3.7.2 Recruitment, Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers

For the procedure to be followed when the assessment of the applicants has been completed, see Fostering Panel Procedure and Permanence Overarching Strategy and Permanence Policy and Procedure.

Also see Policy on Smoking for Foster Carers, Adopters, Children and Young People in Care.

RELATED CHAPTERS

Also see Foster/Substitute Carer Recruitment Guidance.

NOTE

For temporary approval as foster carers of approved prospective adopters, see Placements in Looked After Services (Children's Homes, Foster Care and Commissioned Placements) Procedure.

AMENDMENT

In March 2018, Section 10, After the Panel Recommendation was updated to clarify the decision as to the suitability of the applicant must be made within 7 working days of receipt of the panel’s recommendation and final set of panel minutes – The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 4 and Standard 14 (14.9) Fostering panels and the fostering service’s decision-maker.


Contents

  1. Procedure for Recruitment
  2. Recruitment / Advertising
  3. Applications for Fostering
  4. Assessment - Stage One
  5. Sharing Information for the Purposes of Foster Carer Assessments
  6. Checks and References
  7. Skills to Foster Training Course
  8. Assessment - Stage Two
  9. The Panel Recommendation
  10. After the Panel Recommendation
  11. Representations / Independent Review Procedure
  12. Criteria for Foster Carers
  13. After the Approval
  14. Register of Foster Carers
  15. Complaints / Comments / Compliments
  16. Records


1. Procedure for Recruitment 

The Family Placement Recruitment and Assessment Team will undertake a rolling programme of recruitment and advertising that reflects the current recruitment targets and embrace the diverse needs of the children who need family placements. This will be co-ordinated by the relevant Recruitment team manager.

The programme of advertising needs to reflect the Authority’s policy on recruitment of foster carers. Applicants can be considered from:

  1. Persons aged 18 years and over. There is no upper age limit, but new applicants will need to be fit and healthy for the task. Those offering permanency should generally be of an age to reflect that of a child’s potential birth parent;
  2. Those who apply should have a reasonable standard of health and a lifestyle that is compatible with caring for children;
  3. Single people;
  4. Married or unmarried couples;
  5. Minority ethnic groups;
  6. People with disabilities;
  7. Gay and lesbian people.

The programme of recruitment will have regard to the needs of children/young people looked after by the Authority. Particular emphasis and priority may need to be given to applicants who would consider older children/young people, children/young people with disabilities, children / young people who originate from ethnic minority communities, applicants residing in specified locations (e.g. where there is a need to place children outside of Walsall) and children/young people with particular care needs or sibling groups.

Response to general enquiries about fostering should be undertaken by the appropriate member of Recruitment and Assessment Team, giving particular priority to those who respond to the needs of those identified above and to current service recruitment targets. An up to date copy of this will remain on the duty file as a guide when taking referrals.

With the exception of children / young people with relatives or friends (including those in emergency placements with Connected Persons), all enquiries regarding applications for fostering, should be directed to the Fostering Recruitment & Assessment Team.

At this stage, it is important that the Worker identifies potentially suitable applicants or enquirers who may not have yet given sufficient consideration to fostering or do not meet the needs of the Authority.

Potential applicants may for example:

  1. Their response indicates that they are not yet ready for fostering, for example the recent loss of a child, the recent birth of a child, unrealistic aspirations or expectations, unsuitable accommodation etc.; or
  2. Their response indicates that they are not yet ready for substitute caring, for example the recent loss of a child, the recent birth of a child, unrealistic aspirations or expectations, unsuitable accommodation etc.; or
  3. Offer a resource which is not needed but could offer other facilities, for example supported lodgings; or
  4. Are not suitable due to existing / previous approval by this or another agency, or they have a Children's Services involvement that may deem then unsuitable to care for other people’s children;
  5. Any disclosures that prevent working with children/young people including Disclosure and Barring Service Barred List;
  6. All enquiries should be dealt with promptly and courteously.

All enquirers who wish to take their interest further should be forwarded a Fostering information pack within 24 hours of the enquiry. There details will be entered on Mosaic, and if it is considered that they are ready to proceed, a “Prospective Foster Carer Enquiry” form will be completed (on Mosaic) and forwarded to the manager.


2. Recruitment / Advertising

General media publicity should be approved by the Fostering Recruitment and Assessment Team Manager.

When family finding for children, Walsall resources must be considered. Before proceeding with any outside advertising, the relevant team manager must be satisfied, that the child’s needs cannot be met in-house.

Details of advertisements should be discussed with the relevant Manager, together with details of costs, preferred dates for publication and media to be used.

The Manager will approve the budget commitment.


3. Applications for Fostering

Upon receipt of a “Prospective Foster Carer Enquiry” on Mosaic, the team manager will arrange for allocation.

A list of all enquirers and applicants will be held centrally by the Fostering Recruitment and Assessment team manager.

Applications will be prioritised according to greatest needs and scarcity of resource. Details of unallocated applications will be logged.

Applicants should be expected to attend, a Preparation Training course (see Section 7, Skills to Foster Training Course), normally either concurrent with or prior to the assessment period. This will be regarded as a requirement of applicants unless they have completed another equivalent course, or there are exceptional circumstances.


4. Assessment – Stage One

Stage 1 of the assessment process is intended to provide the decision maker with basic information about the applicant to enable clearly unsuitable applicants to be sifted out without unnecessary bureaucracy or expenditure of time and resource by the fostering service or the applicant. More detailed information is collected in Assessment - Stage 2.

Where a person applies to become a foster carer and it is decided to assess their suitability to become a foster carer, the following information must be obtained as soon as reasonably practicable relating to the applicant and other members of their household and family:

  • Full name, address and date of birth;
  • Details of health (supported by a medical report);
  • Particulars of any other adult members of the household;
  • Particulars of the children in the family, whether or not members of the household, and any other children in the household;
  • Particulars of their accommodation;
  • The outcome of any request or application made by them or any other member of their household to foster or adopt children, or for registration as an early years provider or later years provider under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006), including particulars of any previous approval or refusal of approval relating to them or to any other member of the household;
  • If the applicant has, in the preceding twelve months, been a foster parent approved by another fostering service provider, the name and address of that fostering service provider;
  • Names and addresses of two persons who will provide personal references;
  • In relation to the applicant and any other member of the applicant ’s household who is aged 18 or over, an enhanced criminal record certificate;
  • Details of current, and any previous, marriage, civil partnership or similar relationship;
  • The views of, the local authority in whose area the applicant lives, if different;
  • Where the applicant has previous been, or is currently, approved as a foster carer by another fostering service provider, or as a prospective adopter by an adoption agency, and consents, access may be requested to the relevant records compiled by that other fostering service provider / adoption agency in relation to the applicant. That service / agency must provide access within 15 working days of a request being received.

Records compiled by another fostering service, or an adoption agency, can be used to inform the new assessment of the applicant’s suitability to foster. For instance, if previous partners have been interviewed in the past to verify facts, and the current assessing social worker is satisfied with the records in respect of these interviews, it should not be necessary to repeat the interviews if no further information is required. The assessing social worker should, however, satisfy themselves as to the quality and continuing relevance of the information before using it to inform the current assessment.

Where, having regard to any information obtained, it is decided (by the Agency Decision Maker) 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 about the decision or to have their case reviewed under the Independent Review Mechanism. However, the applicant must be informed that they can complain via the fostering service’s complaints process if they are unhappy with the way in which their case has been handled. The complaints process should address whether or not the applicant’s case has been handled in a reasonable way, rather than the question of the applicant’s suitability to foster.

Where all the specified information has been obtained and notification has not been given within 10 working days that the applicant is not suitable, then the application must proceed to Assessment - Stage 2.

Note that Stages 1 and 2 of the assessment process can be carried out concurrently, but the Stage 1 information must be sought as soon as possible, and the decision about whether an applicant has successfully completed Stage 1 must be made within 10 working days of all the information required in that Stage being received.

During Single Assessment Visits enquirers should be advised that their interest in substitute caring will be discussed with the relevant manager prior to any further progress. The applicants will be invited to complete the FPS6 and WSS302 (the Single Assessment form and consent to full statutory and precautionary checks). Applicants' ID should be checked via either a passport or a driving licence containing a photograph or a birth certificate. The visiting social worker must verify the date of birth given on the above form and complete an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service form. 

Other household members dates of birth including all children aged 16 or over will also need to be verified and their consent to statutory checks obtained including an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check.

The assessing social worker should make a full record of their Single Assessment using Form WSS and make a clear recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker. During the visit the applicant should be informed of any concerns that may preclude their application from proceeding further.

The Manager will return the file to the assessing social worker in the event of the enquirers’ application proceeding.

Where an enquirer is already approved by another agency, or has previously been approved by another agency, and the information given does not present any concerns, an urgent visit can be offered. It is important to share with them the likely process involved if they wished to proceed further following the discussion.

Applicants can only be approved by one agency. See also protocol on Black Country Authority Foster Carers.

In some circumstances and based on the information presented by an enquirer, a joint visit may be beneficial. The purpose would be to provide a second opinion and thus inform further the assessment of their circumstances. 

The Fostering Panel must make its recommendation on the application within eight months of the applicant first applying to be assessed.


5. Sharing Information for the Purposes of Foster Carer Assessments

5.1 Information-sharing

Sharing information about a person that is held in their existing foster carer or adopter records is permitted for the purposes of informing a new assessment of a person’s suitability to foster or adopt. For instance, if previous partners have been interviewed in the past to verify facts, and the current assessing social worker is satisfied with the records in respect of these interviews, it should not be necessary to repeat the interviews if no further information is required. The assessing social worker should, however, satisfy themselves as to the quality and continuing relevance of the information before using it to inform the current assessment.

Information that should be shared, upon request, in order to inform a new assessment of a person’s suitability to foster or adopt includes:

  • The report of the original assessment of the person’s suitability to foster or adopt (if it is considered by the body requesting the information to be recent enough to be relevant);
  • A copy of the report of the last review of the individual’s continuing suitability to foster or adopt and any other review report considered useful to understanding the person’s current suitability to foster or adopt;
  • Details of any concerns about standards of practice and what if anything is being done/has been done to address them;
  • Details of allegations made against the foster carer/adopter or their household members; and
  • Any other information considered to be relevant to the assessment of the person’s suitability to foster / adopt.

5.2 Consent

Information should only be shared with the informed, explicit consent of all parties referred to in the information, including young people where they have sufficient understanding to consent to the sharing of their information (if they do not have sufficient understanding, the consent of a person with Parental Responsibility would need to be obtained). This means that the person giving consent needs to understand why their information is to be shared, what will be shared, who will see their information, the purpose to which it will be put and the implications of sharing that information.

If consent is refused, the current fostering service or adoption agency should consider whether there is any information in the records that is a cause for concern. Any information about an applicant’s conduct or suitability to foster / adopt that has caused concern should be shared even if the individual has refused consent. If there are no such concerns, and the individual has refused consent, information should not be shared. This may require documents to be redacted to remove information relating to individuals who have refused consent.

Requests for access to information should be accompanied by the written consent of the applicant to the sharing of their information.

5.3 Timescales

The receiving service should acknowledged the request within two working days, seek consent from all others referred to in the information within five working days and the information, redacted where necessary, should be provided within 15 working days.


6. Checks and References

6.1 Checks

The statutory checks forms should be completed on the initial visit and passed to the administrative team for processing. It is necessary that these are done early on as it can take some considerable time to obtain responses. A pre-approval file will be made up when the application is received and the assessment is allocated. The administrative staff will arrange for the following checks to be made on all members of the household aged 16 and over: Disclosure and Barring Service, Probation, Health Trust, Education, Children's Services (including the List of Children with a Child Protection Plan) and the NSPCC, and whether the applicants have a right to work in the UK. Where the applicants live or have lived outside the local authority area, the checks must be made with the local authority and health trust where the applicants live/have lived. These checks should be recorded including the date when the checks were made. (A new Disclosure and Barring Service check may not be necessary if the applicant has subscribed to the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service.)

6.2 Medicals

It will be necessary for each applicant to have a medical. The social worker will provide the applicant(s) with a covering letter to their own G.P, an A.H. medical form for each applicant and a medical claim form. The claim form allows the G. P. to claim the appropriate fee for undertaking the medicals. The applicants can arrange to have the medical with their own G. P. and at a time convenient to themselves. It is however important to have the medical early on in the process to avoid any delay in the application process. Once the G. P. has completed the assessment he/she can return them to the social worker. The social worker can photocopy the medical forms and forward the originals to the agency’s Medical Adviser. The worker will send a covering letter to the Medical Adviser asking for her to consider the information and to advise them of whether the applicants would be suitable to foster with regard to their health. It is advisable that the letter indicates when the family’s assessment is likely to be presented to the Fostering Panel. This will give the Medical Adviser indication of when the information is needed by. 

6.3 Referees

Where the applicant has been a foster carer within the preceding 12 months and was approved as such by another fostering service provider, a reference must be requested from that other fostering service provider. There is no requirement to also interview personal referees (see below). However, additional verbal and / or written references may be sought from personal referees. If the previous fostering service, for whatever reason, does not provide a reference, interviews with two personal referees must be conducted.

Otherwise, each application whether a single applicant or a dual application will need the minimum of two unrelated persons who can provide personal references for the applicant. When considering the referees the applicants need to suggest someone who have known them for a considerable time, and someone who is likely to know them well. If the worker has any doubts about the validity of a reference or whether information provided is substantial enough the worker can seek advice from the manager. For example referees suggested may know one partner far better and their knowledge of the other is limited. In some cases it may be necessary to obtain further referees. The referees should be visited and interviewed preferably in their home environment as this helps to validate the source of the information.

Prior to eliciting information it is important that the interviewee is given assurance that the information they give will remain confidential and that the content of the discussion would not be shared with the applicants. The referees need to feel confident that they can share any concerns about the applicants suitability without any reprisals. They themselves can however share information about the discussion with the applicants if they wish. The worker should record the interview in accordance with the Guidance on interviewing referees.

For the procedure to be followed when the assessment of the applicants has been completed, see Fostering Panel Procedure.


7. Skills to Foster Training Course

Skills to Foster Training is a requirement for all applicants (and their partners). Minimum attendance is 80% and any sessions not attended will be covered by the assessing social worker. The Team Manager should be consulted prior to, or refusing to process an application on the grounds of inability / unwillingness to attend training.

Lead responsibility for this programme is with the Family Placement Service, and can include the involvement of:

  1. Foster carers and adopters;
  2. Social workers (Children and Families Teams);
  3. Child care workers;
  4. Students as co-leaders;
  5. Staff from the Training Section;
  6. Others, for example guest speakers.

Group training can, at one and the same time, be informative to the prospective carer and to the Agency about their potential skills or areas of difficulty. The applicant(s) should be aware of the assessment element to the preparation programme and group leaders should feedback details in writing of progress on individuals to colleagues undertaking the assessment.

Applicants should be encouraged to fully participate in training, and maintain a work book of outstanding issues for further discussion with the Assessing social worker during the home study/assessment visit. Applicants are expected to compile a portfolio of competence evidence along with a family book during the preparation course for completing prior to approval. This will be for the purpose of sharing details about the family with potential children to be placed.


8. Assessment - Stage Two

Where the Assessment – Stage One information has been obtained, and no notification has been given within 10 working days that the applicant is not suitable to be a foster carer, the following must be undertaken:

  • Obtain the following information relating to the applicant and other members of the household, together with any other relevant information:
    • Details of personality;
    • Religious persuasion, and capacity to care for a child from any particular religious persuasion;
    • Racial origin, cultural and linguistic background and capacity to care for a child from any particular racial origin or cultural or linguistic background;
    • Past and present employment or occupation, standard of living, leisure activities and interests;
    • Previous experience (if any) of caring for their own and other children;
    • Skills, competence and potential relevant to their capacity to care effectively for a child placed with them.
  • Consider whether the applicant is suitable to be a foster parent and whether the applicant ’s household is suitable for any child;
  • Prepare a written report on the applicant which includes the following matters:
    • The information required to be obtained, as set out above;
    • Any other relevant information;
    • An assessment of the applicant’s suitability to be a foster parent;
    • Proposals about any terms of approval.

(There are no specific regulatory requirements about the way in which assessment information must be collected or presented to panel.)

Where, having regard to information obtained during Stage 2, it is decided that the applicant is unlikely to be considered suitable to become a foster parent, notwithstanding that not all the Stage 2 information has yet been obtained, a Brief Report may be prepared and submitted to the Fostering Panel in the same way as for a full assessment report. (There is no prescribed length or format for a brief report).

When the assessment is allocated, the social worker undertaking the assessment and the manager will complete the assessment agreement forms. The agreement is to help monitor timescales for the work to be completed in accordance with the National and Minimal Standards. It is also intended to monitor the need for any support and guidance the worker may need, and to monitor workloads.

Each assessment should be undertaken by following the BAAF Form F Guidance which covers all of the above and will include a competency based approach. It also includes the prospective foster carer’s understanding and dealing with young people’s behaviour including encouraging children to take responsibility for their behaviour and helping them to learn how to resolve conflict.

When the worker begins the assessment it is suggested that they arrange a number of visits and to give the applicants a brief outline of what is likely to be covered in each session. This will give the applicants an idea of intended timescales and any preparation necessary on their part. They can have a copy of the Form F part II to follow if they haven’t been given one during the training course. 

If the applicants are interested in caring for a disabled child Form F Part III will also need to be completed.

Each worker will develop their own individual ways of gathering information and will utilise differing skills and techniques in exploring applicants' attitudes and values. As they get to know the applicants it may be appropriate for the applicants to contribute to the assessment either in writing or perhaps through other media such as tape recordings or video.

The foster home will also be thoroughly checked to ensure it provides appropriate and safe care for the child, as well as safe transport. Each child over 3 has their own bedroom or, where this is not possible, the sharing of the bedroom has been agreed by the placing authority. A risk assessment must be conducted in regard to pets.

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.


9. The Panel Recommendation

The assessing social worker will attend the Panel meeting, together with the applicants if they so wish. The decision to attend rests with the applicants and a wish not to attend will not prejudice consideration of their application.

Applicants who decide they wish to attend should be fully prepared as to the procedure prior to their attendance.

The Panel will consider the reports together with all the supporting documentation and make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker regarding the suitability of the applicant for fostering.

The recommendation, with reasons, will be recorded in writing and, where approval is recommended, the category of fostering, any limitations of the approval to named children (for example in the case of a Family and Friends Foster Carer) or conditions as to the age range or number of children to be placed in the foster home will also be specified.

Where the applicant does not attend the Panel meeting, the social worker undertaking the assessment will advise the applicant of the Panel recommendation within 24 hours of the Panel meeting. This will be verbally, by telephone or, where appropriate, a home visit.


10. After the Panel Recommendation

The Agency Decision Maker will make a decision as to the suitability of the applicant, based on the reports presented to the Fostering Panel and the minutes detailing the Panel's recommendation. Where the decision is to approve the applicants as foster carers, the Agency Decision Maker will specify the terms of the approval i.e. the number and age range of children to be fostered, the type of placement and any specific inclusions / exclusions. Applicants can be approved for more than one placement category.

Where a Brief Report has been submitted to the Fostering Panel, the Agency Decision Maker will, taking into account the Fostering Panel’s recommendation, make a determination about whether to terminate the assessment or whether the full assessment should be completed.

The decision must be made within 7 working days of the receipt of the panel’s recommendation and final set of panel minutes and must be recorded, together with reasons.

The manager will arrange for the applicants to be given verbal notification of the decision within 24 hours and written notice of the decision, with reasons, signed by the Agency Decision Maker, within 5 working days of the decision.

If the decision is to refuse approval, the assessing social worker and manager will assess the need for further counselling and arrange any necessary follow-up action.

Upon approval, foster carers should be issued with an agreed form of identification to enable their role as a foster carer to be verified.


11. Representations / Independent Review Procedure

If at Stage 2 of the assessment process, the Agency Decision Maker gives a Qualifying Determination that he / she proposed not to approve the applicants as foster carers, the applicant will be advised that if he or she wishes to challenge the decision, they have a right to submit representations within 28 days of the date of the written notice of the decision to the Agency Decision Maker. In addition, as an alternative, they may exercise the right to apply to the Secretary of State to request a review of the decision by an Independent Review Panel under the Independent Review Mechanism. Any such application must be made in writing within 28 days of the decision and supported by reasons.

The foster carer will not have the right to request a review by an Independent Review Panel if he or she is regarded as disqualified as a result of a conviction or caution for a specified offence – see Persons Disqualified from Fostering Procedure.

Where it is decided at Stage 1 of the assessment process that the applicant is not suitable to become a foster carer, there is no right to have the case reviewed under the Independent Review Mechanism.

If no written representations or notification of a request for a review are received within this period, the Agency Decision Maker will decide whether or not to approve the applicant as a foster carer (following a full assessment) or continue the assessment (following a Brief Report).

If written representations are received within the period, the Panel Adviser will arrange for the reports and other documentation to be reconsidered by the Fostering Panel, taking into account the written representations, and make a new recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker.

The Panel Administrator will advise the applicant within 7 days of the date of the Panel meeting when they can attend and their written representations will be considered.

In these circumstances, applicants who wish to attend the meeting of the Fostering Panel can arrange for a friend or supporter to accompany them.

After considering the representations, the Panel will make a recommendation, which the Agency Decision Maker will consider before a final decision is made.

If the decision remains not to approve the application, the manager will arrange for the applicants to be informed verbally within 2 working days. Written notice of the final decision, together with reasons, must be sent to the applicant by the Panel Adviser within 7 working days of the Panel meeting. Information about the Complaints Procedure must also be sent. A copy of the report to the Panel, the Panel's recommendation and the decision, with reasons, must be retained on the applicant's case file.

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 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.

Where the decision is to approve the application, the procedure set out in Section 13, After the Approval will be followed.


12. Criteria for Foster Carers

12.1 Individual and Joint

Applications will be considered from married couples, civil partners, unmarried couples or single people.

12.2 Religion

Applications will be considered from people of any or no religious persuasion.

12.3 Ethnicity

Applications will be considered from people of any race or culture.

12.4 Age

The minimum age for foster carers is generally 21 years. In exceptional circumstances, e.g. with some Family and Friends Carers, the minimum age may be reduced to 18. There is no specific upper age limit.

12.5 Gender

Applications will be considered from people of either sex and from same sex couples.

12.6 Sexual Orientation

Applications will be considered from people of any sexual orientation.

12.7 Income and Work Commitment

Applicants may be in work or not.

12.8 Health

Applicants will be required to have a full medical and undergo any further tests/checks that may be required by the Fostering Panel's Medical Adviser. The Medical Adviser will advise on the applicants' ability, from a health point of view, to meet the needs of a child who is fostered. Any comments or advice given by the Medical Adviser must be taken seriously by the applicants and will be addressed during the assessment process.

Applicants are expected to positively promote a healthy life-style which will enable a child to reach his or her full potential. This would encompass attention to nutrition, exercise, routine and hygiene.

It is expected that foster carers will comply with nationally recommended alcohol consumption levels and that children's needs and safety will be met at all times.

12.9 Criminal Convictions

A person who is seeking approval as a foster carer will not be considered if s/he or any adult member of the household is within the category of Disqualified Persons (Foster Carer) unless the application is to foster a child who is already living with the applicant(s) and at least one of the applicants is a relative of the child, in which case the caution/conviction will not automatically preclude the application but will be taken into account when assessing the suitability of the applicant - see Persons Disqualified from Fostering Procedure.

Other convictions will not necessarily preclude an application, but this will depend on the seriousness of the offence and how long ago it was committed. All such cases will be referred to the Fostering Service Manager who may also consult the Agency Decision Maker.

12.10 Accommodation

Applicants may own their own home or live in rented accommodation.

They will need living and sleeping accommodation appropriate to the number and ages of the children they are seeking to foster. They must be able to offer separate bedrooms for each foster child. Only in exceptional circumstances would sharing bedrooms be allowed and this would NEVER be with adult sons or daughters of the foster carer.

It is important that the home environment is child-friendly, welcoming to children, safe and meets reasonable levels of hygiene.

All applicants will have a safety check on their home undertaken by a trained safety assessor. This will include the outdoor space, animals (including the sleeping and toileting arrangements for any pet) and the holding of any firearms.

12.11 Child Care Experience

It is important that the applicant who is going to be the main carer has some experience of 'hands-on' care of children of the age group in which the applicants are interested.

12.12 Family Contact

All applicants must be prepared to facilitate contact between any foster child and his or her parents and significant family members.


13. After the Approval

Once approved, the administrative staff will enter the foster carers' approval details, including their first review date, on the Fostering Register database (see Section 14, Register of Foster Carers) and update the electronic records. They will also send notice of the outcome to all agencies consulted during the assessment and approval process.

The foster carer will be allocated a supervising social worker, preferably the one who has undertaken their assessment - see Supervision and Support of Foster Carers Procedure. If the social worker does not know the new carer, he or she will read the BAAF Form F and the supporting documentation presented to the Fostering Panel including the references prior to introducing him or herself to the carers and arranging to meet the carers, their family and members of their support network as appropriate.

The supervising social worker will visit the foster carers within one week of their approval and request the foster carer to sign a Foster Care Agreement between the local authority and the foster carer, which contains the information the foster carer needs to carry out his or her functions as a foster carer effectively, ensuring that the foster carer understands its contents.

The foster carer will be given two copies for signature, and will retain one signed copy. The other will be kept on the foster carer's file, together with the report and supporting documents presented to the Fostering Panel, a copy of the Panel's recommendation and a copy of the approval decision.

The Foster Care Agreement will contain the following information:

  1. The terms of the foster carer's approval;
  2. The support and training to be provided to the foster carer;
  3. The procedure for the review of the foster carer's approval;
  4. The procedure for placements of children;
  5. The procedure for making representations and complaints;
  6. The requirement to inform the fostering service of any change of circumstance, address or in the household composition, or of any registration as a childminder or application to adopt or of any offence;
  7. The requirements in relation to confidentiality and internet usage;
  8. The procedures for behaviour management and unauthorised absences of children placed with the foster carer including the ban on corporal punishment;
  9. The procedures for informing the supervising social worker of the child's progress and any significant events relating to the child;
  10. The need to give 28 days' notice in writing of they wish to cease fostering;
  11. The need to allow access to the Regulatory Authority.

New foster carers will also be given their personal copy of the Foster Carer's Hand-Book, which contains information about fostering in the local authority and covers policies, procedures, guidance, legal information and insurance details. Information about local foster carer support groups will also be provided.

The foster carer(s) must sign confirmation of receipt. The signed and dated confirmation of receipt will be placed on their file.

Foster carers will be assisted by their supervising social worker to produce a Safe Caring Policy and Fire Plan.

The supervising social worker will continue to provide support and supervision to the foster carer up to, during and after all placements - see Supervision and Support of Foster Carers Procedure and ensure that they understand the need to undertake Disclosure and Barring Service and other checks and assessments on any new member of the household and the need to repeat Disclosure and Barring Service checks on themselves every three years (unless they have subscribed to the Disclosure and Barring Service Update Service) - see Annual Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.


14. Register of Foster Carers

A register of all approved foster carers will be maintained by the fostering service containing the following particulars:

  1. The name, address, date of birth, sex and ethnic origin of each foster carer;
  2. .The date of approval and of each review of the approval;
  3. The category and current terms of the approval;
  4. The name, address, date of birth of each Connected Person with whom a child is placed under Regulation 24 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 and who has been granted temporary approval as a foster carer, together with the date and terms of the temporary approval.
Once approved, the administrative staff will be informed and will enter the foster carers' approval details, including their first review date, on the Fostering Register database.


15. Complaints / Comments / Compliments

We welcome all comments from enquirers or applicants about any aspect of the referral and assessment process. It is preferable that comments / complaints and representations are in the first instance made to the relevant social worker or manager.

Applicants should have a copy of the relevant complaints leaflet, provided at the time of enquiry and should be advised of how their concerns or complaints can be addressed.

Details of complaints, comments or remarks should be returned to the Consumer Relations Officer in accordance with the relevant procedure.

Applicants should be advised that social workers as agents of the local authority are not permitted to accept gifts at any stage of the process and should only accept basic refreshments.


16. Records

Case files of applicants must be retained for a minimum of 10 years.

(The Fostering Services Regulations 2011(32(3)) requires that details of enquiries must be retained for at least three years from the refusal, withdrawal, as the case may be, of the applicants to foster.)

Statistical records should also be kept to monitor the recruitment process, for example the number of enquiries compared with the number of applicants etc.

End