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12.7 Exemptions and Extensions/Variations to the Foster Carer's Terms of Approval

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Applications for an exemption, in relation to foster carers living in a different Local Authority, MUST be made to the manager of the fostering service for the Local Authority in whose area the foster carer lives.

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 (as amended 2013)

The Children Act 1989 Guidance Volume 4 (2011) Chapter 5

Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011, Standard 14

The Children Act 1989 Guidance Volume 4 (2011) Chapter 5

Schedule 7 Children Act 1989

Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 - Regulation 23

AMENDMENT

This chapter was significantly updated in January 2016 and should be re-read throughout.


Contents

  1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children (Schedule 7 Children Act 1989)
  2. Reasons why an Exemption may be Considered
  3. The Process for Exemptions
  4. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions
  5. Extensions/Variations to the Foster Carer's Terms of Approval


1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children (Schedule 7 Children Act 1989)

A person may not foster more than three children in each foster home except where all the children are siblings.

In all other circumstances, a foster carer may only exceed this number if an exemption has been agreed.


2. Reasons why an Exemption may be Considered

Applications for an exemption will usually be made because of the following exceptional circumstances:

  1. The child concerned was previously placed with the foster carers and his or her placement elsewhere has disrupted;
  2. The foster carer has special skills to meet the child's needs which are not available elsewhere;
  3. The placement of the child over the limit is the most appropriate way of meeting the child's needs arising from disability, race, religion, language and/or culture;
  4. The placement is required to keep siblings together.

Applications can only be made with the agreement of the foster carers concerned. When considering an exemption the following factors should be regarded

  1. The number, ages and circumstances of the children concerned;
  2. The arrangements proposed for the care and bedroom/sleeping arrangements of the children concerned;
  3. The relationship between the foster carer and the children concerned;
  4. The period of time over which the placement is likely to last;
  5. The likely effect on the children concerned and any other children living in the household; the views and wishes of the children concerned; the views of their placing social workers;
  6. The foster carer's competence and capacity to provide sufficient care for all the children in the placement;
  7. The need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the fostered children / young people and any other children / young people who live in the foster home.


3. The Process for Exemptions

3.1 Planned Exemptions

The need for an exemption will be identified at the point when the supervising social worker is seeking to identify a suitable placement for a child or children.

Where a foster carer is identified as the most appropriate option to meet the child's needs, and this is agreed by the the foster carers, the supervising social worker should consult with the fostering team manager and if agreed prepare a report for an exemption.

The social worker(s) to any other child in the placement should also be consulted in order to seek their views on any impact (positive or negative) from a further placement commencing.

All requests for planned exemptions for foster carers living in the Local Authority area must be made to, the fostering service manager for approval. Where the foster carers live in a different Local Authority area, the application MUST be made to the Manager of the Fostering service for that area.

The decision whether or not to grant an exemption will be recorded on the carer’s records, together with a rationale for the decision making. An exemption will be specific to a child or children and can be subject to conditions. The foster carer will be notified in writing of the decision.

Upon the granting of an exemption, a time limit may be specified. An exemption can only extend beyond that date if authorised by the fostering service manager or nominated deputy for the relevant Local Authority area.

All decisions regarding the granting and extension to an exemption must be recorded on the carer’s records.

3.2 Emergency Exemptions

The duty manager for the emergency duty team can agree for a child to be placed in a foster home above the usual limit in an emergency i.e. without the agreement of the fostering service manager. This agreement will only last until the next working day.

An application for exemption beyond the next working day must then be made by the foster carer’s supervising social worker to the fostering service manager.

An interim decision may be necessary on an emergency basis pending full consideration of the exemption. As with 3.1, the emergency and interim approval can only be given by the Local Authority for the area where the foster carers reside. Depending on the Local Authority involved, there may be arrangements in place for a duty manager within the Local Authority to agree an emergency or interim exemption. If such arrangements exist, an application for an emergency or interim exemption must be made to the relevant manager in line with their procedures. Otherwise an emergency exemption cannot be granted.

An emergency decision to grant an exemption must be recorded on the foster carer's file and on the child's file.


4. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions

The Fostering Team Manager is responsible for the on-going monitoring of the exemption.

The supervising social worker is responsible for recording the ending of the exemption when the exemption is no longer required.


5. Extensions/Variations to the Foster Carer's Terms of Approval

The placement must also be compatible with the foster carer’s terms of approval. If the placement would not be compatible, then an emergency extension/variation to their terms of approval will be required.

Regulation 23 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 allows a child to be placed outside a carer’s terms of approval for up to 6 working days in an emergency. The Fostering Team Manager is the decision maker in respect of Regulation 23. The Fostering Team Manager is responsible for recording the decision on the carer’s records and for ensuring that the carer data is amended to reflect the change.

Should the placement be required beyond 6 working days or there is time to plan for a permanent change in the foster carer’s terms of approval, the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Regulations 2013) amended the Fostering Services Regulations 2011 and the decision to change a foster carer’s terms of approval can be implemented immediately if the foster carer provides written agreement to the change and there is a written statement from the approving agency regarding the foster carer’s support needs. The Fostering Team Manager is the decision maker and is responsible for recording the decision on the carer’s records and for ensuring that the carer data is amended to reflect the change.

Apart from a foster carer’s first annual review, which has to be presented to the fostering panel, Regulation 28 (4)Fostering Services Regulations 2011 gives permission for a foster carer’s terms of approval to be changed. At the conclusion of the review, the manager chairing the review decides if the foster carer continues to be suitable to act as a foster carer, the foster household continues to be suitable and the terms of approval continue to be appropriate. If the terms of approval are not appropriate, the manager chairing the review can make recommendation to the fostering team manager that the terms be changed. The Fostering Team Manager is the decision maker in respect of Regulation 28 (4) and is responsible for recording the decision on the carer’s records and for ensuring that the carer data is amended. NB within Nottinghamshire, the manager chairing the review and the fostering team manager may be one and the same person.

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