Fostering Exemptions and Out of Approvals Notices
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
Please note that applications for exemption in relation to foster carers living in a different local authority area must be made to the manager of the fostering service for the local authority in whose area the foster carer lives.
AMENDMENTThis chapter was reviewed in May 2014 in line with revised statutory guidance on the Assessment and approval of foster carers which was introduced in July 2013. Section 4, Placements Over and Above Usual Foster Carer Approvals was updated.
1. Usual Fostering Limit on number of children
A person may not foster more than three children in each foster home except where all children are siblings.In all other circumstances, foster carers may only exceed this number if an exemption has been agreed.
2. Reasons why an Exemption may be Considered
Applications will usually be made because of the following exceptional circumstances:
- The child concerned was previously placed with the foster carers and his or her placement elsewhere has disrupted;
- The foster carers have special skills to meet the child's needs which are not available elsewhere;
- The placement of the child over the limit is the most appropriate way of meeting the child's needs arising from disability, race, religion, language and/or culture;
- The placement is required to keep siblings together.
Applications can only be made with the agreement of the foster carers concerned. When considering an exemption the following factors should be regarded:
- The number, ages and circumstances of the children concerned;
- The arrangements proposed for the care and accommodation of the children concerned, including the sleeping arrangements;
- The relationship between the foster carers and the children concerned;
- The period of time over which the placement is likely to last;
- The likely effect on the children concerned and any other children living in the household;
- The foster carers' capacity to provide sufficient care for all the children in the placement;
- The need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the fostered children / young people and any other children / young people who live in the foster home. Applications for exemption in relation to foster carers living in a different local authority area must be made to the manager of the fostering service for the local authority in whose area the foster carer lives.
3. The Process for Exemptions
3.1 Planned Exemptions
The need for an exemption will be identified at the point when the Placement Finding Team or fostering social worker is seeking to identify a suitable placement for a child or children.
Where a foster carer is identified as the most appropriate option to meet the child's needs, and this is agreed by the Fostering Social Worker for the carers and the foster carer and the Placement Finding Team should consult with the manager and if agreed prepare an application for an exemption.
The social worker(s) for any other child in the placement should also be consulted in order to seek their views on any impact (positive or negative) from a further placement commencing. Where concerns are expressed by the social worker for the child to be placed or the social worker for a child already in the placement this should be discussed with the fostering manager.
All applications for planned exemption for foster carers living in the local authority area must be made in writing, using the Decision Record format on Liquidlogic, supported by reasons, to the Group Manager (ILAC) and the Fostering Panel, for approval. The written application will be prepared by the Fostering Social Worker in conjunction with the relevant child's social worker, if appropriate. Information about the exemption will be alerted to the child's Independent Reviewing Officer also, by alerting them to the Decision Record on Liquidlogic.
The decision whether or not to grant an exemption will be recorded in writing, together with reasons. Any exemption will be specific to a child or children and can be subject to conditions.
Upon the granting of an exemption, a time limit will be specified and an exemption can only extend beyond that date if the Group Manager (ILAC) authorises it. For all exemptions were and end date is uncertain, the exemption will be subject to review by the Fostering Social Worker via support visits and via Fostering Reviews and Fostering Panel.
The decision must be recorded on the carer's electronic record (Liquidlogic) and in the file.The decision will be reported to the next available Fostering Panel for ratification.
3.2 Emergency Exemptions
The Duty Manager for the Out of Hours Service can agree for a child to be placed in a foster home above the usual limit in an emergency i.e. without the agreement of the Designated Manager (Exemptions and Extensions). This agreement will only last until the next working day.
An application for exemption beyond the next working day must then be made to the Designated Manager (Exemptions and Extensions) and any such emergency exemption needs to be presented to the next available Fostering Panel, as with planned exemptions.
An interim decision by the Designated Manager (Exemptions and Extensions) may be necessary pending full consideration of the exemption.
Any emergency or interim decisions to grant an exemption must be confirmed in writing and copies of the decision, together with the reasons, must be placed on the child's file and the foster carer's case record.
A child can only be placed in a foster home above the usual limit for up to 6 days without specific authority to exempt the foster home from the limit.
An application for exemption must be made to Group Manager (ILAC) as soon as practicable thereafter and any such exemption needs to be presented to the next available Fostering Panel, as with planned exemptions.
An interim decision may be necessary on an emergency basis pending full consideration of the exemption.
Any emergency decisions to grant an exemption must be confirmed in writing and copies of the decision, together with the reasons, must be placed on the child's file and the foster carer's case record.The decision must be recorded.
4. Placements Over and Above Usual Foster Carer Approvals (Extension / Variation to the Foster Carer's Terms of Approval)
Where a foster placement is identified for a child and would be within the usual fostering limit but outside of the foster carer's terms of approval, an extension to their terms of approval is required (Out of Approval Notice). (This will usually be in addition to an extension to the usual number of children, as detailed above.)
The same principles and processes apply to extensions as exemptions and all extensions must be reported to the Fostering Panel. See Appendix 1: Process Flowchart for Out of Approvals and Exemptions.
5. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions
Where a foster placement is identified for a child and would be within the usual fostering limit but outside of the foster carer's terms of approval, an extension/variation to their approval is required.
All requests for extensions and variations must be presented in writing to the Fostering Panel and thereafter the Agency Decision Maker.
The only exception to this is where an emergency extensions or variation to approval is required to enable a placement to take place before the case has been presented to the Fostering Panel. In these circumstances, the Designated Manager (Exemptions and Extensions) can agree an emergency extension of the foster carer's approval to allow the placement to go ahead. Any such decision can last for up to 6 working days.
The Fostering Team Manager will ensure that all Exemptions and Out of Approvals are presented to Foster Panel within 1 month of the decision being made and agreed by the Group Manager (ILAC). The recommendations and comments of the Foster Panel should be recorded in the foster carer's electronic records (Liquidlogic) and acknowledged by the relevant Fostering Manager for the Fostering Social Worker.The Fostering Social Worker is responsible for recording the ending the exemption or out of approval notice when no longer required and alerting the Fostering Manager responsible for monitoring and reviewing the notices.