Foster Carer Reviews
AMENDMENTIn August 2016, a link to the Independent Review of HCC Foster Carers Procedure was added into Section 2, Review Process - Summary.
1. Statutory Requirements
The approval of all foster carers must be reviewed annually and the first annual review must be presented to the Fostering Panel (Regulation 28 of the Fostering Services Regulations 2011).
2. Review Process - Summary
Foster carers must be informed of the date of their review meeting well in advance. As a minimum, the review meeting must involve the Supervising Social Worker visiting the household and speaking to all household members. In certain circumstances it will be undertaken by an IRO this would include first reviews and where there are identified issues. The form Report From Foster Carers Annual Review CS252F3 should be sent to the foster carers and returned to the Team Manager prior to the review so that any issues raised by the carer can be discussed at the review meeting.
The review must be completed on the standard review form, ensuring that all relevant information is obtained and collated from the relevant parties.
Evaluation of placement forms must be sent to all Social Workers for children in placement prior to the review by the Team Administrator and the responses must be incorporated into the review report and also appended to the report. Reminders must be sent to the child's Social Worker and their line manager if the responses are not returned by the due date.
Foster carers must have the opportunity to see a typed draft of the review before it receives final approval to check for factual accuracy. They must be invited to add comments and should sign the review.
Decisions from reviews must be confirmed in writing by the Fostering Team Manager except where the review has been presented to Panel, in which case, the decision must be confirmed by the decision-maker.Medical updates and Disclosure and Barring Service checks must be renewed every 3 years. Health and Safety check should be renewed annually, HCC also requires that at least 2 unannounced visits to carers homes should be completed.
3. Panel Reviews
In addition to the statutory minimum requirement for the first annual review to be presented to Fostering Panel, reviews in the following circumstances must also be presented to Panel:
- Where there has been a Child Protection Enquiry following an allegation of abuse by a foster carer or member of their household regardless of whether the foster carer agrees to de-registration;
- Where the Review has been chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer;
- Following a serious complaint or serious concerns (see below) about the foster carer's practice regardless of whether the foster carer agrees to de-registration;
- Break up of an existing partnership;
- Any other major changes to the household at the discretion of the Fostering Team Manager;
- Any proposed increase to the carer's approval category;
- Where the Fostering Service believes that the carer's approval needs to be terminated and the carer does not agree.
The Fostering Team Manager must decide whether or not a review should be presented to Panel following a complaint and if in doubt must consult the Fostering Services Manager.
Factors influencing the decision will include:
- The seriousness of the complaint;
- Whether the outcome is sufficiently clear to exonerate the foster carer where the complaint is not substantiated;
- Where the complaint is substantiated, whether the foster carer accepts responsibility;
- Whether there have been a series of relatively minor complaints which cumulatively represent a pattern of concern;
- Where the foster carer requests that the review be presented to Panel to set the record straight.
All such decisions must be recorded on the carer's file.
Where it is intended to reduce the number of placements or the age range of placements a carer is approved for and there is agreement between the carer, the Supervising Social Worker and their Team Manager, the review may be sent directly to the agency decision worker and need not be presented to Panel (unless it is a first review).
For first reviews the following paperwork must be presented to Panel:
- The completed review document;
- Minutes of the original approval, and any other relevant Panel minutes arising from any Panel discussion prior to the approval Panel;
- Post placement review forms from carers, Social Workers and children (where applicable);
- Comments from Social Workers of children currently placed;
- Evidence that the foster carer has met the Induction Standards for the Children's Workforce;
- Report written by carers for the review.
For reviews following an allegation, complaint or any other concerns, including de-registration recommendations the following paperwork must be presented to Panel:
- The most recent review and minutes of that review, if carried out within the last 6 months, otherwise, a newly completed review;
- Summary of any issues raised at previous Panels (to be summarised by the Supervising Social Worker from the Panel minutes);
- Summary of the allegation, complaint or issues of concern. This must include written confirmation of the outcome of any child protection enquiry or complaint investigation. The Social Worker's report must also include an evaluation of the information and recommendation, with reasons, endorsed by the Team Manager. The recommendation in cases where the allegation or complaint was founded in whole or in part must as a minimum include a plan of action to address the concerns. In cases of serious concern the recommendation will inevitably be for de-registration. The Social Worker should not normally append records pertaining to the investigation other than the statement of the outcome and they must not append any information which has not been shared with the foster carers;
- Any written report;
- Review comments from Social Workers of current placements.
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 for a decision to be made.
The foster carer will be informed in writing by the fostering worker of the outcome of the review.
A copy of the Review Form and a record of the outcome of the review will be retained on the foster carer's case record.
4. Representations/Review Procedure
Where, as a result of a review, the variation or 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 recommendation and he or she must be advised that if they wish to challenge the recommendation, they have the opportunity to make representations to the Panel or to request a review by an Independent Review Mechanism. For further details please see Fostering Panel Procedure, Representations and the Independent Review Process.
5. Level 2 Reviews
Progression from level 1 to level 2 will normally be considered and evidenced at the carer's second annual review. In exceptional circumstances, the Team Manager may consider progression earlier. Please see CSF 4404 Carers Review Application for Progression to Level 2.
In either case the carers must have met the Induction Standards for the Children's Workforce and at least one carer must have completed Therapeutic Crisis Intervention or Webster Stratton training before consideration can be given for progression to level 2. Carers should also complete any other training recommended by their SSW.
Carers should be encouraged to gather evidence from as many sources as possible. Progression to level 2 is not a right, but requires that carers produce evidence of competence.
This review must be completed in the usual way, ensuring that in addition, all level 2 competencies are addressed and evidenced. The Supervising Social Worker and Team Manager or Senior Practitioner must attend the review meeting.
Once endorsed by the Team Manager, the completed review and accompanying documents must be sent to Fostering Services Manager for a decision on progression to level 2. This should be done even if the review is to be presented to Panel for other reasons. Panel will not make decisions on level 2 approval.
Once carers are approved at level 2 all subsequent reviews should be undertaken on CSF4405 Carers Review Level 2.
6. Desk Reviews
All other reviews must be completed in the usual way by the Supervising Social Worker and endorsed by the Fostering Team Manager on completion. Unless there are issues arising from the review which the Fostering Team Manager feels warrant presentation to Panel, the Team Manager's signature completes the review.
Every third review that has not required presentation to Panel must be presented to the Fostering Panel Chair for endorsement.
If the Fostering Team Manager decides that a desk review needs to be presented to Fostering Panel, the foster carers must be informed in writing, with reasons and given the opportunity to respond and have their comments presented to Panel.
7. Family and Friends (Connected Persons) Carers
Family and Friends (Connected Persons) carers' reviews must be completed on the Family and Friends (Connected Persons) Foster Carer's Review Form.
8. Agency Decision Maker
The Agency Decision Maker is responsible for deciding whether a person, or their household, remain suitable to foster and whether the terms of approval remain suitable, following each review of the foster carer's approval. The decision should be based on the written report of the review and take into account any recommendation by the fostering panel and any recommendation of the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM).
The Agency Decision Maker, will in his/her letter
- List the material taken into account in reaching the decision;
- Identify key arguments;
- Consider whether they agree with the process and approach the relevant panel(s) and are satisfied as to its fairness and that the panel(s) has properly addressed their arguments;
- Consider whether any additional information now available to the ADM, that was not available to the panel has an impact on its reasons or recommendations;
- Identify the reasons given for the relevant recommendation that they do or do not wish to foster/adopt;
- Any further reasons for ADM's decision.