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5.2.7 Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers

AMENDMENT

In May 2018 this chapter was extensively revised and should be re-read in full.


Contents

  1. Frequency
  2. Foster Carer Contribution to the Review
  3. Review Meeting
  4. Presentation of the Review Report
  5. After the 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.

The first review will be presented to the Fostering Panel, as will the review at the end of the foster carer’s third year of approval. After that, the review will go to Panel every three years, or where the carer is progressing to the next Skills Level.

In intervening years, the reviews are considered by the Fostering Service Manager, with the exception of Foster Carers at Skills Level 6 who are reviewed annually by the Panel in recognition of the more complex tasks they are asked to undertake.

Reviews will take place more frequently in the event of a significant change in the personal circumstances of a foster carer and, for example, where there are concerns about the care provided by the foster carer arising through a complaint or allegation. Such reviews arising will be considered by the Panel.

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


2. Foster Carer Contribution to the Review

The foster carer will contribute fully to the review report, including writing part of it themselves. Prior to the review, the supervising social worker will send to the foster carer a copy of the draft review report to enable them to prepare for the review process.

The supervising social worker will seek the views of all members of the foster carer's household as well as the written comments and opinions of all social workers and Independent Reviewing Officers who have had a child placed since the last formal review.

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 involving the child's social worker as appropriate.


3. Review Meeting

The review report will be informed by a meeting held between the supervising social worker and the foster carer at the foster home. At the review meeting, the agenda as set out in the Foster Carer Review Form will include an appraisal of the foster carer's progress and performance, their training and development needs, 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.

The Review Form will be completed and any recommendations discussed with the foster carer and recorded. The foster carer should have the opportunity to put their views on the recommendations in writing to be presented to the Fostering Panel or the Service Manager when the Review Form is considered.


4. Presentation of the Review Report

A report must be presented to the Fostering Panel on the foster carer's first review for a recommendation and thereafter may be presented to the fostering panel or the Service Manager (see Section 1, Frequency). This may include where significant changes to the foster carer's approval or the termination of the foster carer's approval are recommended or where any circumstances exist which in the opinion of the Agency Decision Maker require consideration by the Fostering Panel. This may include the situation where an updating Disclosure and Barring Service check reveals a new concern about the foster carer or a member of the household.

When not presented to the fostering panel, the report will be presented to the Service Manager for a decision as to whether the foster carer remains suitable to foster and whether the terms of approval remain suitable. Where it has been presented to the fostering panel, the Agency Decision Maker will take into account the panel’s recommendation.

The supervising social worker will present the review findings and recommendations to the Fostering Panel or Service Manager in a written report which incorporates the views of the child or children placed, the written views of the foster carer and members of their household, along with any report provided by a children’s social worker or IRO, particularly where concerns have been expressed about a placement with the foster carer. Any recommendations for change in the foster carer's approval must be highlighted in the report.

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 for a different 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 give up fostering, see Section 8, Resignation by Foster Carers.


5. After the Review

The foster carer will be informed in writing by the supervising social worker 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.


6. Representations/Review Procedure

6.1 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.

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.

The foster carers 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 (see Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure).

Notification/representations must be received by the Panel Administrator within 28 days of the date of the notice of the decision being sent to them. 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 they are 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 28 day 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 configuring the Panel meeting as a smaller (but still 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 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.

In all cases, foster carers should be advised of their right to access the independent fostering advice and mediation service.

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

6.2.1 Where the Foster Carer is in Agreement

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

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

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 will apply.

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.


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 carer’s GP. In the event of any serious concerns about the foster carer’s health, a review of the terms of their approval should be carried out immediately.


8. Resignation by Foster Carers

It is very important that the supervising social worker is alert to any dissatisfaction that might cause the carer to consider resigning and try to address any concerns.

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. 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 Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.

Where a foster carer resigns in the wake of allegations, it remains important for the Agency Decision Maker, in consultation with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), to consider 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.

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