The idea of IFCO was first suggested in 1979 in Oxford, UK, at an international conference organised by the UK’s National Foster Care Association to discuss a response to the United Nations’ International Year of the Child. Two years later in 1981 at a second conference in the Netherlands, IFCO was formally established and subsequently incorporated as a charity in the UK.

IFCO has always been an international membership-driven organisation, with an emphasis on involvement of people with care-experience. IFCO has been guided by its efforts to provide support for those across the world who are directly involved in foster and kinship care for children. Its conferences and regular newsletters have been central to IFCO’s activities, providing support to children who are in care, foster parents and professionals who work with children in care and their families. The provision of foster-care related training has also become part of IFCO’s work. Over the years IFCO has successfully partnered with like-minded organisations in different countries across the world to pursue its aims at a policy level.