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12.2 Persons Disqualified from Fostering

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all new applications for approval as foster carers and to all foster carers who have already been approved as foster carers.

See also Fostering Panel Procedure

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011

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

Fostering National Minimum Standards, Standard 13

Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in January 2020 in Section 3, Approved Foster Carers with the process to be followed after the panel's recommendation, that the person is not suitable to act/continue as a foster carer.


Contents

  1. Persons Disqualified from Fostering
  2. New Applications 
  3. Approved Foster Carers 

    Appendix 1: Fostering Services Regulations - PART 1, SCHEDULE 4 Offences specified for the purposes of regulation 26

    Appendix 2: Offences Against A Child


1. Persons Disqualified from Fostering

A person is disqualified from acting as a foster carer for the agency (unless a relative of the child or already acting as a foster carer) if s/he or any adult member of the household has been cautioned for or convicted of a specified offence committed at the age of 18 or over.

A specified offence is defined as offence against a child*, an offence specified in Regulation 26 (5) of the Fostering Services Regulations 2011 (see Appendix 1: Fostering Services Regulations - PART 1, SCHEDULE 4 Offences specified for the purposes of regulation 26), the importation/possession of indecent photographs of a child under 16 and any other offence which involves bodily injury to a child (other than common assault or battery).

In addition, a person is disqualified from acting as a foster carer for the agency (unless a relative of the child or already acting as a foster carer) if s/he or any adult member of the household has been cautioned for or convicted of an offence specified in Regulation 26 (5) of the Fostering Services Regulations 2011committed at the age of 18 or over OR falls within paragraph 2 or 3 of Part 2 of Schedule 4 of the Fostering Services Regulations 2011, notwithstanding that the offences listed have been repealed.

The Fostering Team Manager communicates the decision directly to enquirers/applicants.

* A list of these offences is set out in the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000, except that it does not include an offence contrary to section 9 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (sexual activity with a child) where the offender was under 20 when the offence was committed and the child was aged 13 or over. See Appendix 2: Offences Against A Child.


2. New Applications

Where Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks reveal that an enquirer/ applicant is a disqualified person, the applicants must be advised that their enquiry/application cannot proceed. This must be confirmed in writing to them, together with the reasons, and retained with their records. The supervising social worker will update Mosaic to show that the enquiry/application was refused and where this information is located.

Where the applicant is seeking approval as a Family and Friends Foster Carer and the person would otherwise be regarded as disqualified, an application for consent to proceed with the assessment in relation to the particular child can be considered by the fostering service manager.

In these circumstances, the assessing social worker responsible for carrying out the checks on the prospective foster carer should prepare a risk and impact assessment report on the application setting out:

  1. The reasons for the application;
  2. The circumstances surrounding the conviction or caution which would result in the person being disqualified unless consent is given;
  3. An assessment of whether the placement would meet the child's needs despite the conviction/caution; an assessment as to the risk and impact of the conviction/ caution upon the safety of the child; and
  4. A recommendation as to whether the application should proceed. The recommendation should be made by the assessing social worker and the fostering team manager;
  5. The assessing social worker should alert the fostering service manager to the risk and impact assessment and request that a decision be made within five working days.

The decision of the fostering service manager will be recorded on the case record of the applicant. A letter, confirming the decision, will be sent to the person concerned, by the assessing social worker.


3. Approved Foster Carers

Where information is provided or updating Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks reveal that an approved foster carer has been convicted of or cautioned for a criminal offence as a result of which he or she will become a disqualified person unless consent is given, an urgent review of the foster carer's approval should be held - see Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure - and a written report detailing the circumstances leading to the conviction/caution, together with background information from the foster carer's file, must be presented to the Fostering Panel as soon as possible. The report should contain a recommendation on whether consent should be granted to allow the foster carer to continue to be approved as a foster carer for the child or children currently in placement.

A copy of the report should be sent to the fostering panel co-ordinator at least 10 working days before the relevant panel meeting.

Where such information is received, the social worker for any child currently in the placement must be informed and a decision, regarding the termination of the placement, will need to be made as a matter of immediate priority.

Where the report recommends the termination of approval of the foster carer, the report should be presented to the earliest possible fostering panel.

Should the Agency Decision Maker, after taking into account the panel's recommendation, decide that the person is not suitable to act/continue as a foster carer, Regulation 28 and 29 apply, i.e.:

  1. Give the person written notice that it proposes not to approve the person as suitable to act as a foster carer (a "determination"), together with its reasons and a copy of the fostering panel's recommendation;
  2. Advise the person that within 28 calendar days of the date of the notice the person may:
    1. Submit any written representations that the person wishes to make to the fostering service provider; or
    2. Apply to the Secretary of State for a review by an independent panel of the determination (IRM); or
    3. Accept the qualifying determination.

If no representation is received from either the person or the IRM, the Agency Decision Maker may proceed to make his/her final decision.

If the person applies to the IRM the IRM processes apply. At the conclusion of this process the IRM will make recommendation to the fostering service provider. The Agency Decision Maker may then proceed to make his/her final decision.

If written representation is received by the fostering service provider the representation is heard by the fostering panel which made the original recommendation. The written representation should invite the fostering panel to reconsider its recommendation based on new information. The fostering panel makes a final recommendation based on the representation submitted. The Agency Decision Maker then makes his/her own final decision, taking into account the fostering panel's final recommendation.


Appendices

Appendix 1: Fostering Services Regulations - PART 1, SCHEDULE 4 Offences specified for the purposes of regulation 26.

Appendix 2: Offences Against A Child

End