Amending the Foster Carer's Terms of Approval
RELATED LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE
Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011, Associated Guidance and National Minimum Standards.
This chapter was added to the manual in December 2013.
Fostering services should ensure that the terms of approval accurately reflect the nature/number of children that a foster carer is suitable to care for. A foster carer's terms of approval should not include children of a nature/number that the carer is not suitable to foster, but equally terms should not be unnecessarily restricted to exclude children that the carer would be suitable to foster.
Terms of approval should be kept under review so, for example, if a carer's circumstances change, or as a new carer becomes more confident and capable of looking after a broader range of children, their terms of approval can be amended accordingly.
2. Terms of Approval
All new foster carers are approved as 'Kirklees Carers' and a 'Best Match' is recommended, to enable them to provide different types of care e.g. short term, long term or short break.
The Best Match provides an indication of the age range and numbers of children to be placed and is based on the preference of the carers combined with their assessed and identified competencies agreed at their approval or most recent review.
Where a Carer is approved as 'Kirklees Carer' children can be placed outside of this 'Best Match' as long as the carers can meet the needs of the child to be placed.
Under the 'Miscellaneous amendments' regulations (2013)
(8 (a)- A statement should be provided on any support needs for the carer or household members with the proposed revision and how they will be met. They also would need foster carers agreement in writing to the proposed revision terms).
3. Making Changes to a Foster Carer's Best Match
Carers who have been approved under a previous system, whose profile does not reflect a 'Best Match' will be required to have the wording of their agreement changed at their review and competencies for any amended 'Best Match', should be clearly demonstrated.
In most cases the 'Best Match' will reflect the previous approval profile, unless changes have been discussed with the carer(s) and supported by evidence of competencies being reached. If changes are being made then the review must be comprehensive and provide enough detail to demonstrate the applicant's ability to provide for children within this 'Best Match'.
In the cases where we are deciding to change the Best Match the Review paperwork and the carers signed agreement will be either be presented to the Fostering Panel or the Agency Decision Maker.
- Social workers with children placed with the carers will be consulted about any proposed changes which may impact on their respective child's placement;
- In all cases a signed agreement must be made with the carer, this agreement should outline any support needs related to the change and how this support will be provided;
- There should be no changes to a carers profile within the first year of approval unless there are exceptional circumstances. As part of their first annual review process, changes to a carers terms of approval may be presented to the Panel.
4. Changes to Best Match Which Do Not Need to Go Back to Panel
Unless specifically prohibited by the original Panel approval process or within the first year of approval the following changes may be agreed by the Fostering Team Manager and/or Fostering Unit Manager through the foster carer review process without referral to Panel.
- Age range element of a carer's approval. This is particularly relevant as their own children get older and move out, if existing foster children have gone beyond the upper age range etc;
- Changes of approval which represent a less onerous task than that on the original approval e.g. relief care for carers approved as long/short term carers;
- Whether a foster carer is on the EDS list when they have a vacancy;
- Change in number of children, e.g. from 2 if siblings to 2 unrelated children, or from 2 unrelated children to 3 if siblings.
5. Changes to Approval Which Need to Go Back to Panel
If this is a first review after approval as a Kirklees Carer it must be considered by the Fostering Panel.
A return to Panel is also required for a change of Best Match in the following circumstances:
- Relief/ Short Break care to long or short term foster care;
- Short to long term where no specific match is required;
- Relationship breakdown leading to the continuation of one approved carer and/or the de-registration of the other.
6. Changes Which Can Be Referred to the Agency Decision Maker
- Amending the carers Best Match in order to allow the placement of a young person on a long term basis. This can be presented to the Agency Decision Maker alongside the matching documentation.
Changes in an emergency
There will be times when the Fostering Service need to consider placing children outside of this 'Approved Best Match' when this is the best option available to the child/young person.
- A signed change of 'Best Match' agreement should be obtained from the carer within the first six days of the placement and this should identify any support needs of the family which may be required because of the change and how this will be provided (see Agreement to Amend a Foster Carers Profile);
- Once these changes have been agreed and carers have signed their confirmation of acceptance of the amended terms of their approval Best Match, this should always be followed up at the foster carers review. There needs to be clear demonstration of how carers meet the changes recorded in the review;
- Carers providing more than 3 placements will still be required to have an exemption and requests for these will be in line with our existing policy/procedure.
Notification of changes
Following the making of a change to the carers terms of approval Best Match, notices will be issued and a revised agreement will be sent to the carers. This notification will be sent following a Panel decision or foster carers annual review.
This process will be subject to review by the Fostering Service and feedback from the Fostering Panel to ensure appropriate decisions and consultations are being achieved.