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4.7 Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in June 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. Sections 6.2, Proposal to revise the terms of the foster carer’s approval and 8, Resignation by Foster Carers were added.


Contents

  1. Frequency
  2. Consultation with Foster Carer before the Review
  3. Formal Review Meeting
  4. Presentation to the Fostering Panel or Agency Decision Maker
  5. After the Fostering Panel
  6. Representations/Review Procedure
  7. Updates on Checks
  8. Resignation by Foster Carers

    Appendix 1: Foster Carer Annual Review Procedure


1. Frequency

Formal reviews of foster carers will take place at least annually. Reviews will take place regardless of whether a carer has had any placements during the year since the last review or initial approval. The review report can  be an abridged version of the usual review report to provide details about the circumstances of the carer and their family and why there have been no placements made with the carer. Such a report will be completed by the supervising social worker in consultation with the carers and include their contribution, with a recommendation from the supervising social worker and their manager which is passed to the Fostering Service Manager to consider whether the review needs to be presented to the Fostering Panel.

Reviews will take place more frequently in the event of a significant change in circumstances of a foster carer for example, for a change in terms of their approval, where there are concerns about the care provided by the foster carer as a result of a complaint or allegation.

The first review following approval as foster cares will be presented to the Fostering Panel.

As well as formal reviews, there will be regular dialogue and feedback between the fostering worker and the foster carer.


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 fostering 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 fostering 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, seek the views of involved birth family members, other adults involved in a supportive role in the foster carers household or network and any other  professional who has a significant involvement in a child’s placement  who’s views would contribute to the foster care review.


3. Formal Review Meeting

There will be a review meeting chaired and held between the fostering service and the foster carer/s at the foster home. At the review meeting, the agenda as set out in the Foster Carer Review Form will include an evaluation of the training received since the last review, an appraisal of the foster carer's future training and development needs to form part of the personal development plan  the foster carer's views of the service and support provided as well as the appropriateness of placements made and the different areas of care provided by the foster carer which will identify strengths and any areas for development

A record of the review meeting  will be completed and any recommendations discussed with the foster carer. The foster carer should have the opportunity to put their views on the recommendations.


4. Presentation to the Fostering Panel or Agency Decision Maker

A report must be presented to the Fostering Panel on the foster carer's first review, for a recommendation every three years thereafter unless there is a reason (as detailed above) why the review is presented to the panel in intervening years. Thereafter the report will be presented to the Service Manager Fostering and Adoption  unless significant changes to the foster carer's approval or the termination of the foster carer's approval is recommended or where any circumstances exist which in the opinion of the Service Manager  require consideration by the Fostering Panel. This 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.

The fostering worker will present the review findings and recommendations to the Reviewing Officer who will consider all the contributions during the review meeting with the carer/s. All foster carer reviews must include the views of any child who has been placed  with the carer/s since the last  review and a case cannot be presented to the Fostering Panel without the views of the child been represented. The written views of the foster carer and any report provided by a social worker or any other stakeholder must be included  in the body of evidence for the carer review. Any recommendations for change in the foster carer's approval should be highlighted in the report and any additional assessment work and training  that is required to provide evidence as to why this is recommended, should be clearly apparent in the review paperwork presented by the fostering social worker in partnership with the foster carers. Such changes must include the views of all members of the household.

Where the Review recommends the termination of approval of the foster carer, see Section 6.1, Proposal to Terminate Foster Care’s Approval.

Where the foster carer has decided to give up fostering. See Section 8, Resignation by Foster Carers.


5. After the Fostering Panel

The foster carer will be informed in writing by the fostering service of the outcome of the review.

A copy of the review meeting  will be retained on the foster carer's case record and a copy given to the carers, where they may submit an additional report if they have comments about the review meeting report  beyond amending any factual inaccuracies which will be corrected by the chair of the review and the carers are asked to sign both copies of the meeting report.


6. Representations/Review Procedure

6.1 Proposal to Terminate Foster Carers Approval

Where, 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 Agency Decision Maker within 28 days of the date of the notice of the decision being sent to them. The matter will be referred to the fostering Panel and the Panel Administrator will then notify the foster carer within 7 working days of the date when an appeal panel will reconsider the matter. An appeal panel will be formed to hear case and members selected from the Central List to ensure some consistency for the original  hearing with some new members involved to allow for  a different  hearing of the case. The foster carer will not have the right to request a review by an Independent Review Panel is if he or she is 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 an Appeal Fostering Panel made up from the Central List for further consideration. Foster carers wishing to make representations in person to the Appeal  Panel may be accompanied by a friend or supporter.

The Appeal 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 the recommendation of both panels

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, 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 Care’s Approval above will apply.


7. Updates on Checks

Disclosure and Barring Service checks on all members of the fostering household aged 16 years and above and all regular visitors who are likely to have a direct role with any looked after children 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 carer's approval should be carried out immediately to take account of any new information.

Other statutory checks, including education and local authority checks should be updated every 2 years. If applicable this must include seeking comments from the schools where the children of the foster carer attend.

See Persons Disqualified from Fostering Procedure.

Medical information should also be updated at least every 3 years by writing to the foster carers 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. Medical reports from the foster carers GP or specialist medical reports if required must be made available to   the medical advisor  for consideration about the carers suitability to foster.


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 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.


Appendix 1: Foster Carer Annual Review Procedure

For attention of

  • Fostering Supervising Social Workers;
  • Fostering Team and Service Manager;
  • Fostering Reviewing Officer;
  • Fostering administrative and panel support;
  • L.B. Redbridge Foster Carers.

Introduction

The purpose of the review is to reflect on the year of fostering and make a recommendation about the suitability of the Foster Carer/s (FC) to continue to be approved with L.B. Redbridge.

The review is a key part of our safeguarding service for children and young people. Contributions from all stakeholders in a placement are essential to help us achieve this.

The review is an opportunity to compliment the excellent work undertaken by the majority of Foster Carers, to reflect on their strengths, address any concerns and issues that they or the service may have, and to plan for the year ahead.

The review should be worked on throughout the year, collecting information and discussing issues with FC’s as and when they arise. This includes the follow up from the previous review  recommendations, working on the Professional Development Plan (PDP) etc.

The Supervising Social Worker (SSW) is the lead professional responsible for ensuring that a review is completed on time and in full.

The date of a Foster Carer Review Meeting is set a year in advance, at the previously held review, and is held at intervals of 11-12 months.

A review can be bought forward at any time for example, if there is a significant change of circumstances, an allegation or complaint about the foster carer.

The first review and then each review every 3 years thereafter, is presented to the Fostering Panel. If there is a change in approval terms recommended, a complaint, allegation or significant change in circumstances a review will be brought to Panel in between these timescales. Carers are encouraged to attend the Fostering Panel although this is not a regulatory requirement.

When undertaking a review, the fostering service provider must:

  1. Make such enquiries and obtain such information as they consider necessary in order to review whether the foster parent continues to be suitable to be a foster parent and the foster parent’s household continues to be suitable; and
  2. Seek and take into account the views of:
    1. The foster parent;
    2. Any child placed with the foster parent (subject to the child’s age and understanding); and
    3. Any placing authority which has, within the preceding year, placed a child with the foster parent. For us this really extends the to the child’s social worker and other stakeholders.

Procedure for review completion:

The administrator responsible for Foster Carer Reviews begins work on a review 3 months before the review meeting date. Requests for information and C forms are sent out in this timeframe

Collection of contributions from stakeholders - C Forms

The stakeholders in a placement are:

  • The Foster Carer;
  • The FC’s children, including adult children. An interview / discussion needs to take place in private between the SSW and the Carers child/ren when they are members of the fostering household. Forms should be completed and a discussion held with younger children to seek their views about the fostering household. This also includes adult children living in the home;
  • Other support people who have a significant involvement the fostering household;
  • The Looked After Child;
  • The Child’s Social Worker;
  • The birth parents/s or family members;
  • The Independent Reviewing Officer for the child;
  • The SSW;
  • Any other relevant professionals.

At the end of each placement Contribution Forms - C Forms, will be sent to all stakeholders.

When necessary, the content of the completed form needs to be discussed with the person who completed it. For all members of a fostering household or those with a significant involvement, this must always happen to seek their views about the FC and when relevant, their experience and views about being a member of a fostering household, what their role is and how this impacts on them. It is particularly important that full discussion takes place with the children of FC’s because of our duty of care to these children: 

  1. C Forms distribution and tracking is completed by Admin support. They receive the weekly placement movement list and will send out C Forms to the stakeholders involved in house foster care placements which have ended. They advise the SSW that C Forms have been requested.

He/she will track these and set a 2 week deadline for forms to be returned. On receipt of a C Form this is logged on the Admin review tracking sheet and passed to the SSW to action:

  1. If the forms have not been returned at the 2 week deadline the admin worker will send a reminder and copy to the SSW. For children’s social workers, their manager needs to be copied into the email. A further 2 weeks is given to return the forms;
  2. If after 2 weeks there are any gaps in contributions this will be passed to the SSW to take sole responsibility with their manager to obtain these. It is no longer an admin task. If a child does not want to complete a form or have a discussion about their placement this must be recorded by the SSW. If written forms are not completed the SSW is expected to obtain a verbal report;
  3. If the SSW is unable to obtain a full set of returns they need to report this to their manager at least 4 weeks before the review is due to take place. All returns subsequently received by the SSW must be notified to admin support for tracking purposes.

For Foster Carers who have not had placement movement in the year and for the child who is in placement at the time of the review, C Forms will be requested 3 months before the review meeting is due to take place.

The aim of the Service is that Foster Carer Reviews should not take place without all C Forms in place PRIOR to the review. However, a review will not be postponed because of this but it cannot be presented to Panel without the views of the child or their social worker and household members have been included. If a review goes ahead without full contributions these must be sought afterwards and shared with the Service Manager who is responsible for signing off reviews.

If there are very few contributions available for the review meeting it may be that the review takes  place in two parts, a second meeting being held when the contributions are received. However, this must be an exception and such arrangements need to be agreed with the Carers, the SSW and the Service Manager.

Checks to be undertaken every 3 years:

  • CRB (now DBS) on all household members and regular visitors aged 16 and above who have sole care of a child;
  • Education (for the foster carers birth children) and Local Authority checks in accordance with those sought for a foster carers approval;
  • Medicals of the approved Carers.

The Review Report

The SSW prepares their report based on their experience, assessment and the contributions they have received. This is passed with all the contributions to the Fostering Team Manager to consider and comment.

The SSW needs to share their report with the carers and discuss all the contributions prior to the review meeting. In many instances these discussions will have taken place during the year when a placement has ended. The records of these discussions need to be included in the SSW review report.

All the reports need to be passed to the Fostering Team Manager to comment and sign off. A complete set of paper is then sent to the Fostering Reviewing Officer (RO) by the administrator 2 weeks before the review meeting takes place.

The Review Meeting

The RO chairs this meeting and the discussion is based on all parties having had prior sight of all the reports. It is expected that this takes place in the Foster Cares home and that the RO review the actual home as part of the review process.

A record of the meeting is prepared by the RO who make recommendations and sends this to the Service Manager for comment.

After the Service Managers comment the two final copies are sent to the FC, one for their records and one to return to the Service.

It is the responsibility of the SSW and the Fostering Team Manager to ensure that ALL the recommendations of the review report are followed through.

When the case is due for presentation at the Fostering Panel, the SSW is responsible for booking the date and ensuring that the paperwork is fully completed and submitted to the Panel Coordinator. In some isolated cases it may be helpful if the RO attends the Panel.

Without a full set of paperwork the Fostering Panel cannot hear a case Fostering Regulations 2011 28(3).

Postponement and cancellations

Annual reviews will take place on the date that was set at the previous review. An annual calendar of review meeting dates is held by the administrator and available for all staff.  

This review meeting is a date that must be prioritised by the Foster Carer, RO and SSW.

If any member of the review meeting cannot attend due to unforeseen circumstances, e.g. sickness of themselves or a child, the review meeting will still take place with those people who are available and the review will then be divided into two parts.

Part 1 will be held with those available using the paperwork which will have been prepared in advance. This meeting will complete as much of the review meeting as possible.

Part 2 will be a follow up meeting arranged with those not present at the part 1 and others may  attend, this can decided on at the time according to individual circumstances.

End