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OxfordshireChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all approved foster carers, including Connected Person Carers.

See Fostering Panel Procedure.

Contents

  1. Frequency
  2. Consultation and Action before the Review
  3. Formal Review Meeting
  4. Presentation to the Fostering Panel
  5. After the Fostering Panel
  6. Representations/Independent Review Procedure
  7. Updates on Checks
  8. Notice of Termination by Foster Carers

1. Frequency

Formal reviews of foster carers will take place at least annually. 

Reviews will take place more frequently and may be initiated by the supervising social worker or foster carers where there has been a significant change in circumstances, for example a change in the composition of the household.

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 his/her 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.

2. Consultation and Action before the Review

Prior to the Review, the supervising social worker will seek the views of all members of the foster carers’ household including the children of the foster family using a questionnaire (in an age-appropriate way).

The supervising social worker will also take account of the written comments and opinions as to the foster carers’ abilities from all social workers who have used the foster carers for a placement since the last formal review as recorded on their End of Placement Reports. 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;
  • Foster Carers;
  • Foster carers' own children and young people;
  • Child/ren in placement;
  • 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 (formerly DBS) checks, are out of date and require updating.

3. Formal Review Meeting

There will be a formal review meeting held at the foster home attended by the supervising social worker, the foster carers and members of the foster carers’ family (if appropriate). The supervising social worker will chair the review except where issues of concern or complex issues are likely to arise, in which case a Team Manager from the Family Placement Team will attend and act as chair.

At the review meeting, the agenda will follow the Cue Sheet for the Annual Review of foster carer’s approval. The supervising social worker will also carry out a safety check and raise any issues of concern at the review meeting. This will include seeing the room in which a placed child sleeps.

After the Review, the supervising social worker will complete a Review Report and pass it to his/her Team Manager for agreement and signature. Once agreed, the supervising social worker will send the Review Report to the foster carers to agree, sign and return with any comments they wish to make. 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 supervising social worker may 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 also 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 Fostering Panel on the foster carer’s first annual review for a recommendation, and thereafter may be presented to the fostering panel.  This may include 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 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 Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure, Alterations to Category of Approval, for the alterations which can be approved by the Fostering Team Manager, Panel Admin needs to be informed in order to change approval on FWi 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 the foster carers’ Form F/assessment report and 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, Notice of Termination by Foster Carers), the Review Report should be presented to the earliest possible Fostering Panel, see Section 8, Notice of Termination by Foster Carers.

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 carers will be informed in writing of the outcome of the review. 

A copy of the Review Report and a record of the outcome of the review will be retained on the foster carers’ FWi record. 

The Fostering Panel Administrator will record any change in the foster carers’ approval on the Foster Carer Register.

6. Representations/Independent Review Procedure

6.1 Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer’s 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/qualifying determination  and he or she must be advised that if they wish to challenge the decision/qualifying determination 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 Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure. 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.

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.

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 Carer’s Approval will apply.

7. Updates on Checks

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on persons aged 16 and over 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 carers’ approval should be carried out immediately to take account of any new information

See Persons Disqualified from Fostering Procedure.

8. Notice of Termination by Foster Carers

A foster carer may give written notice at any time to his/her 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 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.

The foster carer will be offered an exit interview/meeting with the relevant Team Manager. 

The Fostering Panel Administrator will remove the foster carers from the Foster Carer Register once de-registered.