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3.11.6 Exemptions and Extensions/Variations to Foster Carer Approval

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Please note that applications for exemption in relation to foster carers living in a different local authority area must be made to the manager of the fostering service for the local authority in whose area the foster carer lives.

OTHER RELEVANT CHAPTER

Fostering Service Statement of Purpose


Contents

  1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children
  2. Reasons why an Exemption may be Considered
  3. The Process for Exemptions
  4. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions
  5. Extension/Variation to the Foster Carer’s Terms of Approval


1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children

A person may not foster more than three children in each foster home except where all children are siblings.

A child may be placed with foster carers for up to 24 hours without affecting this limit. In all other circumstances, foster carers may only exceed this number if an exemption has been agreed by the Head of Service for Children Looked After.

Applications for an extension or Exemption must be made in advance on a SS45 form which must be completed in full and include the risk assessment.

Exemptions must be recorded on Mosaic. The supervising fostering officer is responsible for notifying the Placement Co-ordinator when the placement ends. The Placement Co-ordinator will then update Mosaic.

The Placement Co-ordinator will be responsible for maintaining and updating all information in respect of exemptions.


2. Reasons why an Exemption may be Considered

Applications will usually be made because of the following exceptional circumstances:

  1. The child concerned was previously placed with the foster carers and his or her placement elsewhere has disrupted;
  2. The foster carers have special skills to meet the child's needs which are not available elsewhere;
  3. The placement of the child over the limit is the most appropriate way of meeting the child's needs arising from disability, race, religion, language and/or culture;
  4. The placement is required to keep siblings together;
  5. To provide holiday cover for another foster carer.

Applications can only be made with the agreement of the foster carers concerned. When considering an exemption the following factors should be regarded

  1. The number, ages and circumstances of the children concerned;
  2. The arrangements proposed for the care and accommodation of the children concerned;
  3. The relationship between the foster carers and the children concerned;
  4. The period of time over which the placement is likely to last;
  5. The likely effect on the children concerned and any other children living in the household;
  6. The foster carers' capacity to provide sufficient care for all the children in the placement;
  7. The need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the fostered children / young people and any other children / young people who live in the foster home.

Applications for exemption in relation to foster carers living in a different local authority area must be made to the manager of the fostering service for the local authority in whose area the foster carer lives.

Exemptions can only be considered for a named child.


3. The Process for Exemptions

3.1 Planned Exemptions

The need for an exemption will be identified at the point when the duty fostering social worker is seeking to identify a suitable placement for a child or children.

Where a foster carer is identified as the most appropriate option to meet the child's needs, and this is agreed by the supervising social worker for the carers and the foster carer, the duty social worker should consult with the manager and if agreed prepare an application for an exemption.

The social worker(s) to any other child in the placement should also be consulted in order to seek their views on any impact (positive or negative) from a further placement commencing.

All applications for planned exemption for foster carers living in the local authority area must be made in writing, supported by reasons, to the Head of Service for Children Looked After for approval. The written application will be prepared by the fostering officer / duty social worker in conjunction with the relevant child's social worker on an Extension and Exemption form (which can be accessed via the 'Resources and Forms Library' button on the left of the screen. The request for an exemption must be endorsed by the team manager / duty team manager).

The decision whether or not to grant an exemption will be recorded in writing, together with reasons. Any exemption will be specific to a child or children and can be subject to conditions. The foster carer will be notified in writing of the decision.

Upon the granting of an exemption, a time limit will be specified and an exemption can only extend beyond that date if the Designated Manager authorises it.

The decision must be recorded.

The decision will be reported to the next available Fostering Panel for ratification.

3.2 Emergency Exemptions

A child can only be placed in a foster home above the usual limit for up to 24 hours without specific authority to exempt the foster home from the limit.

An application for exemption must be made to the Head of Service Children Looked After as soon as practicable thereafter and any such exemption needs to be presented to the next available Fostering Panel, as with planned exemptions.

An interim decision may be necessary on an emergency basis pending full consideration of the exemption.

Any emergency decisions to grant an exemption must be confirmed in writing and copies of the decision, together with the reasons, must be placed on the child's file and the foster carer's case record. A copy must also be sent to the foster carer.

The decision must be recorded.

Written notification of the exemption must be sent to:

  • The foster carer(s) within five working days of it being granted;
  • The supervising fostering officer for the foster carer file;
  • Fostering admin for presentation to the geographically relevant fostering panel;
  • A copy will also be retained in the appropriate folder on placements desk for monitoring purposes.


4. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions

The Fostering Panel will be responsible for the on-going monitoring of the exemption.

The Fostering Service is responsible for recording the ending the exemption when the exemption is no longer required.


5. Extension/Variation to the Foster Carer’s Terms of Approval

The placement must also be compatible with the foster carer’s terms of approval.

Where a foster placement is identified for a child and would be within the usual fostering limit but outside of the foster carer's terms of approval, an extension or variation to their approval is required.

When a child is to be placed outside a foster carer's approved age range or other aspect of their approved terms, Regulation 23 of the 2010 Care Planning Regulations requires amendment of a foster care's approval terms 'to be consistent with the placement' (Care Planning Regulations 23(2)) within six working days.

This means approval for such an extension must be sought from the Head of Service CLA (Agency decision maker for Fostering) within this six day period. The decision must be formally recorded on a decision sheet, noted on the electronic file, and reported to the next available fostering panel. Fostering panels will take on a monitoring and quality assurance role in relation to agency decisions made on this basis.

The same principles and processes apply to extensions as exemptions and all extensions must be reported to the Fostering Panel.

End