Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers
AMENDMENTIn April 2021, a revised link was added to Prepare for a review panel: adopters and 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. An early will review will also be held where there is significant change in the household, e.g. if the foster carers separate and one carer continues to foster as a single person.
As well as formal reviews, there will be regular dialogue and feedback between the Supervising Social Worker and the foster carer.
2. Consultation with Foster Carer before the Review
Prior to the formal review, the Supervising Social Worker will send t 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 Supervising Social 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 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 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.
The IRO for the child currently in placement will also be approached and their views of the placement will be sought.
3. Formal Review Meeting
The review will be informed by a review meeting which will be chaired by an Independent Fostering reviewing Officer or a Manager from the fostering service. The Supervising Social Worker and the foster carer will both be actively involved in the meeting which will be held in a Gloucestershire County Council office near to the foster carers home. It may also be held virtually where appropriate for example due to geographical distance or availability of attendees.
At the review meeting, the agenda as set out in the Foster Carer Review Form will include an appraisal of the foster carer's training and development needs, an evaluation of the training received since the last review, the foster carer's views of the service and support provided as well as the appropriateness of placements made and the care provided by the foster carer.
A Review Form will be completed and any recommendations discussed with the foster carer and recorded. The foster carer should have the opportunity to put their views on the recommendations in writing to be presented to the Fostering Panel or the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering) when the Review Form is considered.
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 and thereafter may be presented to the fostering panel where significant changes to the foster carer's approval or the termination of the foster carer's approval are recommended. In addition in circumstances where the Agency Decision Maker is if the opinion that further consideration by the Fostering Panel is required. 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 or and significant changes such as Where foster carer have separated or there is a new partner being assessed as part 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 Supervising Social Worker will present the review findings and recommendations to the Fostering Panel or Agency Decision Maker in a written report which incorporates the views of the child or children placed, the written views of the foster carer and any report provided by a social worker particularly where concerns have been expressed about a placement with the foster carer. Any recommendations for change in the foster carer's approval should be highlighted in the report.
Where the Review recommends the termination of approval of the foster carer, see Section 6.1, Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer's Approval.
Where the Fostering Panel's recommendation is for a different category of approval, see Section 6.2, Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carer's Approval.
Where the foster carer has decided to give up fostering, see Section 8, Resignation by Foster Carers.
5. After the Fostering Panel
A copy of the Review Form and a record of the outcome of the review will be sent to the foster carer and retained on the foster carer's case record.
6. Representations/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 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 GOV.UK, Prepare for a review panel: adopters and 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 by The Agency Decision Maker.
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, 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. Once foster carers have completed the full DBS it is the expectation that they will sign up to the online update service. This is funded by the foster carer and should apply to all adults in the household.
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.
Where there are significant concerns about the foster carers health, the Agency decision Maker can request more regular medical checks are carried out as part of the ongoing reviews.
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 Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure. There is no requirement for the fostering panel to be notified of resignations. However this is part of Gloucestershire County Council good practice approach and also triggers the ending of the Fostering network membership funding.