Foster Carer Reviews

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AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed and updated in September 2022.

1. Statutory Requirements

A review of foster carers’ approval must take place not more than a year after approval, and thereafter whenever the fostering service provider considers it necessary, but at intervals of not more than a year(Regulation 28 of the Fostering Services Regulations 2011).

The review will consider whether a foster carer's approval should continue and if there should be any changes to their terms of approval.

Fostering regulations make it clear that the first review report has to go back to panel and following this the Fostering service can then make a decision to present subsequent reviews to panel.

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.

The review must be completed on the standard LCS review form, ensuring that all relevant information is obtained and collated from the relevant parties. The foster carers supervising social worker is responsible for completing the Foster carer annual review form on LCS, ensuring that all relevant is obtained and collated from relevant parties, including:

  • Talk to all carers in the household, your own children, fostered child(ren) and other significant members of the household - to find out their views;
  • Get written feedback from social workers of any children you have fostered since your last review;
  • Consider any information in relation to complaints or allegations made against you or your family;
  • Review the training you have completed, and identify any future training needs;
  • Complete a health and safety checklist;
  • Review your family's Safer Caring Plan;
  • Provide a recommendation on your suitability to continue as a foster carer including whether any changes to your terms of approval are proposed.

A Foster carer feedback form 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.

Feedback 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 and/or confirm via email that they have read and had the opportunity to comment on the information in the review.

All Foster carer reviews will have Team manager oversight and comments and will finally be authorised by the Agency Decision maker. Foster carers will receive a letter from the Fostering team manager following the review to confirm the approval terms. Where the review has been presented to Fostering panel, the letter will be sent from the Agency decision maker.

In certain circumstances, an Independent Foster carer review will be undertaken by a Placement Independent reviewing officer. See further information in the Independent Reviews of Hertfordshire County Council Foster Carers Procedure.

3. Panel Reviews

The following Foster carer reviews must be presented to the Fostering panel:

  • First Foster carer annual review (Statutory requirement)
    The First Foster carer annual review must be completed and signed off by the Fostering Manager within 12 months of approval. The review will then be presented to panel maximum 8 weeks thereafter;
  • Where there has been a referral made to LADO following an allegation of abuse by a foster carer or a member of their household, that met LADO threshold with unfounded, unsubstantiated or substantiated outcome;
  • Where there has been a quality of care concern raised about a foster carer and an IRO review has been completed, a decision will be made whether the review is presented to panel;
  • Following a serious complaint or serious concern (see below) about the foster carer's practice;
  • Break up of an existing partnership of approved foster carers;
  • Any other major changes to the household at the discretion of the Fostering Team Manager;
  • Any proposed increase to the carer's approval category needs to be presented to panel within 6 months of ADM decision (see Exemptions and Variations of Approval Procedure);
  • Where the Fostering Service believes that the carer's approval needs to be terminated and the carer does not agree. In the case where a foster carer decides to resign, the review to recommendation of termination of approval can only be presented to panel whilst the carer remains an approved foster carer.

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).

See Fostering Panel Procedure for paper work requirements for panel referrals.

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.

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. 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 on LCS.

6. 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.