- Frequency and Timing
- Consultation and Action before the Review
- Formal Review Meeting
- Presentation to the Fostering Panel or Agency Decision Maker
- After the Review
- Representations/Review Procedure
- Updates on Checks
- Resignation by Foster Carers
- Retention of Foster Carer Records
1. Frequency and Timing
Formal reviews of foster carers will take place at least annually.
Dates and the venue for review meetings will be agreed by the foster carers' supervising social worker in consultation with the foster carer and the allocated Independent Reviewing Officer, following notification by the administrative staff that a review is due.
The first review meeting will take place ten months after the original approval and be reported to the Fostering Panel within 12 months of the original approval.
Reviews will take place more frequently (and may be initiated by the foster carer's supervising social worker or foster carers) in the event of a significant change in circumstances of a foster carer affecting the ability or capacity to foster, for example a change in the composition of the household, a significant health issue, concerns about the standards of care provided by the foster carer, a complaint or allegation made about the carer resulting in a Section 47 Enquiry or investigation, concerns as a result of information from updated Disclosure and Barring Service checks or a recommendation for a change of approval.
As well as formal reviews, there will be regular supervision, dialogue and feedback between the fostering worker and the foster carer. supervising social worker and the foster carers - see Support, Supervision and Training of Foster Carers Procedure.
Foster carer reviews should not be cancelled for any other reason than logistics. Where they are cancelled, dates should always be set immediately for a further review. The appropriateness of placing any child where a carer's review is out of date must also be considered by the Fostering Supervision Team Manager.
The Department for Education Training Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers set out the standards which foster carers need to meet. Personal development plans must be completed for each carer and this should be linked to their training and their annual review.
Details of the carers' development and training should be made available to agencies if the carer moves into another local authority area.
2. Consultation and Action before the Review
Prior to the formal review meeting, the supervising social worker will collate all information relevant to the foster carers' suitability to foster, including the number and type of placements in the last year, information from the Looked After Reviews of children placed, any variations or exemptions that have been agreed in the previous year, post placement reports and records of any complaints or allegations made against the foster carers or members of their household.
The views of the foster carers, all members of the household, any children placed since the last review, their parents (where appropriate) and their social workers, and any other professional whose views are relevant will be sought and taken into account at the review. This may include contacting a social worker from outside the authority if appropriate. Wherever possible these views should be reported to the review in writing. The foster carer and members of the family (including the foster carers' own children depending on their age and understanding) will be asked to complete the necessary paperwork.
The supervising social worker will then prepare a report for the review stating whether the carers continue to be suitable to foster and whether the terms of his or her approval continue to be appropriate. This report should include a summary of the fostering work undertaken so far and how this relates to the development of the foster carer's skills. The report should be shared with the foster carers prior to the review.
The supervising social worker should attach any end of placement reports received during the period since the last review.
The foster carers' training record should also be presented to the review.
The supervising social worker will be responsible for ensuring that all written contributions have been received and made available to the Independent Reviewing Officer in advance of the review meeting. The supervising social worker will alert the Independent Reviewing Officer and/or the Fostering Supervision Team Manager to any difficulties in obtaining the return of the completed forms.
Any updates on checks will also be carried out - see Section 7, Updates on Checks.
3. Formal Review Meeting
The review will take place as a formal review meeting held at the foster home attended by the foster carer's supervising social worker, the foster carers, other professionals if relevant and the allocated Independent Reviewing Officer, who will chair the meeting.
The review will consider all the available information and views and reach the following conclusions:
- Whether the foster carer continues to be suitable to foster children;
- Whether the terms of approval continue to be suitable;
- What training and development needs the foster carer has;
- How these needs will be met and who will be responsible;
- What support needs the carer has, and how these will be met;
- Any difficulties or concerns since the last review;
- The date for presentation to the Fostering Panel, if relevant.
The Independent Reviewing Officer will complete a record of the review within 5 working days of the meeting. The written record will incorporate the views of all those consulted, and set out whether the foster carer continues to be suitable to act as a foster carer and whether his or her terms of approval continue to be suitable. Any recommendations for change in the foster carers' approval should be highlighted.
A copy of the record will then be sent to the foster carers and a copy placed on the foster carer's file.
4. Presentation to the Fostering Panel or Agency Decision Maker
A written report must be presented to the Fostering Panel on the foster carer's first annual review for a recommendation and thereafter may be presented to the Fostering Panel. This may include where termination of approval is recommended or where there has been a significant change in circumstances of the foster carer or any event/incident has occurred affecting the continued suitability of the foster carers (for example an allegation or complaint resulting in a Section 47 Enquiry or investigation) or where there is an unresolved disagreement regarding a review recommendation.
Where a review has been presented to the fostering panel, the Agency Decision Maker will take into account the panel's recommendation.
Where it is proposed to only to revise the terms of the foster carer's approval, the matter does not need to be presented to the Fostering Panel - see Section 6.2, Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carer's Approval.
Otherwise, the Fostering Supervision Team Manager will consider the record of the review and ratify the outcome.
Where the report is to be presented to the Fostering Panel following a review recommendation or allegation, the report should set out any proposed changes to the approval, together with reasons.
Where the report recommends termination of the foster carer's approval, the report should give full details of the concerns, allegations or complaints and the outcome of any Section 47 Enquiry or investigation. Any mitigating circumstances should be outlined. See Section 6.1, Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer's Approval.
A copy of the foster carers' Form F and any previous relevant Panel minutes should also be attached to the report.
The report for the Panel will be shared with the foster carer(s) and they should be invited to submit written comments. They should also be offered independent support, e.g. from the Mediation and Conciliation Service provided by Fostering Network.
A copy of the report to the Panel (and attachments including any written comments of the foster carer(s) on the report) should be sent to the Panel Administrator at least 2 weeks before the relevant Panel meeting.
Foster carers should be invited to attend the Fostering Panel when their review is being considered, together with a supporter if they wish, and the Panel Administrator should be informed if they intend to do so.
Where the Review recommends the termination of approval of foster carers, the review should be presented to the earliest possible Fostering Panel.
Where the Panel's recommendation is for a different category of approval, the Panel may require further assessment or training for the foster carer. See Section 6.2, Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carer's Approval.
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 (Fostering) for a decision to be made.
Whether or not the foster carers are present at the Panel, the Fostering Supervision Team Manager will inform them in writing of the outcome of the review as soon as possible and at the latest within 7 working days after a decision is made and give notice:
- That the foster carer and household continue to be suitable and that the terms of the approval continue to be appropriate; or
- That the approval is terminated from a specified date, and the reason for the termination; or
- The revised terms of the approval and the reasons for the revision.
See Section 6, Representations/Independent Review Procedure where the foster carer wishes to challenge the decision.
Where the foster carer has decided to give up fostering, see Section 8, Resignation of Foster Carers.
5. After the Review
The supervising social worker will write to any social worker from outside the authority with a child placed with the foster carers to inform them of the outcome of the review.
Where the foster carer lives outside the district, the local authority for the area where he/she resides will also be informed in writing of the outcome of the review.
The outcome of the review will also be recorded on Care Director and the Register of Foster Carers. Where there has been any change in the terms of the approval, the Foster Care Agreement will be updated and signed by the supervising social worker and foster carer.
Where the approval is terminated due to practice concerns the Fostering Supervision Team Manager must inform OFSTED.
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 foster carer to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
6. Representations/Review Procedure
6.1 Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer's Approval
Where, as a result of a review, the termination of a foster carer's approval is proposed, he or she must be advised, when informed of the outcome of the Agency Decision Maker's decision that if they wish to challenge the decision, they have the opportunity to make representations to the Agency Decision Maker or to request a review by an Independent Review Panel under the Independent Review Mechanism as set out in the Assessment and Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure, Representations / Independent Review Procedure.
Notification/representations will need to be received by the Agency Decision Maker within 28 days of the date of the notice of the decision being sent to them. The matter will be referred to the fostering panel, and the Panel Administrator will then notify the foster carer within 7 working days of the date when the Panel will reconsider the matter.
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 written representations are received within the period, the matter must be referred to the Fostering Panel for further consideration. Foster carers wishing to make representations in person to the Panel may be accompanied by a friend or supporter. Where a foster carer wishes to make representations in person, the Panel Chair may consider the Panel meeting as a smaller quorate sub-group. The Panel will make a new recommendation in relation to the foster carer and a final decision will be made by the Agency Decision Maker taking into account any fresh recommendation made by the Panel.
Written notice of the final decision, together with reasons, must then be sent to the foster carer within 7 working days of the decision.
If no written representations or notification of a request for a review are received within the period, a final decision to terminate can be made.
Where the termination of the approval of a foster carer is being considered, plans for the termination of any current placement will also be required and made as appropriate.
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 foster carer to the Disclosure and Barring Service for inclusion of the carer's name on the Children's Barred List.
6.2 Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carer's Approval
6.2.1 Where the Foster Carer is in Agreement
Where, as a result of a review, it is proposed to revise the terms of the foster carer's approval, a statement must be sent to the foster carer setting out whether it is considered that the foster carer or members of their household (including any children placed there) may have additional support needs as a result of the proposed revision and, if so, how those needs will be met, and request the foster carer's agreement in writing to the proposed revision of terms.
Where the foster carer's written agreement is received, the decision to revise the terms of approval may be made immediately.
The Agency Decision Maker's decision in such circumstances is not a Qualifying Determination and the foster carers must not be pressured to accept changes to their terms of approval.
6.2.2 Where the Foster Carer is not in Agreement
Where the foster carer does not agree in writing to the revision of their terms of approval, then the representations/review procedure as set out in Section 6.1, Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer's Approval will apply.
7. Updates on Checks
Disclosure and Barring Service checks on persons aged 18 and over should be updated every 3 years and if necessary, a review of the foster carer's approval should be carried out immediately to take account of any new information.
Medical information should also be asked to complete Declarations of Health and Suitability every 3 years. In the event of any serious concerns about the foster carer's health, a review of the foster carer's approval should be carried out immediately.
8. Resignation by Foster Carers
A foster carer may give written notice at any time of their wish to resign from the role. Once written notice has been given, their approval will automatically be terminated 28 days after receipt of the notice. The foster carer cannot withdraw their notice once it has been received, nor can the Agency Decision Maker decline to accept the resignation.
Where the foster carer has decided to give up fostering, a brief report and a copy of the foster carer's resignation letter will be presented to the next available Panel for information and acknowledgement.
The resignation should be recorded formally by the Panel as the termination of the foster carer's approval to take effect 28 days from the date when written notice has been received from the foster carer.
An 'exit interview' will be conducted with the foster carer wherever possible to determine the reasons for their resignation.
A letter of appreciation and thanks will be sent to the foster carer (unless there are circumstances in which this would be unwelcome or inappropriate).
In the event of a foster carer 'retiring' after a number of years caring for Wakefield's children, a formal presentation event may be appropriate.
When there is a child in placement, the foster carer must inform the Fostering service of their intention to cease fostering in sufficient time to enable an alternative placement to be identified and introductions to take place. If the child is placed by a local authority outside Wakefield, a copy of any notice given must be sent to that local authority.
Should a foster carer who has resigned subsequently wish to foster again, they will need to be assessed under the procedure for Assessment and Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure. There is no requirement for the fostering panel to be notified of resignations. However the panel may find it helpful to be advised, as part of its monitoring role.
9. Retention of Foster Carer Records
Foster carers' case records should be retained for a maximum of 30 years after their approval has been terminated.