Fostering Exemptions and Extensions and Variations of Approval
AMENDMENTThis chapter was reviewed and updated in December 2015 when Section 5, Extension / Variation to the Foster Carer's Terms of Approval was re-written, and sets out the process for immediate implementation of a decision to change/vary a foster carer's terms of approval.
1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children
A person may not foster more than three children in each foster home except where all the children are siblings.
In all other circumstances, foster carers may only exceed this number if an exemption has been agreed.
2.Applications for Exemptions
Applications will usually be made because of the following exceptional circumstances:
- The child concerned was previously placed with the foster carers and his or her placement elsewhere has disrupted;
- The foster carers have special skills to meet the child's needs which are not available elsewhere;
- The placement of the child over the limit is the most appropriate way of meeting the child's needs arising from disability, race, religion, language and/or culture;
- The placement is required to keep siblings together.
Applications can only be made with the agreement of the foster carers concerned.
When considering an exemption the following factors should be regarded:
- The number, ages and circumstances of the children concerned;
- The arrangements proposed for the care and accommodation of the children concerned;
- The relationship between the foster carers and the children concerned;
- The period of time over which the placement is likely to last;
- The likely effect on the children concerned and any other children living in the household;
- The foster carers' capacity to provide sufficient care for all the children in the placement;
- The need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the fostered children / young people and any other children / young people who live in the foster home.
3. The Process for Exemptions
3.1 Planned Exemptions
The need for an exemption will be identified at the point when the Fostering Team duty social worker is seeking to identify a suitable placement for a child or children.
Where a foster carer is identified as the most appropriate option to meet the child's needs, and this is agreed by the Fostering Social Worker for the carers and the foster carer, the duty social worker should consult with the Fostering Team Manager and if agreed prepare an application for an exemption.
The social worker(s) to any other child in the placement should also be consulted in order to seek their views on any impact (positive or negative) from a further placement commencing.
All applications for planned exemptions for foster carers living in Calderdale must be made in writing, supported by reasons, to the Service Manager (CLA) for approval. Where the foster carers live in a different local authority area, the application must be made to the manager of the fostering service for that area. The written application will be prepared by the supervising social worker for the foster carers in conjunction with the relevant child's social worker.
The decision whether or not to grant an exemption will be made within 5 working days by the Service Manager (CLA) recorded in writing, together with reasons. Any exemption will be specific to a child or children and can be subject to conditions. The foster carer will be notified in writing of the decision.
Upon the granting of an exemption, a time limit will be specified and an exemption can only extend beyond that date if the Service Manager for the relevant local authority area authorises it.
The decision must be recorded on the electronic record.
The decision will be reported to the next available Fostering Panel for ratification.
3.2 Emergency Exemptions
The Duty Manager for the Out of Hours Service can agree for a child to be placed in a Calderdale foster home above the usual limit in an emergency, i.e. without the agreement of the Service Manager (CLA). This agreement will only last until the next working day.
An application for exemption beyond the next working day must then be made to the Service Manager (CLA) and any such exemption needs to be presented to the next available Fostering Panel, as with planned exemptions.
An interim decision may be necessary on an emergency basis pending full consideration of the exemption.
As with 3.1, the emergency and interim approval can only be given by the local authority for the area where the foster carers reside. Depending on the local authority involved, there may be arrangements in place for a Duty Manager within the local authority to agree an emergency or interim exemption. If such arrangements exist, an application for an emergency or interim exemption must be made to the relevant manager in line with their procedures. Otherwise an emergency exemption cannot be granted.
Any emergency decisions to grant an exemption must be confirmed in writing and copies of the decision, together with the reasons, must be placed on the child's file and the foster carer's case record. A copy must also be sent to the foster carer.The decision must be recorded.
4. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions
The Fostering Panel will be responsible for the ongoing monitoring of the exemption.
The Fostering Team is responsible for ending the exemption on the electronic records when the exemption is no longer required.
5. Extension / Variation to the Foster Carer's Terms of Approval
Following amendments made to the Children Act and Fostering Service Regulations in 2013 regarding Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers, amendments allow for immediate implementation of a decision to change/vary a foster carer's terms of approval if the carer agrees in writing with the change and there is an agreement on support needs.
Outline Brief Process
Where it is established that a variation to cover the terms of approval is required, the Supervising Social Worker (SSW) will discuss and agree with foster carer the new terms of approval giving consideration to any additional support needs and how these will be met. Consultation with the social worker for any other children already in placement should take place.
Supervising Social Worker (SSW) will then complete a variation to approval form, and ensure Practice Manager agreement. Form to be forwarded to Fostering Agency Decision Maker (ADM) for sign off within the identified timescales above. Fostering admin should be notified once approval is granted to enable the Fostering register to be updated. The completed change of approval form should be uploaded onto CASS.