Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers
Formal reviews of foster carers will take place at least annually.
Reviews will take place more frequently in the event of a significant change in circumstances of a foster carer for example where there are concerns about the care provided by the foster carer as a result of a complaint or allegation.
As well as formal reviews, there will be regular dialogue and feedback between the fostering worker and the foster carer.
In these circumstances, there are key areas to explore:
- Finances - has the bread-winner left? Will the remaining carer be worse off because of the end of the relationship?
- Housing - can the family remain in the same accommodation? Will this event trigger the house to be sold, lease to end etc?
- Emotional impact of the end of the relationship on a) carers' own children b) LAC in placement c) the carer;
- Capacity of single carer to care on their own. Practicalities of school runs, attendance at LAC related meetings etc.
- If now separated, are they both to remain approved in 2 separate households or just one?
- Are the current terms of approval still appropriate?
- Is a break from fostering necessary to allow time for adjustment to the new situation?
- Any additional support needs identified following this household review.
Areas of concern or the need for additional support that are identified between reviews are addressed at the time rather than waiting for reviews.
As well as formal reviews, there will be regular dialogue and feedback between the supervising social worker and the foster carers - see Supervision and Support of Foster Carers Procedure.
CoramBAAF Annual Review of Foster Carers templates has been adopted by Swindon Borough Council and are to be used for all reviews undertaken and are available in the Resource Library.
2. Consultation with Foster Carer before the Review
Prior to the formal review, the fostering social worker will send to the foster carer a copy of the review report to enable them to prepare for the review in advance. The foster carer will have the opportunity to communicate his or her views verbally or in writing to the fostering worker.
The supervising social worker will also, as part of the formal review, seek the views of all members of the foster carer's household as well as the written comments and opinions as to the foster carer from all social workers who have used the foster carer for a placement since the last formal review as recorded on the social worker's end of placement report. This will include contacting a social worker from outside the authority where appropriate.
The supervising social worker will request the written views from the following:
- Social workers for any child currently in placement;
- Social workers for any child placed during the review period;
- Foster Carers;
- Foster carers' own children and young people this includes any adopted children or children placed under SGO's;
- Child/ren in placement and children who were in placement during the review period;
- Birth parents of children in placement.
There may be others who can also contribute to the review, such as, health visitors, CAMHS' worker, IRO or others with knowledge of the placement.
The supervising social worker will consider if any checks, such as the DBS checks and medical, are out of date and require updating.
The supervising social worker will also seek and take into account the views of any child placed with the foster carer since the last review via the child's social worker.
3. Formal Review Meeting
There will be a formal review meeting held at the foster home arranged by the Independent Fostering Reviewing Officer and attended by the supervising social worker, the foster carers and members of the foster carers' family (if appropriate). The Independent Fostering Reviewing Officer will chair the review meeting.
After the Review, the Independent Fostering Reviewing Officer will complete a Review Report, sending to the foster carer(s) and their supervising social worker for comment. All comments will be considered by the Independent Fostering Reviewing Officer and amendments made to the report as appropriate. If no response is received within five working days the Independent Reviewing Officer will confirm their report and send to the Agency Advisor for processing either through the Foster Care Panel or direct to the Agency Decision Maker. The Agency Advisor will ensure that a letter confirming continued approval with an updated copy of the Foster Care Agreement is sent to the foster carer(s). A copy of the Review Report will be kept on the foster carer's case record and a copy will be held by the foster carers.
Where there is a health concern, the Independent Fostering Review Officer may request the Fostering Service consult the Medical Adviser to seek guidance as to any further action required, for example an update from the GP, a full medical report and/or seeking the foster carer's consent for the Medical Adviser to write to the specialist treating him or her.
The supervising social worker will write to any social worker with a child placed with the foster carers to inform them of the outcome of the review.
Where the foster carers live outside the county, the local authority for the area where he/she resides will also be informed in writing of the outcome of the review.
This will constitute the end of the review process unless there are circumstances which require the Review Report to be presented to the Fostering Panel, in which case the procedure set out in Section 4 should be followed.
4. Presentation to the Fostering Panel
The Review Report must be presented to the Foster Care Approval & Matching Panel on the foster carer's first annual review for a recommendation, and thereafter every three years. In addition, annual reviews will be presented to the Foster Care Approval & Matching Panel where changes to or termination of the foster carers' approval are recommended or where there are any specific issues of concern or a significant change in circumstances, for example a new member of the foster family, which in the opinion of Team Manager of the Fostering Team require consideration by the Fostering Panel. This may include the situation where a Strategy Meeting has been held, concerns regarding standards of care provided to children placed or an updating DBS 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.
See Exemptions and Variations of Approval Procedure for the alterations which can be approved by the Agency Decision Maker. The Panel Administrator needs to be informed in order to change approval on the data management system and those which require further assessment and Panel approval. Where the Review recommendation is for a different category of approval, the Panel may require further assessment or training for the foster carer.
Where a Review Report is submitted to Panel, a copy of any previous relevant Panel minutes should also be attached to the report.
The foster carers will be given 7 days in which to make any written observations and comments on the content of the Review Report before it is presented to Panel.
Where the Review Report recommends the termination of approval of foster carers (other than where this is requested by the foster carer (see Section 8, Resignation by Foster Carers)) the Review Report should be presented to the earliest possible Fostering Panel.
One copy of the report (and attachments) should be sent to the Panel Administrator at least 14 days before the relevant Panel meeting.
5. After the Fostering Panel
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 / qualifying determination to be made.
The foster carer will be informed in writing by the fostering worker of the outcome of the review.
A copy of the Review Form and a record of the outcome of the review will be retained on the foster carer's case record.
The Fostering Panel Administrator will record any change in the foster carers' approval on the Foster Carer Register.
6. Representations/Review Procedure
6.1 Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer's ApprovalWhere, 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 as set out in the Assessment and Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure, Representations / Independent Review Procedure. 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 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 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 and Barring Service checks should be updated every 3 years and if necessary, a review of the foster carer's approval should be carried out immediately to take account of any new information.
Whilst there is no statutory time interval, as good practice medical information should also be updated at least every 3 years by writing to the foster carer's GP. In the event of any serious concerns about the foster carers health, a review of the foster carers approval should be carried out immediately.
8. Resignation by Foster Carers
A foster carer may give written notice at any time to their supervising social worker that he or she no longer wishes to act as a foster carer. His or her approval will then be terminated 28 days from the date when the notice is received.
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. 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 to consider the reasons for resignations and to report in the Chair's Annual Report of the Panel's work.
The foster carer will be offered an exit interview / meeting with the relevant Assistant Team Manager
The Fostering Panel Administrator will remove the foster carers from the Foster Carer Register once de-registered.