Termination of Approval of Foster Carers and Supported Lodgings Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

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.

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Fostering Panel Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed and updated in March 2022.

Introduction

Foster carers may cease fostering for a number of reasons. The foster carer may or may not be in agreement with the resignation or termination of approval.

The Fostering Guidance 2011 states:

The fostering service must have a clear policy framework which outlines the circumstances in which a foster carer should be removed as one of the fostering service provider's approved foster carers, in the interests of the safety or welfare of children. The fostering service must also have a policy which makes clear what allowances and fee will be paid should the fostering household be subject to an allegation. These policies must be available to foster carers.

Fostering Regulation 28 also covers the termination of approval of foster carers and amendments to this regulation are also included in 'The Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers: Amendments to the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations' (2013). These should both be read alongside this policy.

1. Uncontested Termination of Approval

An uncontested termination of approval is where a foster carer resigns from fostering and/or where a foster carer agree with the recommendation from the Fostering service that their approval should be terminated.

A foster carer can at any time give written notice that they wish to resign as a foster carer.

The foster carer will be asked to formally tender their resignation in writing to the Fostering team manager, and their approval will be terminated 28 days after the Fostering service receives the written notice. The Agency decision maker does not, in any circumstances, have the power to decline a resignation, as this takes effect automatically after 28 days.

Should a foster carer who has resigned want to foster again, their suitability would need to be reassessed in line with the 2011 Fostering Regulations (Amendments to the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations (2013)).

The Fostering manager will confirm in writing that they have received the resignation and will include the Fostering service Termination of approval form confirming the date the approval will cease. The Fostering Service manager must be informed and sent a copy of the Termination of approval form.

If the foster carers resigns and/or agrees with the Fostering Service's recommendation to terminate their approval following standard of care concern, a referral can be made to the Fostering panel on the Team managers discretion. See Fostering Panel Procedure for more information.

Notification of resignations can be presented to Fostering panel on the managers discretion, for notification purposes only.

The formal de-registration letter and Termination of approval form must be recorded on the carer's file and the file closed.

The de-registration must be entered on LCS by the Team Administrator and the LCS case summary updated with relevant information about the foster carers approval history and reasons for resignation.

2. Contested Termination of Approval

This procedure should be read in conjunction with the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures, Managing Allegations Against Adults Who Work With Children and Young People Procedure, Independent Review of HCC Foster Carers and Fostering Panel Procedure.

Contested termination of approval is where the Fostering Service recommends. Termination of approval and the foster carer is not agreement with this Termination of approval may be recommended by the Fostering service if:

  • The welfare or safety of any child or young person cannot be safeguarded;
  • The foster carer is not meeting the National Minimum Standards for Foster Care (2011);
  • The foster carer is in breach of their Foster Care Agreement.

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

If the Fostering service feels that a foster carer and supported lodgings carer might no longer be suitable to remain approved as a foster carer, they should undertake a Foster carer review and will refer to the IRO service for an Independent Fostering review to be undertaken.

Independent support should be offered to foster carers who are facing allegations, serious complaints and/or termination of approval.

Foster carers or Supported Lodging Carers 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 carers 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 carers will then be encouraged to put their comments in writing and this information must be presented to Fostering Panel Office 10 days before the Panel date. Late written information will not be accepted.

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

At least 10 days prior to Fostering Panel, papers must be sent to the Fostering Panel Administrator together with any written information received from the carers. The Supervising Social Worker must confirm with the Fostering Panel Administrator the carer(s) intention to attend Fostering Panel.

If the carers wish to make a complaint at this stage, they should be advised to do so separately in accordance with Children's Services complaints procedure. They cannot lodge a complaint via the Fostering Panel process, which must proceed regardless of the fact that a complaint has been made.

The carers must be advised that they can be accompanied in Fostering panel by either an Independent support person or a friend.

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

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

The Agency Decision Maker, informed by the Fostering panel's recommendations, must then make her/his qualifying determination and progress it in accordance with the Fostering Regulations 2011.

Written notice will be sent to the foster carer(s) from the Agency Decision maker with any proposed change to their approval, this may be termination or a revision of approval. The reasons and any recommendations from the fostering panel will also be sent to the carer(s).

Foster carer(s) will be informed that they have 28 days to appeal the Agency Decision maker's decision and will be informed about the 2 ways a decision can be appealed.

They may submit any written representation and appeal the Agency Decision maker's decision directly to the Fostering panel via the Agency Decision maker or they are able to apply to the Secretary of State to request a review of the decision by the Independent Review Mechanism.

If there is no written representation to the Fostering Service or a request for a review by the IRM after 28 days then the fostering service will proceed with their decision.

If there is written representation from the foster carer this should be referred to the fostering panel for its consideration. The Agency Decision Maker will then make his or her decision based on the recommendations of the fostering panel.

See  Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure, Representation/Independent Review Mechanism.

Where the approval is terminated / carer suspended from duties, 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 ADM must discuss the matter with the Head of Child Protection and Review.

See also: Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures, Allegations Against Adults Who Work with Children Procedure, Allegations Against Carers: Foster/Short-Break/Lodgings and Approved Adopters.