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6.1.8 Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter explains the procedure for reviewing the approval of foster carers.

It is based on Regulations 28 and 29 of the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 and NMS 13.8, 2011.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in February 2016 to reflect current practice.


Contents

  1. Frequency
  2. Consultation with Foster Carer before the Review
  3. Annual Review Panel
  4. Presentation to the Main Fostering Panel or Agency Decision Maker
  5. Foster Carers Annual Review
  6. Representations/Review Procedure
  7. Updates on Checks
  8. Resignation by Foster Carers


1. Frequency

Formal reviews of foster carers will take place at least annually.

Reviews will take place more frequently in the event of a significant change in circumstances of a foster carer for example where there are concerns about the care provided by the foster carer as a result of a complaint or allegation.

As well as formal reviews, there will be regular dialogue and feedback between the supervising social worker and the foster carer.


2. Consultation with Foster Carer before the Review

The supervising social worker will, in advance of the formal review, seek the views of all members of the foster carer's household as well as the written comments and opinions of all social workers who have had children placed within the review period. This will include contacting a social worker from outside the authority where appropriate.

The supervising social worker will also seek and take into account the views of any child placed with the foster carer since the last review directly if the child is still in placement or via the child's social worker if the child has moved on.

Short Break Carers reviews should include the views of the parents/guardian whose child attends for breaks.

All the information gathered will be sent to the carers in advance of the review panel. The review will be recorded on Protocol.


3. Annual Review Panel

The foster carers' review will then be presented to the Annual Review Panel by their supervising social worker. This panel is chaired independently. Foster carers will be invited to attend and the meeting will consider all the documents gathered as part of the review process. These will include:

  • A personal development plan of the foster carer's training and development needs for the next twelve months and an evaluation of the training received since the last review;
  • The foster carer's views of the service and support provided as well as the appropriateness of placements made and the care provided by the foster carer;
  • Consultation forms from the foster carers' children and adult children (if they live at home);
  • Consultation forms from children and young persons’ currently in placement and where appropriate previous children cared for within the review period;
  • Post placement reports;
  • Up to date Health and Safety check;
  • Up to date and personal to the child in placement Family Safe Care Policy;
  • Report of any complaints or allegations received in the previous year and the outcome;
  • Record of any exemptions and all placements made in the review period;
  • Report from the child’s social worker for children currently placed and any other children in the review period.

Additional reviews will be triggered whenever there is significant change in circumstances or where an allegation is made. The main Fostering Panel will consider these reviews.

The Review Forms will be completed following the panel and any recommendations discussed with the foster carer and recorded. The foster carer should have the opportunity to record their views in writing to either panel. The carers comments must be received well in advance of the paperwork being downloaded to panel members. This is usually seven days before the panel today.


4. Presentation to the Main Fostering Panel or Agency Decision Maker

A report must be presented to the Fostering Panel on the foster carer's first review for a recommendation, but thereafter the report will be presented to the Annual Review Panel. If there are significant changes to the foster carer's approval or the termination of the foster carer's approval is recommended or where any circumstances exist which in the opinion of the Agency Decision Maker require consideration by the Fostering Panel, then the review will be presented to the main Fostering Panel. This will include the situation where an updated Disclosure and Barring Service check reveals a new concern about the foster carer or a member of the household.

The supervising social worker will present the review findings and recommendations to the Fostering Panel in a written report which incorporates all the information gathered for any review and also any other specific reports in the event of an allegation or change of circumstance.

The review and minutes of either panel will be presented to Agency Decision Maker for ratification.

Where the Review recommends the termination of approval of the foster carer, see Section, 6.1 Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer’s Approval. Where the Fostering Panel's recommendation is to change the category of approval, see Section 6.2, Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carer’s Approval.

Where the foster carer has decided to resign from fostering, see Section 8, Resignation by Foster Carers.


5. Foster Carers Annual Review

Where the review is presented to the Fostering Panel or the Annual Review Panel the Panel's recommendation as to the future approval of the foster carer will be submitted to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision to be made.

The foster carer will be informed in writing of the outcome of the review.

A copy of the Review Form and a record of the outcome of the review will be retained on the foster carer's case record on Protocol.


6. Representations/Review Procedure

6.1 Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer’s Approval

Where, as a result of a review, change of approval or the termination of a foster carer's approval is proposed, written notice of the proposal and the reasons must be sent to the foster carer within 7 days of the agency decision maker’s comments being received. A qualifying determination letter will be sent to the carers with regard to the proposed decision. The carers will be advised that if they wish to challenge the decision, they have the opportunity to make representations to the Agency Decision Maker or to request a review by an Independent Review Panel under the Independent Review Mechanism as set out in Section 9, Representations/Independent Review Procedure of Assessment and Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure.

Notification and representations will need to be received by the Agency Decision Maker or the IRM within 28 days of the date of the notice of the decision being sent to them.

If the request is for the agency panel to reconsider the review then the Panel Administrator will notify the foster carer within 7 working days of the date when the Panel will be in a position to reconsider the matter.

The Panel will make a new recommendation in relation to the foster carer and a final decision will be made by the Agency Decision Maker taking into account any fresh recommendation made by the Panel.

Written notice of the final decision, together with reasons, must then be sent to the foster carer within 7 working days of the confirmed minutes of the decision.

Where the termination of the approval of a foster carer is being considered, plans for the termination of any current placement will also be required and made as appropriate.

Where the approval is terminated, the Agency Decision Maker, in consultation with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) will decide whether to refer the former foster carer to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for inclusion of the carer's name on the Children's Barred List.

The foster carer will not have the right to request a review by an Independent Review Panel  if he or she is regarded as disqualified as a result of a conviction or caution for a specified offence - see Persons Disqualified from Fostering Procedure.

If no written representations or notification of a request for a review are received within the period, a final decision to terminate approval can be made.

6.2 Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carer’s Approval

6.2.1 Where the Foster Carer is in Agreement

Planned changes to a foster carer’s approval will normally take place by a Foster Carers Review presented to the Fostering Panel. It has been recognised that in some circumstances children can be placed with foster carers who are outside the carers approval. Where it is felt appropriate and in agreement with the foster carers, the terms of the foster carers approval can be changed without the need for the carers review to be presented to the Fostering Panel. Foster carers must not be pressured to accept changes to their terms of approval the change of approval should be recorded on Protocol. 

The revised regulations permit the decision maker to change a foster carer’s terms of approval without the need to issue a qualifying determination (and therefore to wait for the 28 day response period) in circumstances when:

  • A review of the foster carer’s approval has taken place in accordance with the regulations; and
  • The fostering service provides the foster carer with a written statement setting out whether they consider the foster carers household, including any child placed, to have additional support needs as a result of the proposed change, and if so what these needs are and how they will be met; and
  • The foster carer agrees in writing to the change of terms of approval.

Where the foster carer’s written agreement is received, the decision to revise the terms of approval may be made immediately.

The decision maker will need to consider the review recommendation and statement about support needs and how these will be met. The Agency Decision Maker’s decision in such circumstances is not a Qualifying Determination and the foster carer may not apply for an independent review of the decision by way of the Independent Review Mechanism.

There is no need for an immediate review but it would be good practice for this to be recorded at the review panel.

6.2.2 Where the Foster Carer is not in Agreement

Where the foster carer does not agree in writing to the revision of their terms of approval, then the representations/review procedure as set out in Section 6.1, Proposal to terminate foster carer’s approval above will apply.


7. Updates on Checks

Disclosure and Barring Service checks should be updated every 3 years and if necessary, a review of the foster carer's approval should be carried out immediately to take account of any new information.

See Persons Disqualified from Fostering Procedure.

Medical information should also be updated at least every 3 years by writing to the foster carers GP. In the event of any serious concerns about the foster carers health, a review of the foster carer's approval should be carried out immediately.


8. Resignation by Foster Carers

A foster carer may give written notice at any time of their wish to resign from the role.  Once written notice has been given, their approval will automatically be terminated 28 days after receipt of the notice. The foster carer cannot withdraw their notice once it has been received, nor can the Agency Decision Maker decline to accept the resignation. Should a foster carer who has resigned subsequently wish to foster again, they will need to be assessed under the procedure for Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers. There is no requirement for the Fostering Panel to be notified of resignations.  However the panel may find it helpful to be advised, as part of its monitoring role.

End