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4.8.8 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 Placement with Connected Persons Procedure.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in May 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 was added, and Sections 4, Presentation to the Fostering Panel and 9, Resignations 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. Recommending a Termination of the Foster Carers Approval
  6. After the Review
  7. Representations / Independent Review Procedure
  8. Updates on DBS Checks
  9. Resignations
  10. Dispute Resolution Process for Fostering Reviews


1. Frequency and Timing

Formal reviews of foster carers will take place at least annually. The date for the review will be generated by the Independent Conference and Reviewing Officers (ICROs) Team and should be within twelve months of the foster carers’ previous review/approval. Review meetings are expected to take place in the foster carers home; alternative venues can be requested in consultation with the Independent Fostering Reviewing Officer (IFRO).

Reviews may take place more frequently; these additional reviews are referred to as Ad Hoc Reviews. Ad Hoc reviews will be convened in the event of a significant change in circumstances in a foster carer household, for example:

  • A change in the composition of the household - see Assessment and Approval 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 and Barring Service (DBS) checks or a recommendation for a change of approval.
Ad Hoc reviews are arranged at the request of the Fostering Service and should be concluded and presented to the Foster Panel for approval within 28 working days of being generated.


2. Consultation and Action before the Review

Prior to the formal review meeting, the IFRO will collate relevant information as follows:

2.1 Core Documents for All Reviews:

  • Fostering social worker’s (FSW) report and chronology;
  • Placing social worker report(s) for all children who have been looked after in the household during the previous twelve month period;
  • School reference(s) for foster carers’ own children;
  • Adult household member consultation;
  • Foster carers’ consultation;
  • Connected Person/Babysitter consultation;
  • Looked After Child consultation (for children aged 6 years or above);
  • Children Who Foster Consultation (for children aged 6 years or above);
  • Training and Development Records.

2.2 Additional Documents for First Year Reviews:

  • Full Assessment document and panel minutes from the carers’ original approval.

2.3 Additional Documents for Three Yearly Reviews:

  • Training and Development Records (including verification of the foster carers’ Fostering Excellence Level);
  • Employer’s Reference (for foster carers who have a paid or voluntary role with children or vulnerable adults);
  • Independent Personal References x 2 (referees must not be related to the foster carer) and FSW’s reports of visits to Referees;
  • Medical Advisor’s Assessment;
  • DBS checks for foster carers and all adult household members/connected people;
  • Probation Report (where there has been a significant change in the carer’s DBS record);
  • Local Authority Safeguarding check;
  • Health Visitor and/or School Nurse report as applicable;
  • Adoption Reference (is this necessary – isn't it now combined in with LA safeguarding check).

2.4 Additional Documents for Ad Hoc Reviews:

  • Recommendations and Minutes from final Strategy Meeting/Professionals Meeting;
  • Medical Advisor’s Assessment (for cases where there has been a significant change to a carer’s health).
FSW’s reports should provide the IFRO with evidence of the foster carers' ongoing suitability to foster, including any recommendation to change the number and/or type of placements provided by the foster carer household, any periods where the carer has been outside of the terms of their usual approval or exemptions that have been agreed in the previous year, and records of any compliments, complaints or allegations made against the foster carers or members of their household (where applicable).


3. Formal Review Meeting

The formal review meeting is chaired by the allocated IFRO and attended by the supervising social worker, the foster carer and members of the foster family. Requests to include other professionals in the meeting, for example Independent Social Worker/Placing Social Worker, will be considered by the IFRO.

The review will consider all the available information and views and will make recommendations on the following:

  • Whether the foster carer household continues to be suitable to foster children;
  • Whether the terms of approval continue to be appropriate;
  • Whether the foster carer has met the threshold for any of the Fostering Excellence fee payments (at Three Year Review only);
  • Whether the Training Support and Development Standards for foster carers have been met within usually expected timescales (from 12 months of approval for mainstream carers, or 18 months of approval for family and friends carers);
  • Whether there are any training or development needs identified for the foster carer/s and how these will be met;
  • What support needs the carer has and how these will be met;
  • Any difficulties or concerns since the last review;
  • Any other relevant information shared by the foster carer(s)/professionals/others.

The IFRO will prepare a Review Report and recommendations, clearly stating timescales for actions.

A copy of the review report will be sent to the foster carers (by post or email) and a copy placed on the foster carers’ electronic record (Liquidlogic) with notification to the FSW and Fostering Team Manager / Consultant Social Worker for their consideration.


4. Presentation to the Fostering Panel

All reviews will be presented to the Fostering Panel for approval, with the exception of Annual Reviews with no change of approval, which will be presented directly to the Agency Decision Maker.

A report must be 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. 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 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.

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.

Foster carers should be informed of their right 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.


5. Recommending a Termination of the Foster Carers Approval

In cases where foster carers have been advised by the IFRO that they are recommending termination of their approval, the review report will be provided to the carers within five working days of the review being held. The report must clearly state the proposal to terminate approval and the reasons for this recommendation. The review report should be presented to the earliest possible Fostering Panel (see Section 4, Presentation to the Fostering Panel, Paragraph 3 regarding foster carers attendance at panel and Section 7, Representations Procedure).


6. After the Review

6.1 Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer's Approval 

Where the foster carer lives in the area of another area outside of Hull, their Local Authority, will be informed in writing by the Fostering Service regarding the decision made about the carers approval following the review.

Where there has been any change in the terms of approval, the Foster Care Agreement will be updated and signed by the supervising FSW and foster carer.

Where the approval is terminated following concerns about their standard of care, the Fostering Group Manager must inform OFSTED. The Agency Decision Maker, in consultation with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) must consider if the criteria is met for referral of the former foster carer to the Disclosure and Barring Service for consideration of barring them from working with children.

6.2 Proposal to revise the terms of the foster carer’s approval

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. 


7. Representations Procedure

Where, as a result of a review, the variation or termination of a foster carer's approval is proposed, he or she must be advised, when informed of the outcome of the Agency Decision Maker's decision, that they have the right to make representations to the Panel or to request a review by the Independent Review Mechanism (see Fostering Exemptions and Out of Approvals Notices Procedure).


8. Updates on DBS Checks

Disclosure and Barring Service checks on persons (aged over 18 years) who are resident in or are connected with a foster carer household, should be updated every 3 years, unless they register with the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service. If necessary, an ad hoc review of the foster carers' approval should be arranged to take account of any new information (as above) (see also Persons Disqualified from Fostering Procedure).


9. Resignations

A foster carer may give written notice at any time of their wish to resign from the role. 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 Approval of Foster Carers. There is no requirement for the fostering panel to be notified of resignations. However the panel may find it helpful to be advised, as part of its monitoring role. 

Where a foster carer has decided to cease fostering the Fostering Service should immediately notify the IFRO so that any pending review for the foster carer household can be cancelled. The resignation will come into effect 28 days from the date on which it was received by Hull fostering, regardless of whether this has been presented to panel.


10. Dispute Resolution Process for Fostering Reviews

Where there are disputes regarding the review process and recommendations, the Fostering Team Manager / Consultant Social Worker and IFRO will attempt to resolve these by negotiation. If this does not achieve an agreement, the Independent Conference & Review Manager and the Group Manager responsible for the Fostering Service will be notified for them to progress resolution and will facilitate a meeting to achieve this where necessary.

End