Appeals Process for Foster Care Applicants and Carers
The Directorate aims to provide an appropriate resource to meet the needs of Children Looked After in Calderdale by:
- Recruiting, training and assessing suitable foster carers;
- Ensuring that unsuitable applicants are identified and excluded at an early stage;
- Providing ongoing support and training to existing registered foster carers.
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure should be used for the adjudication of appeals to decisions made during the assessment and approval process; carer reviews; renewal of approval; placement decisions.
AMENDMENTThis chapter was amended in July 2013 to reflect the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013, which came into force on 1 July 2013. Section 1, Deemed to be Unsuitable During Assessment Process and Section 2, Refusal/Termination After Panel have been amended and should be re-read.
1. Deemed to be Unsuitable During Assessment Process
1.1 Assessment Stage One
During Assessment Stage One (see Assessment of Prospective Foster Carers Procedure) where, having regard to any information obtained, it is decided that the applicant is not suitable to become a foster carer, the applicant must be notified in writing with reasons. This notification may be given whether or not all of this information has been obtained. Such a notification may not be given more than 10 working days after all the information has been obtained. The applicant has no right to make representations or to have their case reviewed under the Independent Review Mechanism.
Where all the specified information has been obtained and notification has not been given within 10 working days that the applicant is not suitable, the application must proceed to Assessment Stage Two (see Assessment of Prospective Foster Carers Procedure).
1.2 Assessment Stage Two
After the information has been collated as per Assessment Stage Two, the applicant must be notified that the case is to be referred to the fostering panel, be given a copy of the report and be invited to send any observations in writing within 10 working days beginning with the date on which the notification is sent. Where, having regard to the information obtained, it is decided that the applicant is unlikely to be considered suitable to become a foster parent, the written report may be prepared notwithstanding that not all the information has been obtained. At the end of the 10 working days, (or when the applicant's observations are received, whichever is sooner), the report, the applicant's observations on that report, if any, and any other relevant information obtained, must be sent to the fostering panel.
2. Refusal/Termination After Panel
Any recommendation made by the Fostering Panel to refuse or to terminate an approval must be passed to the Agency Decision Maker. If the recommendation is accepted, the Agency Decision Maker will arrange for, the applicant/s to be informed in writing:
- That the decision is not to approve the applicant/s as foster carer/s, together with reasons and a copy of the Fostering Panel's recommendations;
- That they have the choice either to make a written representation to the Agency Decision Maker or* apply for an Independent Review;
- Any representation or application must be made within 28 days of the notice.
*The applicant(s)/carers can either make an application for an Independent Review or make representations to the Fostering Panel - not both.
2.1 Independent Review
For more information, see the Independent Review Mechanism (GOV.UK).
If the applicant decides to refer the matter to an Independent Review, the relevant Panel reports, any new information obtained since the Panel meeting, a record of the decision made and reasons, a copy of the written notification of the decision and a copy of the Panel minute, if different, will be sent to the Independent Review within 10 working days of their written request.
The procedure for the Independent Review is operated by Coram Children's Legal Centre on behalf of the Department for Education; the applicant and two representatives of the fostering agency will be invited to attend the Independent Review.
After considering the representations, the Independent Review may make a recommendation, which the Agency Decision Maker will consider before a final decision is made.
Written notice of the final decision, together with reasons, must be sent to the applicant within 7 working days of the receipt of the Independent Review recommendation.
2.2 Representations Made to Panel
The written representation should be addressed to the Chair of the Fostering Panel.
Following receipt of the written representations, the matter is referred back to the alternate Fostering Panel for further consideration taking into account any further information. Fostering Panel will discuss and submit a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker.
The Agency Decision Maker will make a decision taking into account any fresh recommendation made by the Fostering Panel. As soon as practicable after making the decision, the applicant/s will be informed in writing:
- That they will be approved as foster carers; or
- That they will not be approved as foster carers and the reasons for this decision.
There is no further avenue of appeal.
3. Appeals Against Carer Review Decisions
Following the review, a written report is prepared setting out whether the carer/s continues to be suitable to be approved as a carer and the terms of approval.
If the report recommends that the carer/s are no longer suitable to be approved or to alter the terms of approval and the carer/s do not agree, the Fostering Team Manager shall inform the carer/s in writing that:
- The carer/s' approval will be terminated; or
- That their terms of approval will be varied.
The carers have 28 days from receipt of the notice to submit any written representations or seek an Independent Review - as set out in Section 2, Refusal/Termination After Panel.
If no written representations are received by the Fostering Team Manager the report recommendations will stand.
If the carers submit written representations, the matter will be referred to Fostering Panel.
The Fostering Panel will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker taking into account all the information available.
Documentation required for presentation to Panel will include:
- Copies of all forms completed for the review (as applicable);
- Copy of the written representations from the foster carer/s.
The matter should be placed on the agenda for the next Fostering Panel.
4. Placement Decisions
If a foster carer disagrees with decisions made in relation to a child in placement, the matter should be first raised with the child's social worker and the foster carer's supervising social worker.
The supervising social worker will discuss the nature of the disagreement and will endeavour to problem solve at that stage.
Should this not give resolution, the matter should be taken to the respective Managers of those involved. It is the responsibility of those Managers and the social workers involved to make a decision in the disputed matter. This will be communicated to the foster carer in writing within seven days.