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6.1.5 Exemptions to the Limit of Children in Foster Homes

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Please note that applications for exemption in relation to foster carers living in a different local authority area must be made to the manager of the fostering service for the local authority in whose area the foster carer lives.

AMENDMENT

In February 2016, information regarding change of approvals where children are placed in an emergency outside a carers approval were amended. As well as slight amendment to planned exemption.


Contents

  1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children
  2. Reasons why an Exemption may be Considered
  3. The Process for Exemptions
  4. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions
  5. Emergency Placement outside of the Carers Approval


1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children

A person may not foster more than three children in each foster home except where all children are siblings.

In all other circumstances, foster carers may only exceed this number if an exemption has been agreed.


2. Reasons why an Exemption may be Considered

Applications will usually be made because of the following exceptional circumstances:

  1. The child concerned was previously placed with the foster carers and his or her placement elsewhere has disrupted;
  2. The foster carers have special skills to meet the child's needs which are not available elsewhere;
  3. The placement of the child over the limit is the most appropriate way of meeting the child's needs arising from disability, race, religion, language and/or culture;
  4. The placement is required to keep siblings together.

Applications can only be made with the agreement of the foster carers concerned. When considering an exemption the following factors should be followed:

  1. The number, ages and circumstances of the children concerned;
  2. The arrangements proposed for the care and accommodation of the children concerned;
  3. The relationship between the foster carers and the children concerned;
  4. The period of time over which the placement is likely to last;
  5. The likely effect on the children concerned and any other children living in the household;
  6. The foster carers' capacity to provide sufficient care for all the children in the placement.


3. The Process for Exemptions

3.1 Planned Exemptions

Decisions whether or not to grant an exemption will be made by the Service Leader - Placement Services and will be recorded in writing, together with reasons.

Any exemption certificate will be specific to a child or children and can be subject to conditions. The foster carer will be notified in writing of the decision.

The social worker(s) to any other child in the placement should also be consulted in order to seek their views on any impact (positive or negative) from a further placement commencing.

All applications for a planned exemption for foster carers living in the local authority area must be made in writing, supported by reasons, to the Service Leader for approval. The written application will be prepared by the foster carers Supervising Social Worker in conjunction with the relevant child's social worker.

The decision whether or not to grant an exemption will be recorded in writing, together with reasons. Any exemption will be specific to a child or children and can be subject to conditions. The foster carer will be notified in writing of the decision, provided with a copy of the exemption report and certificate. A copy will also be placed on the carers file.

Upon the granting of an exemption, a time limit will be specified and an exemption can only extend beyond that date if a further decision is made by the Service leader (Placement services). The Supervising Social Worker  must write an exemption report which addresses the issues outlined above.

The decision must be recorded.

The decision will be reported to the next available Fostering Panel for notification.

3.2 Emergency Exemptions

A child can only be placed in a foster home above the usual limit for up to 6 days without specific authority to exempt the foster home from the limit.

Where it appears necessary to place a child in a foster home above the usual limit in an emergency, it will be necessary to seek the approval, verbally if necessary, from the Service Leader (Placement Services). Any emergency decisions to grant an exemption must be confirmed in writing and copies of the decision together with the reasons must be placed on the child's file and the foster carer's case record. A copy must also be sent to the foster carer. An interim decision may be necessary on an emergency basis pending full consideration of the exemption. The social worker of any child in placement with the foster carers already should be consulted and their views sought.

The decision must be recorded.


4. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions

The Supervising Social Worker will be responsible for the ongoing monitoring of the exemption and the exemption report presented to the fostering panel at least every 3 months.

The Fostering Service is responsible for recording the ending of the exemption when the exemption is no longer required. This should be recorded on the carer's case notes on file with reasons for the end of the exemption.


5. Emergency Placement outside of the Carers Approval

Where an emergency placement is made outside of the carer's approval a child may be placed with foster carers for up to 6 working days.

If the foster carers have the skills to meet the needs of the child, a change of the foster carer's approval can be made by the Agency Decision Maker in agreement with the Service Leader (Placement Services) taking into account:

  • A report to be made  to  the Agency Decision Maker including the views of the child's social worker, the foster carers, the matching report, risk assessment and minutes of the carer's last review;

  • The carers should be notified in writing of their change of approval;

  • The carer's right to appeal to their change of approval within 28 days still stands;

  • It is the responsibility of the Supervising Social Worker to ensure the carers have a signed copy of the change of approval certificate and a copy placed on the carers file;

  • A full foster carer review should be presented to the next available Fostering Panel or at least within a 6 month period.

The placement must also be compatible with the foster carer’s terms of approval. (There is no option for variations of approval.)

End