Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers
The Calderdale Fostering Service assesses the standard of care provided by foster carers by reviewing them on an annual basis.
See also: Foster Carer Annual Review Flowchart
This procedure must be applied to all foster carers approved by the Fostering Panel in order to meet the statutory requirements of the Fostering Services Regulations 2011.
AMENDMENTIn January 2021, this procedure was reviewed and extensively updated to reflect current practice for the review of Foster Carers in Calderdale. A Foster Carer Annual Review Flowchart was added to summarise the key stages in the review process (see above).
1. Frequency of Foster Carer Reviews
Foster carer reviews will be carried out at least annually. The due date of the review is calculated from the date of the Agency Decision Maker's (ADM) approval for carers undertaking their First Annual Foster Carer Review, or from the date of the decision of the ADM in all subsequent reviews.
Reviews should also be carried out:
- If serious allegations or complaints are made about carers or members of their household;
- If there are standard of care concerns;
- If foster carers' circumstances change;
- If an updated Disclosure and Barring Service check reveals a new concern about the foster carer or a member of the household;
- If there is a request for change of approval.
Areas of concern, or the need for additional support, that are identified between reviews should be addressed at the time rather than waiting for reviews.
The decision to undertake an early review should be made by the Practice Manager based on information from the foster carers' Supervising Social Worker.
2. Carrying out Reviews
When preparing for a foster carer Annual Review, the Supervising Social Worker must ensure the following documents are completed:
- Foster Carer Comments Report to be completed by carer;
- Foster Carer Review Report to be completed by Supervising Social Worker;
- Feedback from the foster carer/s children;
- Feedback from foster children in placement at the time of the Review;
- Report to be completed by the child's Social Worker in respect of each child currently in placement;
- End of placement reports for all children who were placed with the foster carers during the review period;
- Personal Development Plans must be completed for each carer, this should be linked to their training and their annual review;
- Disclosure and Barring Service checks should be updated every 3 years (unless the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service is used);
- Carer health checks should also be completed every 3 years and reviewed as part of the review meeting.
Preparation for the Foster Carer's Annual Review should commence at least 6 weeks in advance of the Review Meeting with the review reports and feedback requests being sent out to relevant parties.
The Supervising Social Worker's report should be quality assured by their Practice Manager and shared with the foster carers prior to sending all the required documentation to the Independent Fostering Reviewing Officer (IFRO) who will chair the Foster Carer's Annual Review.
The review must consider the following:
- Any convictions or cautions made in respect of the carer or people in the household during the period since the last review;
- The views of the foster carers (see FOS-03(i));
- Whether the accommodation remains suitable;
- The health of the carer/s;
- The views of those who have placed a child with the foster carers during the period since the last review (including placements which are ongoing). This information should be sought from the allocated Social Worker/s of the child or children placed.
The review meeting will be held in the foster carers' home with the foster carer/s, their Supervising Social Worker and the IFRO in attendance. The IFRO will chair the Annual Review meeting and prepare a report which will be presented to the Foster Care Panel and/or the ADM.
The IFRO's Report will incorporate the views of those present at the review meeting as well as the views of all who have submitted reports.
The IFRO will make recommendations in their report concerning the terms of approval and fee level for consideration by the ADM. Some Foster Carer's Annual Reviews will be considered by the Foster Care Panel first before being sent to the ADM for their decision.
In exceptional circumstances, where it is felt that a short delay in undertaking the Annual Review Meeting is necessary due to lack of reports being presented, ill-health of the foster carer, IFRO or child in placement or any other reasons assessed by the Fostering Service to be valid, then the Team Manager of the Fostering Service will prepare a report for the ADM requesting an extension of approval for up to 3 months. The report will clearly set out the reasons for the extension request, activities being undertaken to ensure the Annual Review is undertaken within the extension period which will not exceed 3 months together with the proposed date when the Annual Review meeting will occur.
3. Consideration of Foster Carers' Annual Reviews by the Foster Care Panel or Agency Decision Maker
A foster carer's first Annual Review must be presented to the Foster Care Panel for their consideration and recommendation which is then considered by the ADM. Annual Reviews will be presented to the Foster Care Panel every third year following initial approval, and at other times where it is felt oversight of the Foster Care Panel is required (see Section 2, Carrying out Reviews).
Whether presented to the Foster Care Panel or not, the report will be presented to the ADM for a decision as to whether the foster carer remains suitable to foster and their terms of approval appropriate. Where a Foster Carers' Annual Review has been presented to the Foster Care Panel, the ADM will take into account the panel's recommendation before making their decision.
The Foster Care Panel when considering the recommendation set out in the reports presented to them, can:
- Agree with the recommendation;
- Not agree with the recommendation;
- Defer for further information before being presented again for a recommendation.
The Foster Care Panel and/or Agency Decision Maker will receive the full pack of reports and feedback as outlined in Section 1, Frequency of Foster Carer Reviews, as well as a written report from the IFRO which will clearly set out a recommendation for:
- The continued approval of the foster carer on the same terms of approval;
- The continued approval of the foster carer on amended terms of approval; or
- The de-registration of the foster carer
Where the Review recommends the termination of approval of the foster carer, see Section 5.1, Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer's Approval.
Where the Foster Care Panel's recommendation is that the foster carers' approval terms are to be amended, see Section 5.2, Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carers' Approval.
Where the foster carer has decided to cease fostering, see Section, 6 Foster Carers who Cease Fostering.
The Foster Carer Annual Review reports and feedback should be sent to the Panel Administrator at least 10 working days before the relevant Panel meeting.Foster carers will be invited to attend the Foster Care Panel whenever their reviews are being considered. Foster Carers will be encouraged to attend Panel, and the Panel Administrator informed of their attendance.
4. After the Foster Care Panel
Whether presented to the Foster Care Panel or not, the report will be presented to the ADM for a decision as to whether the foster carer remains suitable to foster and whether their terms of approval remain appropriate. When a Review has been presented to the Foster Care Panel, the ADM will take into account the panel's recommendation.
The Agency Decision Maker has 5 working days to consider their decision and can:
- Agree with the Foster Care Panel's recommendation;
- Not agree with the Foster Care Panel's recommendation and amend the terms of approval;
- Defer their decision for further information/work to be undertaken before being presented back to the ADM, or if they wish, to the Foster Care Panel.
Should the terms of approval be amended by the Foster Care Panel and/or the ADM, the foster carers will be advised of their right to appeal either by sending representations to the ADM or through the Independent Review Mechanism.
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.
A copy of the all documents which informed the Foster Care Annual Review together with minutes of the Foster Care Panel and ADM's decision will be placed on the foster carer's CASS file.
The Foster Care Panel Administrator will record any change in the foster carers' approval on the Register of Foster Carers. Where such a change has been agreed, the Foster Care Panel Administrator will send two copies of an amended Foster Care Agreement to the foster carer for signature. Foster Carers will sign both Agreements, keeping one copy for their records, and returning the second copy to the Fostering Service or handing to their Supervising Social Worker at their next visit. The foster carers' Supervising Social Worker will ensure there is an up to date Foster Care Agreement on the file of every allocated foster carer.
N.B. No placement of a child can be made without a copy of the signed Foster Care Agreement being evidenced on the foster carer's system file (CASS).
5. Representations / Independent Review Mechanism Procedure
5.1 Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer's Approval
Where, as a result of a review, termination of a foster carers' approval is proposed, the case will be heard at the Foster Care Panel. Should the Foster Care panel endorse the recommendation to terminate the foster carers' approval, and the Agency Decision Maker confirms that termination of approval is an appropriate outcome, written notice together with the reasons for termination of approval must be sent to the foster carer within 7 days of the ADM's decision. Foster carers will be advised of their rights to challenge the decision either by making representations to the ADM or to request an independent review under the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM). See also Information about the IRM for Foster Carers.
Details of the representations and IRM process are provided in the Appeals Process for Foster Care Applicants and Carers Procedure.
Representations should be sent to the ADM within 28 days of the date of the notice of the decision being sent to the foster carers. The matter may be referred back to the Foster Care Panel at the request of the ADM. The Panel Administrator will notify the foster carer(s) within 7 working days of the date when the Panel will reconsider the matter and invite them to attend.If written representations are not received within 28 days, the ADM can proceed to make their final decision. When termination of a foster carer's approval is being considered, plans to move any children in placement will be discussed with the relevant social work team(s).
5.2 Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carers' Approval
5.2.1 Where the Foster Carer is in Agreement
Where, as a result of a review, the terms of approval of a foster carer are amended to reflect the foster carers' wishes or the Fostering Services recommendation, as long as the foster carers are in full agreement and agrees in writing to the proposed revision of their terms of approval, then the terms of approval will be amended.
The ADM's decision in such circumstances is not a Qualifying Determination, and the foster carer may not apply to the IRM to review the decision.
N.B. This process is for minor amendments/changes to the foster carers terms of approval and does not include significant changes such as moving from support care to full time care or from short term to long term care. Such changes must be presented to the Foster Care Panel following a Foster Carers' Annual Review.
Foster carers must not be pressured to accept changes to their terms of approval.
5.2.2 Where the Foster Carer is not in AgreementWhere 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 5.1, Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer's Approval above will apply.
6. Foster Carers who Cease Fostering
A foster carer may give written notice at any time, of their wish to resign as a foster carer for Calderdale MBC. When a foster carer has submitted their letter of resignation, noting this must be from both carers if a couple, this will be presented to the Fostering Panel and formerly recorded in the Minutes. Under the Fostering Services Regulations 2011, the written resignation of the foster carer takes effect 28 days from the date their notice was received by the Fostering Services and cannot be retracted. Should a foster carer, who has submitted written notification of their resignation, change their mind they will need to be assessed under the procedure for Assessment of Prospective Foster Carers.There is no regulatory requirement for the Foster Care Panel to be notified of resignations. However the Panel will find it helpful to be advised, as part of its monitoring role, and the Chair of the Foster Care Panel, when writing the Annual Report of the Foster Care Panel, will comment on the number of resignations and the reasons for them. An exit interview should also be conducted where possible.
When a foster carer obtains a Child Arrangements Order or a Special Guardianship Order for a child they were previously looking after, and they either were only approved for that child, or cannot continue to foster as they no longer have space to do so, the case must be presented to the Foster Care Panel for de-registration and removal from the Foster Carers Register.
7. Updating Checks
Disclosure and Barring Service checks must be updated every 3 years (unless they have registered with the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service) and if necessary, a review of the foster carer's approval should be carried out immediately to take account of any new information.
8. Retention of Foster Carer Files
Foster carers' files should be retained for a minimum of 10 years after their approval has been terminated.