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EnfieldChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Complaints, Allegations or Serious Concerns about Standards of Care in Relation to Foster Carers or Members of their Household

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies where allegations are made or suspicions are raised that approved foster carers have caused Significant Harm to a child. It should be read in conjunction with the Enfield Safeguarding Children Board's Inter Agency Procedures.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Welfare of Children in Foster Care
  3. Allegations against Foster Carers
  4. Allegations Regarding Child Protection
  5. Allegations Regarding Standards of Care
  6. Termination of Approval
  7. Low Level Concerns and Complaints
  8. Resignation of during the Course of an Investigation
  9. Support to Foster Carers
  10. Appendix 1: LB of Enfield - Summary of Allegations and Complaints in Foster Care
  11. Appendix 2: Definitions when Determining on the Outcome of the Allegation Investigation

1. Introduction

Reference is also made to the Fostering Network guidance in relation to Managing Allegations (2006). The chapter also draws upon Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011.

This chapter covers complaints or allegations, concerning child care matters, made against foster carers. Adherence is to be paid to the statutory guidance and the Enfield Safeguarding Children Board Allegations against Staff and Volunteers Procedure as well as the Pan-London Child Protection Procedures 5th Edition. Reference should also be made to the Fostering Standards, Regulations and statutory guidance for fostering (2011) and the DFES leaflet, Protecting Children: Supporting Foster Carers, providing foster carers with advice on what to expect in the event of an allegation or other serious concern and the Fostering network leaflet Allegations against Foster Carers. Information to Foster Carers (2011).

All allegations against foster carers must be taken seriously. The high standards of care expected of foster carers imply that many allegations or complaints will need investigation. However, not all will involve Significant Harm and thus they will not all constitute allegations of child abuse as defined in Working Together to Safeguard Children.

Within the national guidance, there are three strands in the consideration of an allegation against a foster carer:

  1. A police investigation of a possible criminal offence;
  2. Enquiries and assessment by Children's Social Care about whether a child is in need of protection or in need of services;
  3. The operation of the Review of Foster Carers Procedure concerning a review of a foster carer's suitability to foster, and the decisions of the Fostering Service's Panel and Decision Maker, in accordance with the Fostering Services Regulations 2011.

These may be actioned simultaneously depending on the circumstances. For example, the fostering service may decide to suspend the foster carer's approval while a police investigation and/or enquiry by Children's Social Care is underway, and pending a review of the carer's approval to foster.

All allegations will be referred to the LADO for an initial consultation by the child's social worker who will receive all allegations. The Enfield safeguarding children's board Procedures for Allegations against staff, volunteers who work with children set out the process for dealing with those allegations which need a child protection response, i.e. a response under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 - see Section 4, Allegations Regarding Child Protection.

However, if the case does not warrant a child protection response, then staff will follow the procedures for allegations relating to standards of care - see Section 5, Allegations Regarding Standards of Care.

This chapter also provide some guidance in managing the borderline between the two categories.

In all cases, the Head of Looked After Children who has responsibility for the Fostering Services must be informed promptly of the allegation and will be involved in any subsequent discussion. In the event of serious disagreement, the Head of LAC and the LADO should to have a discussion to resolve the issue. A chronology on the foster carer's ICS file should be completed to record all allegations and complaints, of whatever nature, and their outcome. It is recognised that sometimes a tipping point is reached where several incidents over time reveal a standard of care that is no longer acceptable. The LADO will also keep a record.

2. The Welfare of Children in Foster Care

Children in foster care are in a vulnerable position, and deserve the highest standards of care and protection. This has been reinforced by reports commissioned by the government and local authorities are expected to ensure high standards for all children Looked After. Local authorities have a range of powers and duties to protect foster children from harm, whether or not it is considered to constitute child abuse. What is a minor incident for a child who has grown up in relative security may be much more threatening and distressing to a child who has known instability or abuse.

If a child or young person makes an allegation and or wishes to make a complaint under Stage 1 of the complaints procedure, local authorities must provide information about advocacy services and offer to help obtain an advocate. The child or young person is entitled to advocacy support that is independent and confidential. Leaflets that are age appropriate should be available for all children who require them - see Complaints and Representations Procedure.

Difficult decisions sometimes have to be made about how to handle an investigation in the child's best interests. For example, in deciding whether to remove a child, the need to protect them from possible ill treatment may have to be balanced against the need to avoid abrupt change. In these difficult professional judgements, consideration must be given to the views of those who know the child, and the advice of colleagues. Children must always be listened to carefully before making any decision that affects them.

Additional Guidance:

Restraint and Control: There is additional guidance on the Use of Restraint and Control in Relation to Children Placed in Foster Homes - this is in the Foster Carers' Handbook.

Corporal Punishment: The Foster Care Agreement requires carers to agree that they will not use corporal punishment in line with Council policy.

3. Allegations Against Foster Carers

Any member of staff dealing with an allegation against a foster carer or a member of their household will need to consider whether the issue is one of safeguarding at the earliest opportunity.

If it is, they should follow the relevant Safeguarding Procedures and Section 4, Allegations Regarding Child Protection. If it is not, they should follow the procedures for Allegations about Standards of Care and Section 5, Allegations Regarding Standards of Care.

If it subsequently becomes clear that the allegation needs to be handled differently, the decision must be taken by the LADO in consultation with those with operational responsibility.

4. Allegations Regarding Child Protection

Where it is considered that the issue is one of child protection, the London Child Protection Procedures - Allegations Against Staff or Volunteers, Who Work with Children Procedure - should be followed in full.

Attention is drawn to:

  1. The need for good communication at all stages between the many members of staff who may be involved. Although Fostering staff will not be directly involved in the investigation, they should always be invited to contribute to its planning;
  2. The duty to apply the same standards in this as in any other Child Protection Assessment. This means that:
    1. Notwithstanding the high standards of care expected of foster carers, the threshold of child protection should not be lower than for children in their own families i.e. if there is a likelihood of Significant Harm;
    2. Foster carers should be accorded the same rights as natural parents to information about the nature of any allegation and the progress of an investigation, subject only to the need not to prejudice the safety of children;
    3. If a child is removed, it should be clear whether this is being done for his or her protection or for other reasons to do with the plan for the child (foster carers and those with Parental Responsibility should be informed of the reasons);
    4. Carers must be informed of the financial implications of the allegation in terms of possible changes to their fees and allowances;
    5. Carers must have access to legal representation through membership of the Fostering Network;
    6. Carers must be supported at every stage of the process facilitated by their supervising social worker.

4.1 The Investigation

Referral and Initial Discussion

Whoever receives an allegation concerning the physical, sexual, or emotional maltreatment of a child by foster carers or a member of their household should refer the details immediately to the child's social worker. Next, the LADO will be informed, in consultation, they will decide:

  • If it is determined that an investigation is necessary;
  • The type of investigation to be carried out;
  • If the allegation might affect the welfare of the Foster carer's own children, whether the assessment team should be involved;
  • If the foster carer or child live in another local authority area the LADO where the alleged incident took place would lead the investigation;
  • The child's social worker will inform his/her line manager. The LADO will initiate and supervise the investigation. The following personnel should be informed as soon as possible by the child's social worker or Team Manager:
    • The child's social worker and line manager;
    • The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO);
    • The carer's supervising social worker and line manager;
    • The Fostering Service Manager.

In addition, Ofsted will be informed of the instigation of any child protection enquiry involving serious harm to a child placed with foster carers and kept informed of the progress of the investigation. The Fostering Team Manager is responsible for this communication.

  • Relevant checks will be carried out by the child's social worker as per general child protection procedures;
  • The investigating social worker will, if appropriate and always where a crime is suspected, inform the police to request a joint investigation. Foster carers and staff should be aware that Section 115 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 allows for the disclosure of information by and to the police, for the prevention, detection and reduction of crime, as long as disclosure is necessary and expedient for the purposes of this Act;
  • In situations where the foster carer is not aware of the allegation, the decision regarding the timing of notification will be made collectively by the Police, LADO and the Fostering Service. The foster carer will be informed at the earliest opportunity as long as it is consistent with the safety of the child;
  • All relevant details of the allegation and subsequent meetings and contacts must be fully recorded;
  • A Strategy Meeting may be called to determine the type of investigation required. Information about the child and foster carer and issues regarding safeguarding will be considered. Decisions about the disclosure of information to key people and temporary changes of the foster carers's approval terms will be made;
  • The Strategy Meeting should be chaired by the LADO.

Attendees should include:

  • Child's social Worker's Manager;
  • Child's Social Worker;
  • Fostering Team Manager or Deputy;
  • Foster Carer Supervising social worker;
  • The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO);
  • The Police;
  • Any other agency involved with the child or foster family;
  • Referrer is applicable.

The decisions of the Strategy Meeting will be communicated to the foster carer in writing by the LADO and ensure:

  • Is given access to or a copy of the Enfield Safeguarding Children Board's Inter Agency Safeguarding Procedures;
  • Understands the process of the enquiry and why it is taking place;
  • Knows when, where and by whom interviews will be conducted;
  • The Supervising social worker will ensure the carer:
  • Has access to legal advice and representation;
  • Is informed of the independent support that will be provided;
  • Is informed about the financial arrangements the fostering service provider will make in relation to allowances/fees if fostered children are removed or the carer is temporarily suspended from taking further placements, as outlined in Enfield's Finance Policy;
  • Knows the reasons for the removal of the children, if applicable;
  • Is informed in writing of the current status of their approval to foster;
  • Is assisted in communicating with investigating agencies;
  • Is informed verbally, and in writing on a regular basis of the progress of the investigation.

The LADO, in conjunction with the Fostering Team and the social work team responsible for the child, will decide if any immediate action is required to safeguard the child.

If it is felt unsafe for a child to remain in the family whilst an investigation is carried out, care must be taken to ensure that the child in question is supported through advocacy. If it is decided at the completion of the investigation that the child should not return to the carers a LAC review should be considered.

The LADO will be designated as having a coordinating role for the investigation, ensuring good communication between all the professionals involved, and will approve the conclusion of the investigation whether the allegations are substantiated or not.
Planning the Investigation

In planning the investigation, the following must be considered:

  • The nature of the allegation, its source, credibility and reliability;
  • The knowledge that the agency has of the carers;
  • The knowledge of the child, including the child's needs and how to inform and support the child through the investigation process consideration should be given to offering the child. The services of an advocate;
  • The safety of all children in the household, including the foster carer's own children;
  • How, when and who will inform the foster carers of the allegation and plan for investigation;
  • The need to inform the child's parents of the allegation (discretion over the timing of this may be used);
  • The need to inform other relevant professionals involved with the child;
  • The need to inform the agency that placed the child (if not Enfield);
  • The need to inform other agencies who use this foster placement, or have used it;
  • The need to inform Ofsted;
  • What support can be offered to the carers;
  • Whether the matter needs to be reported to the Fostering Panel, and whether a decision should be made to suspend further placements in the meantime;
  • The need for follow up Strategy Meetings.

4.2 Decision Making

A report of the findings of the investigation, identifying any further concerns regarding standards of care, will be written and sent to the foster carer after the final Strategy Meeting. 

Decisions regarding the need for further action, a review or termination of approval will be made within five working days of this meeting.

Where allegations are concluded to be without foundation, all records should be retained but the conclusion must be made explicit on both the child's and foster carers' files, a copy of which should be given to the carer.

Where allegations prove to be unsubstantiated, the future of all children in the household and the future status and use of the foster carers must be considered.

At whatever point the child protection investigation is concluded, a clear and comprehensive summary should be completed to include details of any allegations made against the carer or member of the fostering household, details of how the allegation was followed up and resolved and a record of any action taken and decisions reached. A copy of the report should be sent to the manager responsible for the Fostering Service and the LADO. A copy should also be given to the foster carer as soon as the investigation is concluded. This information should also be placed on the foster carer's file.

There should be a focused review to address the matter at the end of the process unless the annual review is due. Alternately an early annual review can be called where the completion of all checks and references is considered to be beneficial. Otherwise the annual review, where all review checks are carried out, will take place in accordance with the annual review schedule; The review will incorporate full consideration of the outcome of the investigation.

Following an investigation there will be ongoing support offered to a carer and it is the supervising social workers task to ensure all those who are supporting the family are aware of the plans.

If the child is the person who made the allegation and s/he is not in agreement with the outcome of the investigation s/he must be advised to use the Children Act Complaints Procedure.

Where the allegation was substantiated or unsubstantiated the investigation report and the mini focussed review report MUST be presented to the next available Fostering Panel.

5. Allegations Regarding Standards of Care

This section is concerned with allegations or complaints that foster carers have fallen below the high standards expected of them: - for instance, in using physical punishment, treating a child unfairly, or in any other way failing to promote the welfare of children for whom they are responsible. This presupposes that a judgement had already been reached that any physical punishment does not constitute abuse and does not require a child protection response on the basis of what is currently known.

5.1 Investigation

Allegations about standards of care should be dealt with jointly by the Fostering Team and by the social worker for any child involved, as directed by their respective managers.

Where an investigation is necessary, the foster carer will receive written notification, including information on:

  • The substance of the allegation;
  • Who will be involved in investigating the allegation;
  • The process and time-scales;
  • Who will be informed or interviewed;
  • The right of the foster carer to independent advice and support throughout the process and details of where this can be obtained;
  • Financial arrangements, including any temporary variation in the Foster carers terms of approval;
  • Decisions about children currently in the placement and reasons for them;
  • Any temporary variation in the foster carers' terms of approval.

The Fostering worker will ensure that the foster carer has access to appropriate independent support and will seek to support the carer throughout the process. (See Section 8, Support to Foster Carers).

Full information should be obtained from the complainant and any other relevant person (e.g. child, other children in the household, parents, school, health professionals, previous carers), and the matter fully discussed with the foster carers, wherever practicable within five working days. Notes of the discussion with the carers should be written up within seven days and sent to them for their comments. A professionals meeting to share information may be necessary in some situations. A full report should then be made to the appropriate managers. If at any time a need for child protection measures is identified, the appropriate referral should be made to the LADO and the investigation about standards of care should be suspended.

Consideration will be given to offering the child. The services of an advocate, facilitated by the child's social worker. Any complaint made by the carer against the Department should be investigated thoroughly at the same time in accordance with the Enfield Council Corporate Complaints Policy.

Where it transpires that a foster carer has, for example, smacked the child, there needs to be a full discussion with the foster carers' supervising social worker and/or the child's social worker as to:
  • The circumstances leading up to this event;
  • Why other strategies were not used;
  • Did the foster carers themselves report the incident to staff;
  • The implications of the Foster Care Agreement and this clause in particular - will the carer seek to act within the agreement in future;
  • Any training needs;
  • Any support needs;
  • Is this child particularly difficult?
  • What strategies will be used in future?

5.2 Decision-Making

At the conclusion of an investigation:

  1. All standard of care incidents and investigations are taken seriously. The number of issues that are recorded will be monitored carefully by the Fostering Team Manager;
  2. Those responsible for the welfare of any children involved will need to consider whether any changes need to be made to their plans;
  3. The foster carers should be informed clearly in writing and by visit of the outcome of the investigation at this stage, even if further consideration is necessary, i.e. even if it is only an interim response;
  4. Throughout this process the supervising social worker will be responsible for all recording of the investigation and uploading of relevant documents in relation to the foster carers. The child's social worker will be responsible for all recording of the investigation and uploading of relevant documents in relation to the child;
  5. There should be a focused review to address the matter at the end of the process unless the annual review is due. Alternately an early annual review can be called where the completion of all checks and references is considered to be beneficial. Otherwise the annual review, where all review checks are carried out, will take place in accordance with the annual review schedule. The review will incorporate full consideration of the outcome of the investigation;
  6. All such focused reviews should be presented to the next available Fostering Panel. If, in the professional judgment of the Fostering Manager, the allegation is regarded as serious then the allegation should be given an agenda slot on Panel. If the level of concern is lower then the focussed review can be presented under any other business. The carers do not need to attend;
  7. The views of the Fostering Panel should be sought if appropriate. This decision will be taken by the Fostering Service Manager in consultation with colleagues. Referral to Panel will depend on severity of the standard of care concern but if termination is thought to be the appropriate course, a report must be taken back to Panel and the carer may well be referred to Ofsted;
  8. If a decision is taken to review the carers' approval at the Fostering Panel, the supervising social worker must present the report of the focused review. The supervising social worker must also complete a report and include a detailed chronology of all previous allegations, complaints or standards of care issues together with details of actions taken and the outcome. The report must also include a chronology of previous placements and any training undertaken by the carers. The report must be signed by the supervising social worker and Team Manager. In addition, the LADO will write a report summarizing the investigation and its conclusions;
  9. If the matter is considered by the Fostering Panel the carers should be invited to attend. They will be advised of the outcome of the panel process and the ADM's qualifying determination in writing and their right of representation and to appeal against the qualifying determination made clear in writing. Any disagreement between Panel and the Agency Decision Maker will be referred to the Director of Children's Services;
  10. Following the focussed review of a foster carer's suitability to foster as a result of an allegation or serious concern a plan should be agreed with the family;
  11. At the end of the process the fostering service should review the circumstances of the case and the way any investigation was conducted to determine whether there are any improvements to be made in their procedures or practice.

6. Termination of Approval

In all cases, the Fostering Service Manager must be contacted, who will make the decision whether to suspend the carer's status during the investigation. This in turn will be marked on the Foster Carers' Register.

If the investigation then identifies serious concerns and/or unanswered questions about either the carer, or their care of a child, then further specialist assessments may be carried out. A report must be prepared for Panel who will make a recommendation about the carer's future registration.

The Agency Decision Maker will make the final decision/qualifying determination. If consideration is being given to ending the approval for a carer, because of child care concerns, then they will be notified and offered representation. Carers who have their approval terminated for child protection/standards of care will be notified in writing and offered 28 days of the ADM's letter to appeal/request a review of any decision/qualifying determination made. Any disagreements about decision making will be referred to the Safeguarding manager and deputy director who will make the final decision. They should be given information of their options for the review of their case.

Carers should be aware that termination of approval resulting from a child protection investigation or standards of care may result in a referral to the DBS. Likewise, Ofsted requires that serious complaints against foster carers are notified to them.

Criminal Offences

Some people will be automatically barred from becoming a foster carer because either they or an adult member of their household have been cautioned for or, convicted of, certain offences committed at or above the age of 18.

Other Criminal Offences

  • Not all Criminal Offences permanently or temporarily exclude a person from Fostering;
  • Those who have been convicted of criminal offences of a violent nature are not eligible to foster, except in cases where: considerable time has passed, no further offences have been committed during that time, and an open disclosure of the nature, timing and circumstances is made;
  • In all cases an open & honest disclosure must be made of any criminal offence and the circumstances around that offence. A full and detailed assessment will be made in every case;
  • There is a growing awareness of child pornography; possessing indecent photographs of children under the age of 16 is now a specified offence that prohibit a person from fostering.

7. Low level Concerns and Complaints

Low level concerns are those that do not reach the threshold for a CP or Standard of Care investigation. These are instances where no harm has come to the child but it is suggested that practice has fallen short of what could be expected. Examples might be: dispute over pocket money, limited out of school activities provided for a child, health and safety issues, clothes too small, nits, missed appointments etc. In dealing with complaints the advice of the Children Act Complaints' Officer may be sought.

Following notification of a concern the SSW should discuss this with his/her manager. Together they will plan a response proportionate to the level of concern identified. This might include any of the following:

  • A3 way visit with the manager to address the issue;
  • A verbal requirement that the carer to rectify the concern within a given time frame;
  • A written agreement laying out expectations;
  • Increased unannounced visits;
  • Additional targeted training;
  • Additional  support, such as mentoring;
  • Change of Terms of Approval;
  • Seeking the view of the child's social worker;
  • Interview with the child;
  • Convening a Placement Stability Meeting;
  • Early Annual Review.

If insufficient improvement is brought about the Fostering Service Manager should be informed. At any stage the matter can be escalated to a Child Protection/Standards of Care allegation as per this procedure. The LADO is available for consultation.

There are several factors that might have a bearing on how the concern is dealt with:

  • The carers' history of past allegations/complaints;
  • The carers' acceptance that an error had taken place;
  • Their willingness to learn from this;
  • Severity of behaviour presented by the child;
  • History of abuse that the child brought to the placement;
  • How recently the carers have been approved and their level of understanding of the role of foster carers;
  • Once the matter is resolved a summary letter recording the issue and how it was dealt with should be send. If an early review is not thought necessary then the next annual review incorporates this as a significant event over the previous 12 month period.

8. Resignation during the Course of an Investigation

Resignation should not prevent an allegation being followed up and a conclusion should be reached and recorded on the carer's file for future reference.

If the foster carer resigns before or during an investigation, the manager of the Fostering Service will immediately notify the senior manager/s in the local authorities responsible for all the children involved.

Where a foster carer wishes to transfer to another fostering provider during the course of an investigation, the foster carer's current provider will notify the other fostering agency that the foster carer is subject to investigation/review of approval.

A report will be considered by the Fostering Panel, including where necessary a recommendation for referral to the DBS. Panel will submit a recommendation to the fostering service decision-maker. Ofsted should be informed of any decision to refer a carer to the DBS.

9. Support to Foster Carers

The Department is committed to ensuring that all foster carers are properly supported, especially at times when they are under particular pressure. This support may be provided by Departmental staff or by outside service. In any case, it is the responsibility of the Fostering Team to see that the support is there when it is needed.

9.1 Preventative Measures

Supervision, training (pre- and post- approval) and continuing support and guidance are in place to ensure that foster carers are enabled to safeguard children in the placement and minimise the possibility of allegations being made against them. The tasks and risks involved in fostering are made clear in the preparation process.

Written guidelines for foster carers on Safe Caring and Recording are provided, along with training on behaviour management, self-esteem, abuse and safe caring. All foster carers will record any incidents or complaints made by children placed with them. The fostering team's training procedure details the mandatory and optional training requirements.

9.2 Support In the Event of an Allegation

Every effort is made to establish a fair and honest relationship between the fostering service provider and the foster carer. The foster carer will be informed as quickly as possible of any allegation against them and kept promptly informed of enquiry procedures and timescales, progress and decisions throughout the investigation. They will be given opportunity to answer any allegation against them prior to a decision about their future as foster carers. 

Foster carers will be provided with ongoing support from their supervising social worker and informed of independent sources of advice and support and advice about insurance arrangements for legal expenses.

Criminal investigation is unlikely in relation to standards of care, but where it occurs in child protection cases, the carers should be advised of their right to obtain legal advice (which is provided by the legal membership of Fostering Network).

A meeting will be offered to foster carers at the conclusion of any investigation, providing them with a forum in which to consider:

  • The impact of the allegation and investigation on the foster carers and the family member who was the subject of the allegation/others in the family;
  • The impact of any decision to remove children in placement;
  • The needs of everyone in the foster carers' family;
  • The perspective of the fostering service provider;
  • Clarification of the foster carer's current approval to foster and the need for any review of their approval;
  • The foster family's comments on the way in which the fostering service provider undertook their roles and responsibilities;
  • How any needs raised by the foster carers or identified by the fostering service will be met.

The Evaluation Meeting should be chaired by the Fostering Team Manager and attended by the foster carers and their supervising social worker. A record of the meeting should be sent to all in attendance.

9.3 Independent Sources of Support

Access to information and advice from an independent source will be made available to foster carers immediately following any allegation against them or notification from the fostering service of a serious concern about their practice or standards of care. In accordance with Standard 22.12 of the National Minimum Standards 2011 independent support will be provided during an investigation into an allegation. An independent provider will be commissioned, in consultation with the foster carer, and consideration given to support for the foster carer's sons and daughters, whether or not the allegation has been made against them. Independent support will remain available throughout any review of a foster carer's approval.

Independent support may take many forms and not all will be appropriate in all cases. It may include information and advice, mediation, advocacy, emotional support. Where possible. This will be provided by a worker from the north London Adoption And Fostering Support Scheme For Foster Carers.

All Enfield foster carers are automatically members of the Fostering Network and are encouraged to use their advice and mediation service.

Fostering Network Contact details

Members Helpline Tel: 020 7401 9582
Telephone: 020 7620 6400
Email: info@fostering.net

Address: 87 Blackfriars Rd
Southwark
London
SE1 8HA

Role of Supervising Social Worker:

Whether the allegation is of abuse or of poor standards of care, the supervising social worker has the prime responsibility for ensuring that foster carers are properly supported during and after an investigation, and that they are properly informed, as far as practicable in writing, and their views heard. However, the supervising social worker may also have the prime responsibility for investigating allegations where they concern standards of care. Furthermore, any allegation of abuse is likely to raise questions about standards of care. All this has implications for the role of the supervising social worker:

  1. Support for the carers is likely to involve some discussion of the substance of the allegations against them and the supervising social worker will often begin to form their own view of the situation. This needs to be acknowledged;
  2. The supervising social worker may have to represent the views of the carers to colleagues, as well as maintaining an objective viewpoint of their own. Good supervision will be necessary to avoid the danger of collusion. The involvement of another supervising social worker may be a helpful way to deal with this and it should be considered;
  3. Other members of staff may need to offer assistance, and in many cases it will be appropriate to encourage the carers to use alternative sources of support. (In all cases they should be given the choice).
Allegation Record Keeping:

The following information will be recorded on the carer's file and a copy given to the carer:

  • Summary of allegation made;
  • Details of follow up and resolution;
  • Details of action taken and decisions reached.

Records should be kept on the foster carer file, even after the carer leaves the organisation, until the person reaches normal retirement age or for 10 years if this is longer.

Confidentiality

Minutes of the strategy meeting and actions agreed are shared on a need to know basis as agreed at the meeting, and distributed within 5 working days. The minutes of the Strategy meeting must not be shared with a 3rd party including the family and the person against whom the allegation has been made without the permission of the LADO. The information should be retained on the confidential file.

Appendix 1: LB of Enfield - Summary of Allegations and Complaints in Foster Care

CAPTION: Appendix 1
   
Start Date: End Date:
Allegation Allegation - emotional abuse  
Allegation - neglect/poor standards  
Allegation - physical abuse  
Allegation - sexual Abuse  
Allegation - unknown  
Total  
Approval Approval - changes  
Approval - review  
Total  
Finance Finance - Allowances  
Finance - Benefits / Tax credits  
Finance - Insurance  
Finance - Payment for skills  
Finance - Pension  
Finance - Savings for LAC  
Finance - Tax / National Insurance  
Total  
Permanence Permanence - Adoption  
Permanence - Special Guardianship Order  
Total  
Other Family & Friends care  
Care plan for LAC  
Complaint against FSP (IFP)  
Complaint against FSP (LA)  
Contact  
Disruption of placement  
Fostering Network membership  
Health & Safety  
Housing  
Leaving care  
Legislative - Fostering Regs & Standards  
Managing behaviour  
Placement planning  
Race / culture  
Standards of care - complaint against foster carer  
Switching to different FSP  
Tension - professional relationships  
Tension - conflict between LAC & carers' son/daughter  
Transport  
Total  
Other (not specified) Other  
Total  
Grand Total:  

Appendix 2: Definitions when Determining on the Outcome of the Allegation Investigation

Substantiated There is sufficient identifiable evidence to prove the allegation.
Malicious There is sufficient evidence to prove there has been a deliberate act to deceive and the allegation is entirely false.
False There is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation.
Unfounded There is no evidence or proper basis which supports the allegation being made. It might also indicate that the person making the allegation misinterpreted the incident or was mistaken about what they saw. Alternatively they not have been aware of all the circumstances.
Unsubstantiated This is not the same as a false allegation. It means there is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation.