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7.4 Fostering Exemptions and Extensions / Variations to Foster Carer’s Terms of Approval

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Please note that applications for exemption in relation to foster carers living in a different local authority area must be made to the manager of the fostering service for the local authority in whose area the foster carer lives.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed locally and updated throughout in November 2014. It should be read in full.


Contents

  1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children
  2. Reasons why an Exemption may be Considered
  3. The Process for Exemptions
  4. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions
  5. Extension/Variation to Foster Carer Approval
  6. When a Variation of Approval is Required
  7. Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carer’s Approval
  8. Emergency Placements Outside the Foster Carer’s Terms of Approval


1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children

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

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


2. Reasons why an Exemption may be Considered

Applications 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 carers have 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 accommodation of the children concerned;
  3. The relationship between the foster carers 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;
  6. The foster carers' 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

The need for an exemption will be identified at the point when the duty fostering 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 supervising social worker for the carers and the foster carer, the duty social worker should consult with the manager and if agreed prepare an application 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 applications for planned exemption for foster carers living in York must be made in writing, supported by reasons, to the Agency Decision Maker for approval. The written application will be prepared by the duty social worker or the supervising social worker in conjunction with the relevant child's social worker. The exemption must be approved by the service manager fostering and forwarded to the fostering admin worker.

For foster carers living outside the City boundaries, application must be made to the designated manager in the appropriate local authority.

The decision whether or not to grant an exemption will be recorded in writing, together with reasons. Any 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 will be specified and an exemption can only extend beyond that date if the designated manager authorises it.

The decision must be recorded.

The decision will be reported to the next available Fostering Panel for information.


4. Review and Monitoring of Exemptions

The Fostering Panel will be responsible for the ongoing monitoring of the exemption.

The Fostering Service is responsible for recording the ending the exemption when the exemption is no longer required.


5. Extension/Variation to Foster Carer Approval

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


6. When a Variation of Approval is Required

Where a foster placement identified for a child would be within the usual fostering limit but outside of the foster carer's terms of approval, a variation to their approval is required.

A variation to a foster carer’s terms of approval may also be proposed following an annual review.

The following are examples of circumstances where a variation of approval is required:

  • A foster carer is approved for a child aged 0 to 5 but it is proposed to place a 6 year old with him or her;
  • A foster carer is approved for two children but is proposed to take three.


7. Proposal to Revise the Terms of the Foster Carer’s Approval

7.1 General

The approval of the service manager fostering will be required prior to approval by the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering).

The same principles and processes apply to extensions as exemptions, i.e. the decision should be referred to the first available Fostering Panel.

A Variation of Foster Carer Approval Form must be completed by the supervising social worker in all cases. The Form must also be signed by the service manager fostering confirming that the proposed variation will not be of any detriment to any child in the placement.

Any significant change to the terms of a foster carer's approval will require evidence that the fostering household is able to meet the needs of the proposed change of approval terms and may require additional support, training or equipment.

7.2 Following a Review, where the Foster Carer is in Agreement

Where, as a result of a review, it is proposed to revise the terms of the foster carer’s approval, a statement must be sent to the foster carer setting out whether it is considered that the foster carer or members of their household (including any children placed there) may have additional support needs as a result of the proposed revision and, if so, how those needs will be met, and request the foster carer’s agreement in writing to the proposed revision of terms.

Where the foster carer’s written agreement is received, the decision to revise the terms of approval may be made immediately.

The Agency Decision Maker’s decision in such circumstances is not a Qualifying Determination and the foster carer may not apply for an independent review of the decision by way of the Independent Review Mechanism.

Foster carers must not be pressured to accept changes to their terms of approval.

7.3 Following a Review, where the Foster Carer is not in Agreement

Where, as a result of a review, it is proposed to revise the terms of the foster carer’s approval, and the foster carer does not agree in writing to the revision of their terms of approval, then the representations/review procedure as set out in Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure, Representations/Independent Review Procedure will apply.


8. Emergency Placements of a Child outside the Foster Carer’s Terms of Approval

Emergency placements of a child with a local authority-approved foster carer outside the foster carer’s terms of approval can be made for up to 6 working days; to enable a placement to take place before the case has been presented to the Agency Decision Maker/Foster Panel. (Regulation 23 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010.) The placement must then be terminated unless the foster carer’s terms of approval have been amended so that they are consistent with the placement (Paragraph 3.84 ‘The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review).

End