SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTERThe purpose of this guidance is to define the rationale and requirements for references and their use in the assessment of prospective foster carers with Hull Fostering.
Those assessing prospective carers are required to ensure that children are kept safe through assessment by using a number of references and checks.
The requirements for submitting checks and references for prospective adopters is set out in schedule 3. The Fostering Services Regulations 2002.
The range of checks, including DBS checks, seek to identify any information held which may immediately make an individual unsuitable to become a Foster carer. References give the assessing social worker a different perspective of the applicant which comes from knowing the applicant over a number of years and in a different context.
References and checks can serve a number of functions, including:
To establish their potential to care for children in a way in which their needs are met and they maximise their opportunity to develop secure attachments.
Where applicants are in a partnership, references help to assess them as individuals and the stability and permanence of that partnership.
To confirm information given by applicants to establish the congruence and trustworthiness of their application.
To reduce the possibility of approving those who
To identify issues from the past which are likely to impact upon their ability to meet children's parenting needs in the present.
The following checks are required for foster carers:
Enhanced DBS checks renewed every three years on any member of the household over 18 years of age. It is Hull's policy to undertake DBS checks on other non residents who have unsupervised contact with children in placement or stay overnight in the foster placement, including babysitters.
Where applicants have lived abroad for an extended period then it should be possible to obtain the equivalent of a DBS check from the country in which they lived.
The content of the medical checks required for panel is set out in Schedule 3, Fostering Service Regulations 2002. Information for medical reports should be updated regularly and at a minimum of every three years.
In addition, checks will be made with the following agencies to check whether they have any comment to make on the application:
The following checks should be made where appropriate:
The Fostering Service Regulations 2002 state that prospective carers must provide 2 referees but in Hull we have stated 3 as the requirement and in addition a written reference from the most recent employer.
DSCF good practice guidance on assessing applicants states that in addition to this, references should usually be taken up with Ex -partners where children have been jointly parented as well as all adult children of the relationship. Employer checks should be made for all applicants and a fuller employer reference for applicants working with children.
It is recognised that applicants will select referees that are likely to support their application. However, care should be taken when applicants select referees to ensure that there is no reason why the referees may feel unable to be honest or open in their comments, such as an employee or someone who is indebted to the applicant. If you are unsure about this matter then advice should be sought from the Senior Social Worker for Assessments at Hull Fostering.
Wherever possible DSCF guidance should be followed with regard to the following:
A letter will be written to the applicants explaining the purpose of the reference and outlining the information which will be required. Initial information will be sought in writing prior to checks being made.
The letter should explain that though usually confidential to panel, although an application can be made for disclosure with the referee's permission under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Referees should be interviewed face-to-face and, if it becomes clear that the referee has insufficient knowledge of the applicant, or has no sound basis for the views they express then the interview should be terminated and another referee sought.
Where concerns are raised during the interview the assessor will need to take a view on the seriousness of the issues raised. Where there is a view that the assessment should be terminated then the applicants will be advised of this and the worker will seek to counsel them out.
If the decision is to continue with the application then the assessor should ensure that the concerns are clearly articulated in the reference and explain why the decision was made to continue with the assessment in the 'Comments' section.
It is an expectation that all applicants will provide details which allow a reference to be sought from ex- partners where they have jointly parented unless there are exceptional reasons.
It is appreciated that this may present difficulties for some prospective foster carers and it is important that assessors reassure applicants that this is standard practice and that the information given will be set in an appropriate context.
If significant concerns are raised by the applicant, including where the approach could provoke a hostile or violent reaction, then the assessor should look at the risks involved in undertaking the reference to both themselves and the applicant and any children involved. Such concerns should be discussed with the relevant Team Manager.
When it has not been possible to obtain such a reference then there needs to be a clear explanation in the body of the report as to why this has not been possible.
DSCF guidance states that references from employers should be obtained and should consider:
Applicants should be advised that the agency may seek a reference from other employers if they think it is necessary.
Where the applicant has not told the employer about the application then there should be discussion about the reasons for this and when the reference should be taken up.
Again, when it has not been possible to obtain such a reference then there needs to be a clear explanation in the body of the report as to why this has not been possible.
All references should consider the issues detailed below:
Only valid for 48hrs