3.11.14 Policy for the Movement of Registered Foster Carers Between Agencies
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This policy refers to the movement of registered foster carers between fostering agencies where carers are Leeds City Council (LCC) foster carers or are planning on transferring to LCC or where a Leeds young person is currently in placement and expected to remain in the placement following the transfer of the carer's between Independent Fostering Agencies (IFAs).
LCC Fostering Services acknowledges the right of foster carers to move between approved fostering agencies. However the welfare of a child in any placement must be paramount.
Fostering Network - Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol 2015 - This protocol has been developed by The Fostering Network and the joint forum of Independent Fostering Providers and is issued with the support of ADCS. It takes account of legislative changes which came into force on 1 July 2013 and recommends the good practice guidelines to be followed when an approved foster carer wishes to transfer from one fostering service to another. It is not intended to cover block transfers of carers from one fostering service to another (e.g. following the award of a service contract to a different service).
- Policy Aims
- Policy Principles
- Sharing of Information
- Payments involving Transfers between Independent Fostering Services
- To ensure continuity of care for Leeds children in placement during any transfer of foster carers between fostering services;
- To minimise the length of time taken in the transfer process;
- To provide a framework for the negotiation of the financial implications of the transfer between services;
- To ensure that foster carers are not pressurised into changing their fostering service.
The recruitment of the foster carer's must be confirmed to be within the guidance of the Fostering Network - Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol 2015. Leeds City Council (LCC) respect that:
- Foster carers must not be approached to explore the possibility of their application for a legal order in respect of a child which would mean that they no longer foster that child (e.g. Child Arrangements Order, Special Guardianship, Adoption) without the knowledge of the carers fostering service;
- Foster carers must not be required to change fostering service in order to secure agreement to a plan for a child.
3.1 Where there is no child in placement
The foster carer should generally inform their current fostering service in writing that they are considering a move to another fostering service.
The recruiting fostering service may begin an assessment once this has been received by the current service. As a matter of good practice, the new service should ensure that the current fostering agency has received this notification.
Once the assessment has been completed and the recruiting service informs the foster carer that they intend to approve them as a foster carer, the foster carer should give written notice of resignation to their current service.
The fostering regulations state that an approval will be terminated 28 days from a written notice of resignation being received from a foster carer (The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011, Reg 28 (13); The Fostering Services (Wales) Regulations 2003 Reg. 29(11)).
The foster carer must be approved by the fostering service to which they are transferring with effect from the date that their previous approval ends.
The fostering panel of the new service must make a recommendation regarding their approval whilst they are still approved by their original fostering service.
Where the registration or deregistration of the foster carer is to be considered by the LCC fostering panel this must take place wherever possible within the last seven days of the 28 day notice period the foster carer served to their current agency to meet National Minimum Standards Fostering.
3.2 Procedure where a foster child is in placement
Where there is a child/ren in placement, foster carers must give written notice of their intention to consider moving to another agency both to the current service and to LCC Placement Service and any other placing authority where different.Upon receipt of the written notice the placement service must inform the child's IRO of the intended change in placement provision.
Within 28 days of the written notice, the placement service should convene a meeting chaired by a placement service manager to include:
- The child/children's social worker(s);
- The current fostering service (manager and/or supervising social worker);
- The recruiting fostering service (manager and/or supervising social worker);
- The foster carer/s;
- Contract officer;
- Any other local authority representatives relating to other children placed;
- Any other key professional deemed appropriate to the meeting and agreed by the chair.
Should LCC not convene the meeting for a child placed, the child's social worker, contract officer and commissioning manager must attend the other local authorities meeting.
The meeting will consider the following:
- Transfer of Carers: Meeting Minutes form;
- Any decisions made during the child's latest case review, particularly in respect of whether it is in their best interests to continue in their current placement and how their Care Plan will continue to be followed;
- How the move of the foster carer to another fostering agency may affect each child in placement;
- The particular support needs of the child and the foster carer and how they will be provided by the new fostering agency;
- The circumstances in which the recruiting agency may use any other placement vacancy once the transfer has been completed;
- The arrangements for approval by the recruiting agency and termination of the foster carer's approval by the current agency. The arrangements should be coordinated to ensure continuity of approval, and that transfer is made on a mutually agreed date;
- Parallel arrangements for timing a transfer of responsibility for the payment of fees and allowances to the foster carer. (Section 5, Payments involving Transfers between Independent Fostering Services);
- The views of the child, parent and any other interested parties. (These views should be sought and represented by the child/children's social worker).
Where the placement is not to continue, the arrangements to move the child/children to an alternative placement, including a time frame for such a move. The move should be completed within three months unless there are exceptional circumstances why this cannot be achieved. In these circumstances all parties should agree a revised timetable.A timetable for the approval of the foster carer by the recruiting service. The expectations are that assessment and training will take place and that they will be completed within two to four months of the meeting taking place and not more than eight months of receipt of their application by the recruiting agency. NMS 14.4 (England only).
When a foster carer seeks to move to a new provider, the new provider seeks information from the previous provider about the prospective foster carer, and the previous provider complies with such a request within one month of receipt of the written request. (NMS 26.9).
In the interest of safeguarding the welfare of children in placement, the onus will be on the current service to prepare a comprehensive, accurate reference and on the recruiting service to undertake a comprehensive re-assessment.
The recruiting service must request a reference from the current service. On receipt of that request, the current service will provide the recruiting service with a comprehensive written reference within 28 days. The foster carer must be given a copy of this reference by the current service, unless there are reasons relating to the safeguarding of children which prevent this.
The reference should include the areas in the guidance within the Fostering Network - Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol 2015.
The current service should keep the recruiting service updated, in writing, of any significant developments between the issue of the reference and the foster carer's approval by the recruiting service.An assessment by the recruiting service should be postponed if the foster carer is subject to a current investigation of allegations, or if there is an investigation relating to significant concerns about their practice, until the outcome of the process is known.
5.1 Payments involving transfers between independent fostering services
In the case of a transfer of a foster carer from one independent fostering service to another, the charge to LCC for continuing placements will not be any higher than the charges levied by the original service. However, such charges will be subject to the recruiting service's agreed annual, inflation-linked review.
The recruiting service should provide a service at an equivalent level to the previous service.
5.2 Payments involving transfers between LCC foster carers and independent fostering services
Where a foster carer transfers from LCC fostering services to an independent fostering service, the placement service must, if it is in the best interests of the child for the placement to continue, negotiate with the recruiting fostering service regarding an appropriate level of fee. These need to be agreed at the meeting held within 28 days of notice to transfer being received.
The fee must cover the allowance for the child at a rate which ensures their needs will be adequately met and a fee to the foster carer, not less than they were receiving previously.In addition, the agency management fee should be negotiated. If the recruiting service provider has been accepted by LCC or as part of any, regional or other grouping for the provision of fostering services, the contracted rate should apply. This may take place following the meeting held within 28 days of notice to transfer being received.
5.3 Payments to foster carers
Where it is agreed that a child's placement will continue with a foster carer, the recruiting service should, as a minimum, continue to pay the foster carer their current rates of allowances and fees in relation to that placement. These rates should continue to apply for the duration of the placement, subject to any annual agreed increases and movement through the age bands. These need to be agreed at the meeting held within 28 days of notice to transfer being received.Foster carers transferring to LCC fostering services from an IFA will continue to receive, as a minimum their current rates of allowances and fees in relation to that placement. Such carer's would need to be matched in skill levels to the payment for skills system LCC currently use.