Persons Disqualified from Fostering
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to all new applications for approval as foster carers and to all foster carers who have already been approved as foster carers.
See also Fostering Panel Procedure.
This chapter was reviewed in August 2020.
1. Persons Disqualified from Fostering
A person is disqualified from acting as a foster carer for the local authority (unless a relative of the child or already acting as a foster carer) if s/he or any adult member of the household has been cautioned for or convicted of an offence against a child which involves violence or bodily injury (other than common assault or battery), cruelty (to a child under 16), indecency, abduction, the supply of Class A drugs or the importation/possession of indecent photographs of a child under 16 or a sexual offence against a child unless the offence was contrary to sections 6,12 or 13 of the Sexual offences Act 1956 and the person concerned was under 20 when the offence was committed.
A list of the specific offences is set out in the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000.
Applications to foster will not be considered from anyone who owns a pet that is registered or required to be registered under the dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (see Placement with Dog-owning Families who Wish to be Approved as Foster Carers Procedure).
If the applicant or a household member has a conviction within the last two years, a serious offence or a history of offending, the application will be taken to a Fostering Panel before proceeding.
Serious offences would include:
- Exceptions to the specified offences within the regulations i.e. teenage offenders;
- All those specified offences where the victims were adults;
- Murder, manslaughter, rape, armed robbery, blackmail/extortion;
- Violent offences including GBH, ABH, wounding, assault;
- Aggravated burglary;
- Drug dealing/supply, possession of illegal drugs;
- Prostitution, living off immoral earnings;
- Racism, fraud/dishonesty;
- Drink driving;
- Serious motoring offences.
Panels would expect to see applications where an applicant has a conviction for any of the above offences identified. In doing so, they require information on the following factors to be available in order to consider whether to recommend that the application / assessment should proceed:
- Age when offence committed;
- Age now;
- Circumstances of the offence;
- Any supporting / corroborative information e.g. police report, probation etc;
- Outcome of court case, i.e. custodial sentence (length), fine etc;
- whether disclosed on application form, and if not disclosed any explanation offered;
- Applicants attitude to offence;
- Current circumstances;
- Any post-conviction work undertaken with the offender to address their offending.
An existing or prospective foster carer who is the subject of a Qualifying Determination (Fostering) from a fostering agency which states that they are not suitable to foster a child, is deemed to be disqualified from fostering.
In addition, a person is disqualified from acting as a foster carer for the agency (unless a relative of the child or already acting as a foster carer) if s/he or any adult member of the household has been cautioned for or convicted of an offence specified in paragraph 1 of part 2 of Schedule 4 of the Fostering Services Regulations 2011 committed at the age of 18 or over OR falls within paragraph 2 or 3 of Part 2 of Schedule 4, notwithstanding that the offences listed have been repealed.
2. New Applications
Where Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks reveal that an applicant for approval as a foster carer is a disqualified person, the applicants must be advised that their application cannot proceed. This must be confirmed in writing to them, together with the reasons, and retained with their application form. The file should also be closed on ICS.
Where the applicant is seeking approval as Named Carers (i.e. as a relative or friend of the child to be placed in the foster home), and the person would otherwise be regarded as disqualified, an application for consent to proceed with the assessment in relation to the particular child can be considered by the Agency Decision Maker on the recommendation of the Fostering Panel.
In these circumstances, the assessing social worker responsible for carrying out the checks on the prospective foster carer should prepare a report on the application setting out:
- The reasons for the application
- The circumstances surrounding the conviction or caution which would result in the person being disqualified unless consent is given
- An assessment of whether the placement would meet the child's needs despite the conviction/caution and
- A recommendation as to whether the application should proceed.
The assessing social worker will arrange with the Panel Administrator a date for the Panel to consider the report and the report should be sent to the Panel Administrator 10 working days before the relevant Panel meeting.
The Panel minutes will be sent to the Agency Decision Maker, who will consider the recommendation of the Fostering Panel on any such applications.
The decision of the Agency Decision Maker will be recorded in writing and a copy placed on the case record of the applicant. A copy of the decision will also be sent to the person concerned. The decision will also be entered on ICS.
3. Approved Foster Carers
Where information is provided or updating Disclosure and Barring Service checks reveal that an approved foster carer has been convicted of or cautioned for a criminal offence as a result of which he or she will become a disqualified person unless consent is given, an urgent review of the foster carer's approval should be held - see Knowsley Foster Carer Review Policy Procedure - and a written report detailing the circumstances leading to the conviction/caution, together with background information from the foster carer's case record, must be presented to the Fostering Panel as soon as possible. The report should contain a recommendation on whether consent should be granted to allow the foster carer to continue to be approved as a foster carer for the child or children currently in placement.
The report should be sent to the Panel Administrator at least 10 working days before the relevant Panel meeting.
Where such information is received, the social worker for any child currently in the placement must be informed and plans for the termination of the placement will also need to be considered as appropriate.
Where the report recommends the termination of approval of the foster carer, the report should be presented to the earliest possible Fostering Panel.
The Agency Decision Maker will consider the recommendation of the Fostering Panel on any such applications.
The decision of the Agency Decision Maker will be recorded in writing and a copy placed on the case record of the foster carer.
Written notice of the decision, together with reasons, must then be sent to the foster carer as soon as practicable. The decision will be recorded on ICS.
Where a decision is made to terminate the approval of the foster carer, the Representations Procedure as set out in the Fostering Panel Procedure will apply.