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5.7.5 Knowsley Foster Carer Review Policy

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter details the process and procedure for the annual review of foster carers and includes varying the carers approval details and terminating their approval if required. The chapter also details the roles and responsibilities of staff in this process.

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Supervision of Foster Carers

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed and refreshed in July 2017 to confirm that foster carer reviews will be chaired by the Fostering Team Manager.


Contents

  1. Frequency and Aim
  2. Procedure for Foster Carer Review
  3. Termination/Revision of Approval
  4. Withdrawing from Fostering
  5. Monitoring Arrangements


1. Frequency and Aim

The Fostering Services Regulations 2011 require all foster carers to undergo an annual review.

The fostering service provider must review the approval of each fostering household. The review 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 Fostering Service Regulations 2011

The main aim of the annual review is to determine whether the carer continues to provide a satisfactory standard of care for any child or young person in placement and that there is sufficient evidence of this ability. (See Regulation 28 The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011).


2. Procedure for Foster Carer Review

In Knowsley Borough Council a probationary review will take place between 6 months and 12 months following the foster carer’s approval. The first Review will be chaired by the Manager or Advanced Social Worker for Knowsley Fostering Service. This first Review must be referred to the Fostering Panel for consideration. If it is recommended by the Panel that the foster carer, the household and the terms of approval remain appropriate the Panel should recommend continued approval to the Agency Decision Maker who will consider all the information and make an ADM decision.

Thereafter a Review Meeting, with a Team Manager who will conduct a review annually. Recommendations from this review should be presented to the Agency Decision Maker for consideration.

If there is an allegation of abuse, serious concern or complaint, significant change in circumstances or terms of approval a review should be conducted by the Independent Reviewing Officer with recommendations presented to Fostering Panel. A foster carer can also request a review at any time in order to discuss their approval status.

The annual review will consider:

  • The foster carers family circumstances and health;
  • Whether DBS and medical checks are still up to date (every three years).

Practice Guidance

  • Information sought and received from third parties (including other professionals directly involved in offering support) should be dated and sourced and children who have been in placement within the last 12 months;
  • The progress the carer has made and targets and goals for the next year;
  • Carers personal development ensuring training is being undertaken to enhance skills and meet competencies.

All carers are expected to undertake required core training and other training identified through their Personal Development Plan with their supervising social workers. If the carers have not completed core training an action plan will identify the appropriate support required to complete the training and the Training, Support and Development Standards for foster care (TSDS standards). Approval status will be reviewed in the light of the carer’s commitment to and completion of identified training. On-going training is important to ensure that skills continue to be developed and reflect current practice. If concerns are expressed about a carers lack of compliance with training in line with their current skills levels and what is expected of them, then a further review can be recommended by the Team Manager with an action plan of agreed training / tasks put in place for monitoring and management oversight. If no progress made by the time of the next review then consideration will need to be given to the skills levels being reviewed. (See Skills Policy).

  • The review will provide oversight to ensure all matters of concern/additional support identified within the review period has been appropriately resolved.

Prior to the review the following reports will be requested by the Reviewing Officer and circulated to the Fostering Manager:

  • Foster Carer’s Report;
  • Child’s Social Worker’s Report for any children placed with the carers for the preceding 12 months;
  • Child’s Consultation Document (if of sufficient age and understanding);
  • The child’s social worker’s report is to be sent to the supervising social worker 3 weeks before the review;
  • It is important that in supporting the child to complete their consultation documents, the child’s social worker enables the child to convey their wishes and feelings about their carers. This consultation form will be included in the documentation presented to panel;
  • The fostering manager / admin support will send a calendar request to the child’s social worker inviting them to a review at least 6 weeks before the review as a reminder of the review date and to return to the supervising social worker on completion of the required documentation including the child’s contribution;
  • It will be the role of the supervising social worker to invite the foster carers and other professionals they fell should be in attendance.

The Review Report will be considered by a Team Manager.

The Team Manager will:

  • Have access to all reports at least 3 days prior to the Review meeting;
  • Minute the meeting and record in the recommendations part of the review document and the minutes will set out the following:
    • Whether the carer continues to be suitable to act as a foster carer;
    • Whether the household remains suitable for the fostering of children in care;
    • Whether the terms of approval continue to be appropriate.

The probationary review must be referred to the Fostering Panel and if any change is recommended to the foster carer’s approval status or an Allegations Management Meeting (see Knowsley Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Allegations Against Staff, Carers and Volunteers Procedure) has been held in the review period. The Panel will consider the review and make recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) who will consider all the documentation, recommendations and write to the carers with a decision about their approval status.


3. Termination/Revision of Approval

If the Review of the foster carer’s approval concludes the foster carer or the household are no longer suitable to foster, or if there is a recommendation for a change in the terms of approval, the Review must be referred to the Fostering Panel. This includes the matching of children and carers and change in status of the foster carer, i.e. short term and long term.

The Panel will consider the Review recommendations and make its own recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker.

Following the Agency Decision Maker’s decision, a letter is sent out advising the carer of the following:

  • The Fostering Service proposal to terminate their approval or to revise the terms of their approval giving the reasons for this;
  • The foster carer has 28 days from the date of the notice to make written representation to the Fostering Service ADM or alternatively they can appeal direct to IRM (Independent Review Mechanism). Foster carers cannot appeal to both.

If no representation is received within 28 days, the Panel Administrator will ask the Agency Decision Maker to send a written notice to the foster carer stating:

  • Their approval is terminated from a specified date and the reasons for this termination;

    Or
  • The revised terms of their approval and the reasons for the revision.

If written representation is received within 28 days the Fostering Panel should reconsider the case and make recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker. The final decision will be made by the Agency Decision Maker and written notification must then be sent stating:

  • The foster carer and household continue to be suitable and the terms of approval remain appropriate;

    Or
  • Their approval is terminated from a specified date and the reasons for this termination;

    Or
  • The revised terms of their approval and the reasons for the revision.

If the carer disagrees with the decision, they have the option to go through the Independent Review Mechanism or provide further information to the panel for reconsideration. If the Independent Review Mechanism is chosen matters cannot be referred back to panel.


4. Withdrawing from Fostering

A foster carer may give notice in writing at any time that they wish to withdraw from Fostering, in which case their approval is automatically terminated 28 days after receipt of the written notice by the fostering service – regulation 28(13).

Fostering Panel will be notified of the carer’s resignation to inform its monitoring role.

It should be noted that no carer should be allowed to give a notice period on a child to move and remain a carer. Disruption meetings and pre-disruption meetings should take fostering households and children into account when care plans require a change due to levels of risk and care.


5. Monitoring Arrangements

Monitoring of fostering practice is undertaken by means of:

  • Supervision: the Fostering Team Manager is responsible for supervising the Fostering Service social workers. Supervision is conducted on a regular basis;
  • All Statutory announced/unannounced visits have management oversight;
  • Case audits: the Fostering Team Manager is responsible for checking case recording and case file structure. These checks are conducted in line with Knowsley’s Children’s Social Care case recording policy. Monthly file audits are conducted by the department, these audits will include foster carers case files. (See also Quality Assurance and Learning Framework);
  • The Fostering service produces a yearly Service Plan that is reviewed on a regular basis and that this plan reflects the activities of the team and outcomes for the Foster Carers and Children in placement;
  • Quality Assurance meetings: practice issues arising from reports presented at the Fostering Panel are raised by the Chair of the Panel through regular Panel Monitoring Meetings with the Head of Service and ADM for Fostering;
  • Quality Assurance Reports are undertaken 6 monthly and presented to senior managers.

End