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3.11.9 Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all approved foster carers, including short break carers and Family and Friends Foster Carers.

The Foster Carer Review Form should be used (see Foster Carer Forms)

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Fostering Service Statement of Purpose

Safe Care Plan Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in December 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. Section 6.2, Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carer’s Approval and Section 8, Resignation by Foster Carers were updated.


Contents

  1. Frequency and Timing
  2. Consultation and Action before the Review
  3. Formal Review Meeting
  4. Presentation to the Fostering Panel
  5. After the Review
  6. Representations Procedure
  7. Updates on Checks
  8. Resignation by Foster Carers
  9. Retention of Foster Carer Records


1. Frequency and Timing

Formal reviews of foster carers will take place at least annually. Dates and the venue for review meetings will be agreed by the Supervising Fostering Officer in consultation with the foster carer.

The first annual review meeting will be reported to the Fostering Panel within 12 months of the original approval.

Reviews will take place more frequently and may be initiated by the Supervising Fostering Officer or foster carers in the event of a significant change in circumstances of a foster carer affecting the ability or capacity to foster, for example a change in the composition of the household - see Assessment of Foster Carers Procedure, a significant health issue, concerns about the standards of care provided by the foster carer, a complaint or allegation made about the carer resulting in a Section 47 Enquiry or investigation, concerns as a result of information from updated Disclosure Barring Service checks or a recommendation for a change of approval.

A review will also take place if there is a disruption to a long-term placement.

As well as formal reviews, there will be regular supervision, dialogue and feedback between the Supervising Fostering Officer and the foster carers - see Supervision of Foster Carers Procedure.

In the first year of approval the foster carers should complete the Initial Personal Professional Development Plan (PPDP) (see Prospective Foster Carers Report: Initial Personal Development Plan (PDP) Procedure) in conjunction with their supervising social worker.

Where a foster carer provides short term breaks for disabled children there is a separate PPDP.


2. Consultation and Action before the Review

Prior to the formal review meeting, the Supervising Fostering Officer will collate all information relevant to the foster carers' suitability to foster, including the number and type of placements in the last year, information from the Looked After Reviews of children placed, any extensions or exemptions that have been agreed in the previous year, supervision records, post placement reports and records of any complaints or allegations made against the foster carers or members of their household.

The views of the foster carers, all members of the household, any children placed since the last review, their parents (where appropriate) and their social workers, and any other professional whose views are relevant will be sought and taken into account at the review. This may include contacting a social worker from outside the authority if appropriate. Wherever possible these views should be reported to the review in writing.

See Foster Carer Review Forms for Social Workers, children and parents in the Foster Care Resources and Forms Library.

The foster carer and members of the family (including the foster carers' own children depending on their age and understanding) will be asked to complete their own review form for this purpose.

Any updates on checks will also be carried out - see Section 7, Updates on Checks.

The Supervising Fostering Officer will:

  • circulate CC12(c) to all social worker who currently have, or previously have had, a child in placement since the last review. This is usually done at the time the placement ends, or for existing placements, at the time of the review.
  • send CC12(b) to the carer(s)
  • send CC12(c) to the parent(s) where appropriate
  • send CC12(d) to fostered children aged 8+yrs
  • send CC12(e) to birth parents if appropriate
  • organise a review meeting with the carer
  • complete form CC12(a), including updating of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, the Health&Safety checklist, Safe Care Plan and Personal Development Plan if required. Reports should then be forwarded to the Team Manager (Fostering) with the carer's file and, if a change in registration status is recommended, to the fostering panel.


3. Formal Review Meeting

The formal review is usually chaired by the Fostering Team Manager who will view the carer's file before the meeting which will also be attended by the Supervising Fostering Officer, the foster carer and members of the foster family.

As well as considering the information collated in advance, the Supervising Fostering Officer will also consider the foster carer's Safe Care Policy, Fire Plan, training programme and any risk assessment in relation to the family pets as part of the review. A health and safety checklist will also be completed.

The review will consider all the available information and views and reach the following conclusions;

  • Whether the foster carer continues to be suitable to foster children;
  • Whether the terms of approval continue to be suitable;
  • What training and development needs the foster carer has;
  • How these needs will be met and who will be responsible;
  • What support needs the carer has, and how these will be met;
  • Any difficulties or concerns since the last review;
  • The date for presentation to the Fostering Panel, if relevant.

The Chair will prepare a review report stating whether the carers continue to be suitable to foster and whether the terms of his or her approval continue to be appropriate. This report should include a summary of the fostering work undertaken so far and how this relates to the development of the foster carer's skills. Any recommendations for change in the foster carers' approval should be highlighted.

A copy of the review report will then be sent to the foster carers and a copy placed on the foster carer's file.

The reviewing officers report should be completed using the reviewing form (see Resources and Forms Library).


4. Presentation to the Fostering Panel

The review report must be presented to the Fostering Panel on the foster carer's first six month review for a recommendation and thereafter may be presented to the Fostering Panel. This may include where a change to the approval or termination of approval is recommended or where there has been a significant change in circumstances of the foster carer or any event/incident has occurred affecting the continued suitability of the foster carers (for example an allegation or complaint resulting in a Section 47 Enquiry or investigation) or where there is an unresolved disagreement regarding a review recommendation.

Whether presented to the fostering panel or not, the report will be presented to the Agency Decision Maker 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.

Where the report is to be presented to the full Fostering Panel, the report should set out any proposed changes to the approval, together with reasons.

Where the report recommends termination of the foster carer's approval, the report should give full details of the concerns, allegations or complaints and the outcome of any Section 47 Enquiry or investigation. Any mitigating circumstances should be outlined.

A copy of the foster carers' Form F and any previous relevant Panel minutes should also be attached to the report.

The report for the Panel will be shared with the foster carer(s) and they should be invited to submit written comments. They should also be offered independent support, e.g. from the Mediation and Conciliation Service provided by Fostering Network.

A copy of the report to the Panel (and attachments including any written comments of the foster carer(s) on the report) should be sent to the Panel Administrator at least 10 working days before the relevant Panel meeting.

Other circumstances where reviews are presented to Fostering Panel include:

  • Following three incidents of concern being noted on a foster carers' file;
  • Reviews that follow a complaint.

Foster carers should be invited to attend the Fostering Panel when their review is being considered, together with a supporter if they wish, and the Panel Administrator should be informed if they intend to do so.

Where the Review recommends the termination of approval of foster carers, the review should be presented to the earliest possible Fostering Panel. See Section 6.1 Proposal to Terminate the Foster Carer's Approval.

Where the Panel's recommendation is for a different category of approval, the Panel may require further assessment or training for the foster carer. See Section 6.2, Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carer’s Approval.

Where the review is presented to the Fostering Panel, the Panel's recommendation as to the future approval of the foster carer will be submitted to the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering) for a decision to be made.

Whether or not the foster carers are present at the Panel, the Panel Adviser will arrange for them to be informed in writing of the outcome of the review as soon as possible and at the latest within 7 working days after a decision is made and give notice:

  1. That the foster carer and household continue to be suitable and that the terms of the approval continue to be appropriate; or
  2. That the approval is terminated from a specified date, and the reason for the termination; or
  3. The revised terms of the approval and the reasons for the revision.

    See Section 6, Representations Procedure where the foster carer wishes to challenge the decision.


5. After the Review

The Supervising Fostering Officer will write to any social worker from outside the authority with a child placed with the foster carers to inform them of the outcome of the review.

Where the foster carer lives in the area of a different local authority, the local authority for the area where he/she resides will also be informed in writing of the outcome of the review.

The outcome of the review will also be recorded and the Register of Foster Carers updated as necessary. Where there has been any change in the terms of the approval, the Foster Care Agreement will be updated and signed by the Supervising Fostering Officer and foster carer.

Where the approval is terminated, the Fostering Service Manager must inform OFSTED.

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 Independent Safeguarding Authority

The Team Manager will write to the carers after the review explaining the outcome of the review and they will enclose a copy of the CC12(a).


6. Representations Procedure

6.1 Proposal to Terminate the 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 and he or she 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. Notification/representations/ will need to 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 is if he or she 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 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 the Panel meeting as a smaller 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 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.

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.

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, the 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.

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.

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.


7. Updates on Checks

Disclosure Barring Service checks on persons aged 16 and over should be updated every 3 years(unless the foster carers have subscribed to the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service) and if necessary, a review of the foster carers' approval should be carried out immediately to take account of any new information.

See Persons Disqualified from Fostering Procedure

The foster carers should also be asked to complete Declarations of Health and Suitability every 3 years. In the event of any serious concerns about the foster carer's health, a review of the foster carer's approval should be carried out immediately.


8. Resignation by Foster Carers

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 of the notice. 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 Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure.

Where the foster carer has decided to give up fostering, a brief report and a copy of the foster carer's resignation letter will be presented to the next available Panel for information and acknowledgement.

The resignation should be recorded formally by the Panel as the termination of the foster carer's approval to take effect 28 days from the date when written notice has been received from the foster carer.

An 'exit interview' will be conducted with the foster carer wherever possible to determine the reasons for their resignation.

A letter of appreciation and thanks will be sent to the foster carer (unless there are circumstances in which this would be unwelcome or inappropriate).

When there is a child in placement, the foster carer must inform the fostering service of their intention to cease fostering in sufficient time to enable an alternative placement to be identified and introductions to take place. If the child is placed by a different local authority, a copy of any notice given must be sent to that local authority.


9. Retention of Foster Carer Records

Foster carers' case records should be retained for a minimum of 30 years after their approval has been terminated. Closed files following carer de-registration are stored centrally, indexed and filed alphabetically.

End