Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter seeks to detail key aspects and processes when foster carers may want to transfer to a different provider agency. The chapter highlights that children's needs should be at the centre of any such transfer and that no foster carer can be registered with more than one agency at any one time.
AMENDMENTThis chapter was reviewed in July 2017 to advise that a carer should not give 28 days notice when children are in place, unless they do not wish for the placement to continue. Also, that transferring to another agency will be subject to their approval (as carers). This was reviewed in August 2020.
1. Key Principles
The Protocol is required to ensure that the children's needs are central to any decisions and or plans for foster carers to transfer to be Knowsley foster carers. When completing a protocol meeting members should:
- Consider the views of the child or young person, and where applicable the views of parent(s) and other relevant parties;
- Ensure that children have continuity of care. Children in placement should be safeguarded against unplanned moves or moves which are not in their best interests;
- Foster carers should be aware that they have a choice in the agency they are approved with;
- All processes and decisions meet statutory requirements;
- To ensure a seamless service to the foster carers and children in placement, whereby the approvals and de-registrations coincide. Noting that a foster carer cannot be approved by more than one fostering service at the same time.
Knowsley will not directly approach individual foster carers with a view to recruiting them. Before any assessment has begun, the foster carers' agency should be informed by the foster carers and Knowsley of the intent to transfer. An initial Protocol meeting should take place. This does not negate the foster carers' right to discuss their wishes initially with a different agency or authority. The Child's Care Plan will be pivotal to the process and any decisions made and plans should meet the needs of the child and or their care plan. Foster carers will not be required to change fostering service in order to secure agreement to a plan for a child, e.g. long-term foster care.
The foster carers' agency will be requested to provide a reference in respect of the foster carers for the checks within the recruitment process.
The reference should include the following information about the fostering household:
- Length of registration;
- Current terms of approval (if any) and date this was agreed;
- Variations in approval in the last five years;
- Age, sex and length of stay of all foster children during the last five years;
- Extent to which the foster carers were able to achieve placement objectives;
- Strengths and skills of the foster carers;
- Recent training courses attended by the foster carer/s and skills gained post-approval;
- Date and outcome of any investigation of allegations or concerns, other than unsubstantiated, unfounded or malicious allegations;
- Details of any current allegations or concerns;
- The outcomes of the latest annual review;
- Any other information considered to be relevant to the assessment of the person's suitability to foster.
An assessment by the recruiting service will be postponed if the foster carer is subject to a current investigation of allegations, or if there is an investigation relating to significant concerns about their practice, until the outcome of the process is known.
- The foster carer should inform their current fostering service in writing that they are considering a move to another fostering service. If they have no children in placement this could constitute as their resignation if they wish. Knowsley will need to be mindful that no child can be placed unless a foster carer is approved and following 28 days of the resignation the carers will need further approval. No carer should provide 28 days notice to an agency or local authority when children are currently placed unless they don't wish for the placement to continue. If the child needs to move to another placement following a resignation this may forma view in any future assessment;
- The foster carers should also be mindful that there will not be any guarantees in approvals with other agencies and approvals are subject to an assessment process;
- An assessment can begin following the foster carers providing their agency of their intentions and this should include reciprocal information sharing where possible to ensure a seamless service. The fostering service social worker will be expected to read the foster carers file at the agency and where possible request a copy of the assessment of the foster carers;
- The process should be completed in reasonable timescales for the foster carer, ensuring they are not remaining carers for another agency before presenting them to the (ADM) for a decision to be made;
- Where there is a child (or children) in placement, foster carers must give written notice of their intention to consider moving to another agency, both to the current service and to the placing authority/authorities. Knowsley will ensure that the child is at the centre of the process and decisions. Protocol meetings should be held and chaired by the fostering Team Manager and the agency and Knowsley should agree the dates for the ADM to take place to ensure the carers remain approved to solely one agency.
The meeting will consider the following:
- Any made at the child's latest Case Review and Care Planning Meeting;
- How the move of the foster carer to another service may affect each child;
- The particular support needs of the child and the foster carer and how they will be provided by the new service;
- The arrangements for approval by the recruiting service and termination of the foster carer's approval by the current service. The arrangements should ensure continuity of approval;
- Parallel arrangements for timing a transfer of responsibility for the payment of fees and allowances to the foster carer;
- The wishes and views of the child regarding their placement;
- Where it is determined at a case review that a placement is not to continue, what the arrangements will be for the child. (This may be the case if another authority also has a child in placement);
- A timetable for the recruitment, assessment, support and approval of the foster carers.
4. Notes on Information Sharing
A foster carer's assessment report is the property of the service which produced it. However, foster carers have the right to almost all the information that is in the report under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018(DPA) (see revised Statutory Guidance - Volume 4: Fostering Services on the assessment and approval of foster carers July 2013 and the Fostering Network's guidance on confidentiality of information for further details). Information sharing and the use of the information should be made explicit to the foster carers. The foster carers should provide their agency with consent for Knowsley to have access to their file and the full assessment. It is the duty of the agency to pertain this consent before sharing the information.
If consent is refused, the current fostering service should consider whether there is any information in the records that is a cause for concern and any such information should be shared, even if consent has been refused.
5. Training, Support and Development Standards
Foster carers should evidence meeting the Training, Support and Development Standards for foster care within the timescales set out in NMS 20.3. The workbook and portfolio of evidence is the property of the foster carer and this should be shared to demonstrate them meeting the TSD standards.