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Assessment of Foster Carers
- The Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Law 2008
- Placement of Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Regulations
- Kinship Care Policy
Practice is based on and informed by best practice guidance from the United Kingdom jurisdictions including
- BAAF guidance on assessing prospective foster carers
- DfES Practice Guidance on Preparing and Assessing Prospective Foster Carer
Applications will be considered from those living in Guernsey and Alderney with priority given to those who can best meet the needs of Guernsey or Alderney children in need of foster placements.
- Anyone who is currently approved as a foster carer for another agency/authority may not be approved as a carer for a second authority. If carers from another authority /agency wish to apply to HSSD Family Placement Service, they must notify their current authority.
- If a foster carer is fostering or has previously fostered for another authority/agency, that authority will be asked to provide a reference and for access to the foster carer file record. Evidence of enquiries by that authority, e.g. to previous partners or employers, may be used as part of the assessment for HSSD Family Placement Service.
- Evidence of termination of approval with the other agency will be required before that applicant can be approved by HSSD Family Placement Service.
- All assessments and preparation of foster carers will fit within a framework of equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory practice.
- Applications will be considered from married and unmarried couples, single people, heterosexual, lesbian or gay couples, those who are able bodied and those who are disabled, people of any or no religious persuasion, people of any ethnicity, those who are in work or not in work, those who own their own home or are in rented accommodation.
- The minimum age of applicants to foster is 21 years. In exceptional circumstances in the case of Kinship carers applications will be accepted from persons aged 18. There is no upper age limit either in law or as part of HSSD Family Placement policy.
- Applicants are required to have a full BAAF medical. Physical health, emotional maturity, psychological stability, mental health and resilience are key factors in assessment of suitability. Life limiting illness or conditions will influence decisions about suitability to foster as will other caring responsibilities or psychological factors such as vulnerability to stress. The Agency Medical Advisor will advise on the suitability to foster of applicants in terms of their health.
- Applicants are expected to have a spare bedroom available for fostering. An exception may be made in the case of children under 3 years or where family or connected persons are applying to foster a specific child whose welfare is best served by placement with them.
- A person who is interested in fostering will not be considered and will be debarred from fostering, if they have criminal convictions or cautions after the age of 18 years for offences which are specified in the relevant parts of the Placement of Children (Guernsey and Alderney Regulations). There is an expectation that applicants will declare any cautions/convictions/ injunctions and whilst these will not necessarily prevent an application being made the seriousness and nature of the offence/matter and when this occurred will be taken into consideration. The Team Manager may be consulted for advice and refer to the Service Manager, Corporate Parenting.
- This exclusion can be relaxed for placement with relatives or friends or where a child is already placed with a carer IF the child's welfare requires this. In such exceptional circumstances the Service Manager Corporate Parenting, Fostering Panel and Agency Decision Maker will be consulted at the earliest opportunity, for guidance about the viability of the application and the enquiries and procedure to be followed in the assessment
- No-one has a right to be a foster carer. The primary consideration in any decision about accepting an application and in any assessment will be the capacity of an applicant to meet the needs of a looked after child in a safe and effective capacity during placement. This is in the context of the needs of looked after children, most of whom will have experienced some degree of loss, trauma, emotional or physical abuse or neglect or disruption in their early lives, which will inevitably have had an impact on their functioning and development. Few situations therefore are straightforward.
- Where an inquiry is received and the person does not met the criteria for fostering ( for example in terms of not having a spare bedroom, availability to care, where they have been or are known to Social Services and there are concerns) they will be advised that they do not meet the criteria or will be counselled out. Advice may be sought from a Senior Practitioner/Team Manager if required. The decision will be recorded on the Initial Enquiry Form and the person advised of the reasons for the decision.
- Where two people will share the caring role, whether as a couple or any other partnership, they will be jointly assessed and dually approved.
- Where a single carer subsequently takes a partner, who will cohabit with the carer or share a caring role, their assessment or review will be updated alongside an assessment of their new partner and be presented to panel.
- Assessments will be completed using the BAAF Form F (Fostering) England Report. Assessment for Kinship Care will be completed using the Guernsey Viability Assessment Template and BAAF Form C Connected Person (Family and Friends) Report England. Please note full assessment of Kinship carers is undertaken on receipt of positive viability assessment. See Kinship Care Policy . Assessments of Short Break Carers will be completed on the Short Breaks Home Study Report
- Medicals should be completed using BAAF Form AH. For fostering, kinship and short break applicants the cost of these is met by the Department.
- Checks will be undertaken on all applicants. Assessments will be initiated on receipt of satisfactory checks.
- Enquirers to fostering will be invited to preparation training prior to assessment .Short Break Carers will receive specific training appropriate to their needs provided by the Social Worker responsible for short break care and Learning Disability Service. Kinship carers may be invited to preparation training depending on the circumstance
- All assessments should be undertaken wherever possible by experienced Supervising Social Workers. Where Supervising Social Workers are new to assessment they will be closely supervised and mentored through the process.
- Approval as a foster carer does not guarantee the placement of a child.
- All of those interested in fostering will be welcomed without prejudice, responded to promptly, given clear information about recruitment, assessment and approval, and treated fairly, openly and with respect throughout the process.
- Initial enquiries will be recorded on an Initial Enquiry Form and entered on to the Database with an electronic record initiated.
- Written information will be sent in response to an initial enquiry within 5 working days. This will include a request for initial visit form.
- Should enquirers request an initial visit this will take place within one month of receipt of their request (except in circumstances where the enquirer requests a delay). More in depth information will be given during this visit which will include types of fostering, roles and responsibilities, needs of looked after children, support and training available. The Initial Visit Template should be completed at this visit and enquirers advised that they should identify anything that could preclude them from fostering including convictions/cautions/injunctions or any other issues. Information will be given on the relevant checks including the need for DBS Checks and ex-partner checks where relevant ,the assessment process and the need to attend preparation training, ongoing training and support group.
- If information comes to light which may preclude the person from fostering or there is a concern regarding the person's suitability to foster the enquirer should be counselled out and advice may be sought from the Team Manager. A second visit may be required with a colleague in order to explore issues further and obtain a second opinion.
- The Initial Visit Form should be shared with the Team Manager who will make a decision as to whether the enquirer should be invited to the Skills to Foster preparation training.
- If the decision is made not to proceed the reasons for this decision will be recorded and communicated to the enquirer in. If the enquirer disagrees with this decision they should be advised of steps they can take which will include meeting with a Senior Practitioner or the Team Manager to discuss the decision and informing them of the availability of the HSSD Complaints Procedure. The outcome should be recorded on the Initial Enquiry Record.
- Prospective foster carers will be expected to attend all sessions of the Skills to Foster course prior to their application. This training provides an opportunity for those interested in fostering to be appraised of information regarding fostering and to decide if fostering is right for them. It also provides an opportunity for the Department to consider the suitability of those interested. Written feedback is provided by course facilitators on the contribution and involvement of those attending which will be included in a potential assessment.
- Following Skills to Foster training prospective applicants will be consulted as to whether they wish to make an application and will be provided with an application form if they wish to proceed.
- Where concerns or issues arise through attendance at the Skills to Foster and it is not considered appropriate that an application proceed the enquirer will be advised of this decision and the reasons in writing. They should be advised of steps they may take to address any issues arising.
- On receipt of application and authorisation for checks all checks and references will be undertaken and a file made.
- Assessments will be allocated on receipt of all checks providing they are satisfactory.
- Kinship assessments will be undertaken by the Family Placement Service using BAAF Form C on receipt of a positive viability assessment undertaken by the Child's Social Worker and in agreement with the Child Social Workers Team Manager. Agreed statutory checks will be undertaken by the Child's Social Worker as part of the Viability assessment and additional checks undertaken by Family Placement Service on receipt of application for a full Kinship assessment.
- Assessments will be completed using the relevant assessment template and in accordance with BAAF guidance on completion of assessment. Applicants will be interviewed separately and together and any children of the applicants or other household members will be seen alone. Applicants will be actively involved in contributing to their assessment in terms of written information to support their application.
- An Enhanced Police Check with the Disclosure and Barring Service must be obtained in relation to the applicants, all adult members of the household and those who will have significant and regular responsibility for caring for a child
- All applicants will be required to undertake a BAAF Form AH Medical with their GP. The cost of this is funded by the Department. Applicants will be advised to complete the relevant sections of the form and take it to their GP for completion at the appointment. Applicants are advised to direct that the GP give the Form AH directly back to the applicants for submission to the Family Placement Service PA. The PA will then submit the form to the Agency Medical Advisor with a covering letter for his comments. This is at the request of the Agency Medical Advisor. Other checks will be made with the Health Visitor Service or School Nursing Service for applicants with children.
- If an applicant has fostered for another authority, their consent will be obtained and the agency or authority involved approached for access to their records and a reference and confirmation that their registration has been terminated by that authority.
- A minimum of two personal references for the applicants will be required in writing. These referees should not be related to the applicant but should know them well in a personal capacity. In addition a written family member reference will be sought. All referees will be interviewed in person. In exceptional circumstances where a referee lives outside of Guernsey a telephone interview may be acceptable. For joint applications the referees should know both applicants and if not then additional references will be required.
- Referees will be advised that their written reference will not be shown to applicants unless they consent to disclosure. Similarly information and opinions provided at interview will not be disclosed to the applicant without the referees consent. However referees will be advised that it may be necessary to discuss information or opinions expressed which come to light through checks and references and that where this may happen the source of information will not be disclosed to the applicant.
- A reference from previous partners must be sought where there have been children of the relationship. The focus of this is to obtain information regarding previous parenting and to ensure there are no child protection concerns. Adult children of such relationships must also be contacted. If the applicant cannot provide information regarding the whereabouts of the previous partner or has a valid reason for this referee not being contacted (for example, where there may have been domestic abuse) this should be recorded and a reference sought from a person who knew the applicant well when in that relationship.
- A reference from the applicant's current employer must be obtained as well as references from previous employers where an applicant has worked with children.
- A reference will be obtained from the school attended by the applicant's child/ren. This may provide information on the applicant's involvement in and ability to promote and support a child's educational needs.
- Checks must be made with all Local Authorities/jurisdictions where an applicant has lived within the last 10 years as they may have useful information in their social care records, education records, or child protection registers. Checks must also be undertaken with the Probation Service. If an applicant already has children, checks should be made with the health authority for information from the health visitor.
- Checks should be made with regard to the suitability of the applicant's accommodation and their financial stability. A Health and Safety Check will be completed by applicants and reviewed by the assessor and verification of financial stability sought. All rent or mortgage payments should be up to date.
- A Pet Questionnaire assessment must be completed by applicants and reviewed by the assessor for all applicants with dogs and other pets. Any concerns raised through this or in completion of the general health and safety check should be raised with the applicants. The Guernsey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (GSPCA) will undertake a dog assessment where any concerns are raised. For applicants with boats where a child in placement may be taken out on the vessel a Boat Questionnaire will be completed.
- A Safer Caring Policy will be completed by the applicants supported by the assessing Social Worker.
- Should DBS checks reveal that the applicant is disbarred the application will not proceed further. Where checks reveal an offence which will need consideration due for example to the nature of the offence, history of offending, recent offence etc the Team Manager will decide if the application should proceed.
- Where any other checks reveal concern regarding the applicant the Team Manager should be advised and the applicants may be advised to withdraw. Where medical information reveals that the applicants may not be suitable further advice may be sought form the Medical Advisor and the applicants may be advised to withdraw.
- Applicants will be kept informed of progress throughout and will receive a copy of their assessment report minus third party information and references. Applicants will be able to comment and record their views on the report prior to signing the report.
- Assessments will be completed and a recommendation made following the presentation of the report to the Panel.
- Applicants will be invited to attend Fostering Panel and are encouraged to attend. Recommendations regarding matching for Permanent Fostering and Permanent Kinship placements are submitted to Adoption and Permanence Panel. Applications for Short Break Care are submitted to the Accommodation and Resource Panel.
- Applicants will be provided with the Guide for Applicants attending Panel. The assessing Social Worker will ensure that applicants are prepared for Panel and have been advised of the Panel Membership in order that any conflict can be addressed in good time.
- The Panel will make recommendations with reasons. The recommendations will be conveyed orally to applicants wherever possible on the day of Panel and within 24 hours of the meeting.
- Decisions will be made by the Agency Decision Maker within 7 working days of receipt of the minutes of the Panel meeting, conveyed orally to applicants within 24 hours and confirmed in writing within 7 working days.
- Foster Carers will be required at the point they receive notice of approval to enter into a Foster Carer Agreement. This agreement will include matters set out in the relevant parts of the Placement of Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Regulations. Foster carers will be asked to sign and return a copy of the agreement within 7 working days.
- If the decision maker is minded not to approve an application, the applicants will be informed in writing, with the reasons for that decision.
- Except where unsuitability is due to history of offending applicants will then have 28 working days starting with the date on which the notification was sent to either submit any representations they wish to the Family Placement Service and Agency Decision Maker.
- Submissions from applicants/carers will be referred to the relevant Review Panel for recommendations and then to the Agency Decision Maker for a final decision.
N.B. All the above processes apply in case of a decision that a carers terms of approval should change and carers wish to make representations regarding this.
- A Foster Carer Review will be undertaken by the allocated Supervising Social Worker 12 months after approval and then on an annual basis or where circumstances dictate.
Initial enquiry received. Information pack sent with request for Initial Visit. Electronic record initiated and record on database
Duty Supervising Social Worker Family Placement Service(SSW)
Initial Enquiry Form
Within 5 working days
Undertake Initial Visit
Initial Visit Form
Within one month.
If proceeding, Invite Skills to Foster
FPS Team Manager
Next available course
On receipt of application, set up file, initiate all checks and medicals
Copies on file
Within 2 weeks
On receipt of satisfactory checks, allocate assessment
FPS Team Manager
As soon as possible
Complete and Quality Assure (QA) assessment using relevant assessment template as in key points in policy above. Review completed Health & Safety check, Pet and Boat Questionnaire where appropriate, referee interviews, Safer Caring policy etc.
Copy of assessment and all forms on file
7 months from allocation
Team Manager to meet applicants and gain feedback re process , assessment, preparation etc
During assessment process or at Panel
Submit draft BAAF Form F Fostering /BAAF Form C/ Short Break Assessment to FPS Team Manager for review and QA (including third party information).Submit to Agency Advisor of relevant Panel for final QA
As soon as it is completed but at least 15 working days prior to Panel
Make any amendments following QA
At least 10 working days prior to Panel
Send completed draft Assessment to applicants (excluding third party information) for their comments and submissions to panel.
10 working days before Panel meeting
Submit final assessment ( fully signed) to PA for copying and inclusion in Panel pack
At least 7 working days before Panel meeting
Make Panel Pack available for collection
5 working days before Panel
Panel make recommendation and decision sought from Agency Decision Maker
Minutes of Panel
Ratification by ADM
8 months from receipt of application
- Fostering Services National Minimum Standards 2011
- Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011
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