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12.16 Transfer of Foster Carers Policy

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in January 2020 and should be reread.


Contents

1. Introduction
2. Policy Aims
3. Policy Principles
4. Procedure
  4.1 Initial Enquiry and Visit
  4.2 Progressing Process of Transfer
  4.3 Sharing of Information
  4.4 Protocol Meeting
  4.5 Assessment On-going
  4.6 Panel
  4.7 Payments to Foster Carers
  Appendix 1: Sharing Information
  Appendix 2: Transfer of Foster Carers NCC Letter
  Appendix 3: Transfer of Foster Carers Policy
  Appendix 4: Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol Meeting
  Appendix 5: Transfer of Foster Carers Reference from Existing Fostering Provider
  Appendix 6: Transfer of Foster Carers Report for Fostering Panel


1. Introduction

This policy refers to the movement of registered foster carers between fostering providers where carers are planning on transferring to Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC).

The Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol England (2014) re-issued 2015 was developed in partnership with the Fostering Network, the joint forum of independent fostering providers and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, in order to explain and clarify the steps to be followed when a foster carer wishes to transfer between one fostering provider and another. This policy follows good practice identified in it.


2. Policy Aims

  • To ensure continuity of care for Notts children in placement during any transfer of foster carers between fostering providers;
  • To minimise the length of time taken in the transfer process;
  • To provide a framework for the negotiation of the financial implications of the transfer between providers;
  • To ensure that foster carers are not pressurised into changing their fostering provider.


3. Policy Principles

  • To recognise the principles of child care legislation and seek to ensure that safeguarding the welfare of children is at the core of fostering policy and practice. It recognises that the welfare of any child in placement is paramount;
  • Foster carers have the right to freedom of movement between fostering providers;
  • All fostering providers should be committed to increasing the overall pool of foster carers by the active recruitment of people new to fostering.


4. Procedure

4.1 Initial Enquiry and Visit

  • The applicant/s express their interest to NCC (contacting recruitment team on 0845 3018899);
  • Initial enquiry taken;
  • Allocated to supervising / assessing social worker (SSW) for initial visit/s;
  • Initial visits to the applicant/s should be used to gather relevant information;
  • The protocol should be explained clearly so that the applicant is fully aware of what to expect and the steps they should take;
  • The SSW should seek to obtain current table of fees and payments the foster carer receives.

4.2 Progressing Process of Transfer

If after the initial visit/s the applicant/s wishes to proceed and NCC wish to progress the transfer, the following steps should be taken:

  • The SSW should seek to obtain and agreement form the FTM and FSM in relation to the fees which will be paid should all parties wish to progress the transfer;
  • The foster carer must write to their current agency to advise them of their intention to transfer to another agency, and give their consent for NCC to view their files;
  • Foster carer completes Registration of interest;
  • NCC writes to foster carer’s current provider, confirming the intention of the foster carer, and NCC’s awareness of this. The letter also requests a Reference and access to files. If there are child/ren in placement, NCC will also advise the current authority that it is their responsibility to notify the placing authority, where other than NCC. (Letter to Current Provider) (Reference Request);
  • It is good practice for the SSW to contact the current provider directly at this stage in order to seek acknowledgement that they have received the letter and are aware of NCC’s intentions to proceed. This contact also provides an opportunity to set date for the Protocol Meeting (if child/ren in placement);
  • The SSW should now progress further checks and references as detailed in the declaration of compliance;
  • The SSW to obtain management approval to progress the assessment, and confirmation from Service Manager about level of fees.
  • The SSW should inform the IRO of any Nottinghamshire children placed about impending changes
  • SSW to inform the Placements team of the enquiry, and intention to progress the application, where child/ren are in placement.

The assessment process can now be started, but the Protocol Meeting (see Section 4.4, Protocol Meeting) needs to be arranged as a priority.

4.3 Sharing of Information

When a foster carer seeks to move to a new provider, the new provider seeks information from the previous provider about the foster carer, and the previous provider complies with such a request within one month of receipt of the written request. (NMS 26.9).

In the interest of safeguarding the welfare of children in placement, the onus will be on the current provider to prepare a comprehensive, accurate reference and on the recruiting provider to undertake a comprehensive re-assessment.

  • The SSW must therefore request a Reference from the current provider. On receipt of that request, the current provider will complete and send to NCC a comprehensive written reference within 28 days. (Reference Request) (request is actioned through Letter to Current Provider);
  • The current provider must give the foster carer a copy of this reference, unless there are reasons relating to the safeguarding of children which prevent this;
  • The reference should include the areas in the guidance within the Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol 2012;
  • The provider must also make the carer’s file available for NCC’s SSW to read. Arrangements should be made at the protocol meeting for this to happen;
  • The current provider should keep the recruiting provider updated, in writing, of any significant developments between the issue of the reference and the foster carer's approval by the recruiting provider;
  • An assessment by the recruiting provider should be postponed if the foster carer is subject to a current investigation of allegations, or if there is an investigation relating to significant concerns about their practice, until the outcome of the process is known.

See Appendix 1: Sharing Information for further information.

4.4 Protocol Meeting

The Protocol Meeting is held to ensure that each party is fully aware of what is happening and when (takes place if child/ren are in placement).

Within 28 days of the written notice to transfer by the foster carer, the NCC SSW should convene a meeting to include:

  • The child/children's social worker(s);
  • The current fostering service (manager and/or supervising social worker);
  • The recruiting fostering service (manager and/or supervising social worker);
  • The foster carer/s;
  • Placements Commissioning Officers (if child is not from Nottinghamshire)
  • Any other Local Authority representatives relating to other children placed;
  • Any other key professional deemed appropriate to the meeting and agreed by the chair.

The agenda for the meeting is in the Protocol for the Transfer of Carers. It is designed to ensure that there is no disruption to the current placement as the needs of the child remain paramount, and to ensure that the foster carers are not disadvantaged by the move.

The meeting will consider the following (using the Protocol Meeting with Existing Provider):

  • Any decisions made during the child's latest case review, particularly in respect of whether it is in their best interests to continue in their current placement and how their Care Plan will continue to be followed;
  • How the move of the foster carer to another fostering provider may affect each child in placement;
  • The particular support needs of the child and the foster carer and how they will be provided by the new fostering provider;
  • The circumstances in which the recruiting provider may use any other placement vacancy once the transfer has been completed;
  • The arrangements for approval by the recruiting provider and termination of the foster carer's approval by the current provider. The arrangements should be coordinated to ensure continuity of approval, and that transfer is made on a mutually agreed date;
  • Parallel arrangements for timing a transfer of responsibility for the payment of fees and allowances to the foster carer. (See Section 4.7, Payments to Foster Carers);
  • The views of the child, parent and any other interested parties. (These views should be sought and represented by the child/children's social worker).

Additional circumstances

  • Where the placement is not to continue, the arrangements to move the child/children to an alternative placement, including a time-frame for such a move, should be made;
  • Placing authorities will need to consider who the best people to attend are. This may include representatives of children’s services and the commissioning/contracting officers of the fostering services.

4.5 Assessment On-going

  • The expectations are that assessment and training will be completed within two to four months of the Protocol Meeting (or receipt of the Registration of interest if no children in placement);
  • As part of the assessment, the SSW should ensure the following are completed that all checks and references as detailed in the declaration of compliance;
  • The SSW, his/her Team Manager, representatives from the Placements team, the Child’s social worker and the current fostering provider should all agree to liaise with each other to keep all parties informed of any issues that arise and how the assessment is progressing.

4.6 Panel

In order to help in planning the timescales within the Protocol Meeting (see Section 4.4, Protocol Meeting), the SSW should obtain a date for Fostering Panel at the earliest opportunity. The Fostering Panel should make its recommendation on the suitability of a prospective foster carer no longer than eight months of the receipt of their application.

  • The report for panel is prepared, and presented by the SSW, using the Report to Fostering Panel;
  • Fostering panel will make a recommendation about the application, and the Agency Decision Maker will make the decision within 7 working days after panel;
  • The Fostering panel must make a recommendation regarding the foster carer’s approval whilst they are still approved by their original fostering provider;
  • Once the foster carer is informed formally by NCC that they intend to approve them as a foster carer, the foster carer should give written notice of resignation to their current provider;
  • The fostering regulations state that an approval will be terminated 28 days from a written notice of resignation being received from a foster carer (The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011, Reg 28 (13); The Fostering Services (Wales) Regulations 2003 Reg. 29(11));
  • In order to maintain continuous approval, it follows that the foster carer must be approved by the fostering provider to which they are transferring with effect from the date that their previous approval ends. This will require the co-operation of both providers in terms of scheduling dates of resignation and approval. SSW to liaise to ensure this happens;
  • The SSW to liaise with Placements team, to ensure smooth transitions of payments;
  • Once approved, the administrative staff will enter the foster carer’s approval details, on the Fostering Register database.

In the interim between provisional approval by NCC, and the 28 day notice period, the NCC SSW may visit the foster carer and complete the Foster Carer Agreement form. This maintains contact and communication and reduces delay.

4.7 Payments to Foster Carers

Where it is agreed that a child's placement will continue with a foster carer, NCC should, as a minimum, continue to pay the foster carer their current rates of allowances and fees in relation to that placement. These rates should continue to apply for the duration of the placement, subject to any annual agreed increases and movement through the age bands. These need to be agreed at the Protocol meeting.

Where the current rate, is above a level that NCC would usually pay for an equivalent placement, NCC will not make any additional payments e.g. birthday, festivities and any additional allowances.

If a child from another placing authority is to continue in placement, arrangements for the transfer of payments is usually co-ordinated by the Placements team, via the Individual Placement Agreement (IPA) (see Standard Service Provision for NCC Foster Care / IPA Standard Foster Care Placement / IPA Therapeutic Foster Care Placement).


Appendices

Appendix 1: Sharing Information

Appendix 2: Transfer of Foster Carers NCC Letter

Appendix 3: Transfer of Foster Carers Policy

Appendix 4: Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol Meeting

Appendix 5: Transfer of Foster Carers Reference from Existing Fostering Provider

Appendix 6: Transfer of Foster Carers Report for Fostering Panel

End