AMENDMENTThis chapter was amended in August 2016. Details were added as to the process to follow when a decision is made that a persons is not suitable to be a foster carer.
The membership requirements, terms of reference and functions of fostering Panels are set out in the Fostering Service Regulations 2011. The Regulations are mandatory and all fostering service providers must comply with them.
The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013 amend the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 with respect to the assessment and approval of foster carers for looked after children.
The Care Planning and Fostering (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2015. They also amend the 2011 Regulations to provide that where a report has been prepared in accordance with regulation 26(3) of the 2011 Regulations that the panel must either request that the fostering service provider prepare a further written report or recommend that the person is not suitable to be a foster parent (regulation 12), i.e. short report.
The primary responsibility of fostering Panels is to act in the best interests of children and young people for whom a foster placement is needed. The overriding objective of fostering Panels must be to promote and safeguard the welfare of children/young people in foster care.
2. Membership of Fostering Panel
The membership must be drawn from a Central List of persons with the appropriate qualifications and/or experience, including one or more social workers who have at least three years' relevant post-qualifying experience.
Where it is considered that someone is unsuitable to be on the Central List, they must be given one months' notice in writing and reasons for the decision to end their inclusion on the list.
The Panel chair must be independent.
One, or up to two, vice-chair(s) must be appointed who will act as the chair if the chair is absent or the office is vacant.
The membership of a fostering Panel should reflect the community it serves.
Quorum for Walsall Children's Services Fostering Panel
The fostering Panel is only quorate when at least 5 members are in attendance. This must include:
- Either the Chair or one of the Vice Chairs (in the absence of the chair). If the meeting is conducted by the vice chair who is not independent, there must be at least one other member of the panel who is independent;
- One of the social worker representatives with at least three years post qualifying experience;
- Three (or in the case of a joint panel, four) other members.
Resignation by Panel Members
A Panel member can resign by giving one month's notice. However, it is expected that any Panel member who wishes to resign will, as far as possible, give 3 months notice in order that there is maximum opportunity to identify a suitable placement.
Termination of Appointment of a Panel Member
There must be a process for review of the performance of Panel members (including of the Panel chair by the agency decision maker) and for the performance management of members. Where necessary the termination of the appointment must be considered.
Where there are concerns about a Panel member's behaviour either inside or outside the meetings, and this cannot be dealt with by advice, training and/or information, this will raised by the Chair with the Designated Manager (Fostering Panel Appointments).
The Designated Manager will decide whether someone is unsuitable to be on the Central List and therefore to end the appointment and if so, will advise the member in writing giving one month's notice and clear reasons for the decision.
All Panel members must have been the subjects of a satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service checks before taking up their appointment. These Disclosure and Barring Service checks should be kept up to date and recorded, including the date when the checks were made. Personal and work references will also be obtained in writing and must be satisfactory.
Each member must be provided with written information on appointment of their performance objectives, including their participation in induction and other training and safeguarding the confidentiality of records and information submitted to Panel. They will be asked to sign a written agreement.
2. The Functions of the Fostering Panel
The Panel, when carrying out its core functions (see Section 3.1, Core Functions of the Fostering Panel below) makes recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker who makes a decision. No member of a fostering Panel can take part in the decision making process.
3.1 Core Functions of the Fostering Panel
- To consider applications and to recommend whether or not applicants are suitable to be approved as foster carers for Walsall Children's Services. Walsall Children's Services uses the CoramBAAF form C (CoramBAAF 2015)as a tool for the completion of competence based assessments for Family and Friends Approval and Fostering Network for mainstream assessments. See Recruitment, Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure;
- Regulation 26 (1b) and (1C) provide that at any point during stage 1 of the assessment process, if the fostering service's decision maker decides that the applicant is not suitable to foster, they must write to the applicant informing them of this decision and give full reasons for it. At the latest the decision about whether or not the applicant has successfully completed stage 1 must be reached and the applicant informed, within 10 working days of all the stage 1 information (regulation 26 (1A)) being received. If, within this timeframe, it is decided not to continue with an assessment because of information collected as part or stage 1, 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 applicants case has been handled in a reasonable way, rather than the question of the applicants suitability to foster;
- To recommend the terms (number of children/young people, age range, nature of placements) on which approval is to be given;
- To recommend whether or not carers remain suitable to foster, following the completion of the first foster carer review. See Annual Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure;
- If recommending re-approval, to specify the terms on which this should be given;
- When requested to do so, consider the continued suitability of foster carers following the completion of any subsequent reviews which take place in situations of serious concern, complaint or allegation about existing foster carers, or if there is a very significant change in terms of approval is being recommended;
- With any review where termination of approval is being recommended, contrary to the wishes of the foster carers, the full review report must be presented to Panel for a recommendation to be made;
- To consider representations from applicants whom the Designated Manager (Foster Carer Approval) does not propose to approve and reach a fresh recommendation;
- If the applicants under stage 2 are deemed to be unsuitable to foster a short report is to be compiled under regulation 26 (1B) and (1C);
- To monitor all allegations and complaints against foster carers. See Allegations/Complaints Against Foster Carers Procedure.
Other key responsibilities for fostering Panels are:
- To oversee the assessments of carers and to ensure that these have been completed in a thorough and rigorous manner;
- To ensure that applicants are treated in a fair and reasonable manner and to ensure consistency of approach;
- To give advice on Walsall Children's Services' policies and procedures;
- To give advice and make recommendations on other matters referred to them, e.g. Exemptions and Variations from the usual fostering limit. See following Chapters: Exemptions to the Usual Fostering Limit Procedure and Changes to terms of Approval Procedure.
- To monitor procedures for the carrying out of those annual foster carer reviews which are not presented to the Panel;
- To receive management information about the outcome of foster carers annual reviews;
- To monitor the range of carers approved against the information provided about the needs of children who are looked after;
- To receive regular information about important developments from research and practice guidance;
- To identify any problems in relation to Walsall Children's Services' policies and procedures, especially those affecting the work of the Fostering Panel and to give feedback;
- To contribute to the compilation of annual reports about the work of the Panel;
- To receive, as a matter of routine, information about the work of the agency, including staffing, foster carer recruitment, training and activities; exemptions and variations to approvals, compliance with performance indicators etc.
- To monitor the timescales involved in the assessments of prospective carers, the quality of preparation of the applicants, and opportunities for post-approval training of foster carers;
- To make recommendations as to referrals to the Independent Review Mechanism.
4. Responsibilities of Fostering Panel Members
|4.3||Duties of Specific Posts|
4.1 General Responsibilities
Panel members are expected to:
- Attend meetings at a frequency and at venues determined by the agency;
- Consider applications from and reach recommendations about the suitability of prospective foster carers, including the number, age range and backgrounds of children/young people for whom applicants would be appropriate. This includes identifying any specific training/developmental needs on the part of the applicants;
- Consider reviews of existing carers approved by Walsall Children's Services and reach recommendations about their continued suitability, including the number, age, range and backgrounds of children/young people to be placed. Additionally Panel must identify any training/development needs of the foster carers;
- Consider representations made by foster carers whom Team Manager is minded not to re-approve;
- To receive appropriate/relevant information about the work of the fostering service of Walsall Children's Services and to contribute constructively to the development of policy procedure and standards of practice;
- To advise and make recommendations on matters on cases referred to the Panel;
- To consider matters referred to the Fostering Panel such as exemptions from the usual fostering limit, variations in terms of approval;
- To be provided with regular management information in relation to the provision of the Fostering Service of Walsall Children's Services, e.g. complaints/allegations against Foster Carers;
- To ensure acceptable standards of practice of the Fostering Service of Walsall Children's Services at all times, which may involve requests for specific feedback on the quality and presentation of written reports;
- The primary responsibility of Panel members, over and above their general responsibilities, is to give priority to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people in foster care or for whom a foster placement is needed. All Panel recommendations should be reached with this primary responsibility in mind.
4.2 Specific Responsibilities
- To maintain confidentiality by keeping reports provided in a secure place and returning these to Walsall Children's Services after the Panel meetings and to sign the code of conduct of practice on processing personal information. The contents of these reports and all discussions at Panel must not be shared with anyone else;
- In advance of Panel meetings to read, critically assess and evaluate reports that had been distributed and to identify areas requiring explanation and/or further exploration;
- To declare any knowledge in either a personal or professional capacity, of a case under consideration, to the Chair (or Panel Adviser) accordingly;
- To participate fully in Panel discussions;
- To treat everyone attending Panel with courtesy and respect in line with Walsall Children's Services equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory practice;
- To assist in identifying subjects for Panel members' training and to attend training events arranged or funded by Walsall Children's Services;
- To contribute to the annual report of the Panel's activities;
- To maintain an ongoing interest in foster care through reading and making use of written information provided by Walsall Children's Services.
4.3 Duties of Specific Posts
4.3.1 Panel Chair
- To ensure that Panel meetings are managed in an effective, efficient and professional manner and to facilitate and encourage participation by all Panel members;
- To ensure that the core functions of the Panel are achieved and that Panel members work with the principles of Walsall Children's Services and the operational procedures.
4.3.2 Panel Administrator - Role & Responsibilities
Before Panel meetings
- Production of an annual schedule of meetings for approval by the Panel;
- Maintenance of a Panel booking system, including a process for urgent cases;
- Notification to Social Workers of Panel schedules and deadlines;
- Arrangement of accommodation and refreshments for meetings, with a private waiting area for applicants and others attending the meeting;
- Preparation of agendas;
- Maintenance of records of Panel members, confidentiality agreements, statutory checks, etc;
- Working with the professional adviser, liaison with social workers and managers as required to ensure that the Panel's requirements are met. This should include ensuring that social workers submit reports in good time, and in conformity with the Panel's requirements;
- Responding to enquiries from social workers and foster carers about the Panel, Panel procedures and reporting requirements;
- Receiving of reports submitted and bringing to the attention of the professional adviser any apparent gaps;
- Distributing all appropriate paperwork to panel members in good timescales for each meeting;
- Ensuring that appropriate members are able to attend meetings to ensure a quorum.
- Liaison with the Chair about requests from observers;
- Ensuring that meeting and waiting rooms are prepared for the meeting, that name plates/badges are ready, that spare reports are available, that refreshments are ready.
At the Meeting
- Taking minutes, noting in particular recommendations made and reasons given;
- Drawing to the attention of the Chair any matters requiring his or her attention;
- Collection of papers at the end of the meeting.
After the Meeting
- Drafting minutes, including recommendations made and reasons given;
- Submitting draft minutes to the Chair or professional adviser;
- Ensuring that the Team Manager receives the draft minutes and any other papers required for the decision to be made;
- Ensuring that applicants, foster carers and social workers are notified in writing of decisions;
- Providing the social worker with a copy of the relevant minutes;
- If carer resides in another Local Authority, notifying that agency in writing of carer's approval and approval details;
- Maintaining full records of Panel business, including agenda, reports and minutes;
- Maintaining statistical records for performance monitoring, government reports and the annual report.
5. The Conduct of Fostering Panels
Walsall Children's Services Fostering Panel meeting dates will be agreed in advance for a twelve month period. Generally, Panel meetings will be held on a three times monthly basis, but may take place less frequently dependent upon the volume of work that a Panel is requested to deal with. Additional Panel meetings can be convened if necessary, providing the requirements for achieving a quorum are satisfied.
Agendas, minutes and reports for Panel meetings will be dispatched no less than five working days before the scheduled dates, although the aim will be to try and distribute these one week in advance. All Panel papers must be returned to the Panel Administrator at the end of the Panel meeting. Where a Panel member is unable to attend a Panel meeting, but has received the reports, they will then ensure the return of these to the agency - usually at the next Panel meeting they attend.
It is expected that Panel members will have read the circulated reports carefully and have identified issues where further information, explanation or elucidation seems necessary. The Panel Chair has a special responsibility to ensure that each Panel member has an opportunity to raise questions or offer comments. This may mean encouraging and facilitating the participation of some individual Panel members The Panel Chair must also ensure Panel members are able to seek clarification of terms used either within written reports or verbal presentations.
Applicants to foster for Walsall Children's Services are expected to attend the Panel meeting at which their application is being considered. Applicants can attend with a supporter and ‘be heard' (prior notification to be advised to the Panel Administrator) at fostering panel meetings that consider their approval. The assessing social worker and the social worker who will be their linkworker should attend with the applicant. The social worker may be asked to respond to questions/issues raised by the Panel, without the applicants being present as well, but only if these relate to confidential aspects of the assessment report, or are deemed by the chair to be of a highly sensitive nature. Otherwise the applicants and the social worker will attend together. Essentially the purpose of this is to clarify issues raised from reading the completed assessment report and any additional issues that emerge from discussion with the assessing social worker. It also serves as an opportunity for applicants to ask questions and to give feedback in relation to the processes of recruitment, preparation training and assessment. Before applicants are invited to meet the Panel, the Chair must have clearly identified what questions will be asked of them and for what purpose. The Chair will also establish which Panel members will ask which questions of the applicants, how the questions will be posed and in what sequence. The emphasis will be on making attendance at Panel a positive experience for applicants, during which they can engage openly and comfortably with Panel members without detracting from the serious responsibility of the Panel to reach a view about their suitability.
When the applicant(s) join the meeting, the Chair introduces himself/herself and panel members do likewise. Panel members then raise individual questions/issues with the applicant(s). The applicant(s) and supporting workers are then given the opportunity to ask any questions and make comments about their assessment and the process.
The applicant(s) and supporting workers will then leave the Panel meeting whilst the Panel concludes its discussions. Each individual panel member will be asked whether or not they support a proposed recommendation and their reasons in doing so. Panel members may not be unanimous in their view and a recommendation may have to be reached on a majority basis with any dissent from this clearly recorded. The balance of the Fostering Panel's recommendation should always reflect the over-riding objective to promote and safeguard the welfare of children/young people needing foster care. It may be decided that additional specific information is needed before the Panel can reach a recommendation, especially if there is a serious difference of opinion between Panel members. Serious reservations expressed by individual Panel members must be recorded within the Panel minutes and made known to the Team Manager The Panel chair has the responsibility for ensuring that the Panel's reasons for making a particular recommendation is clear.
Usually the Panel recommendations will be communicated immediately to the applicants and social worker.
The Fostering Panel is required to keep a written record of its proceedings and the reasons for its recommendations. It is important that the Panel Chair, the Panel Advisor and the Panel Administrator work closely together to ensure precise clear minutes are taken. Panel members must pay close attention to the content of the Panel minutes and take responsibility to comment on anything that they consider is not an accurate record of what was said or agreed.
6. Agency Decision Making
No member of a fostering Panel should take part in any decision made by a fostering service provider, thereby creating a distinction between a fostering Panel's recommendations and the separate decision-making responsibilities of the Agency Decision Maker. The Agency Decision Maker is referred to as the Assistant Director (Children's Services).
The Agency Decision Maker (Fostering Panel) will receive copies of all papers (agendas, minutes and reports) that are circulated to Panel members for Panel meetings. If from his/her prior reading of these, the Panel Advisor (Children's Services) identifies any issues that appear crucial, he/she can make the Panel aware via prior discussion with the Panel Chair or Vice Chair. Panel recommendations and the reasons for these should be communicated to the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering Panel) as soon as possible after meetings – discuss either in person or by telephone. It is envisaged that decisions would be made within 7working days of receipt of the panel minutes.
Regulation 26 (1b) and (1C) provide that at any point during stage 1 of the assessment process, if the fostering service's decision maker decides that the applicant is not suitable to foster, they must write to the applicant informing them of this decision and give full reasons for it.
On the rare occasions when the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering Panel) is unable to reach a decision based on his/her reading of reports, discussion with the Panel Advisor and access to Panel minutes, that he/she could ask that the Panel consider the matter again before a decision is reached. This is in situations where the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering Panel) is of the opinion that the Panel failed to properly consider key information or pertinent issues. This is not the same as those situations where the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering Panel) is minded not to approve or re-approve.
7. De-registration of Foster Carers
If serious concerns are raised about the suitability of foster carer(s), for example, persistent or gross failure to comply with policies or procedures (e.g. those list below), an investigation must be conducted in keeping with Allegations/Complaints Against Foster Carers Procedure. If the allegations/complaints are founded, an immediate Foster Carer Review must be conducted and the Fostering Panel must consider the recommendations of that review. See Annual Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.
The policies and procedures that may lead to such an investigation are as follows:
- Safe Caring or any other policy/procedures relating to children's safety;
- Health and Safety Guidance;
- Any act of commission or omission which invoked Safeguarding Procedures;
- Failure to comply with recommendations consequent of the child care planning and statutory review process;
- Failure to comply with any recommendation consequent of the fostering panel and foster carer review process;
- Criminal offences and a failure to disclose an offences;
- Equal opportunities policy;
- Failure to work cooperatively and in partnership with service users, staff, the fostering service, the Authority, other agencies and stakeholders;
- A serious complaint or event which would warrant notification to the Registration Authority.
Prior to the consideration of a recommendation to de-register a foster carer a full investigation will take place in accordance with Allegations/Complaints Against Foster Carers Procedure, and if the allegations/complaints are founded, a Foster Carer Review conducted, as set out in Annual Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.
Recommendations from the review should then be presented to the Fostering Panel.
In all circumstances where the fostering service provider (in this case Walsall M.B.C) seeks the de-registration of a foster carer the matter will be referred to the panel for consideration and for a recommendation.
This process would require completion of a full report including details of complaints, allegations and concerns. The process of the investigation should be outlined. Any mitigating factors should be explained.
The recommendation as to change of approval or termination of approval should be set out and clear evidence provided as to the reasons.
The foster carers should have read the report and should provide their own observations in writing for the panel to consider.
Foster carers should be invited to the panel alongside the supervising social worker and Child's Social Worker if deemed relevant, if necessary, to express their views verbally.
The foster carers may wish to bring an independent support person, or a representative from their foster care support group (prior notice to be given to panel). The process for attending the panel should follow the usual process and the panel should reach its recommendation in the usual way, as for approvals.
The matter is then referred to the fostering service provider for a decision or proposed decision to be made and the usual process of representation would apply.
Representations Regarding Changes or Terminations of Approval
In all of those circumstances where changes and terminations of approval are sought, the fostering service provider (Walsall M.B.C) will:
- Give written notice to the foster carer that it proposes to terminate, or revise the terms of, his approval as the case may be, together with its reasons, and;
- Invite him to submit any written representations within 28 days of the date of the notice.
If no representations are received, the fostering service provider can proceed to make its decision.
If written representations are received, the fostering service provider (Walsall M.B.C) must refer the case to the panel and then make a decision, taking into account any recommendation made by the fostering panel.
In practice this means that the panel will hear any representation and make a recommendation following this. If the panel previously considered the matter, it may uphold its previous recommendation. The carers should again be invited to attend the panel meeting to present their representations if they wish.
As soon as is practicable after making its decision, the fostering service provider (Walsall M.B.C) must write to the foster carer giving notice:
- That the foster carer and his household continue to be suitable, and that the terms of the approval continue to be appropriate;
- That his approval is terminated from a specified date, and the reasons for the termination.
The revised terms of the approval and the reasons for the revision.
8. Representations/Independent Review Mechanism (IRM)
Amended June 2009: To include new procedures relating to Foster Carer(s) right to apply for an Independent Review if a decision is made to terminate or de-register their approval.
If the Agency Decision Maker, on receiving a recommendation from the Fostering Panel, considers that the applicants are not suitable to foster then he/she must:
- Give the applicants written notice that he/she does not intend to approve them, including the reasons why and a copy of the Fostering Panel's recommendations;
- Invite them to submit written representations within 28 days of receiving the notification or apply for an Independent Review (which will be conducted by CoramBAAF) - see Independent Review Mechanism. N.B. Carer(s) may either make a representation or apply for an Independent Review, not both;
- If the Carer(s) decide to make a representation, they may have the opportunity to meet with the Agency Decision Maker and the chair of the fostering panel.
If the carer(s) decide to apply for an Independent Review, the Review Panel may request information from the Fostering Service, but the Panel will only make recommendations as to the suitability of the carer(s), which the Agency Decision Maker should consider when deciding whether to re-register the carer(s).
If no representations are received or the carer(s) decide not to apply for an Independent Review, then the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering Panel) will proceed to make his/her decision. If the carer(s) decide to make a representation the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering Panel) will refer the application back to the Panel, who will make a fresh recommendations, taking full account of the representations received. After receiving the Panel recommendation, the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering Panel) will make his/her final decision. If it is decided to approve the applicants, they will receive written notification of this, including the number, age range and backgrounds of children/young people for whom they are suitable (terms of approval). If the decision is not to approve the applicants then they must be provided with written reasons for this. No further appeal is permitted.
As far as practicable, applicants will be informed of Walsall Children's Services' final decision within ten working days of the Fostering Panel considering their representations.
Annual Foster Carer Reviews
If, after receiving the Fostering Panel's recommendations in relation to foster carer reviews, the Agency Decision Maker is no longer satisfied that existing foster carers continue to be suitable to foster, or that the terms of their approval are appropriate, then he/she must:
- Notify the foster carers in writing that he/she intends to terminate their approval, with the reasons for this, or revise the terms of their approval, with the reasons for this;
- Invite them to make written representations within 28 days. If representations are received then the matter must be referred back to the Fostering Panel for further consideration and a fresh recommendation;
- The opportunity to meet with the Agency Decision Maker and the chair of the fostering panel.
Foster carers whom the Agency Decision Maker is not minded to re-approve, or whose terms of approval are no longer considered suitable are invited to attend the Panel meeting at which their representations are being considered. Foster carers attending a Fostering Panel meeting as part of making representations will be advised that their contribution should be clear, focused and concise. In essence, foster carers will be seeking to demonstrate that:
- The Fostering Panel and/or the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering Panel) did not have all the information needed to reach a fair and balanced judgement or failed to properly evaluate and balance all information available;
- There have been significant relevant changes in their circumstances and/or an improved understanding of, and their ability to carry out, the responsibilities involved in fostering;
- The Fostering Panel and/or the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering Panel) focused unfairly on issues that effectively discriminate against them rather than on their competence in relation to fostering.
If it is decided to re-approve foster carers and/or make no changes to the terms of approval then they will be notified in writing accordingly.
Given a final decision not to re-approve foster carers, then they will, within 10 working days, receive written notice of the reasons and the date from which approval ceases. Foster carers for whom it is decided that there will be a change in the terms of their approval will be notified in writing, within 10 working days of the revised terms of approval, the reasons for this and the date from which it takes effect.
In circumstances where the approval of a foster carer has been terminated for misconduct the Fostering Panel will be expected to make a recommendation to the decision maker as to whether the foster carer's name(s) should be referred to the Secretary of State for consideration of inclusion in the Protection of Children List.
A foster carer may give notice in writing to Walsall Children's Services at any time that he/she no longer wishes to act as a foster carer, whereupon his/her approval is terminated with effect from 28 days from the date on which the notice is received by the agency.
An exit review and interview would be carried out and, if deemed necessary, would be presented to Panel.
If there are significant concerns, the Fostering Panel may wish to consider terminating approval.
Appendix 1: Foster Panel Member Agreement
WALSALL Children's Services AGREEMENT BETWEEN WALSALL Children's Services AND FOSTERING PANEL MEMBER
Having received a copy of Walsall Children's Services Operational Procedure for Fostering Panels I agree to:
- Adhere to Walsall Children's Services Operational Procedure and understand the roles, responsibilities and functions of the Panel;
- Attend Panel meetings regularly. I understand that I must give apologies well in advance for non-attendance at meetings and alert Walsall Children's Services to any difficulty that will affect my ability to attend Panel meetings regularly. I appreciate that non-attendance, or infrequent attendance, would result in Walsall Children's Services initiating discussions with me about my ability to give the required level of commitment to the Panel;
- Read carefully all material sent to me by Walsall Children's Services in relation to Panel meetings, identifying all issues for further explanation or exploration. When attending Panel meetings, I will seek to contribute actively and constructively to discussions and deliberations;
- Declare any previous knowledge or involvement in a matter presented to the Fostering Panel either in a personal or professional capacity. I am aware that, dependent upon my previous knowledge or involvement, it may be decided that I should not participate in the Panel discussion of this matter;
- Maintain confidentiality by keeping all written information sent to me in a secure place and to sign the undertaking in relation to the code of conduct of practice on processing personal information. I will not divulge or discuss the content with anyone other than Panel members and relevant staff from Walsall Children's Services. All reports must be returned at the end of the meetings. In the event that I do not attend Panel, I will return all reports at the next Panel I attend;
- Work cooperatively and collaboratively with other Panel members and staff from Walsall Children's Services to promote equality. I understand that discrimination on the grounds of race, culture, class, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation by Panel members is not acceptable. I accept that all matters considered by the Panel, must be considered on merit. I also accept my responsibility to question, in a constructive fashion, any comments or expression of attitude by Panel members that I perceive to be discriminatory and to be questioned accordingly by other Panel members;
- If Walsall Children's Services raises with me any concerns it has about my conduct and/or attitude in Panel meetings, I understand that these will be raised with me by the Panel chair and/or the Panel Advisor. I am aware that the aim will be to resolve any difficulties but understand that if Walsall Children's Services considers me unsuitable or unable to remain as a Panel member, it will terminate my appointment, giving notice in writing the reasons for the decision and the date from which this takes effect;
- To contribute to identifying training requirements for the Fostering Panel and to attend organized training events. I understand that I will be consulted on the content and format of any training arranged;
- Walsall Children's Services making enquiries via the Disclosure and Barring Service to determine if there are any reasons why it would be inadvisable for me to serve as a Panel member and for such enquiries to be updated every three years. I will inform Walsall Children's Services immediately if I am convicted or cautioned for any criminal offence or I become the subject of criminal proceedings;
- Walsall Children's Services obtaining professional and/or personal references in relation to myself by way of confirming that I have the knowledge, skills and experience to serve as a Panel member;
- Give Walsall Children's Services a minimum of one month’s notice in writing if I wish to resign as a Panel member. However, unless it proves impracticable, I will seek to give Walsall Children's Services three months notice of my resignation so that there is a maximum opportunity to identify a replacement Panel member.