In 1979, the United Nations staged an International Year of the Child, with a global focus on children. To coincide with this, the British National Foster Care Association organised an international event for all those involved in foster care, which was staged at the prestigious Oxford University in England. Inviting governments, UNICEF and other networks, the conference was well attended with representation from over 17 countries across the world.

At the closing of the ceremony there was an overwhelming consensus that the conference should not be a stand-alone event.

On the back of this success, in 1981 a small group of people from Europe worked together to plan the formation of IFCO and began planning the next conference, to be staged in the The Netherlands.

From the beginning

IFCO has remained true to the fundamental principle of ensuring that all people involved in the development and provision of foster care should have a significant voice within IFCO and this includes young people.

Our formative years

Our logo shows four postage stamps as mail was the only means of communication at this time. A regular magazine was established and produced and mailed worldwide to a growing membership.

For 21 years IFCO was run entirely by volunteers with annual conferences being organised by Foster Care associations in individual countries, Conferences have been held in The Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand, England, USA, Greece, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Canada, Hungary, The Philippines, Australia, Finland, Argentina and the Czech Republic.

Delegates from more than 80 countries have attended IFCO conferences to network and learn from each other about the development of family-based alternatives to institutional care for the millions of children who live apart from their families.

The conference in 1994 (Berlin) and 1998 (Hungary) were significant events for those countries in Eastern Europe who were working to change their child care systems. Following a large IFCO World Conference in The Netherlands in 2001, it was decided to try to establish a representative office. With the help of The Hague City Council and the Dutch funding bodies and volunteers, this was open from 2003 – 2007.

And today

IFCO has no staff – we have a worldwide network of volunteers and national member organisations & agencies supporting our development work worldwide.  IFCO can also rely on a pool of international experts and trainers for its project work.

Volunteers have always been important for IFCO. Why not become a member and see how you can help?