In October 2019 a link was added to Attending an IRM Panel: information sheets. See Section 6, Representations/Review Procedure.
- Consultation with Foster Carer before the Review
- Formal Review Meeting
- Presentation to the Fostering Panel or Agency Decision Maker
- After the Fostering Panel
- Representations/Review Procedure
- Updates on Checks
Formal reviews of foster carers will take place at least annually.
Reviews will take place more frequently in the event of a significant change in circumstance of a foster carer for example where there are concerns about the care provided by the foster carer as a result of a complaint or allegation.
As well as formal reviews, there will be regular dialogue and feedback between the supervising social worker and the foster carer.
2. Consultation with Foster Carer before the Review
Prior to the formal review, the supervising social worker will send the foster carer a copy of the review report to enable them to prepare for the review in advance. The foster carer will have the opportunity to communicate his or her views verbally or in writing to the supervising social worker prior to the review. The review report is written by the supervising social worker and, in addition to their own, includes the views of the supervising social workers manager, children's social worker, the independent reviewing officer to the child, the foster children and their parents (if appropriate), the foster carers and their sons and daughters. The supervising social worker will also seek the views of any child placed with the foster carer since the last review via the child's social worker.
The supervising social worker will also, as part of the formal review, seek the views of all members of the foster carer's household (including other foster children, staying put young people as well as shared lives adults), as well as the written comments and opinions as to the foster carer's practice from all social workers who have used the foster carer for a placement since their last formal review. This will include contacting a social worker from outside the authority where appropriate. Where there is no response to the request from the child' social worker or independent reviewing officer, then the request must be escalated up the management line until such information is obtained.
All the documents mentioned above will be sent to the Fostering Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) or Deputy Fostering Manager (DFM) 10 working days before the meeting.
There is a clear expectation that, for couples, both approved carers will attend the annual review. The date needs to be fixed to work around the work/other commitments of both carers to allow for this. In the supervising social work visits in the weeks leading up to the review the supervising social work must confirm that both carers are available. If not the review meeting should be re-scheduled within timescales.
3. Formal Review Meeting
The review will be informed by a meeting held between the supervising social worker and the foster carer at the foster home. In the case of couples it is expected that both approved carers will attend. The Fostering Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) or the Deputy Fostering Manager (DFM) will chair the review. At the review meeting, the agenda as set out in the Foster Carer Review Form will include an appraisal of the foster carer's training and development needs, an evaluation of the training received since the last review, the foster carer's views of the service and support provided, as well as the appropriateness of placements made and the care provided by the foster carer. The minutes of the previous Panel/Review will also assist, with specific focus on any previous concerns, recommendations and terms of approval.
A Review Form will be completed by the IRO or the DFM and any recommendations discussed with the foster carer will be recorded in the review report. The foster carer should have the opportunity to put their views on the recommendations in writing to be presented to the Fostering Panel or the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering) when the Review Form is considered.
4. Presentation to the Fostering Panel or Agency Decision Maker
Some reviews, but not all, are presented to the Fostering Panel. It is a requirement for the first review to be considered by the panel. After this, the IRO will conduct future reviews with some being presented to panel every three years. Reviews will always go to Panel in the following circumstance:
- Cases with serious standard of care or child protection concerns including those where de-registration is being recommended;
- Cases where panel has had significant reservations at the initial annual review and have specifically asked for a case to be returned;
- Cases where there has been a significant change of circumstance in the fostering household e.g. a new partner, death or a spouse;
- Significant changes in the approval terms – to a different kind of fostering e.g. parent and child or specialist schemes;
- Any other unusually complex cases.
Following the review, the Fostering Panel, IRO or DFM will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) in regards to the carer's approval. The ADM will make their decision based on the information provided and a letter/decision sheet will be sent to the carer's confirming the decision made.
Where the Review recommends the termination of approval of the foster carer, the review should be presented at the earliest possible Fostering Panel. Where the Fostering Panel's recommendation is for a different category of approval, the Panel may require further assessment or training for the foster care and additional support. Where the foster carer has decided to give up fostering they are required to give written notice. This should be recorded formally to the Fostering Panel or ADM as the termination of the foster carer's approval to take effect 28 days from the date when written notice has been received from the foster carer. Should the foster carers wish to withdraw from their intention to resign within the 28 day notice period they will need to be re-assessed.
5. After the Fostering Panel
The foster carer will be informed in writing by the fostering panel administrator (signed and approved by the ADM) of the outcome of the review.
A copy of the Review Form and a record of the outcome of the review will be retained on the foster carer's case record.
6. Representations/Review Procedure
6.1 Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer's Approval
Where, as a result of a review, the termination of a foster carer's approval is proposed, written notice of the proposal and the reasons must be sent to the foster carer within 7 days of the qualifying determination (decision in principle). he or she must be advised that if they wish to challenge the decision, they have the opportunity to make representations to the Panel or to request a review by an Independent Review Panel as set out in the Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure, Representations / Independent Review Procedure. Notification/representations will need to be received by the Panel Administrator within 28 days of the date of the notice of the qualifying determination (decision in principle) being sent to them. The Panel Administrator will then notify the foster carer within 7 working days of the date when the Panel will reconsider the matter. (See also Information about the IRM for Foster Carers).
The foster carer will not have the right to request a review by an Independent Review Panel if they are regarded as disqualified as a result of a conviction or caution for a specified offence - see Persons Disqualified from Fostering Procedure.
If no written representations or notification of a request for a review are received within the period, a final decision to terminate can be made.
If written representations are received within the period, the matter must be referred to the Fostering Panel for further consideration. Foster carers wishing to make representations in person to the Panel may be accompanied by a friend or supporter. Where a foster carer wishes to make representations in person, the Panel Chair may consider the Panel meeting as a smaller quorate sub-group.
The Panel will make a new recommendation in relation to the foster carer and a final decision will be made by the Agency Decision Maker taking into account any fresh recommendation made by the Panel.
Written notice of the final decision, together with reasons, must then be sent to the foster carer within 7 working days of the decision.
Where the termination of the approval of a foster carer is being considered, plans for the termination of any current placement will also be required and made as appropriate.
Where the approval is terminated, the Agency Decision Maker, in consultation with the will decide whether to refer the former foster carer to the for inclusion of the carer's name on the Children's Barred List.
6.2 Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carer's Approval
6.2.1 Where the Foster Carer is in Agreement
Where, as a result of a review, it is proposed to revise the terms of the foster carer's approval, a statement must be sent to the foster carer setting out whether it is considered that the foster carer or members of their household (including any children placed there) may have additional support needs as a result of the proposed revision and, if so, how those needs will be met, and request the foster carer's agreement in writing to the proposed revision of terms.
Where the foster carer's written agreement is received, the decision to revise the terms of approval may be made immediately.
The Agency Decision Maker's decision in such circumstances is not a and the foster carer may not apply for an independent review of the decision.
Foster carers must not be pressured to accept changes to their terms of approval.
6.2.2 Where the Foster Carer is not in Agreement
Where the foster carer does not agree in writing to the revision of their terms of approval, then the representations/review procedure as set out in Section 6.1 Proposal to Terminate Foster Carer's Approval will apply.
7. Updates on Checks
Disclosure and Barring Service checks should be updated every 3 years and if necessary, a review of the foster carer's approval should be carried out immediately to take account of any new information.
Whilst there is no statutory time interval, as good practice medical information should also be updated at least every 3 years by writing to the foster carer’s GP. In the event of any serious concerns about the foster carers health, a review of the foster carers approval should be carried out immediately. The IRO can request an updated medical if there are concerns about the ability of the foster carer to carry out their duties due to ill health.
Where foster carers themselves have children of school age school reference should be repeated every 3 years (up to the age of 16 years) unless the child seems vulnerable and there are concerned about his/her welfare in a family who foster.