The regulation of out-of-home care in Australia has become increasingly formalized and detailed, partly driven by a recent wave of audits of abuse in foster-care. The emergence and possible consequences of this increased regulation are examined, with a particular focus on relative care. A pluralist–democratic approach to accountability would involve a regulatory regime linked to other quality strategies, with the emphasis on improved quality and outcomes rather than compliance with policy and procedures. The concentration on expanding the regulatory regime is contrasted with more limited efforts to improve carer support—an essential ingredient of an effective foster-care system.

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