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OxfordshireChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Assessment and Approvals of Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all those who wish to become foster carers for the local authority. 

RELATED GUIDANCE

For relatives and friends of the child - see Placements with Connected Persons Procedure - or who are offering short breaks and relief care.

For interim approvals of relatives and friends as foster carers, see Placements with Connected Persons Procedure.

For information about Foster Carers who wish to transfer from one provider to another, see Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol England (2014)

For temporary approval as foster carers of approved prospective adopters, see Placements in Foster Care Procedure, Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters.

Also see Fostering Recruitment Policy Procedure, Smoking and Health Policy for Foster Carers, including Connected Persons Procedure and Fostering Panel Procedure.

AMENDMENT

In July 2017, this chapter was updated to reflect local practice. A new Section 2, Approval of Foster Carers who Child-Mind, was added to this chapter which should be read in its entirety.

Contents

  1. Responding to Requests for Information
  2. Approval of Foster Carers who Child-Mind
  3. Assessment - Stage One and Stage Two
  4. Sharing Information for the Purposes of Foster Carer Assessments
  5. Application Forms and Checks 
  6. Health
  7. Using the Internet in Assessments
  8. Personal References
  9. Preparation Group
  10. Assessment - Stage Two
  11. Presentation to the Fostering Panel
  12. After the Fostering Panel’s Recommendation
  13. Representations/Independent Review Procedure 
  14. After the Approval
  15. Register of Foster Carers
  16. Alterations to Category of Approval 

    Appendix 1: Suggested Factors to Consider in Assessment of Connected Person as Foster Carers

1. Responding to Requests for Information

In relation to every request received by the Fostering or the Enquiry Officer will complete an Initial Enquiry Form with the following information:

  • Full name, date of birth, address and telephone number;
  • Any other addresses within the last 5 years;
  • Date of request;
  • Marital status;
  • Names of other members in household;
  • Details of the accommodation;
  • Previous experience and details of any other approvals already given;
  • Type of fostering sought (respite, short-term, relief fostering for children with disabilities, long-term, number of children etc;
  • Details regarding immunisations of birth children (if they have not been immunised in accordance with NHS guidelines we will not be able to take the enquiry any further).

A check will be made on Framework-i and previous systems such as SWIFT to clarify whether the enquirer is already known to the Directorate.

If the enquiry is not deemed appropriate to pursue, for example because there are known child protection concerns in relation to the family, the applicant will be informed in writing of this decision, with reasons.

Where the enquirer is an employee of Oxfordshire County Council and works within Children’s Social Care in the Children, Education and Families Directorate, they will be advised to apply to a different fostering agency - see Fostering Recruitment Policy Procedure.

Otherwise, the enquirer will then be provided with an information pack containing full details about the assessment process, the checks required about any applicant and members of the household, and the likely time-scale involved.

The Team Manager will consider each Initial Enquiry Form and if the enquiry appears appropriate, a social worker will be allocated to carry out an initial home visit. 

The Family Placement Service will keep monthly statistics of the number of enquiries made and, where known, reasons why enquiries have not been pursued. 

2. Approval of Foster Carers who Child-Mind

A fostering applicant who is also child-minding will not be approved to foster children in the age group 0 - 4 years.

The exception to this is if it is a joint application where both applicants are home based and therefore able to manage the competing demands of child-minding and fostering between them.

Existing foster carer's approval will not be changed. The ability to meet the competing demands will be monitored through supervision and where there are concerns will be returned to the fostering panel.

3. Assessment - Stage One and Stage Two

Stage One of the assessment process is intended to provide the decision maker with basic information about the applicant to enable clearly unsuitable applicants to be sifted out without unnecessary bureaucracy or expenditure of time and resource by the fostering service or the applicant. More detailed information is collected in Assessment - Stage Two. (See Section 10, Assessment - Stage Two).

Where a person applies to become a foster carer and it is decided to assess their suitability to become a foster carer, the following information must be obtained as soon as reasonably practicable, and after they have signed a consent form, relating to the applicant and other members of their household and family:

  • Full name, address and date of birth;
  • Details of health (supported by a medical report);
  • Particulars of any other adult members of the household;
  • Particulars of the children in the family, whether or not members of the household, and any other children in the household;
  • Particulars of their accommodation;
  • The outcome of any request or application made by them or any other member of their household to foster or adopt children, or for registration as an early years provider or later years provider under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006), including particulars of any previous approval or refusal of approval relating to them or to any other member of the household;
  • If the applicant has, in the preceding twelve months, been a foster parent approved by another fostering service provider, the name and address of that fostering service provider;
  • Names and addresses of two persons who will provide personal references;
  • In relation to the applicant and any other member of the applicant ’s household who is aged 18 or over, an enhanced criminal record certificate;
  • Details of current, and any previous, marriage, civil partnership or similar relationship;
  • The views of, the local authority in whose area the applicant lives, if different;
  • Where the applicant has previous been, or is currently, approved as a foster carer by another fostering service provider, or as a prospective adopter by an adoption agency, and consents, access may be requested to the relevant records compiled by that other fostering service provider / adoption agency in relation to the applicant. That service/agency must provide access within 15 working days of a request being received.

Records compiled by another fostering service, or an adoption agency, can be used to inform the new assessment of the applicant’s suitability to foster. For instance, if previous partners have been interviewed in the past to verify facts, and the current assessing social worker is satisfied with the records in respect of these interviews, it should not be necessary to repeat the interviews if no further information is required. The assessing social worker should, however, satisfy themselves as to the quality and continuing relevance of the information before using it to inform the current assessment.

Where, having regard to any information obtained, it is decided (by the Agency Decision Maker) that the applicant is not suitable to become a foster carer, the applicant must be notified in writing with reasons. This notification may be given whether or not all of this information has been obtained. Such a notification may not be given more than 10 working days after all the information has been obtained. The applicant has no right to make representations about the decision or to have their case reviewed under the Independent Review Mechanism. However, the applicant must be informed that they can complain via the fostering service’s complaints process if they are unhappy with the way in which their case has been handled. The complaints process should address whether or not the applicant’s case has been handled in a reasonable way, rather than the question of the applicant’s suitability to foster.

Where all the specified information has been obtained and notification has not been given within 10 working days that the applicant is not suitable, then the application must proceed to Assessment - Stage Two (see Section 10, Assessment - Stage Two).

Note that Stages One and Two of the assessment process can be carried out concurrently, but the Stage One information must be sought as soon as possible and the decision about whether an applicant has successfully completed Stage One must be made within 10 working days of all the information required in that Stage being received.

On receipt of the completed application form, consent to medical checks and authorisations for the statutory checks/references, the administrative staff will input the date of the application and details of the household members on the electronic records.

The Fostering Panel must make its recommendation on the application within eight months of the receipt of the formal application first applying to be assessed.

The manager will book the applicants on to the Foster Carers Preparation Group- see Section 9, Preparation Group.

4. Sharing Information for the Purposes of Foster Carer Assessments

4.1 Information Sharing

As stated above, sharing information about a person that is held in their existing foster carer or adopter records is permitted for the purposes of informing a new assessment of a person’s suitability to foster or adopt. For instance, if previous partners have been interviewed in the past to verify facts, and the current assessing social worker is satisfied with the records in respect of these interviews, it should not be necessary to repeat the interviews if no further information is required. The assessing social worker should, however, satisfy themselves as to the quality and continuing relevance of the information before using it to inform the current assessment.

Information that should be shared, upon request, in order to inform a new assessment of a person’s suitability to foster or adopt includes:

  • The report of the original assessment of the person’s suitability to foster or adopt (if it is considered by the body requesting the information to be recent enough to be relevant);
  • A copy of the report of the last review of the individual’s continuing suitability to foster or adopt and any other review report considered useful to understanding the person’s current suitability to foster or adopt;
  • Details of any concerns about standards of practice and what if anything is being done/has been done to address them;
  • Details of allegations made against the foster carer/adopter or their household members; and
  • Any other information considered to be relevant to the assessment of the person’s suitability to foster/adopt.

4.2 Consent

Information should only be shared with the informed, explicit consent of all parties referred to in the information, including young people where they have sufficient understanding to consent to the sharing of their information (if they do not have sufficient understanding, the consent of a person with Parental Responsibility would need to be obtained). This means that the person giving consent needs to understand why their information is to be shared, what will be shared, who will see their information, the purpose to which it will be put and the implications of sharing that information.

If consent is refused, the current fostering service or adoption agency should consider whether there is any information in the records that is a cause for concern. Any information about an applicant’s conduct or suitability to foster/adopt that has caused concern should be shared even if the individual has refused consent. If there are no such concerns, and the individual has refused consent, information should not be shared. This may require documents to be redacted to remove information relating to individuals who have refused consent.

Requests for access to information should be accompanied by the written consent of the applicant to the sharing of their information.

4.3 Timescales

The receiving fostering service should acknowledge the request for sharing information of previous applications within two working days, they should seek consent from all others referred to in the information within five working days and the information, redacted where necessary, should be provided within 15 working days.

5. Application Form and Checks

Checks on the applicant, all members of the household and frequent visitors aged 18 and over will be actioned by the administrative staff after they have signed consent agreements.

When submitting their completed Application Form, the applicants will also be asked to complete the Disclosure and Barring Service disclosure forms (a new check may not be necessary if the applicant has subscribed to the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service and produce the necessary identification. Checks should also include whether the applicant has a right to work in the UK.

The administrative staff will also write to the NSPCC, the health visitor for the family (where the applicants have children under 5) and the schools attended by the applicant’s own children) and, where the applicant used to live outside the county, the Children’s Social Care Services for the area where the applicant previous lived.

A letter will also be sent to the applicant’s employer asking for written confirmation on the employer's company headed paper, of the National Insurance number and the suitability of the applicant to work with children. 

Requests for a fuller reference will be sent to any organisation where the applicant has worked with children in a paid or unpaid capacity, for example Youth Club or Scouts. A Designated Officer check will also have been completed.

Where the applicant has made a previous application to foster or adopt, the relevant agency must be asked to confirm in writing the outcome of the application.

The administrative staff will record the dates when the checks/letters were sent and the dates when replies were received. The replies to the checks should be retained for placing in the applicant’s case record, once it is opened.

Applicants may be advised not to pursue their application for a variety of reasons at this stage where it is considered that the application would be inappropriate, for example where there are concerns about the information obtained from checks or about the applicants’ attempt to cover up information about offences - see Fostering Recruitment Policy Procedure during Stage One. 

Where the Disclosure and Barring Service check reveals a conviction, this will be received initially by the Human Resources Team, who will write to the Service Manager, Adoption, Fostering and Permanence Manager. The Service Manager will consult with the Supervising social worker carrying out the assessment and make a decision as to whether the application can proceed. The decision will be confirmed in writing to the assessing Supervising social worker and to Human Resources. Where there is any doubt the application may be referred to the Fostering Panel for advice.

Where the conviction is for an offence where the applicant or member of the household is Disqualified under the Regulations, a decision to proceed with the assessment can only be made if the application is for approval of a Connected Person as the Foster Carer of a specific child requiring a placement and, on the basis of a completed risk assessment, it is appropriate for the assessment to proceed having considered all relevant facts surrounding the circumstances of the disqualification (see also Placement with Connected Persons Procedure). The case may be referred to the Fostering Panel for advice on this issue. In all other cases, the applicant must be informed that the application cannot proceed. See Persons Disqualified from Fostering Procedure.

6. Health

See also Smoking and Health Policy for Foster Carers, including Connected Persons Procedure

All applicants must agree to attend an appointment and a written report on their health and any other relevant health issues being obtained from their GP. This will require a medical examination in the case of Level 3 Assessments. Written advice from the Medical Adviser to the Fostering Panel should be obtained and referred to in the report on the application to the Panel. 

Where the applicant’s GP has expressed concerns or where clarification of the implications of any health issues is required, detailed advice must be sought from the Medical Adviser to the Panel at an early stage and the implications fully discussed with the applicant and in the report.

7. Using the Internet in Assessments

These principles apply equally to family and friends carers as to stranger foster carers.

Although in law there is no requirement for consent to access information that is in the public domain, it is important that we are open about the checks we are carrying out. Applicants should be informed from the outset that these checks form part of the assessment process and should be asked to declare anything up front that may be of concern. Fostering Service National Minimum Standard 13.4 states - The assessment process is set out clearly to prospective foster carers including the stages and content of the selection criteria.

The requirement is for checks on applicants only. We will not be carrying out checks on other household members including teenage children.

The following sites need to be checked by inputting the applicants name and the area they live: Google, Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.

These may lead on to other sites depending on the information found. There is limited information that is available without the assessor accessing Facebook and Twitter via their personal accounts but this is not something that is expected of individual social workers.

If any information is found that raises concerns about a person's suitability, we must share this openly with them and address it within the report. What is the context? How do they respond to the issue being raised? Was the information put there by themselves or by someone else? How reliable is the information? What do they plan to do about any information which might compromise their position as a carer? How will they protect themselves, their family and a child in the future?

Fostering Service's NMS 13.3 states - prospective foster carers are prepared to become foster carers in a way which addresses, and gives practical techniques to manage, the issues they are likely to encounter. We therefore have a responsibility towards prospective foster carers to prepare and advise them about the potential implications of their use of the internet. For example, they may have an account with Facebook and have posted information about themselves and their family, or they may have uploaded material to Youtube. You may also find their personal address and telephone number details via google if they are a member of a local club. We need to provide advice about protecting the privacy and security of the prospective foster carer, and should they be approved, any child placed with them. This needs to be clearly evidenced within the assessment report.

This is an ever changing area and these procedures will evolve and change over time.

8. Personal References

Where the applicant has been a foster carer within the preceding 12 months and was approved as such by another fostering service provider, a reference must be requested from that other fostering service provider. There is no requirement to also interview personal referees (see below). However, additional verbal and/or written references may be sought from personal referees. If the previous fostering service, for whatever reason, does not provide a reference, interviews with two personal referees must be conducted.

Otherwise, the names of six personal referees must be obtained for each applicant covering a range of people who have known the applicants in various periods of their life. All referees must be over 18. 

The Supervising social worker will select three referees to follow up and the administrative staff in the Family Placement Team will send the selected referees requests for written references enclosing standard forms for completion by the referees. One reference must be from a family member.

The Supervising social worker will also interview two (or more where necessary) of the referees personally.

Contact will also be made with previous partners where the relationship was significant or where they have jointly parented or cared for children during the relationship with the applicant, unless there is a specific reason not to do so. If a reference is not requested the supervising social worker must seek advice from the Panel Adviser prior to submitting papers.

All members of the household will be interviewed. Contact will also be made with any children not living in the household.

9. Preparation Group

The Preparation Group (Skills to Foster) will cover in detail all aspects of the fostering task, including the need for approved foster carers to notify the manager of any changes in their home circumstances, for example any new relationships they have where they wish their new partners to become a member of the household.

Applicants will be booked on the course once their completed application forms are received. All prospective foster carers will be required to attend this training, which is an integral part of the assessment process.

The objectives of the course are:

  • To raise awareness and understanding of the key issues which need to be addressed by all foster carers;
  • To assist applicants to consider more thoroughly the implications of fostering;
  • To assist applicants to determine the type of resource they can offer to the children needing foster placements.

Those facilitating the course will provide written feedback on issues relating to the applicants for the assessing social worker which must be used in his or her assessment. Any issues of concern should be referred to the manager.

10. Assessment - Stage Two

Where the Assessment - Stage One information has been obtained, and no notification has been given within 10 working days that the applicant is not suitable to be a foster carer, the following must be undertaken:

  • Obtain the following information relating to the applicant and other members of the household, together with any other relevant information:
    • Details of personality;
    • Religious persuasion, and capacity to care for a child from any particular religious persuasion;
    • Racial origin, cultural and linguistic background and capacity to care for a child from any particular racial origin or cultural or linguistic background;
    • Past and present employment or occupation, standard of living, leisure activities and interests;
    • Previous experience (if any) of caring for their own and other children;
    • Skills, competence and potential relevant to their capacity to care effectively for a child placed with them.
  • Consider whether the applicant is suitable to be a foster parent and whether the applicant ’s household is suitable for any child;
  • Prepare a written report on the applicant which includes the following matters:

The information required to be obtained, as set out above;

Any other relevant information;

An assessment of the applicant’s suitability to be a foster parent;

Proposals about any terms of approval.

(There are no specific regulatory requirements about the way in which assessment information must be collected or presented to panel).

Where, having regard to information obtained during Stage Two, it is decided that the applicant is unlikely to be considered suitable to become a foster parent, notwithstanding that not all the Stage Two information has yet been obtained, a Brief Report may be prepared and submitted to the fostering panel in the same way as for a full assessment report. (There is no prescribed length or format for a brief report).

The assessing social worker will:

  • Familiarise him or herself with the application form;
  • Contact the applicant(s) and arrange a visit;
  • Draw up a written agreement setting out the dates for the assessment visits and the date for the presentation to the Fostering Panel;
  • Interview couples individually and together and ensure the children of the applicant or other significant members of the family/household are seen alone;
  • Contact ex partners (see below);
  • Inform the applicant(s) of any revised timescales if there are delays.

The assessing social worker will complete all parts of BAAF Form F when the carer is not a Connected Person, which will record all appropriate factual information and address issues including the applicants' understanding of the following areas:

  • Parenting Experience including caring for other people's children;
  • The importance of contact between children and their families;
  • Helping children to make sense of their past;
  • Sexual boundaries and attitudes;
  • Awareness of sexual and other forms of abuse;
  • Health and health promotion;
  • Promotion of education;
  • Approaches to discipline;
  • Awareness of how to promote secure attachments between children and appropriate adults;
  • Religion;
  • Standards of living and lifestyles;
  • Racial, cultural and linguistic issues;
  • Experiences of disability and attitudes to disability;
  • Awareness of equal opportunities;
  • Understanding and dealing with young people's behaviour including encouraging children to take responsibility for their behaviour and helping them to learn how to resolve conflict.

The list is not exhaustive - other issues relevant to the individual applicant and his or her family may need to be addressed. The skills and personal qualities that need to be evidenced will be different according to the type of fostering the applicants want to do, e.g. babies and toddlers, short term or longer term.

The assessing supervising social worker may contact the previous partners of the applicants (taking care not to disclose confidential personal information about the applicant). Where there were any children of the relationship or where children were cared for jointly, the social worker will arrange to interview them face-to-face wherever practicable. All adult children of the applicant(s) living away from home may also be contacted.

Applicants will be encouraged to be actively involved in contributing towards the assessment, and supported to provide their own written report/portfolio for Panel to evidence their capabilities and to support their application.

The applicant's home will also be thoroughly checked to ensure it provides appropriate and safe accommodation for the child, as well as safe transport. Each child over 3 has their own bedroom or, where this is not possible; the sharing of the bedroom has been agreed by the placing authority. A risk assessment must be conducted in regard to pets.

The applicant must be notified that the case is to be referred to the fostering panel, be given a copy of the report and be invited to send any observations in writing within 10 working days beginning with the date on which the notification is sent. They will also be asked to sign the report.

At the end of the 10 working days, (or when the applicant’s observations are received, whichever is sooner), the report, the applicant’s observations on that report, if any, and any other relevant information obtained, must be sent to the fostering panel.

11. Presentation to the Fostering Panel

One copy of all the relevant information (including a Checklist, the Form F, assessment, the report from the Preparation Groups, the applicant’s comments, references, a full report on visits to the referees, full information about all the statutory checks and the Medical Adviser’s report) should be sent to the Panel Administrator 14 days before the date of the Fostering Panel meeting considering the application. 

In relation to all assessments of relatives and friends, a report on the child’s progress is also required for the Panel, see Placements with Connected Persons Procedure

At the Panel meeting, the information for the Assessment will be presented by the assessing social worker responsible for the assessment or a substitute with adequate knowledge of the applicant and the assessment. Foster carers will be invited to attend Panel when their application is being considered, and the Panel Administrator should be informed if they intend to do so. If the applicants decide not to attend, this should not be seen as prejudicial to the application.

Whether or not the applicants attend, their views and wishes must be presented fairly and accurately within the documentation before the Panel. 

The Panel will consider the written report together with all the supporting documentation and make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering) regarding the outcome of the assessment, including where approval is recommended, the category of fostering recommended. 

The recommendation will be recorded in writing and, where approval is recommended, the category of fostering, any limitations of the approval to named children (for example in the case of a Connected Person as a Foster Carer) or conditions as to the age range or number of children to be placed in the foster home will also be specified. 

In appropriate cases, this may include approval as Fostering Plus foster carers.

Reasons for the recommendations, the category and any conditions will be recorded in the Panel’s minutes.

12. After the Fostering Panel's Recommendation

After the Fostering Panel has considered the report and made a written recommendation, the Panel Administrator will send the minutes to the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering) who will make a decision as to the approval of the foster carers based on the Panel’s recommendation. as to the approval of the foster carers based on the Panel’s recommendation. Where a Brief Report has been submitted to the fostering panel, the Agency Decision Maker will, take into account the fostering panel’s recommendation, make a determination about whether to terminate the assessment or whether the full assessment should be completed.

Where the application is approved, the category and any terms of the approval must be also specified in writing.

The applicant will be informed verbally of the Agency Decision Maker’s decision within one working day.

Written notice of the decision and the terms of the approval will be sent to the foster carer within 7 working days by the assessing family placement social worker. 

A copy should also be placed on the foster carer’s case record.

Upon approval, foster carers should be issued with an agreed form of identification to enable their role as a foster carer to be verified.

13. Representations / Independent Review Procedure

If at Stage Two of the assessment process, the Agency Decision Maker gives a Qualifying Determination that he/she proposed not to approve the applicants as foster carers, the applicants will be advised that if they wish to challenge the decision, they have the right to make representations to the Agency Decision Maker within 28 days of the date of the written notice of the decision. In addition, as an alternative, they must be advised of the right to apply to the Secretary of State to request a review of the decision by an Independent Review Panel under the Independent Review Mechanism. Any such application must be made in writing within 28 days of the decision and supported by reasons.

The foster carer will not have the right to request a review by an Independent Review Panel 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.

Where it is decided at Stage One of the assessment process that the applicant is not suitable to become a foster carer, there is no right to have the case reviewed under the Independent Review Mechanism.

If no written notification of a request to challenge the decision is received within this period, the Agency Decision Maker will decide whether or not to approve the applicant as a foster carer (following a full assessment) or continue the assessment (following a Brief Report).

If written representations are made within the period, the matter must be referred back to the Fostering Panel for further consideration.

Where the Panel makes a different recommendation as a result of the applicant's representations, the recommendation will be sent to the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering) for a reconsideration of the decision.

The Panel Administrator will send written notice of the decision (signed by the Agency Decision Maker) to the applicant within 7 working days.

If the applicant decides to refer the matter to an Independent Review, the relevant Panel reports, any new information obtained since the Panel meeting, a record of the decision made and reasons, a copy of the written notification of the decision and a copy of the Panel minute, if different, will be sent to the Independent Review within 10 working days of their written request.

The procedure for the Independent Review is carried out by BAAF; the applicant and two representatives of the fostering agency will be invited to attend the Independent Review.

After considering the representations, the Independent Review may make a recommendation, which the Agency Decision Maker will consider before a final decision is made.

Written notice of the final decision, together with reasons, must be sent to the applicant within 7 working days of the receipt of the Independent Review recommendation.

Where the decision is to approve the application, the procedure set out in Section 14, After Approval and below will be followed.

14. After the Approval

Where an application is approved, the foster carer will be allocated a Supervising social worker, who will usually the same person as the assessing social worker - see Supervision and Support of Foster Carers Procedure.

The Supervising social worker will request the foster carer to sign a Foster Care Agreement between the local authority and the foster carer, which contains the information the foster carer needs to carry out his or her functions as a foster carer effectively. 

The foster carer will be given two copies for signature, and will retain one signed copy. 

The other will be kept on the foster carer’s FWi record, together with the report and supporting documents presented to the Fostering Panel, a copy of the Panel’s recommendation and a copy of the approval decision.

The Foster Care Agreement will contain the following information:

  1. The terms of the foster carer’s approval;
  2. The support and training to be provided to the foster carer;
  3. The procedure for the review of the foster carer’s approval;
  4. The procedure for placements of children;
  5. The procedure for making representations and complaints;
  6. The requirement to inform the fostering service of any change of circumstance, address or in the household composition, or of any registration as a childminder or application to adopt or of any offence;
  7. The requirements in relation to confidentiality;
  8. The procedures for behaviour management and unauthorised absences of children placed with the foster carer including the ban on corporal punishment;
  9. The procedures for informing the fostering social worker of the child’s progress and any significant events relating to the child;
  10. The need to give 28 days’ notice in writing of they wish to cease fostering.

New foster carers will also be given a Welcome Pack and a link to the Foster Carer’s Hand-Book, which covers policies, procedures, guidance, legal information and insurance details.

The allocated Supervising social worker will:

  • Discuss with the foster carer the provision of any equipment, furniture etc. in preparation for a placement;
  • Continue to provide support to the foster carer up to, during and after all placements - see Supervision and Support of Foster Carers Procedure;
  • Set up the foster carer as a provider on Framework-I;
  • Inform the Training section of the foster carer’s approval;
  • Notify the local Carer Coordinator and the Fostering Network (if not already done) of the foster carer’s approval;
  • Ensure the new foster carer is on the mailing list, including for invitations to support groups.

15. Register of Foster Carers

The manager of the Fostering Service will maintain a register of all approved foster carers containing the following particulars:

  1. The name, address, telephone number, date of birth, sex and ethnic origin of each foster carer;
  2. The date of approval and of each review of the approval;
  3. The category and current terms of the approval;
  4. The name, address, date of birth of each person with whom a child is placed who is a Connected Person (but not an approved Foster Carer) and who has entered an agreement to provide care for the child placed, together with the date and terms of the agreement.

16. Alterations to Category of Approval

All permanent alterations must be referred back to the Fostering Panel and thereafter the Agency Decision Maker.

Where an approved foster carer wishes to extend their approval to become a Fostering Plus carer, this must be referred to the Fostering Plus Panel - see Fostering Plus Procedure.

Appendix 1: Suggested Factors to Consider in Assessment of Connected Person as Foster Carers

Knowledge of the Child

Extent of previous contact with child; Child's existing routine; Health/medical issues; Understanding of family and child's history; Any interventions made to offset risk; Expectations of the child (e.g. behaviour); Capacity for behaviour management and appropriate discipline; Knowledge and understanding of the child's wishes, feelings, views on the Placement Plan/Placement Information Record and contact arrangements; Awareness of child's religion, language, culture and consideration of how to support these.

Motivation

Element of choice.

Expectations of Care Giving Role

Willingness to engage in child's interests, hobbies, activities, routines; Knowledge and understanding of child development, medical/health issues, abuse; Ability to provide safe care and protection; Ability to manage unresolved issues; Risk management; Change management - for all members of the household.

Anticipated areas of ease and difficulty with role; Appreciation of time scales involved; Anticipation and capacity to manage impact on own life experience - family dynamics, work/education/training, financial, health, social, housing etc; Other responsibilities currently held and implications of new caring role on these.

Family Dynamics

Existing tensions and suggested management proposals; Capacity to work with other family members (both maternal and paternal) and professionals; Anticipated impact of placement on family dynamics, including their own changing role; plan to overcome difficulties.

Contact

People the child needs to see; Frequency; Attitude towards (child, carer, others in the household); Offers to help; Help required from Local Authority; Ability to manage ongoing contact and safety.

Carer's Own History/Experience - Ability to Reflect on

Childhood experience; Previous involvement with social services; Relationship with partner - roles, responsibilities, conflict resolution; Raising own children - routines, activities; Involvement with other people's children; Working with children; Perception of current situation.

Financial Situation

Current situation; Implications of placement (e.g. work); Support needed from LA.

Accommodation

Carer's understanding and commitment to safe care in relation to the household composition and visitors; Issues that may arise from geographical location or accommodation itself (e.g. transport to school/activities; bedroom sharing); proposed solutions.

Understanding of Legal Options

Including permanent fostering, Child Arrangements Order, Special Guardianship Order, Adoption Order.

Working in Partnership

Shared vision for outcomes; Communication; Training.

Support Networks

Knowledge of people caring for other's children; Available resources // support needed; Emergency/contingency plans.