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- / Fostering Panel - Approval of Foster Carers
Fostering Panel - Approval of Foster Carers
- The Children ( Guernsey and Alderney) Law 2008
- Guernsey Panel Packs
- Placement of Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Regulations
- BAAF Effective Fostering Panels
Practice is based on and informed by best practice guidance from the United Kingdom jurisdictions including
- Fostering Services National Minimum Standards 2011
- Fostering Services ( England) Regulations 2011
- The Fostering Panel's primary function is to consider and make recommendations about the approval, variation of approval and termination of approval of foster carers and kinship carers.
- The Panel monitors the type and range of foster carers available to the Department and plays a key role in the improvement of standards within the fostering service. As part of this function the Panel oversees the conduct of assessments and annual reviews of foster carers, advises on any relevant matters to the Department and makes recommendations to the Department about quality issues and performance standards. The Panel makes recommendations as to the following:
- The Panel will consider the suitability of applicants to act as foster carers and the terms of their approval specifying the ages, gender and numbers of children who will be fostered
- The Panel will also consider, in the case of family and friends, (connected persons) applicants who have had children placed with them in an emergency and have been assessed as kinship carers
- The Panel will consider and make recommendations on first Reviews of foster carers of their continued suitability as foster carers and whether the terms of the approval remain appropriate. Panel will also consider and recommend the suitability of foster carers following any subsequent Review. Reviews will also be presented to Panel after a further three years. Reviews will be presented to Panel seeking variations to approval or termination of approval including where allegations have been made or abuse has occurred or where concern has been raised regarding the conduct of carers or standards of care
- Panel are notified of exemptions to approval category
- Panel are notified of placement disruptions and receive Minutes of Disruption Meetings in order that they can make their views known on any identified learning within the Minutes
- Panel are notified of resignations of carers and exit interviews/questionnaires
- Panel will receive and consider any representations challenging a decision not to approve an applicant as suitable, or to terminate or revise the terms of a foster carer's approval. Please note that in order to ensure independence for this process the Fostering Panel will provide this function for the Adoption and Permanence Panel and vice versa with a Chair/Vice Chair who is independent of the original sitting Panel
- The Panel will be rigorous in monitoring quality standards and will contribute to the development of good practice
- The Panel's role includes the provision of a thorough and critical consideration of all cases presented to it and to make sound recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker
- The Panel has a role in monitoring the standards and quality of assessments and reports and will give feedback to the appropriate Manager via the Agency Advisor
- The Panel will be transparent in the process of arrival at recommendations which will be fully reflected in the Minutes of Panel. Panel will welcome feedback which will improve its practice and operation and will send evaluation forms to those attending Panel to monitor user's views
- Panel will be committed to anti discriminatory practice and to ensuring that the welfare of the child is paramount
- The Fostering Panel membership is drawn from a "Central List" of people with the appropriate qualifications and/or experience. The list must include an Independent Chair or Vice Chair appointed by the Department and at least one or more Social Workers with at least three years relevant post-qualifying experience.
- The membership of Panel will be gender balanced and reflect the issues under consideration.
- The quorum is 5 provided that the following are present:
Ø Either the Chair or one of the Vice Chairs (in the absence of the chair).
Ø One of the Social Worker representatives with at least three years post qualifying experience
Ø At least three other members
Ø The Agency Advisor will attend Panel but is not a voting member
- There is no fixed Panel membership or maximum number of members or maximum tenure of office.
- The Fostering Panel is not a decision making body. Decision making about the approval or otherwise of foster carers is delegated to the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) who is the Director, Children and Maternity Services.
- The Panel makes recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker in respect of foster care applicants and any other matter referred by the Department to Panel
- The primary responsibility of Panel is to act in the best interests of children and young people looked after in foster care by Guernsey HSSD.
- All members of the Central List must have been the subjects of satisfactory Enhanced Disclosure Vetting and Barring (DVB) checks before taking up their appointment. These checks should be kept up to date and recorded, including the date when the checks were made. Checks are repeated every three years.
- Each member will be provided with Conditions of Appointment and a Panel Pack for guidance clarifying roles and expectations concerning conduct and a copy of BAAF Effective Fostering Panels
- Each member will be asked to sign a Panel Membership Agreement with the Department, in relation to his or her membership, covering the expectations of Panel members This agreement also defines the responsibilities of the Department.
- The Panel Membership Agreement will cover expectations regarding confidentiality, declaring conflict of interest, attendance at Panel, dealing with Panel papers, anti-discriminatory practice, attendance at training, informing the Department of any caution or conviction, willingness to undertake DVB check and sign agreement and notification of apologies for Panel
- All Panel members will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement and be expected to observe confidentiality with regard to Panel matters and Panel proceedings
- A file will be raised by the Panel Administrator and held at the Family Placement Service regarding every Panel member. This will contain relevant records including the Panel Membership Agreement, DVB information, training and Annual Reviews.
- Induction and ongoing training for Panel members is mandatory. All members of the Central List will be required to attend at least one Panel meeting as an observer before taking up their membership and have access to appropriate training and skills development and have the opportunity to attend joint training with Departmental staff at least annually. New Panel members will have an induction meeting with the Chair or an experienced Panel member and the Agency Advisor to provide an opportunity to ask questions regarding their role.
- There must be a process for review of the performance of Panel members and the Panel Chair by way of an Annual Review. Panel members will be reviewed by the Chair and Agency Advisor to Panel. The Panel Chair will be reviewed by the Agency Decision Maker and Agency Advisor to Panel.
- Where there are concerns about the behaviour of a Panel Member attempts to resolve the difficulty should be made by the Panel Chair and Agency Advisor. In circumstances where this cannot be achieved the Panel Chair and Agency Advisor should consider what action should be taken and this may include the termination of the appointment of the Panel Member. Where it remains that someone is unsuitable to be on the Central List or where Panel member's performance remains unsatisfactory despite advice and training given, they must be given one months' notice in writing of the termination of their appointment and reasons for the decision to end their inclusion on the list.
- Members of the Central List may resign by giving one month's notice to the Panel Chair and/or Agency Adviser.
- The Agency Adviser must be a registered Social Worker and have at least five years relevant post qualifying experience. The Agency Advisor is not a voting member of the Panel. Their role is to co-ordinate and agree the agenda, assist with recruitment, appointment, review and termination of members, be responsible for arranging induction and training of members, monitor performance of members and administration of Panel, ensure all necessary paperwork is available for Panel members on time, to advise Panel on matters as requested and update Panel on matters presented, be responsible for liaison between the Departmental staff and Panel with regard to Panel feedback on practice and quality assurance issues, maintain an overview of the quality of reports submitted to Panel by the Department by undertaking final Quality Assurance of reports presented and assist the Panel Chair in the compilation of the Annual Report of the Panel. The Agency Advisor to the Panel will be expected to understand current legislation, policy and good practice with regard to Fostering and to advise the panel accordingly.
- The Panel will call on specialist medical and legal advice to clarify any aspect of the assessment or approval or review report when required
- The Department will arrange for a Panel Administrator to undertake to administer Panel. Their role will include the production of an annual schedule of Panel dates, maintenance of a Panel booking system, notifying those presenting of Panel deadlines (in conjunction with Agency Advisor),arranging meetings and preparing the room, preparing the agenda( in conjunction with Agency Advisor), preparing Panel papers, inviting applicants and those presenting, ensure quorum, arranging observers and ensuring Panel Papers are made available for Panel members to collect at least 5 working days prior to Panel.
- The Panel Administrator will produce draft Minutes, including recommendations made and reasons given, submit draft Minutes to the Agency Advisor for checking, ensure that the Agency Decision Maker receives the final Minutes and any other papers required for the decision to be made, ensure that applicants, foster carers and Social Workers are notified in writing of decisions, provide the Social Worker with a copy of relevant Minutes, maintaining full records of Panel business, including agenda, reports and Minutes and place relevant parts of the Minutes on carer's files, maintaining statistical records for performance monitoring and the Annual Report
- Each applicant will be informed verbally of the Panel recommendation and the decision of the Agency Decision Maker and will receive written confirmation of the decision. The Agency Decision Maker will receive all Panel documentation and the final Panel Minutes in order to reach a decision.
- The Agency Decision Maker will make a decision within 7 days of receipt of the Panel Minutes. In reaching a decision the Agency Decision maker will
o list the information taken into account in reaching the decision;
o identify key arguments;
o consider if they are satisfied with the approach of the Panel and recommendation and are satisfied as to its fairness and that the Panel has properly addressed the arguments;
o consider whether any additional information now available to them that was not before the Panel has an impact on the reasons or recommendation;
o identify the Panel's reasons for the recommendation which the Decision Maker does or does not wish to adopt; and
o state what reasons they are adopting and any further reasons for their decision.
- The Fostering Panel will meet on a monthly basis subject to need but can be convened at any other time as required.
- The Panel will be quorate for all business.
- The Panel will consider all of the documentation together with the additional verbal information presented by those in attendance and make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker regarding the outcome of the assessment and, where approval is recommended, the terms of approval regarding any conditions as to the number, age range and gender of children to be placed. The Panel will also make recommendations regarding any limitation to approval for a specified named child for example, in the case of short term kinship carers.
- The Panel recommendation, reasons for the recommendation, and , where approval is recommended, the terms of approval and any conditions will be recorded in the Panel Minutes
- Where approval is given the Foster carer will be notified and provided with two copies of a Foster Carer Agreement which they should sign, retaining one and returning the other to the Family Placement Service
- On approval the Panel Administrator will enter the foster carer's approval details, including their first Review date on to the Register of Foster Carers and the electronic record will be updated. The Register of Foster Carers will be maintained by the Family Placement Service and will contain the following: name, address, date of birth, sex of each foster carer, date of approval, date of last review ( or first review) and current terms of approval . A similar Register will be kept for kinship carers.
- If the Agency Decision Maker decides not to approve or to vary terms of approval, applicants/foster carers will receive a written "qualifying determination" i.e. a notice detailing the decision, a copy of the Fostering Panel's recommendations and advice that, except where approval is refused because the carer has a record of disqualifying offences as specified in the relevant parts of the Placement of Children ( Guernsey and Alderney) Regulations, they have 28 days to submit a written representation to the Agency Decision Maker.
- The Panel will consider and make recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker about submissions by applicants/foster carers following a "qualifying determination". In circumstances where a decision is made by the Agency Decision Maker not to approve or to vary terms of approval or to terminate the approval of a carer and an appeal is sought regarding this decision there will be a review Panel. In these circumstances the Adoption and Permanence Panel will act as review Panel to consider the matter for the Fostering Panel and vice versa to ensure independence in the matter.
- The Agency Decision Maker will take the Panel's recommendations into account in making a final decision.
- The Panel will oversee the conduct and quality of foster carer assessments and advise on reviews of carers.
- The Panel will monitor the range and type of foster carers available in relation to needs of children locally
- The Panel will give regular feedback and views on the quality of reports submitted to Panel and of other matters relevant to Panel and other matters referred by the Department. Panel feedback will be minuted and fed back to the worker concerned.
- If Panel defers a recommendation, the reasons will be recorded and additional advice and or information required by Panel will be clearly set out. The case will automatically be brought before the next Panel, unless otherwise agreed with Chair.
Contact the Panel Administrator (PA) in the Family Placement Service for inclusion on Panel Agenda for:
· All applications for fostering and kinship
· 1st and 4th Reviews and any Review as requested by the Department,
· Notification of Internal Reviews
· Reviews concerning variation of approval or termination of approval
· Notification of Exemptions to Approval Category,
· Reports of allegations against or abuse by carers, or concern regarding conduct or standards of care
· Submissions by Foster Carers following receipt of a "Qualifying Determination"
· Formal complaints against carers
· Advice if necessary from Panel about how to proceed in respect of a review or assessment.
Supervising Social Worker (SSW)
Child's Social Worker (CSW)
Family Placement Service (FPS) Team Manager
Fostering Panel Diary
Supervising Social Worker (SSW) or Child's Social Worker (CSW) is given the date of the Panel
Panel Administrator (PA)
Fostering Panel Diary
All documents having first been fully quality assured (QA)by the Social Worker and their Manager to be supplied to the Agency Advisor to the Fostering Panel for final QA 15 days before the Panel meeting.
CSW Team Manager
Other panel documents as detailed
15 days before Panel
All documents, fully Qa'd and signed, supplied to the PA in Family Placement Service 7 working days before the Panel meeting.
See appendix attached
7 days before Panel
For details of documents required by Panel see appendix attached.
Agenda is drafted detailing time for presenting workers re: attendance at Panel and communicated to them
Guide for attending Panel
7 days before Panel
Make Panel Pack available for Panel members to collect.
Invite Foster Carers to attend re
- First Review and subsequent Reviews
- Following an allegation or complaint or an exceptional review or submission re Qualifying Determination. Include Guide for those attending Panel and Panel profile
Guide for those attending Panel
5 days before Panel meeting
Notify carers verbally of Panel recommendation
Chair (if carers/applicants attend panel) or SSW
Carer's contact record
Within 24 hours of
Panel, usually on that same day.
Send draft Panel Minutes to members and Chair
Endorse minutes as accurate reflection of issues and views discussed and Panel Chair to sign etc.
Chair and Panel members
Panel Minutes and documentation
Within 5 working days of Panel
Within 7 working days of Panel
Send final Minutes and all Panel documentation with recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) who makes a decision.
Minutes and Panel papers
Within 7 working days of Panel
Agency Decision Maker makes decision and sends ratification to PA
ADM decision and ratification
Within 14 working days of Panel
Notify carer orally of decisions about approvals, reviews and agreed changes to terms and conditions.
Carer's contact record
Within 2 working days of decision
Panel Minutes , original documentation, assessment and ratification placed on file
Assessment /review/ resignation etc
Within 5 working days of decision
A letter and 2 copies of new/revised Foster Carer Agreement sent to carers.
Foster Carer Agreement
Within 5 working days of ADM decision
Enter details as required onto Register of Foster Carers
Register of Foster Carers
Within 5 working Days
In case of a "Qualifying Determination" (QD) notify and advise orally.
Carer's contact record
2 working days
Provide the applicant/carer with the Panel Minutes relevant to them, written summary of reasons i.e QD notice and timescale and information about making a submission.
Carer's contact record
Within 5 days of decision
Refer any submission to the next Review Panel which will make recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker. Follow process and timescales above.
FPS Team Manager
Next available Panel
Final decision by the Agency Decision Maker taking Review Panel and original Fostering Panel recommendations into account.
Agency Decision Maker
Panel Minutes and QD and Panel documents
5 working days
Carer notified a) orally and
b) in writing of final decision with summary of information taken into account, key arguments and reasons.
Letter with decision
2 working days
5 working days
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