Published Wednesday, 18 December 2013
The report said the number of applications is stretching services. (© Getty)
It found that the rising number of relatives applying to take on vulnerable children - up 50% between 2009 and 2011 - is putting strain on official services.
The increase has caused delays in processing applications.
RQIA said: "The repeated message from health and social care trusts was their difficulty in terms of capacity as a result of the increased demand for kinship carers' assessments."
Three quarters of all children in care in NI live with foster carers, with over 2,000 households looking after some 2,700 children.
Regulators found that kinship fostering has become more widespread in recent years, but added that assessments can "take too long to complete".
It said foster carer allowances are not sufficient to cover the costs of bringing up children.
The report explained: "Health and social care trusts also stated they had to complete extensive kinship care assessments, in situations where families could not agree who should be the main carer. These situations impact on the trusts' ability to progress their mainstream fostering assessments in a timely way.
"The Health and Social Care Board should urgently review the time scales and numbers of kinship carers currently awaiting approval. Appropriate action should be taken to improve efficiency and free up resources, while ensuring the protection of children."
Regulators said the clear message coming from children being looked after in foster care is that they wish to feel secure and to be treated like children living with their own parents.
They also wish to be more involved in decisions about their lives.
RQIA chief executive Glenn Houston said: "RQIA's review team makes 46 recommendations for improvement in fostering services, including a call for agreed regional standards for fostering services in Northern Ireland. We believe that adoption of these recommendations can benefit all those involved in fostering."
© UTV News