Skip to main content

 

CAPTION: west yorks
   
View Safeguarding Procedures View Safeguarding Procedures

3.11.9 Foster Carer Reviews and Changes to Approval of Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all approved foster carers, including kinship carers and Family and Friends Foster Carers. It does not include carers offering short breaks under S17 or Supported Lodgings providers.

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

RELATED CHAPTERS

Fostering Service Statement of Purpose (2019)

Safe Care Plan Procedure

AMENDMENT

In August 2020 this procedure was reviewed and extensively updated.


Contents

  1. Frequency and Timing of Foster Carer Reviews
  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 of Foster Carer Reviews

Statutory reviews of foster carers will take place at least annually. Reviews are undertaken by independent Fostering Reviewing Officers (FROs). FROs are experienced social workers, line managed independently from the Fostering Service. Dates and the venue for review meetings will be agreed by the Supervising Social Worker, Fostering Reviewing Officer and foster carer in line with statutory requirements.

Following the carers approval by Fostering Panel, there must be a Fostering Review within the first 12 months The first annual review meeting will be reported to the Fostering Panel.

Subsequent reviews will take place annually. These are not routinely reported to the Fostering Panel, unless there are issues identified from the review which may affect the carer’s approval.

Early fostering reviews may be requested by the Supervising Social Worker or foster carers in certain circumstances. 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 serious complaint or allegation made about the carer resulting in a Section 47 Enquiry or LADO investigation, concerns arising from updated Disclosure Barring Service checks or a recommendation for a change of approval. A review will also usually take place following an unplanned ending of a long-term placement, as when this occurs, a foster carer’s terms of approval may need to be amended.

In the event that the foster carer or Supervising Social Worker wishes to hold an early review, this will be requested of the FRO who will decide, along with their Team Manager, whether an early review is necessary, or whether the issue can be better dealt with outside of the foster carer review process.

As well as formal reviews, there will be regular supervision, dialogue and feedback between the Supervising Social Worker 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, or they are a kinship carer, there is a requirement to complete a PPDP in the same way as for other carers. However there may be different expectations around training requirements for short breaks carers (disability) and Kinship.


2. Consultation and Action before the Review

Prior to the formal review meeting, the Fostering Reviewing Officer will recieve all information relevant to the foster carers' suitability to foster, including the number and type of placements in the last year, any temporary changes of approval 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), their social workers, the Independent Reviewing Officer(s) and any other professional whose views are relevant, will be sought in advance of the review. This may include contacting a social worker from outside the authority if necessary. Wherever possible these views should be reported to the review in writing. If written contributions cannot be obtained (such as from parents or children) the FRO will make other contact (e,g. by Skype or telephone call) to obtain their views.

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 consultations.

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

The Fostering Reviewing Officer will:

  • Request that the Supervising Social Worker report be prepared in advance and shared wit h the foster carer;
  • Send consultation forms to all social worker who currently have, or previously had, a child in placement for longer than 20 working days 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 consultation forms to the carer(s);
  • Send consultation forms to other members of the house including their own children;
  • Send consultations to fostered children who are of sufficient age and understanding;
  • Make contact with one or both birth parents if appropriate ( i.e. if the parent is having regular contact with their child and is in a position to comment on the care given by the foster carer);
  • Send consultations to the child’s IRO and any other relevant professionals (for example, teachers or therapeutic workers).

Confirm the date and venue of the review meeting with the carer, and ensure the carer has no other planned commitments that would prevent the review from going ahead.


3. Formal Review Meeting

The formal review is usually a meeting attended by the carer, their SSW and chaired by the Fostering Reviewing Officer. Meetings can be held in person at the carer’s home, at an office, or by remote methods such as Skype.

It is important to note that foster carer reviews are an annual look back at the fostering year and ongoing practice. They are not meant to be mainly problem-solving forums or to address difficulties that have built up over time– these should be dealt with as they arise, through the routine supervision and support offered by the SSW, or by discussions with other professionals working alongside the foster carer or child. Where issues have arisen in the preceding year, the foster carer review can be good arena to reflect on these, consider any learning, and if necessary help the two parties to move forward restoratively.

The Supervising Social Worker report will summarise the fostering challenges and achievements. In addition it will cover standing items such as updating of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, the Health & Safety Checklist, fire plan, pet assessments, Safe Care Plan and Personal Professional Development Plan if required.

The Supervising Social Worker reports can be viewed by the Team Manager (Fostering) before submitting for the reviews.

The Supervising Social Worker reports should also be prepared sufficiently in advance so as to allow enough time for the foster carer to have sight of the report and to discuss with their Supervising Social Worker.

Supervising Social Worker reports should be completed on the carer’s electronic record and be available to the Fostering Reviewing Officer ideally 10 working days prior to the review date.

In conducting the review, the Fostering Reviewing Officer will evaluate the information and views of all contributors. The Fostering Reviewing Officer then makes the following determinations:

  • Whether the foster carer remains suitable to foster children;
  • Whether the terms of approval are correct or need amending;
  • What training and development needs have been identified;
  • Any unmet support needs the carer currently has;
  • How training and support needs will be met and who will be responsible;
  • Whether there is any need to refer any matters to the Fostering Panel.


4. After the Review

The Fostering Reviewing Officer will prepare a review report recommending whether the carers continue to be suitable to foster and whether the terms of their approval continue to be appropriate. This report should include a summary and analysis of the information shared and considered for the review.

Any recommendations for change in the foster carers' approval should be highlighted.

The review report will then be sent to Fostering Team Manager for consideration within 20 working days of the date of the review.

In the event that the Fostering Team Manager disagrees with any of the recommendations arising from the review, there will be a discussion between the Team Manager and FRO to resolve areas of disagreement. This discussion will be recorded as a Case Note on the foster carer’s electronic record.

Once the Team Manager has seen and signed the review, a copy of the review report (along with the Team Manager’s comments), the review outcome letter and foster carer agreement are sent to the foster carers.

The recommendations contained within the review report should form part of the ongoing supervision conversations between the carer and their supervising social worker.


5. Presentation to the Fostering Panel

The review report must be presented to the Fostering Panel on the foster carer's first review following their initial approval.

Reports from subsequent reviews do not routinely go to Fostering Panel, provided there are no concerns.

Subsequent reviews of foster carers should be submitted to Fostering Panel where:

  • A change to the approval or termination of approval is recommended;
  • There has been a significant change in circumstances of the foster carer (e.g. a new partner or health issues have arisen);
  • Information shared at the review calls into question the suitability of the foster carers to continue fostering (e.g. persistent or recurring failure to meet fostering minimum standards, an allegation or safeguarding issue resulting in a Section 47 Enquiry or LADO investigation, a significant complaint or where there is an unresolved disagreement between the carer / FRO / Fostering Service 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. All foster carer reviews that are presented to fostering Panel will be seen by the ADM as per Panel process. Other Reviews will not normally be seen by the ADM, unless the ADM is required to consider a matter outside of Panel.

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 reasons - e.g. resignation or retirement of the carer. On occasions the review report may recommend termination of approval due to concerns, allegations or complaints and the outcome of any Section 47 Enquiry or investigation. Any mitigating circumstances should be outlined, as should details of what steps have been taken to address the issues.

A copy of the foster carers' Form F, previous relevant Panel minutes or other relevant documents may also be attached to the report.

The report for Panel will be shared with the foster carer(s) 10 working days before the panel date 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 (Foster Talk).

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.

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.

After the Panel Decision

The Panel Adviser will arrange for the foster carers 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.

The outcome of the review will also be recorded and the foster carer’s record updated as necessary. Regardless of whether there have been any changes to the terms of approval, the Foster Care Agreement will be updated and signed by the Supervising Social Worker and Team Manager and then shared with the foster carer.

Where the approval is terminated following concerns about safeguarding, 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. The Fostering Service Manager must supply an annual report to OFSTED containing details of approvals and deregistrations.

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


6. Representations Procedure

6.1 Proposal to Terminate the Foster Carer's Approval

Where, as a result of a review, investigation or re-assessment 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 they must be advised that if they wish to challenge the decision, they have the opportunity to make representations to the Fostering Panel in the first instance.

Subsequently, foster carers may also 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 (see also: Information about the IRM for Foster Carers).

The foster carer will not have the right to request a review by an Independent Review Panel is 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 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 by the ADM 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 due to significant safeguarding matters, the Agency Decision Maker, in consultation with the Designated Officer in the local authority (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

The foster carers will receive a copy of the Review report which will outline the terms of approval and any other support needs, they will also receive a new foster carer’s agreement. This will have already been discussed at the Review with the carer and agreed by the carer. If the carer does not agree then the matter would be presented to Fostering Panel / ADM.

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 above will apply.


7. Updates on Checks

Disclosure Barring Service checks on persons aged 18 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

Foster carers are asked to undergo an updated or full medical at certain times – for example when considering a long term match with a child or young person, or if there are emerging health concerns.

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, or as soon as the foster carer is well enough to attend a review.


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 questionnaire' is sent to the foster carer and an offer is made to the carer to attend an exit interview 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