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4.3.5 Fostering Panel Procedure

Please see relevant section of Forms Library to access the required template.


Contents

  1. Membership of the Fostering Panel
  2. Initial Approval of Foster Carers
  3. Applications which are Approved
  4. Applications which are not Approved
  5. Applications which are Approved following Representations
  6. Applications which are not Approved following Representations
  7. Foster Carers Reviews
  8. Review Outcomes


1. Membership of the Fostering Panel

Caption: Membership of the Fostering Panel
   
1.

Members of the Fostering Panel must be drawn from a Central List of persons with the appropriate qualifications and/or experience, including one or more social workers who have at least three years’ relevant post-qualifying experience.

Under Standard 14 of the Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011, there is no requirement for fixed panel membership or maximum number of members, tenure of office, or to have elected members of the local authority on the panel. However, it is suggested in the guidance that it may be desirable to have a core membership, which may comprise of:

  • A child care social worker employed by East Riding of Yorkshire Council;
  • A fostering social worker employed by East Riding of Yorkshire Council;
  • A foster carer independent of East Riding of Yorkshire Council;
  • A person with expertise in child health;
  • A person with expertise in education;
  • A fourth person who is independent of East Riding of Yorkshire. If possible a person will be appointed who has past experience as a user of fostering services.
2. The Chair of the Fostering Panel must be independent of East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Two Vice Chairs may be appointed and they do not have to be independent members;
3. The Chair of the Fostering Panel will be appointed by the Head of Children's Social Care. The Panel Chair will appoint members of the Central List;
4.

Any appointment to serve on the Central List is subject to:

  • A satisfactory check with the Disclosure and Barring Service;
  • Agreement to maintain confidentiality and security concerning fostering panel business and papers;
  • Acceptance of the terms of reference and rules of business of the fostering panel, as outlined in this procedure;
  • Agreement to undertake at least one day of training per annum in respect of the role and responsibilities of the fostering panel and fostering panel members.

On appointment, members must be provided with written information of their performance objectives, including their participation in induction and other training, and safeguarding the confidentiality of records and information submitted to panel. They should sign their written agreement to achieving these objectives.

Members of the Central List should be able to observe a meeting of the Fostering Panel before becoming members. Members should complete induction training within 10 weeks of joining the Central List, have access to appropriate training and skills development and have the opportunity to attend joint training with fostering staff at least annually.

There must be a process for review of members performance (including of the Panel Chair by the Agency Decision Maker) and for performance management of members and where necessary the termination of the appointment;

5.

An appointment to serve on the Central List can be terminated by:

  • The member by giving one month's notice in writing of his/her resignation;
  • East Riding of Yorkshire Council at any time, by giving the member one month’s notice in writing that he/she is deemed unsuitable or unable to continue as a member of the Central List. The member should be given reasons for the decision to end their inclusion on the Central List of members.

Functions of the Fostering Panel

1.

The Fostering Panel will undertake the following business:

  • Recommendations regarding the approval of foster carers, and their terms of approval;
  • Consideration of representations from applicants whose approval has not been recommended, or from foster carers when termination of their approval has been recommended, or a change in their terms of approval has been made following a review;
  • Reconsideration of approval and its terms after:
    • The carer's first annual review;
    • A review held as a result of a significant change in the carer's circumstances;
    • A review following a child protection allegation against the carer;
    • A review held when the outcome of updating checks has been unsatisfactory;
    • A review where the outcome is a recommendation to terminate approval;
    • Any other review referred to it by the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (Fostering) or by the Fostering Team Manager.
  • Receipt of information about all foster carer reviews held and the outcomes; and monitoring the effectiveness of the procedures to review foster carers;
  • Receipt of information about foster placement disruptions;
  • Quality-assure the assessment process, ensuring consistency of approach, thoroughness and rigour, and fairness to all applicants;
  • Monitor the range and type of placements in comparison with the needs of children;
  • Provide advice and recommendations on any matter referred to it by the Fostering Team Manager;
  • Make representations or recommendations on any aspect of the fostering service to senior managers.
The Fostering Panel should also ensure that the training programme for foster carers and volunteers is reviewed and updated annually.

Meetings of the Fostering Panel and Conduct of Business

1.

The Fostering Panel will meet usually at least monthly, and at other times when necessary. The fostering panel must be quorate to conduct business. At least 5 members of the panel must be present for the panel to be quorate. These panel members must include:

  • The Chair or Vice Chair (if the meeting is conducted by a vice chair who is not independent, there must be at least one other member of the panel who is independent);
  • At least one of the social workers employed by East Riding of Yorkshire Council;
  • Three other members.
2.

The Fostering Panel will have access to specialist advice and additional information as follows:

  1. The Fostering Team Manager will attend meetings of the Fostering Panel as the professional adviser, and provide a quarterly written report for the fostering panel containing management information relating to the fostering service. In addition a monthly verbal progress report will be given to the panel;
  2. The Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (Fostering) will also attend meetings of the Fostering Panel in an advisory capacity regarding foster carer's reviews;
  3. A Medical Practitioner with suitable expertise in child health will be appointed by the Hull and East Riding NHS Trust to provide advice to the Fostering Panel. The Medical Adviser will not normally attend Fostering Panel meetings but will provide written advice to the panel on all applications, and other cases when relevant;
  4. A solicitor from legal services will be asked to attend the Fostering Panel to provide legal advice at the discretion of the Panel Chair;
  5. Regular or occasional reports will be provided to the Fostering Panel on specific aspect of the fostering service, as follows:
    • Recruitment matters, including specific publicity initiatives or recruitment campaigns;
    • The educational needs of children in foster care and how they are being met;
    • The health needs of children in foster care and how they are being met;
    • Any other matter as requested by the Fostering Panel.
3. Individuals with a bona fide learning need may be permitted, at the discretion of the panel chair, to attend a Fostering Panel meeting as an observer. However no more than two observers should be present at any particular meeting, and each observer must sign a confidentiality undertaking. Whenever practicable the agreement of those foster carers whose cases are under discussion will be sought;
4. The Agenda and related papers will be circulated to panel members at least 5 working days in advance of a meeting of the fostering panel. All panel papers must be returned to the Panel Administrator at the end of the meeting;
5. All prospective foster carers will be given the opportunity to attend, with a supporter, and address the panel meeting at which their application is being considered. All carers will be entitled to attend and address a panel meeting at which the termination of their approval or a change in their terms of approval is being considered. They may provide, verbally, any information in support of their application, or continuing approval, which they consider appropriate. Panel members may seek clarification from them with regard to any aspect of their application or circumstances relevant to fostering. Applicants and carers will not remain present whilst fostering panel members discuss their recommendation;
6. Minutes of each Fostering Panel Meeting will be taken by the Fostering Panel Administrator. Reasons will be record for each decision made by the panel. Copies of the minutes will be circulated to all fostering panel members at least 7 working days prior to the next meeting of the Fostering Panel. A full copy of the minutes will also be sent to the Head of Children's Social Care and the Fostering Team Manager. A copy of the minute relating to the approval or review of approval of each carer will be sent to the carer's fostering social worker and retained on the foster carer's file;
7

The Fostering Panel Chair will endeavour to encourage fostering panel members to reach consensus recommendations. If after a full discussion, all members of the panel are not in agreement, the recommendation will reflect the view of the majority of members. Where the views of panel members are evenly divided the chair will not hold a casting vote and a positive recommendation will not be made. Any dissent from a recommendation made by the majority will be noted in the minutes with the reservations.

The panel must make its recommendations within eight months of the receipt of the fostering application.


2. Initial Approval of Foster Carers

Caption: Initial Approval of Foster Carers
   
1.

Following completion of the assessment, the applicant's social worker must liaise with the Panel Administrator to book a fostering panel date. 12 copies of the following documents must be forwarded to the Panel Administrator at least 10 working days before the Fostering Panel Meeting:

  • CoramBAAF Form F/Form C parts I & II;
  • Personal Referee questionnaire x 2;
  • Personal Referee Home Visit report x 2
  • Family member reference questionnaire;
  • Family member Home Visit Report;
  • Medical report CoramBAAF AH for each applicant;
  • Medical Adviser's comments x 2;
  • Risk assessment report for applicant(s) and the home;
  • Pet risk assessment report for each pet in the household;
  • Basic skills matrix.
Social workers must ensure that all of the above information is submitted for consideration by the fostering panel and that section 11c -Agency Enquiries - of CoramBAAF Form F/Form C part I has been fully completed, including a note of the outcome of all checks. Social workers should be aware that if any of this information is missing the Fostering Panel will not be able to make a decision and the case is likely to be deferred;
2. On receipt of the above information the Panel Administrator will confirm the time and date of the Fostering Panel appointment, and will send an invitation to the social worker and the applicant(s) to attend;
3. The social worker will advise the applicant(s) of the time and date of the panel meeting. The social worker should ensure the applicant(s) have information about the function of the panel and advise them of their right to attend. All applicants should be encouraged to attend the Fostering Panel meeting, and the social worker should facilitate attendance. The children of applicants living in the home may accompany their parents to the Fostering Panel, if of sufficient age and understanding;
4. The Panel Administrator will arrange for panel members to receive all the documents listed above, at least 5 working days before the Fostering Panel Meeting. All panel members must ensure the safe keeping and confidentiality of all Fostering Panel documents whilst in their possession. They must arrange for the return of all documents to the Panel Administrator, if they are unable to attend the Fostering Panel Meeting;
5. The applicant(s)'s social worker will attend the fostering panel to present the application. The Fostering Panel will first discuss the case, and the Panel Chair will compile a list of matters which panel members consider need to be addressed by the applicant(s)' social worker, and the applicant(s). The applicant(s)'s social worker will then be invited to join the meeting, and the Panel Chair will then ask the social worker to respond to the matters raised. The applicant(s) will then be invited to join the meeting, and the Panel Chair will ask the applicant(s) to respond to the matters raised. The applicant(s) and the social worker will then be asked to leave the meeting. The Fostering Panel will then consider the responses of the social worker and the applicant(s) to the matters raised before finally making their recommendations. The outcome can be that the application is approved, is not approved, or the matter deferred to a subsequent panel if panel members consider that there is a need for more information before making a recommendation. The applicant(s) and their social worker will be invited to rejoin the meeting, and will be advised by the Panel Chair of the recommendations of the fostering panel. The Panel chair will record the recommendations;
6. Following the meeting, the Panel Administrator will arrange for a copy of the minutes of the meeting and the record or recommendations to be given to the agency decision maker (Fostering), who will make the final decision taking account of the recommendations of the fostering panel, and complete the decision record, which will then be returned to the Panel Administrator.


3. Applications which are Approved

Caption: Applications which are Approved
   
1. The Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter (Qualifying Determination), from the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering), to be sent to the applicants notifying them of the outcome of their application, including the terms of their approval such as whether for a specific child(ren), or numbers of children, their age and gender, etc.


4. Applications which are not Approved

Caption: Applications which are not Approved
   
1.

The Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter (Qualifying Determination), from the fostering service decision maker, to be sent to the applicant(s) notifying them of:

  • That it is proposed not to approve the application;
  • The reasons for this decision;
  • Their right to make representations within 28 days;
  • Their right to apply to the Secretary of State to request a review of the decision through the Independent Review Mechanism.
2. A copy of the fostering panel's recommendations must accompany the letter;
3. If no representations or request for a review are received from the applicant(s) within the 28-day period, the Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter, from the agency decision maker, to be sent to the applicants notifying them that their application has not been approved and the reason for the decision;
4. If written representations are received from the applicant(s) within the 28-day period, the Panel Administrator will arrange for the case to be referred back to the fostering panel as soon as possible. The Panel Administrator will arrange for panel members to receive copies of all the original documents submitted to the fostering panel as well as a copy of the written representations made by the applicants. The Panel Administrator will invite the applicant(s)'s social worker and the applicant(s) to attend the Fostering Panel meeting;
5. The procedures outlined in Steps 5 and 6 above will then be followed.


5. Applications which are Approved following Representations

Caption: Applications which are Approved following Representations
   
1. The Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter from the agency decision maker (fostering) to be sent to the applicants notifying them of the outcome of their application, including the terms of their approval such as whether for a specific child(ren), or numbers of children, their age and gender, etc.


6. Applications which are not Approved following Representations

Caption: Applications which are not Approved following Representations
   
1. The Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter (Qualifying Determination) from the agency decision maker (fostering) to be sent to the applicants notifying them that their application has not been approved and the reason for the decision;
2. If the applicant decides to refer the matter to an Independent Review, the relevant Panel reports, any new information obtained since the Panel meeting, a record of the decision made and reasons, a copy of the written notification of the decision and a copy of the Panel minute, if different, will be sent to the Independent Review within 10 working days of their written request;
3. The procedure for the Independent Review is carried out by Coram Children’s Legal Centre on behalf of the Department for Education. The applicant and two representatives of the fostering agency will be invited to attend the Independent Review;
4. After considering the representations, the Independent Review may make a recommendation, which the Agency Decision Maker will consider before a final decision is made;
5. Written notice of the final decision, together with reasons, must be sent to the applicant within 7 working days of the receipt of the Independent Review recommendation.


7. Foster Carers Reviews

Caption: Foster Carers Reviews
   
1. The social worker for the foster carer will arrange for the carer's first annual review, or other review to be completed (see Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure);
2. Following the carer's first annual review the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (Fostering) will forward a copy of the review record to the Panel Administrator within 3 weeks of the review meeting;
3. Following all other reviews the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (Fostering) will consider, in consultation with the Fostering Team Manager, whether the review should be referred to the fostering panel. If the review meets the criteria for referral, the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (Fostering) will advise the social worker and the Panel Administrator that the review will be referred to the Fostering Panel, and will forward a copy of the completed relevant form to the Panel Administrator within 3 weeks of the review meeting;
4.

Following the a carer's first annual review, or on being advised that the review is to be referred to the Fostering Panel, the social worker will forward copies of the following documents to the Panel Administrator within 3 weeks of the review meeting;

5.

1st review

  • All available consultation documents;
  • Updated risk assessment report on carers, the home and pets;
  • The fostering social worker's review report.
6.

All other reviews -all documents required for 1st review, plus:

  • When checks have been updated in the previous 6 months:
    • Personal Referee questionnaire x 2;
    • Personal Referee Home Visit report x 2;
    • Medical report CoramBAAF AH for each applicant;
    • Medical Advisors comments x 2;
    • Agency checks updating summary sheet.
  • When a change in banding level has been recommended the relevant skills matrix;
  • Fostering social worker's report on special circumstances (where appropriate).
7. On receipt of the above information the Panel Administrator will confirm the time and date of the fostering panel appointment, and will send an invitation to the carer's social worker to attend;
8. The social worker will advise the applicant(s) of the time and date of the panel meeting. They should discuss with the carer(s) whether they should attend (see above), and facilitate the carer's attendance when appropriate;
9. The Panel Administrator will arrange for panel members to receive the documents listed above;
10. The carer's fostering social worker will attend the fostering panel in order to provide further information, or respond to any query from the Fostering Panel. The Fostering Panel will make recommendations following the procedure outlined in step 5 within Section 2 above, except that for "applicant" substitute "carer";
11. After the meeting, the procedure outlined in step 6 within Section 2 above will be followed.


8. Review Outcomes

Caption: Review Outcomes
   
1.

No change in approval

The Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter (Qualifying Determination), from the agency decision maker (fostering) to be sent to the carer(s) notifying them that s/he/they and her/his their household continues to be suitable, and that the terms of approval continue to be appropriate;

2.

Termination of/changes in approval

The Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter, from the fostering service decision maker, to be sent to the carer(s) notifying her/him/them:

  • That it is proposed to terminate or revise the terms of approval;
  • Of the reasons for this decision;
  • Of their right to make representations within 28 days or alternatively their right to apply to the Secretary of State to request a review of the decision by the Independent Review Mechanism.

If no representations or request for a review are received from the carer(s) within the 28 day period, the Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter from the Agency Decision Maker (fostering) to be sent to the carer(s) notifying her/him/them:

  1. That approval is terminated from a specified date, and of the reasons for the decision.  

    or

  2. Of the revised terms of the approval and reasons for the revision.

If written representations are received from the carer(s) within the 28-day period, the Panel Administrator will arrange for the case to be referred back to the fostering panel as soon as possible. The Panel Administrator will arrange for panel members to receive copies of all the original documents submitted to the fostering panel as well as a copy of the written representations made by the carer(s). The Panel Administrator will invite the carer's social worker and the carer(s) to attend the Fostering Panel Meeting.

The carer's fostering social worker will attend the Fostering Panel in order to provide further information, or respond to any query from the Fostering Panel. The Fostering Panel will make recommendations following the procedure outlined in step 5 above, except that for "applicant" substitute "carer".

After the meeting, the procedure outlined in step 6 above will be followed;

3.

No change in approval following representations

The Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter, from the fostering service decision maker, to be sent to the carer(s) notifying them that s/he/they and her/his their household continues to be suitable, and that the terms of approval continue to be appropriate;

4.

Termination of / changes in approval following representations

The Panel Administrator will arrange for a letter, from the fostering service decision maker, to be sent to the carer(s) notifying her/him/them:

  1. That approval is terminated from a specified date, and of the reasons for the termination

    or

  2. Of the revised terms of the approval and reasons for the revision.

If the foster carer decides to refer the matter to an Independent Review, the relevant Panel reports, any new information obtained since the Panel meeting, a record of the decision made and reasons, a copy of the written notification of the decision and a copy of the Panel minute, if different, will be sent to the Independent Review within 10 working days of their written request.

The procedure for the Independent Review is carried out by Coram Children’s Legal Centre on behalf of the Department for Education. The applicant and two representatives of the fostering agency will be invited to attend the Independent Review.

After considering the representations, the Independent Review may make a recommendation, which the Agency Decision Maker will consider before a final decision is made.

Written notice of the final decision, together with reasons, must be sent to the applicant within 7 working days of the receipt of the Independent Review recommendation. The carer's social worker must ensure that the social worker(s) for the child(ren) placed, the area local authority (if the carer resides outside of East Riding of Yorkshire) and any other Local Authority using the foster home are informed of any changes in the carer's approval.

End