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4.3.10 Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers

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AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated throughout  in March 2014 in line with the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013, which came into force on 1 July 2013. Information on the resignation of Foster Carers was added into Section 1.1, Termination of Approval of Foster Carers.


Contents

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1. Review of Foster Carers
  1.1 Termination of Approval of Foster Carers
2. Procedures for Reviews
3. Annual Reviews
4. Reviews in Special Circumstances
5. Review Outcomes
6. Termination of Approval


1. Review of Foster Carers

Regulation 29 requires that a review is conducted with each carer at least once a year in order that the local authority can satisfy itself that the carer continues to be suitable to act as a foster carer and that the household continues to be suitable. This is a minimum requirement, and if necessary, a review can be held at any time.

A review must always be held promptly following a Section 47 Enquiry (Children Act, 1989) concerning allegations against the foster carer made by a child, parent or other person. The outcome of this review should be considered by the Fostering Panel ideally within six weeks of the conclusion of the investigation (see also the East Riding Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures and Guidance, Allegations Against Persons who Work With Children Policy and Procedure).

A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and medical check will be completed every third year following approval, and a reappraisal of the statutory and personal references will also be undertaken. The timing of these updating checks may not coincide with the timing of the annual review. However, should any of these checks prove unsatisfactory or give rise to concerns, a review should be held promptly.

A review should also be held:

  1. Following a significant change in the carer's circumstances, such as:
    • A change of address;
    • Death of a spouse;
    • Remarriage;
    • Change in health;
    • Additional family members joining the household.
  2. If an immediate change in the terms of approval of the carer is needed or requested by the carer.

The next annual review will be due 12 months after the date of any review held in special circumstances.

The review should aim to:

  • Consider all placements made with the carer since the last review, and identify strengths and weaknesses in practice;
  • Consider whether any changes are required to the carer's terms of approval;
  • Make recommendations in respect of the carer's skill matrix banding;
  • Identify the carers training and development needs;
  • Provide the carer with an opportunity to give feedback on any aspect of the fostering service.

Prior to the review, the following people should be consulted:

  • The foster carer and any other members of the household, including the carer's own child(ren);
  • The social worker for any child in placement, in order to establish how well the carer is meeting his/her needs, and to obtain any feedback on the placement provided by the child's parents;
  • Any professional who has had significant involvement with the foster carer.
The views of any child in placement should also be sought via the "viewpoint" consultation process, exit interview, or by other appropriate means.

The review will be chaired by the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (Fostering) - or an equivalent officer independent of the Fostering Service. The carer's fostering social worker will attend and provide a report to the review. The carer must be supported to play a full part in the review. Usually the review would be held at the carer's own address, but when the review is not held in the carer's own home, the venue must be comfortable, accessible and convenient for the carers. Consideration must be given, in particular, to the provision of disabled access. Translation and interpreting facilities must also be made available when appropriate. Where a couple are approved as carers, both partners should attend the review. Consideration should also be given to the attendance of the carer's own children living at home, at least for part of the review.

The first annual review, and reviews held in the following circumstances will always be referred to the Fostering Panel, and tabled for full discussion:

  • When there has been a significant change in the carer's circumstances;
  • When there has been a child protection allegation against the carer;
  • When the outcome of updating checks has been unsatisfactory or concerns have been raised;
  • When the outcome of a review is a recommendation to terminate approval. 

Any other review may be referred to the Fostering Panel and tabled for discussion if considered appropriate by the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (Fostering) or by the Fostering Team Manager.

In the case of all other reviews, the record of the review meeting will be submitted to the Fostering Panel but will not be tabled for a full discussion.

1.1 Termination of Approval of Foster Carers

When a foster carer ceases to foster, for whatever reason, his or her registration as a foster carer must be formally terminated. A foster carer who no longer wishes to act as a foster carer should give notice in writing to the Fostering Service. Approval is thereby automatically terminated with effect from 28 days from the date that the notice is received. 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.

Should no letter of resignation be received, although it is clear that the carer's intention is not to accept any further foster placement, s/he should be formally notified that their approval is to be terminated. Likewise, when contact has been lost with a carer for a significant period, and attempts to make contact with him or her have been unsuccessful, steps should be taken to terminate his or her approval.

A carer's approval will be terminated following a decision that the carer is no longer considered suitable to act as a foster carer and / or his household is no longer considered suitable. Following consideration of the review report, the Fostering Panel will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering), who will make the decision. The decision must be made within 7 working days of the Panel meeting and must be recorded, together with reasons.

Termination of approval will automatically apply on receipt by the Fostering Team of an enhanced disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service that indicates that an offence has been committed which disqualifies the person from caring for children.


2. Procedures for Reviews

The carer's fostering social worker is responsible for arranging a review when:

  1. S/he is advised by the Fostering Team clerk that the annual review is due; or
  2. S/he decides with the Fostering Team Manager that a review is necessary because of special circumstances (see key points 2 - 4).
The fostering social worker should arrange the date of the review with the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (Fostering) and the carer.


3. Annual Reviews

The fostering social worker must arrange for consultation documents to be sent out to the carer, the carer's children, and the social worker(s) for any child in placement with the carer within the previous 12 months. This should include any child placed by another local authority, at least 4 weeks prior to the review.

The fostering social worker should liaise with the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (Fostering) to ensure feedback from children placed with the carer is available through Viewpoint.

The fostering social worker should also consult with any other relevant person, asking them to provide written feedback where appropriate.

The fostering social worker will check whether DBS, medical, and other statutory checks and references have been updated since the last review. When updating checks have been carried out, the following paperwork should be made available for the review:

  • Updating summary sheet;
  • Personal referee questionnaires x 2;
  • Personal Referee Home Visit report x 2;
  • Medical report CoramBAAF AH for each carer;
  • Medical Adviser's comments x 2.

Disclosure and Barring Service checks should be updated every three years (unless the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service is used).

Prior to the review the fostering social worker must ensure that an up-to date risk assessment in respect of the carers, the home and any household pets is undertaken and a report completed.

The fostering social worker will complete a report for the review. The content of the report should be shared with the foster carer prior to the review.


4. Reviews in Special Circumstances

The preparation required for special reviews will be dependent on the circumstances in which the review has been called, and the time that has elapsed since the last review was held. Consultation documents, annual safety reports, and the fostering social worker's report may be resubmitted from the previous review if no significant updating is required.

The fostering social worker must also prepare a report on the special circumstances giving rise to the review, to include:

  • Reasons for the review being held and/or full details of any changes in the carer's circumstances;
  • Full details of any complaint, allegation or concern against the foster carer, and a summary of any investigation and the outcome;
  • Brief summary of the fostering social worker's re- assessment of the carer;
  • Fostering social worker's recommendations.

The fostering social worker must forward all documents referred to in steps 2-6 above, to the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (Fostering) at least 5 working days prior to the review.

The process outlined in the Fostering Panel Procedure should then be followed.

Reviews Tabled for Discussion at Fostering Panel

Following each review, 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 and advise the fostering social worker and the Fostering Team Manager accordingly. Where a decision is made to refer the review to the panel, a copy of the review record should be forwarded to the Panel Administrator, and all other documents returned to the social worker.

The process outlined in paragraph 15 of the "The Fostering Panel Procedure" should then be followed.

Reviews not Tabled for Discussion at the Fostering Panel

The Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (Fostering) will forward a copy of the review record to the Fostering Team Manager, and will attach a copy to his/her next monthly report to the Fostering Panel. All other documents should be returned to the social worker.


5. Review Outcomes

No Change to Foster Carer's Approval

The Fostering Team Manager will arrange for a letter from the Agency Decision Maker to be sent to the carer(s), within 5 working days of the decision, 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.

Changes to the Foster Carer's Approval are Proposed

The Fostering Team Manager will arrange for a letter from the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering) to be sent to the carer(s), within 5 working days of the decision, notifying her/him/them

  • That it is proposed to revise the terms of approval; and
  • Of the reasons for this decision.

Where, as a result of a review, 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 is in Agreement - 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.

Where the Foster Carer is not in Agreement - If they do not agree, the foster carers should be advised of their right to submit representations within 28 days to the Fostering Team Manager. In addition, as an alternative, they may exercise the right to apply to the Secretary of State to request a review of the decision by an Independent Review Panel under the Independent Review Mechanism. Any such application must be made in writing within 28 days of the decision and supported by reasons.

If no representations or request for a review are received from the carer(s) within the 28-day period, the Fostering Team Manager will arrange for a letter from the Agency Decision Maker, to be sent to the foster carer(s) notifying her/him/them 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 review must be referred to the Fostering Panel, and the Fostering Team Manager should send a copy of the representations to the Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer (Fostering) and Panel Administrator.

For further information, see Fostering Panel Procedure.

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 Independent Review is operated by Coram Children's Legal Centre on behalf of the Department for Education; the foster carer 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 foster carer 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 using the appropriate form.


6. Termination of Approval

On receipt of a letter from a foster carer notifying the service that they no longer wish to act as foster carers, the Fostering Team Manager will send a letter of acknowledgement confirming the date on which approval will be terminated.

If foster carers verbally notify the service that they no longer wish to foster, but fail to provide a letter of resignation, or in circumstances where contact has been lost with the carer, the Fostering Team Manager will arrange for a letter from the Agency Decision Maker, to be sent to the carer(s) notifying her/him/them that it is proposed to terminate approval and the reason (i.e. they have said, or the lack of contact implies, that they no longer wish to act as a foster carer).

In these circumstances, foster carers should be advised of their right to submit representations within 28 days to the Agency Decision Maker. In addition, as an alternative, they may exercise the right to apply to the Secretary of State to request a review of the decision by an Independent Review Panel, through the Independent Review Mechanism. Any such application must be made in writing within 28 days of the decision and supported by reasons.

If representations or a request for a review are received, the same procedure should be followed as when, Changes to the Foster Carer's Approval are Proposed.

If no representations or request for a review are received from the carer(s) within the 28-day period, the Fostering Team Manager will arrange for a letter from the Agency Decision Maker to be sent to the carer(s) notifying her/him/them that approval is terminated from a specified date, and of the reasons for the decision.

The Fostering Team Manager will attach a copy of the letter confirming the resignation of the carer to his/her next monthly report to the Fostering Panel.

In all other circumstances where termination of approval is appropriate, a review must be held, and the review must be tabled for discussion at the Fostering Panel.

Following consideration of the review report, the Fostering Panel will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering), who will make the decision. The decision must be made within 7 working days of the Panel meeting and must be recorded, together with reasons.

In these circumstances, if a decision is made to terminate the approval of the foster carers, they should be advised of their right to submit representations within 28 days to the Fostering Team Manager. In addition, as an alternative, they may exercise the right to apply to the Secretary of State to request a review of the decision by an Independent Review Pane through the Independent Review Mechanism why such application must be made in writing within 28 days of the decision and supported by reasons.

If representations or a request for a review are received, the same procedure should be followed as set out in Section 5, Changes to the Foster Carer's Approval are proposed.

End