online through:

  • Young Minds – information on COVID-19 and mental health
  • Think Ninja – a free app for 10 to 18 year olds to help build resilience and stay well
  • Every Mind Matters – building resilience and supporting good mental health in young people aged 10 to 16

PHE has also launched new e-learning which can help parents and carers to support their children and young people in emergency or crisis situations.

Barnardo’s See, Hear, Respond service, provides support to children, young people and their families who are not currently seeing a social worker or other agency, and who are struggling to cope with the emotional impacts of COVID-19. Use the See, Hear, Respond self-referral webpage or Freephone 0800 151 7015.

Report any safeguarding concerns you have about any child. Contact the NSPCC helpline.

Further information:

What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/step-4-update-what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges

Wales – Schools Coronavirus Guidance 


Scotland – Schools Coronavirus Guidance



Northern Ireland  – schools coronavirus guidance