Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
View Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures View Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures

6.2.8 Extention / Variation to the Foster Carer's Terms of Approval

AMENDMENT

A separate chapter on this topic was added to this online manual in January 2017.


Contents

  1. When is a Variation of a Carers Approved Status Required?
  2. The Process for Obtaining a Variation of a Carers Approved Status
  3. Agency Decision Maker - Agreement to a Carers Change of Approved Status

    Appendix 1: Exemptions / Variations Form


1. When a Variation of a Carers Approved Status Required?

Where a foster placement identified for a child would be within the usual fostering limit but outside of the Foster Carer's terms of approval, a variation to their approval is required.

The following are examples of circumstances where a variation of approval is required:

  • A Foster Carer is approved for two children but it is proposed to place a third child with him or her;
  • A Foster Carer is approved for a child aged 0 to 5 but it is proposed to place a 6 year old with him or her;
  • A Foster Carer is approved for female children but it is proposed to place a male child with him or her.

Emergency placements with a local authority/Children's Services Trust-approved Foster Carer outside the Foster Carer’s terms of approval can be made for up to 6 working days. (Regulation 23 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010.) The placement must then be terminated unless the Foster Carer’s terms of approval have been amended so that they are consistent with the placement (Paragraph 3.84 ‘The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review.) This will usually be in addition to an extension to the usual number of children.


2. The Process for Obtaining a Variation of a Carers Approved Status

DfE Guidance states:

“Evidence suggests that placing a child outside a carers terms of approval has a negative impact on placement stability. Amending a carers terms of approval at short notice, specifically in response to an emergency placement and without time to consider the extra support, etc. that a carer might require, might also be expected to have negative implications for placement stability.”

Whenever it is proposed to place a child with carers outside of their approved status the supervising social worker must complete the exemptions and variations form. This submission should also be signed by the Team/Deputy Manager.

The approval of the Agency Decision Maker (or a designated officer in their absence) will need to be obtained before any placement outside of a Foster Carers approved status is made. Under no circumstances should a placement be made without prior agreement.

The exemptions/variation form  must be signed by the Agency Decision Maker (or a designated officer in their absence.) The request should clearly demonstrate that the following issues have been taken in to consideration before the placement request is submitted:

  • The foster carers skills and ability to meet the needs of all children in the household;
  • The views of all other children within the household;
  • The carers accommodation, specifically with regard to sleeping arrangements.

There should also have been consultation with:

  • The foster carer;
  • The child to be placed where appropriate;
  • The child's social worker;
  • The social workers for any other child already in placement.

Once agreement is received the placement of the child can proceed. However, this can only be for a maximum period of 6 days, during which time an alternative placement must be sought for the child. This should be with a carer who is appropriately approved to accept his/her placement.

A copy of the variation/exemption form should be provided for the Foster Carer and a copy retained on their file.

All agreed variations will be submitted to the Fostering Panel for quality assurance and monitoring purposes.


3. Agency Decision Maker - Agreement to a Carers Change of Approved Status

A fostering service provider may propose to amend Foster Carers terms of approval following a review in accordance with Regulation 28(2) of the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011. Where they propose to amend the terms of approval they must under regulation 28(7) of those regulations issue a “qualifying determination.”

The qualifying determination advises the carer that they have 28 days in which to make representations to the Fostering Service or apply to the Secretary of State for a review by the Independent Review Mechanism. There is no provision in the 2011 regulations for the 28 day period to be shortened, even in the event that the carer agrees to the change of status.

The requirement in Doncaster is that in general all such recommendations to amend a carers approved status following a review, along with supporting documentation, is submitted to the Fostering Panel for consideration prior to a decision being made by the Agency Decision Maker. 

In exceptional circumstances, (for example to provide for the planned placement of a sibling) the Agency Decision Maker can issue a qualifying determination without prior consideration by the Fostering Panel. However, this would only be made following a review of the Foster Carers which recommended such a change to the carers approved status.

In this event, the qualifying determination would subsequently be submitted to the Fostering Panel for quality assurance and monitoring purposes.


Appendix 1: Exemptions / Variations Form

Click here to see, Appendix 1: Exemptions / Variations Form.

End