About us, what we do and why

The communities and families service

Our vision for Edinburgh’s children and young people is that they enjoy their childhood and achieve their potential. How we achieve this is held within The Edinburgh Children’s Partnership, Children’s Service’s Plan 2020 – 2023. The Children’s Partnership has representatives from The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC), NHS Lothian (NHS), the voluntary sector (through EVOC), Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA), Edinburgh College, Skills Development Scotland, Edinburgh Leisure and Police Scotland. Together we have three overarching principles, those being

  1. We place children, young people, and their families at the centre of our activity through strong relationships
  2. We focus on personal, family and community strengths, assets, and building resilience
  3. We prioritise prevention, early intervention, and support.

Family based care

Family Based Care (FBC) is a centralised service within the Children’s Services division of our Councils Communities and Families service. FBCs own mission statement and principles are based on our organisations aims, legislation, and care standards.

Our mission is for each child or young person who needs to be cared for or looked after in a family-based resource is provided with a placement that meets their needs, when they need it and for as long as needed.  

To meet this, the principles underpinning FBC services will ensure

  1. We have the needs, rights and views of children and young people at our heart.  
  1. Be designed and delivered in ways that encourage children and young people’s physical, cognitive, and emotional development, their attachments, their resilience, and safety and discourage further damage, discontinuity, loss and rejection in their lives.  
  1. Support parents and relatives to be appropriately involved in the care of their children.  
  1. Promote equal opportunities and value diversity among children and young people, parents, foster carers, and staff.  
  1. Recruit and retain, or seek, a sufficient number of good quality foster carers.  
  1. Value the foster carers with whom we work, recompensing, supporting, and appraising them in their complex, demanding and time-consuming roles.  
  1. Value the staff delivering services, managing, and supporting them to achieve high standards of practice.  
  1. Work collaboratively with one another, with foster carers and with other staff, both within The City of Edinburgh Council and other agencies with which we work. Be efficient and consistent in our planning and decision-making and have processes that are readily understood by all groups.  
  1. Develop policies and procedures that assist our work and the work of others in the organisation. Always adhere to legislation (Acts and Regulations) and follow government guidance and organisational policies except where there is a demonstrably good reason not to do so.  
  1. Measure, evaluate and disseminate findings about the impact of our interventions and continuously improve.  
  1. Ensure best value for money.  

Our standards

The National Care Standards: Foster Care and Family Placement Services, developed by the Scottish Government, provide nationally agreed standards for the levels of service provided for foster carers and for the children and young people who are looked after by them. The aim of the standards is to improve the quality and consistency of services for children and young people in foster care.  

The standards cover

  • recruiting, selecting, approving, training, and supporting foster carers, 
  • children and young people with foster carers,
  • supporting and monitoring foster carers,
  • the work of the agency fostering panels and other approval panels.  

The National Health and Social Care Standards 2018 have been subsequently introduced by The Scottish Government in June 2017. They inform us of what we can expect when using a health, social care or social work services in Scotland. The seek to provide better outcomes fo all. The five standards are; 


1/ I experience high quality care and support that is right for me. 

2/ I am fully involved in all decisions about my care and support. 

3/ I have confidence in the people who support and care for me. 

4/ I have confidence in the orgnasiation proving my care and support.  

5/ I experience a high quality environment if the orgnasation provides the premises. 


Five principles underpin these standards – dignity and respect, compassion, included, responsive care, and support and wellbeing. The Care Inspectorate now use these standards to ensure that we provide, and people experience, high quality service. 


The registration and inspection of our foster care service

The Care Inspectorate administers and inspects a range of services, including fostering and adoption services. They inspect and evaluate services annually against care standards. Other than day foster carers, who are registered child minders, individual foster carers are not registered and inspected. 

Foster carers may be asked to take part in these inspections by attending focus groups, individual interviews or providing information to help the care inspectors. The annual inspection reports are available on the Care Inspectorate website. 

Our legal context

The ways that children are ‘care experienced’ and the ways that foster care is provided are determined by law. The main statutes that foster carers need to know are: 

For those children and young people cared for on a permanent basis, key legislation is: 

Our policy context

In October 2016, Scotland’s First Minister made a commitment to figure out how Scotland could love its most vulnerable children and give them the childhood they deserve. Stemming from The Independent Care Review, described as “an independent, root and branch review of the care system” The Promise which followed, sets out Scotland’s ambition ‘to be the best place in the world to grow up’ so that children are ‘loved, safe, and respected and realise their full potential’. With over 5,500 children, young people and adults participating, it now forms the basis of the care children receive.

In March 2021 Scotland also saw another significant landmark ruling, meaning The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) now sees its requirements incorporated into Scots law. The City of Edinburgh Council are committed to keeping the promise and upholding, respecting, and championing children’s rights.

Work continues to embed this within our children’s services.  As our work develops, we seek to limit our use of systems language and establish a shared language across our services and partner agencies.  We acknowledge that for the moment, to avoid confusion, words such as ‘placement’ and ‘risk assessments’ remain for current context and clarity. We understand that children and young people experience care in loving and nurturing homes where they can enjoy a full range of developmental experiences.

Further key legislation, regulations, guidance, and procedures describes our duties and responsibilities to ensure we safeguard children and young people and their siblings, throughout their care experience.  

The role of the FBC social worker

The role of the FBC social worker is to assess, recruit, supervise, monitor, train and review foster carers.  Through the ongoing supervisory relationship, they support foster carers in their care of the children and young people who are placed with them. They are a part of the child’s professional team. They ensure the child or young person is safe and nurtured and receive the best possible care and that which adheres to the national care standards.

A foster carer can expect their FBC Social worker to

  • visit regularly and provide supervision which supports the foster carers caring capacity and ensures the needs of the child or young person are understood and meet standards and practice expectations. Supervision is a two-way process and provides the opportunity for foster carers to reflect and learn from their caring experience. It provides space to consider complex case dilemmas and strategies needed to manage these. It recognises developmental progress and further training needs.
  • provide foster carers with information and advice to enable them to give consistent, high-quality care to the children or young people they are caring for 
  • ensure foster carers has the necessary equipment and allowances to provide a child or young person with a comfortable environment.
  • Attend and represent foster care, and the care a child or young person receives, as part of a professional team within decision making forums.
  • Assess, plan, and review children or young person’s plans as part of a multi-agency professional team.
  • Support foster carers to ensure that the care they provide is safe. Investigate areas when care is suspected to not meet national standards or when childcare concerns emerge.
  • The FBC social worker has a duty to carry out at least one unannounced visit each year. The reason behind this unexpected call is to obtain a view of everyday life in the home and safeguard children and young people who use the service. 
  • FBC social workers will visit with foster carers once every 4 – 6 weeks minimum. This is likely to be more at times of a new placement, or a change has taken place or there is a need.  Regular contact will be maintained out with these times, this may be via telephone, or MS Teams calls. FBC social workers will visit at different times, this will be when children or young people are home, and at other times when they are not, so that conversations can take place without distraction.
  • The FBC social worker will keep a written record of each meeting. This will be shared with foster carers and stored in their electronic file. 

The role of the child and young person’s social worker

Each child or young person placed in foster care has a designated social worker. Foster carers are likely to hear the term Practice Team Social worker. They will visit the child on a regular basis, including meeting alone with the child. The social worker has responsibility for

  • ensuring statutory requirements for his or her care and protection are met 
  • promoting his or her welfare and development 
  • monitoring and recording progress of the child’s plan, in consultation with the foster carer, their FBC Social worker and other relevant professionals
  • undertake direct work with the child, at times this will be alongside his or her foster carer.
  • organise, coordinate, and monitor specialist support for the child or young person when required
  • manage the child or young person’s family time and significant others, as set out in the child’s plan. 

Foster carers will meet children or young person’s social worker in a range of meetings, including Looked After Reviews, Children’s Hearing, and Child Planning Meetings. Foster carers can expect regular telephone calls and visits to discuss children and young people’s development and progress. The FBC social worker will also have regular contact with children or young person’s social worker’s and will organise joint visits to discuss placement progress.