South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

6.1.6 Review and Termination of Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter sets out the procedures for reviewing Foster Carers approval.

References:

  • The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations Vol 4: fostering services;
  • Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011;
  • Regulation 28 of the Fostering Service Regulations 2011.

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Supervision and Support of Foster Carers Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was slightly updated in October 2014 to clarify that Reviews of Foster Carers must be presented to Fostering Panel within 4 to 6 weeks of the review taking place.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Statutory Guidance
  3. Preparation for Reviews
  4. The Review Meeting
  5. Post Review
  6. Reviews Presented to Fostering Panel
  7. Representations/Review Procedure
  8. Resignation by Foster Carers


1. Introduction

The purpose of a Foster Carer review is to provide an appraisal of the Foster Carer's ability and experience of fostering over the preceding year. The outcome of a review may also affect the Foster Carers Banding Levels under which they receive payment.

The review is a holistic overview from all involved with the child including:

  • Foster Carers;
  • Foster Carers' children;
  • Children's Social Worker;
  • Supervising Social Workers;
  • Children in the care of Foster Carers currently or previously within the past year;
  • Schools that the child in care attends;
  • Any other significant professionals who can provide information on the care provided by the Foster Carers.
An outcome from the review process is that the Foster Carers review may be submitted to Fostering Panel for consideration of their approval status.


2. Statutory Guidance


3. Preparation for Reviews

A review of the approval of carers must take place not more than one year after the original approval and thereafter at intervals of not more than a year. This is according to legislation and reviews can be brought forward in the following circumstances:

  • Where there has been a major change in the circumstances of the Foster Carer or a member of their household;
  • Where there has been a significant complaint or concern against the Foster Carer. The Fostering Team Manager must decide if the complaint/concern is significant, but this must include all Child Protection Enquiries;
  • Where there is a need to alter the terms of the Foster Carer's approval;
  • Where it is proposed to terminate the Foster Carer's approval, including where Foster Carers resign (Guidance suggests that this is good practice however it may not be appropriate in all circumstances). The Supervising Social Worker should reach this decision in consultation with the Fostering Team Manager and Reviewing Officer. All Foster Carers who resign should be offered an exit interview.

Eight weeks prior to the agreed review date, preparations for the review are to begin. An Admin Officer will pre-arrange a date for the review to occur and organise the venue for the review to take place in consultation with the Reviewing Officer.

In order to ensure that a Foster Carers review is effective in measuring the quality of the service provision, the following information must be collected and collated by the Reviewing Officer no less than five working days prior to the review taking place:

  • Foster Carers must provide their own written views on their previous 12 months fostering, which evidences the care they provide within the 5 outcomes of Every Child Matters. It must also include their aspirations and perceived training requirements for the next year;
  • The views of Foster Carers' children and any other children cared for within the household who are not fostered. This could include contributions from Foster Carers' adult sons and daughters who live outside of the household but regularly contribute to the care of the children fostered by the family. The Supervising Social Worker is responsible for ensuring these views are gathered;
  • Children currently placed must provide their own views. The views of children previously placed in the preceding year are collected on an End of Placement Questionnaire and will be considered for the Review. The Children's Social Worker is responsible for assisting children to complete their representations to the review;
  • The written views of the Child's Social Worker for the children placed both currently and in the preceding year;
  • The views of any educational provider for the children placed (schools, colleges, nurseries and playgroups) referring specifically to how the Foster Carers have worked with them and supported the children in their educational/developmental progress;
  • The views of the birth parent of children currently placed or who have been placed in the previous year. The Children's Social Worker is responsible for assisting birth parents to complete their representations to the review. These views can be incorporated within the Child's Social Worker's Questionnaire;
  • The views of any other professional agency or person that can comment on the quality of foster care provided must also be obtained, e.g. the child's Independent Reviewing Officer;
  • The Supervising Social Worker will complete the relevant sections of the Review Form which will report on the previous years fostering. This will include any significant issues from supervision sessions or unannounced visits, any training or development issues/ recommendations and any complaints, concerns or allegations. This has to be completed at least 5 working days prior to the review date.

The review process requires the Supervising Social Worker and Reviewing Officer to consider the Foster Carer's competencies against the Banding Levels. This is to ensure that the terms and conditions of their banding are being complied with. Where the review outcome is that the Foster Carer does not meet the terms and conditions, the Reviewing Officer will make recommendations to the Service Manager Permanency and Placements regarding a course of action to address the issues raised.

The review process will also ensure that the following documentation has been kept up to date in the year:

  • Enhanced Vetting and Barring Scheme Child and Adult Barred List checks for all adults over 16 years living in the household (this does not include foster children). A new Enhanced Vetting and Barring Scheme Child and Adult Barred List check must be applied for every three years (unless the foster carers have subscribed to the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service. Foster Carers must provide two named individuals who are also required to have an Enhanced Vetting and Barring Child and Adult Barred List check, who can provide unsupervised care for the child where appropriate;
  • Health and Safety checks must be no longer than three years old, where there are changes in circumstances a new health and safety check can be recommended as part of the review i.e. extensions / swimming pools. Car seat restraint checks will be reviewed if relevant to the ages of children placed at the time of the review;
  • Safer Caring Family Agreement and the Safer Caring Individual Agreement for each child in placement. This should be reviewed annually or more regularly according to placement need;
  • A declaration of health must be provided every 3 years. Individual circumstances may require this to be undertaken more regularly or a full medical may be requested;
  • Checks will be made to ensure all pet/dogs have an assessment and that there have been no significant changes in the animals that could impact on a child's welfare.
The Reviewing Officer will check whether or not there has been a file audit of the Foster Carer's file in the preceding year and will note this on the review paperwork.


4. The Review Meeting

The review meeting will take place either in the home of the Foster Carer or the Fostering Service Offices. The Reviewing Officer will chair the review.

The Foster Carers must attend the review. Where there is a review of joint Foster Carers of a household, both Foster Carers must be present. (In exceptional circumstances, such as when a partner is working away for extensive periods, this requirement can be relaxed but cannot continue into the next review). The children of the Foster Carers can be present for part of the review where appropriate. The Supervising Social Worker will need to be present, if requested by the reviewing officer or the Foster Carers.

The review meeting will consider all the information that has been collected. The Foster Carer will also have the opportunity to raise any issues or concerns that they may have.

The Reviewing Officer will consider whether regular supervisory visits have taken place by the Supervising Social Worker and the Child’s Social Worker as well as the unannounced visits throughout the year within statutory timescales.

During the review meeting, the Reviewing Officer will check, where applicable:

  • Car insurance, tax and MOT;
  • Diving licences' (paper);
  • Annual gas safety certificates;
  • Physical testing of Smoke and Carbon Dioxide detectors;
  • Visual inspection of the property.


5. Post Review

The outcome of the review must include an action plan for the coming year which includes training requirements and a recommendation of their approval status.

Following the review, the review documentation will be signed by the Reviewing Officer and Supervising Social Worker.

If there is a disagreement over the action plan recommendations by the Supervising Social Worker / Team Manager, the action plan recommendations can be presented to the Service Manager Permanence and Placements to arbitrate.

A hard copy of the review will be sent to the Foster Carer(s) for their records. A duplicate of the Outcome and Decisions section will also be sent for the Foster Carer(s) to complete, sign and return within 14 days of receipt. The Foster Carer(s) is/are to note whether they agree or partially agree and can provide comments which are to be formally recorded on their file.

Where the outcomes and decisions section has not been returned within this timescales the Reviewing Officer is to assume that the Foster Carers are in agreement with its contents and will inform the Supervising Social Worker, within five working days.

The review must then be authorised in CareFirst by the Reviewing Officer.


6. Reviews Presented to Fostering Panel

Fostering Panel must always consider the first review after the Foster Carer's approval. This should be timetabled within 4-6 weeks of the review having taken place. The Fostering Panel Advisor will decide in advance whether there is sufficient information within the review paperwork for presentation at Fostering Panel. If further information is required this will be discussed with the Team Manager and Reviewing Officer who will be responsible for ensuring it is completed.

Reviews may need to be presented to the Fostering Panel on other occasions including:

Once the Fostering Panel has considered the review and made their recommendation, the Agency Decision Maker must consider the recommendation in accordance with the procedure for Agency Decision Making (See Fostering Panel Procedure).

Upon consideration of all the available information, the Agency Decision Maker is to make a decision as to whether the applicants are to remain approved Foster Carers. Where the Agency Decision Maker accepts the Fostering Panel recommendation, the Fostering Panel Administrator is to send the Foster Carer a letter outlining the terms of approval. The letter is to also contain a new Foster Carers Agreement which must be signed and returned by the Foster Carers.

Where the Agency Decision Maker does not intend to accept the Fostering Panel's recommendation, the Agency Decision Maker may wish to discuss this with another senior person in the Fostering Agency (who is not a Fostering Panel member). The outcome of the discussion is to be reported to the Team Manager who will instruct the Supervising Social Worker to record on the appropriate case record.

If after consideration of the Fostering Panel's recommendations, the Agency Decision Maker does not approve the recommendation, the applicants must be notified in writing within five working days of receipt of the Fostering Panel minutes. This is referred to as the 'Qualifying Determination'.

The letter is to include an explanation of reasons, a copy of the recommendations of the Fostering Panel, including its reasons if different, and must explain the options open to the Foster Carers within 28 days of receiving the letter. Information and a leaflet about the Independent Reviewing Mechanism must also be enclosed.


7. Representations/Review Procedure

7.1 Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer’s Approval

Where, as a result of a review, 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 decision and he or she must 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 the Assessment and Approvals Procedure, Representations Procedure. Notification/representations/ will need to be received by the Agency Decision Maker within 28 days of the date of the notice of the decision being sent to them. The matter will be referred to the fostering panel, and the Panel Administrator will then notify the foster carer within 7 working days of the date when the Panel will reconsider the matter.

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.

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

If written representations are received within the period, the matter must be referred to the Fostering Panel for further consideration. Foster carers wishing to make representations in person to the Panel may be accompanied by a friend or supporter. Where a foster carer wishes to make representations in person, the Panel Chair may consider the Panel meeting as a smaller quorate sub-group.

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 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 for inclusion of the carer's name on the Children's Barred List.

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

7.2.1 Where the Foster Carer is in Agreement

Where, as a result of a review, the it is proposed to revise the terms of the foster carer’s approval, a statement must be sent to the foster carer setting out whether it is considered that the foster carer or members of their household (including any children placed there) may have additional support needs as a result of the proposed revision and, if so, how those needs will be met, and request the foster carer’s agreement in writing to the proposed revision of terms.

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

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.

Foster carers must not be pressured to accept changes to their terms of approval.

7.2.2 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 7.1, Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer’s Approval above will apply.


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 Recruitment, Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure. 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