Hertfordshire County Council Employees Who Wish to Become Substitute Carers for Children and Young People
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to all employees, and all types of substitute care (including fostering, adoption and respite care).
AMENDMENTThis chapter was updated in September 2013 and should be re-read in its entirety.
The key issues to be considered are:
- Ensuring the welfare of the child
This must be the overriding consideration in relation to any placement. The placement must be deemed appropriate, bearing in mind all aspects, including supervision, monitoring and review. The department is ultimately responsible for safeguarding the welfare of children in substitute care.
- Maintaining confidentiality
Will this be compromised in any way? Will substitute carer have access to confidential information, e.g. about the child's family, by virtue of their position as an HCC employee, which they would not other wise see?
Will other HCC employees have access to confidential information about the carer?
- Avoiding conflict of interest
This is likely to arise if the carer also comes into contact with the child as part of their job, e.g. as a residential social worker, or if they are likely to be making a policy decision which impact on their role as a carer. The issues need careful consideration if the prospective adopter is a member of staff for Children Services, and in particular the Adoption Service.
S4.11 of the 2011 Fostering Service Regulations state 'care must be taken to avoid any actual of perceived conflict of interest or negative impact on foster children e.g. the person may have access to records or may be in a position to influence a placement or approval decision'.
This should be applied in Hertfordshire to prospective adopters also.
- Ensuring adequate supervision of the placement
This may be difficult if the supervising social worker knows the carer as a colleague or is junior to the carer at work. It must be addressed prior to any placement.
All applications from a HCC employee must be referred in the first instance to the manager of the Adoption or Fostering Team, who will determine the appropriateness of the application. If necessary, they will consult their appropriate line manager.
Concerns are likely to be in relation to the above issues, and could include:
- Whether or not the applicant is employed by Children Services;
- How senior their position is;
- How closely they are involved with children in care;
- Whether the nature of their work gives them access of confidential information about children in care.
In general terms, the more closely the applicants are involved in working with children in Children Services, and the more senior their position, the less likely it will be that their application will be suitable.
The Team Manager must consult with the Head of Service, Adoption and Fostering before proceeding with such an assessment for adoption.
If it is felt inadvisable to proceed with the application in Hertfordshire, this must be explained to the applicant, and, if appropriate, they should be advised and helped to contact another county or organisation to make an application.
If it is decided to proceed with the application, the manager must negotiate with Fostering or Adoption Team in another area to do the assessment. The normal assessment procedures must be followed, PLUS THE FOLLOWING FEATURES: CSF 4216 Pro forma letter to Prospective Adopters who are HCC Employees.
If it is decided to proceed with the application, the manager must negotiate with Fostering or Adoption Team in another area to do the assessment.
The completed application must go to the assessing team's Panel (Fostering or Adoption, as appropriate).
As part of the assessment, all the normal checks must be completed (personal references, health and Disclosure and Barring Service checks). PLUS, if applicants are employees of Children Services, a check will be made with Head of Human Resources, Children, Schools & Families, as to whether there is anything in their personal file which would suggest the applicants are unsuitable.
Identifying details (name, address) should be omitted from the Adopter's Assessment report when presented to Panel, or shared with another team.
Once accepted, if carers work in an operational team or have regular close contact with it, children from the same office must not be placed with them, unless it can be clearly demonstrated that there is no conflict of interest, e.g. carer works in department which has no links with Children, Schools & Families.
If carers wish to take a particular child from the same team, and there is deemed to be a conflict of interest, they must give up work or change job.
HCC employees are bound by the same rules of confidentiality as any other carer in relation to information about the child, and they must not be given access to additional information by virtue of their position as an employee.
The position of the supervising social worker must not be compromised. Any potential difficulties must be addressed prior to any placement, and resolved to everyone's satisfaction before the placement goes ahead. If necessary, a senior worker should supervise the placement.
THE OVERRIDING CONSIDERATION IN RELATION TO ALL SUCH APPLICATIONS MUST BE WHETHER OR NOT THE APPLICANT'S POSITION AS AN EMPLOYEE IS LIKELY TO PREVENT THEM AND THE DEPARTMENT WORKING TOGETHER SUCCESSFULLY TO MEET THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN WHO MAY BE PLACED WITH THEM.