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6.1.2 Fostering Panel

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Click here for Children's Services Fostering Form

AMENDMENT

This Chapter was substantially revised in March 2018 and should be re-read in full.


Contents

  1. Statutory Function of The Fostering Panel
  2. Membership
  3. Chair
  4. Medical Advisor
  5. Legal Advisor
  6. Conduct of Panel
  7. Panel Training
  8. Minutes
  9. Applicant's / Carer's Attendance at Panel
  10. Quality Assurance
  11. Panel Process
  12. Approved Paperwork to be Presented
  13. Making an Application to Panel
  14. Recommendations and Decision Making
  15. Representations and the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM)
  16. Appeals to Hertfordshire County Council Panel (HCC)
  17. Termination of Approval of Foster Carers and Supported Lodgings Carers

    Appendix 1: Fostering Panel Procedure Flowchart


1. Statutory Function of the Fostering Panel

Fostering Panels have a crucial role to play in the provision and monitoring of foster care for children. Their primary legal function is to ensure that their recommendations contribute to good quality decisions about the approval of new applicants, the continued approval of foster carers, and matching children to appropriate long term foster carers. It is vitally important that Fostering Panel bears in mind the possibility of adoption for all children when permanent plans are being made.

An additional legal requirement of Panel is to provide quality assurance in relation to all reports presented to Fostering Panel including applications for approval and the continued suitability of foster carers through the review process. Panel will be asked to contribute through the Chair to the Fostering Service Annual Report, therefore the themes that have been identified throughout the year will form the basis of this process. The annual report is produced in June.

The Fostering Service will provide regular management information via the Panel Advisor to Fostering Panel for monitoring activity, particularly in relation to outcomes of foster carer annual reviews and the range and type of carers available to the authority and the placements made.


2. Membership

The Services Manager, Family and Friends and The Panel Chair are responsible for appointing to membership of the Fostering Panel. In doing so, the Fostering Service is committed to ensuring wherever possible that the membership of the Panel reflects the cultural diversity of the wider community.

S14 of the Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011 (FNMS 2011) makes a number of changes to the way in which Fostering Panels are formed and function as follows:

  • The Members of the Panel must be drawn from a Central List of persons with appropriate qualifications and/or experience, including one or more social workers who have at least three years relevant post-qualifying experience;
  • Those included on the Central List must have been subject of satisfactory DBS and agency checks before taking up appointment and the dates of such checks must be recorded;
  • Panel members must be provided with written information on appointment of their performance objectives, including their participation in induction and other training and safeguarding the confidentiality of records and information submitted to Panel. They should sign their written agreement to achieving these objectives;
  • There must be a process for reviewing the performance of Panel members (including the review of the Panel Chair by the Agency Decision Maker) and for performance management of members and where necessary the termination of the appointment. If the member has not sat on a panel during the year it will be difficult to do a review and it might be decided that they should not remain on the Central List;
  • Where it is considered that someone is unsuitable to be on the Central List they must be given one month's notice in writing and provided with details of the reasons for the decision to end their inclusion on the list;
  • S14 sets out that there is no longer a maximum period of tenure for members of Fostering Panel and nor is there a requirement that the Panel includes an elected member of the authority.

A Panel can be quorate with five voting members providing that the following are present:

  • The independent chair (or one of the vice chairs);
  • One social worker with at least three years relevant post-qualifying experience;
  • Three other members.

(If the meeting is conducted by a vice chair who is not independent there must be at least one other member of the panel present who is independent).

S23 of the FNMS 2011 requires that prospective panel members must be enabled to attend panel before becoming members and that they should complete induction training within 10 weeks of joining the central list.

Checks will be undertaken as listed in S19.3 of the FNMS 2011.

Personal and work references will also be obtained in writing and must be satisfactory.

Where possible, independent members will include members who have particular knowledge in education or child health.

One of the independent members, where possible, will be someone who are, or have previously been a foster carer, a son or a daughter of a foster carer, or someone with experience of having been in foster care themselves.

Each member will be asked to sign an agreement with the fostering service, in relation to his or her membership, covering the service expectations (including the requirement to report at once if they have been charged, cautioned or convicted for any criminal offence or if any criminal proceedings are pending), confidentiality issues and commitment to anti-discriminatory practice.

S23 of FNMS 2011 requires that Panel members have access to appropriate training including safeguarding training and skills development and have the opportunity to attend joint training with fostering staff at least annually.


3. Chair

Regulation 23(4)(i) of The Fostering Service (England) Regulations 2011 states the Panel Chair who, in the case of any appointment made after 1 October 2011, must be independent of the fostering service.

Up to three Vice Chairs per panel may also be appointed from the Central List (S14 FNMS 2011).

In addition to Panel members, a non-voting professional advisor attends Panel to support the Panel members regarding local policies and procedures as well as statutory regulations and guidance.


4. Medical Adviser

Although there is no Medical Adviser in situ to advise the Panel, all medical examination reports and medical update reports must be sent to the agency Medical Adviser for comments.

Should the Panel take the view that they do not wish to take the medical advice; the reasons for doing so must be recorded clearly in the minutes.

The comments of the Medical Adviser should be included in the body of the assessment report. Panel will not be able to hear a new approval case without medical comments and the date of the medical report.


5. Legal Adviser

Similarly, although no Legal Adviser sits on panel the Child Litigation Unit should be consulted whenever the Panel deems this necessary.

Should the Panel take the view that they do not wish to take the legal advice, the reasons for doing so must be recorded clearly on the minutes.

In certain circumstances, the panel advisor will contact the legal advisor on behalf of the panel should there be a need to do so.


6. Conduct of Panel

Panel members are expected to be aware of professional conduct and dress keeping in mind respect for the applicants, professional staff, colleagues and the formality of the panel meeting.

Panel members are expected to declare any conflict of interests and for this to be minuted. Together with the Chair, a decision will be reached as to whether it is appropriate for the member to continue to attend panel for cases where there is a conflict of interest.

In the event that Panel cannot agree on their recommendation, either unanimously or by a majority, the rationale for both recommending approval and non-approval will be set out in the Panel minutes and a recommendation of non-approval will be passed to the Agency Decision Maker.


7. Panel Training

The Fostering Panel Chair, Panel Advisor and the Family & Friends Service Manager will meet yearly to construct training objectives and to schedule panel training for the year. The Panel Advisor will coordinate panel training based upon feedback from the Fostering Service and the Fostering Panel.

Panel Members should complete induction training within 10 weeks of joining the Fostering Panel Central List. Induction packs are provided by Panel Administration.

Panel Members will be expected to attend two panel related training dates annually.

All panel members on the central list are asked to attend training opportunities offered by the Fostering Service outside the two training dates as they are able.

All panel members on the central list will be kept informed about current practice, issues and legislation in relation to fostering by means of updates from the Fostering Panel Advisor. Panel members will also be provided with access to the Members pages of BAAF and the Fostering Network.

The Panel Advisor will coordinate training events in liaison with the Panel Chair and the Fostering Service. The training will consider both practice and process issues.

Panel Members will complete Safeguarding training at least once every three years and preferably more often.


8. Minutes

Each Panel shall have an appointed minute taker to accurately record the discussion and recommendation with the reasons given, following an agreed format as required in Regulation 24(2) of the Fostering Services Regulations 2011. All recommendations and any disagreements and dissent will be fully recorded. Any third party information must be recorded separately. Copies of the minutes must be kept on the carer's files, sent to Panel members for verification and sent to the carer (excluding any third party information). Minutes will be sent to the Chair for approval before being submitted to the Agency Decision Maker for approval of the recommendation.

When the Chair and the majority of Panel have approved the minutes, the panel administrator will send the minutes to the ADM within seven working days.

Panel members’ individual notes must be returned to the panel administrator for shredding when the final minutes have been approved. Panel members must not keep private notes regarding cases after the final minutes are approved.


9. Applicant’s / Carer’s Attendance at Panel

There is an expectation that all prospective and approved foster carers will attend Panel when their case is presented unless there is a good reason that prevents this, except in unusual circumstances. Where the carers are a couple they will both be expected to attend. Potential foster carers are invited to attend Panel (with a supporter if they wish) where they are seeking approval and should attend for subsequent reviews. Where there has been an allegation or serious complaint against a carer or where the Fostering Service is recommending de-registration (against the carer's wishes) the carer should attend Panel.

Any observations made by the applicants about the full assessment should be provided to the Foster Panel for consideration.


10. Quality Assurance

Panel Advisor

  • In relation to the Panel's legal role to oversee the conduct of assessments and reviews as well as to give advice and make recommendations on other matters/cases referred to it, a Professional Advisor to Fostering Panel has been appointed in a quality assurance role to provide policy, procedural, and practice advice to the Fostering Panel. The Fostering Panel Advisor’s Quality Assurance Role is to:
    • Complete Panel Advisor Quality Assurance Feedback Forms and circulate them to line managers in the fostering service and in children’s services. QA feedback forms provide quality assurance on report quality and workers presentation at panel; 
    • To compile a quarterly report which interprets statistics reflecting feedback from applicants/ carers, social workers, and managers who attend panel;
    • To interpret and present statistics and practice issues to the fostering service at panel management meetings which occur four times annually;
    • To alert the Head of Fostering and Adoption of any specific issues, trends, or concerns in relation to panel and/or practice issues arising in panel;
    • To cooperate with the Panel Chair in yearly appraisals for panel members;
    • To be available to the fostering and children’s services as an adviser on panel policy and fostering statutory guidance and procedures.

The panel advisor and panel chair co-produce an annual report on panel activity which is presented by the Head of Adoption & Fostering and elected members.


11. Panel Process

A Panel date must be booked by the Social Worker before completion of the assessment report, to avoid undue delay.

No less than 14 days before Panel, one copy of the assessment report and associated documents (see Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure) must be lodged with the Panel Administrator. Late papers cannot be distributed in time for all panel members to have sight of the application.

Papers must be distributed by the Panel Administration Team to all Panel members, the Panel Advisor and Agency Decision Maker 10 working days prior to Panel.

Each application or review must be given a specific time slot and the Panel Administrator must arrange the agenda accordingly.

Assessing Social Workers must be available to attend Panel and ensure that they can answer Panel's questions in detail if required. Fostering Team Managers may attend Panel with their Social Worker at their discretion.

If the assessing Social Worker has any issues of concern in relation to the assessment, these must be made known to the applicants prior to Panel and they must be clearly stated in the assessment report. In rare circumstances where the issues of concern arise after completion of the assessment report, Social Workers must report any new information verbally at the Panel hearing.

Second opinion reports must be submitted to panel for all fostering and Family and Friends approvals.


12. Approved Paperwork to Be Presented at Panel

Disclosure and Barring Service Checks and Statutory Checks for all cases must be in date before panel can consider the application/review/appeal:

  • A DBS is necessary for all adult members of a household including the applicant’s children (over 18) or other adults in the home. The date of the DBS should be initialled by the supervising Team Manager. Where the DBS check has produced a trace requiring a risk assessment to be signed off by the Head of Specialist Services, the decision to proceed must be recorded with reasons, supported by the risk assessment;
  • Health and Safety Checklist must be presented to the Fostering Team Manager who must endorse the assessment document to confirm that these have been satisfactorily completed. The date of the Health and Safety report should be initialled by the supervising Team Manager and reviewed yearly;
  • Medical advisor comments should be included and should be no older than 3 years to be considered by panel;
  • Local authority checks must be included for all counties in which the applicant has resided in the past 10 years;
  • A certificate of good conduct must be included for all applicants who have lived in other countries within the past 10 years;
  • Evidence of safeguarding training should be no older than 3 years old or it will be considered out of date by panel.

List of Paperwork to be Submitted

Original papers must be retained by the Social Worker for the foster carer's file. One fully signed copy of the following must be sent to the Panel Administrator for distribution to Panel no later than 14 working days before the panel date.

See the following:

Management Check Sheets for Submission

Appeals Check Sheet

Family and Friends / Connected Persons Check Sheet

Mainstream Fostering, ARC Fostering, Supported Lodgings, and Shared Care Check Sheet

Reviews, Fostering, Specialist Fostering, Supported Lodgings, and Shared Care Check Sheet


13. Making an Application to Panel

The Fostering Panel will consider applications for approval in the following categories:

  • Foster carers, Supported Lodgings Carers, Family and Friends Carers and Shared Care (Short Breaks/respite);
  • Transfer of Registered Carers transferring from another local authority / agency;
  • Carers previously de-registered wishing to be re-approved;
  • Approved carers who have separated and wish to re-apply in their own right;
  • Approved carers with a new partner applying to be a carer; or
  • Significant changes to existing approval, for example:
    1. Changes to approval which need to be presented to panel:
      • Approval of any changes to the type of placement (i.e. carer changes from short term to long term, or in shared care (short breaks) from daycare /sitter to an overnight shared carer, etc.);
      • Approval of additional places or a change to the number of children being placed. If the change is a decrease, it does not have to return to panel, if carer is in agreement. All increases must return to panel;
      • Registered carers who have had a substantiated or unsubstantiated allegation investigated by LADO;
      • Relationship breakdown leading to continuation of one approved carer and/or the de-registration of the other;
      • Single carer gets a new partner and a joint assessment is completed;
      • First reviews (in instances where an IRO has decided that the review needs to go back to panel following a serious complaint (rather than an allegation));
      • Six month reviews as advised by panel endorsed by the ADM.
    2. Changes to approval which do not need to go back to panel
      Unless specifically prohibited by the original Panel approval process (or a first review) the following changes may be agreed by the Fostering Team Manager and Fostering Service Manager through the review process without a referral to Panel:
      • Age range of carer’s approval. This is particularly relevant as their own children get older and move out, or if people move house, etc;
      • Changes of approval which represent a less onerous task than that on the original approval e.g. respite care for carers approved as long/short term carers;
      • Whether a foster carer is on the Out of Hours list.

Fostering Panels are required to make recommendations to Fostering Service Providers. The Panel can do one of three things:

  • It can make a positive majority or unanimous recommendation;
  • It can make a negative majority or unanimous recommendation;
  • It can defer making a recommendation in order for further information to be made available.

The recommendations should be clearly recorded in the minutes with the reasons given for them.

Dissension from a Panel member should be clearly recorded in the minutes with reservations clearly noted.

Where the Panel is evenly balanced with half the members agreeing to recommend approval, and half not, it would not be possible for the Panel to reach a positive recommendation. If however, there is a majority in favour of the recommendation, the Panel can proceed to reach a positive recommendation, however the views of dissenting Panel members should be clearly minuted. It may then be necessary to defer the Panel’s final recommendation for further information to be made available.

The Panel Chair does not have the casting vote as all members are equally responsible for forming a view on the case.

The Fostering Service Provider is responsible for deciding whether to approve an applicant. The Panel recommendations and reasons for the recommendation should be forwarded to the Agency Decision Maker who will make the decision.

If it is decided that approval should be deferred, applicants and the assessing social worker to be clearly advised of why, and what needs to be done prior to re-submission.


14. Recommendations and Decision Making

S14.4 of the FNMS 2011 requires that the Panel must make its recommendations within eight months of the receipt of the fostering application.

The recommendations of Fostering Panel must be conveyed to the decision maker promptly after the Panel. As the panel chair cannot have a casting vote, the Head of Adoption and Fostering and The Operations Director act as agency decision-maker (ADM) in all cases except where s/he has had significant prior involvement in aspects of the matter being presented to Panel. In those circumstances, the decision must be referred to the alternative ADM (Fostering Service Manager).In the absence of the Decision Maker, the Fostering Service Manager can act as decision-maker.

In accordance with the Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers: Amendments to the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations (July 2013) in reaching a decision or making a qualifying determination, the decision maker should consider Hofstetter v LB Barnet and IRM {2009} EWCA 328 (Admin), in which the court set out the guidance for the way in which an adoption agency decision maker should approach a case, whether it is a decision based on the agency panel’s recommendation or the independent review panel’s recommendation. This applies equally to fostering decision makers. The court said that it would be good discipline and appropriate for the decision maker to:

  • List the material taken into account in reaching the decision;
  • Identify key arguments;
  • Consider whether they agree with the process and approach of the relevant panel(s) and are satisfied as to its fairness and that the panel(s) has properly addressed the arguments;
  • Consider whether any additional information now available to them that was not before the panel has an impact on its reasons or recommendation;
  • Identify the reasons given for the relevant recommendation that they do not or do not wish to adopt; and
  • State (a) the adopted reasons by cross reference or otherwise and (b) any further reasons for their decision.

The foster carer or prospective foster carer must be informed orally of the decision maker's decision within 2 working days of the decision being made and written confirmation must be sent within 7 working days of the decision being made. Once approved the foster carer must be asked to sign the Foster Care Agreement.

The Agency Decision Maker (Head of Fostering and Adoption) will make a decision as to the suitability of the applicant, based on the reports presented to the Fostering Panel and the minutes detailing the Panel's recommendation. Where the decision is to approve the applicants as foster carers, the Agency Decision Maker will endorse panel recommendations or the terms of the approval i.e. the number and age range of children to be fostered, the type of placement e.g. short or long term, short break care, inclusion in a particular fostering scheme, and any specific inclusions/exclusions. Applicants can be approved for more than one placement category.

The Agency Decision Maker’s determination about whether to terminate the assessment following a brief report must take into account the recommendations of the fostering panel. (See Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure, Progression to Fostering Panel ‘Not Suitable’) for the Brief Report Outlining Reasons not to Proceed with a Stage 2 Assessment.

The decision must be made within 7 working days of receipt of the Panel minutes and recommendation and must be recorded, together with reasons.

The Fostering Team Manager will arrange for the applicants to be given verbal notification of the decision within two working days. Written notice of the decision, with reasons, signed by the Agency Decision Maker, will be sent within 7 working days of the decision.

If the decision is to refuse approval, the assessing social worker and manager will assess the need for further counselling and arrange any necessary follow-up action.

14.1 Panel Recommendations Regarding Foster Carer Resignation Following Allegations

If a foster carer resigns from fostering for the fostering service provider under the Fostering Service Regulations (2002) 29 (11) before or during the review, the fostering service should collate whatever information is available and a report should be prepared for the fostering panel, with recommendations. The carer should be informed of this, the recommendations that are made and the basis for them. If the foster carer is unable or unwilling to co-operate with a review of approval within the time-scales that have been agreed at the outset, the fostering service should collate whatever information is available and a report should be prepared for the fostering panel, with recommendations. The foster carer should be informed of this, the recommendations that have been made, and the basis for them.

In both of the above cases, a minimum of 7 days should be allowed for the carer to respond in writing about any matters of fact they dispute, as well as any comments they may have about the recommendations. The foster carer’s written response should be submitted to the panel along with the report.

The process of the review should not take longer than 6 weeks, commencing from the date when the Independent Reviewing Officer was appointed. In the course of the process, the foster carer should have clear opportunities to express their point of view about all aspects of the information, evidence and opinion relevant to the review.

The foster carer should be given sight of the report and recommendations prior to the fostering panel. A minimum of 7 days and a maximum of 14 days should be allowed for them to respond in writing about any matters of fact they dispute, as well as any other comments they may have about the content of the report and recommendations. The foster carer’s written response should be submitted to the panel along with the report.

The foster carer should be able to attend the meeting of the fostering panel that considers the report along with the person who has been providing them with independent support, or another person of their choice.

The fostering panel will make a recommendation to the fostering service’s decision-maker. The fostering service provider should ensure that the foster carer is informed of the decision-maker’s decision in writing, along with information about the process for making representations, in accordance with the regulations.

If the Agency decision-maker endorses a recommendation of the fostering panel that a carer is no longer approved to foster for the fostering service provider, the fostering service manager should consult with the local authority designated officer (LADO) about the issue of referring the foster carer for referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) The manager should then produce a report for the fostering panel, including where necessary a recommendation for referral to the ISA. The panel should then submit a recommendation about this to the fostering service decision-maker.

The fostering service manager should inform the CSCI of the outcome of the review of the foster carer’s approval.

The HCC fostering service provider should notify the local authority in which the foster carer resides if the carer’s approval has been terminated, with reasons, as set out in the written notification to the foster carers.

The HCC fostering service provider should consider the need to inform the local authorities responsible for the children who have been in placement with the foster carer of the termination of their approval, and the reasons, as set out in the written notification to the carer.


15. Representations and the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM)

If a decision is made to refuse an application, following a completed Stage 2 assessment or a decision is made to change a foster carer’s terms of approval the agency decision maker must write to applicant/foster carer with his/her decision, the reasons for it and provide a copy of any fostering panel recommendation.

The applicant will be advised that he or she may challenge the decision either by an appeal to the Hertfordshire Fostering Panel or by the Independent Review Mechanism.

The applicant will be advised that if he or she wishes to challenge the decision, applicants should be advised of their right to submit representations within 28 days of the date of the written notice of the decision to the manager. In addition, as an alternative, they may exercise the right to apply to the Secretary of State to request a review of the decision by the Independent Review Mechanism. Any such application must be made in writing within 28 days of the decision and supported by reasons.

If the applicant decides to refer the matter to the IRM 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 minutes, if different, will be sent to the Independent Review within 10 working days of their written request.

The following does not qualify for consideration by the IRM. At a foster carer’s review, a decision is made to change the terms of approval and the fostering service provides the foster carer with a written statement setting out whether they consider the foster carer’s household, including any children placed there, to have additional support needs as a result of a change. The statement identifies what these support needs are, how they will be met and the foster carer provides their written agreement to the change.

The procedure for the Independent Review is carried out by CoramBAAF; 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.

The only circumstances where 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 this period, the decision to refuse the application can be confirmed.

Functions of a Panel Constituted to Review a Fostering Determination

In accordance with the Care Planning and Fostering (Miscellaneous Amendments) England Regulations 2015, the Functions of a Panel Constituted to Review a Fostering Determination, the Panel shall:

  1. Review the administration and recommend whether the prospective foster carer is suitable to act as foster carer;
  2. Review the terms of approval of the prospective foster carer to determine suitability to act as a foster carer;
  3. Where (b) applies, the panel should recommend that a written report in accordance with the Fostering Service Regulations 2002; or
  4. Should recommend that the prospective foster carer is not suitable to foster a child.

Click here for access to the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) Leaflets for Foster Carers. The leaflets are on the right hand side of the page.


16. Appeals to Hertfordshire County Council Panel (HCC)

If applicants choose to appeal to Hertfordshire Fostering Panel and written representations are received within the period, the Panel Adviser will arrange for the reports and other documentation to be reconsidered by the Fostering Panel, taking into account the written representations. The Panel will make a new recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering).

The Panel Administrator will advise the applicant within 7 days of the date of the Panel meeting when they can attend and their written representations will be considered.

In these circumstances, applicants who wish to attend the meeting of the Fostering Panel can arrange for a friend or supporter to accompany them. However the friend or supporter may not participate in the panel process but may sit in the panel meeting.

After considering the representations, the Panel will make further recommendations either confirming or amending their previous views, which the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering) will consider before a final decision is made.

If the decision remains not to approve the application, the ADM will arrange for the applicants to be informed verbally within 2 working days. Written notice of the final decision, together with reasons, must be sent to the applicant by the ADM within 7 working days of the decision being made. Information about the Complaints Procedure must also be sent. A copy of the report to the Panel, the Panel's recommendation and the decision, with reasons, must be retained on the applicant's case file.

An applicant can only choose to attend IRM or be heard at the Hertfordshire Panel, not both.


17. Termination of Approval of Foster Carers and Supported Lodgings Carers

It should be noted that foster carers, Supported Lodgings Carers (and prospective foster carers) are able to request an independent review through the Independent Review Mechanism of any decision by their agency not to approve them or to terminate or change their approval.

Click here for LCS Guidance

17.1 Uncontested Termination of Approval

Where the carers wish to resign or agrees with the Supervising Social Worker's recommendation to de-register, they must be asked to formally tender their resignation in writing to the Fostering or Supported Lodgings Team Manager.

The Fostering or Supported Lodgings Team Manager must consider whether the request requires presentation to Panel because of concerns about practice. A Termination of Approval form must be completed and returned for the file. The formal de-registration letter must be recorded on the carer's file and the file closed.

The Fostering Services Manager must be informed and sent a copy of the termination of approval form by the Team Administrator.

The de-registration must be entered on LCS by the Team Administrator.

17.2 Contested Termination of Approval

All cases where the recommendation to de-register is contested must be referred to Panel and the carers must be invited to attend.

17.3 Foster Carers Attendance at Panel Following an Allegation or For Contested Termination of Approval

This procedure should be read in conjunction with the “Managing Allegations Against Adults Who Work with Children and Young People Procedure" (of the Hertfordshire SCB Procedures).

Foster carers or Supported Lodging Carer’s must always be invited to attend Panel in these circumstances and strongly encouraged to attend. Foster carers or Supported Lodging Carers must also be formally advised that Panel has the power to recommend de-registration in these circumstances and that it is in the carer's interests to attend to put their view directly to Panel.

Where they decline to do so, the Supervising Social Worker must write to the carers confirming that they have declined to attend against advice of the fostering service. The carer's written comment on their review form or appended to their review will be the only information presented to Panel in these circumstances and late written information will not be accepted.

When booking Panel, the Supervising Social Worker must make it clear that carers will attend. A 40 or 60 minute slot will be allocated depending of the circumstances (i.e. review following allegation or recommendations for de-registration).

A letter of invitation to attend Panel together with all the information to be presented to Panel must be sent to the foster carer(s) at least 4 weeks prior to the Panel date by the Supervising Social Worker.

Fourteen working days prior to Panel, papers must be sent to the Panel Administrator together with any written information received from the carers. The Supervising Social Worker must confirm with the Panel Administrator the carer(s) intention to attend Panel.

If the carers wish to make a complaint, they should be advised to do so separately in accordance with CS&SS complaints procedure. They cannot lodge a complaint via the Panel process, which must proceed regardless of the fact that a complaint has been made.

The carers must be advised that they may invite a friend to support them in Panel. However, the supporter may only speak in Panel if the carer feels unable to speak for her or himself.

If carers wish to invite a solicitor, they must be informed that the solicitor can only act as supporter and not as legal representative or advocate. Where a carer intends to bring a solicitor, they must give two weeks’ notice in order for the Department to consider whether to take legal advice.

See Allegations Paperwork Checklist (TBA)

Panel should not receive any paperwork which the carer does not have access to. In exceptional circumstances where this is not possible, the situation must be discussed with the Panel Chair at least two weeks prior to Panel.

The Supervising Social Worker and their Team Manager will be asked to join the Panel to answer any questions arising from the report before the foster carer(s) are invited to join the Panel. Questions from members of Panel will be under the direction of the chair.

The Social Worker, Team Manager and carer(s) must withdraw whilst Panel deliberates and comes to a recommendation. All parties will be advised of the recommendation immediately following the Panel by the Panel Chair and supported by the Panel Advisor.

The recommendation and decision-making process must take place in the usual way. See Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure, Representation/Independent Review Mechanism. If no representations are made within 28 days, the decision must be confirmed in writing and de-registration confirmed.

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 carer to the Disclosure and Barring Service for inclusion of the carer's name on the Children's Barred List.

Where there may be some doubt, the Fostering Services Manager must discuss the matter with the Head of Child Protection and Review.


Appendix 1: Fostering Panel Procedure Flowchart

Click here to view Appendix 1: Fostering Panel Procedure Flowchart

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