Reviewing my Approval and Appeals

1. Introduction

Once you have been approved, your Supervising Social Worker will work with you to support you in caring for children placed with you. Their role also includes monitoring and helping you in your development as a carer.

Your approval as a foster carer will be reviewed annually and also at other times when the fostering service provider consider it necessary (for example if there is a significant change in your family circumstances, if there are concerns about the care being provided or if the fostering service provider want to change the terms of your approval).

See: What happens when an Allegation is made against me or my family.

2. Terminating Your Approval Following Resignation

At any point you may give notice in writing that you wish to resign as a foster carer. In this situation, your approval will be terminated automatically 28 calendar days after the resignation notice was received by the fostering service provider, even if you decide to withdraw your resignation.

If you resign and you wish to foster again, you would normally need to go through the assessment process again.

3. The Annual Review Process

Your Supervising Social Worker is responsible for your review of approval which takes place at least once a year. The purpose of the review is to determine whether you will continue to be approved as a foster carer and, if so, whether your terms of approval will stay the same. If it is proposed to revise the terms of your approval (called a ‘qualifying determination’) you will be notified of this in writing. If you are in agreement with any proposal to revise your terms of approval the change will take place immediately.

Step 1 - The Report

Your Supervising Social Worker will visit you and is responsible for writing the annual review report by drawing together all relevant information. To compile the report they will:

  • Talk to all carers in the household, your own children, fostered child(ren) and other significant members of the household - to find out their views;
  • Consult local authorities who have placed children with you;
  • Consider any information in relation to complaints or allegations made against you or your family;
  • Review the training you have completed, and identify any future training needs;
  • Complete a health and safety checklist;
  • Review your family’s Safer Caring Plan;
  • Provide a recommendation on your suitability to continue as a foster carer including whether any changes to your terms of approval are proposed.

Your Supervising Social Worker will share the report with you and will ask you to add your views and sign it.

If you are not happy with any of the areas in the report, raise this with your Supervising Social Worker.

Your Supervising Social Worker will also complete at least one unannounced visit each year.

A Disclosure and Barring check will also be completed for you and adult members of your family every 3 years.

Step 2 - The Fostering Panel

If it is your first review, the review report must be presented to the Fostering Panel for a recommendation and then presented to the Agency Decision Maker for a final decision. The review report will also be presented to the Fostering Panel in certain other situations, such as where significant changes to your approval or the termination of your approval are being recommended.

Whether presented to the Fostering Panel or not, the review report will be presented to the Agency Decision Maker for a final decision as to whether you remain suitable to foster and whether your current terms of approval remain suitable. Where your review report has been presented to the Fostering Panel, the Agency Decision Maker will take into account the Panel's recommendations.

Any recommendations for change in your approval will be highlighted in the review report.

Step 3 - The Decision Making Process

The Fostering Panel or the review meeting (if the review does not go to Panel) will recommend whether or not your current approval category is still appropriate. Both the annual review reports and the Panel recommendation will be sent to the Agency Decision Maker for a final decision. Their decision will be sent to you in writing.

4. Appeals - What can you do if you Disagree with the Decision

If the fostering service provider proposes to terminate your approval, or you receive a qualifying determination (QD) letter recommending a change to your terms of approval, but you do not agree with this, you can contact the Agency Decision Maker in writing to challenge the decision within 28 calendar days.

Alternatively you can apply to the Independent Review Mechanism for a review of the qualifying determination – you must do this within 28 calendar days of the date of receipt of the QD letter.

You can apply to the IRM by post or email. You must include:

  • Your name, address and contact details;
  • The grounds (reasons) why you disagree with the fostering service provider’s determination;
  • The date of your QD letter;
  • The contact details of your fostering service provider, including their telephone number.

The IRM will:

  • Review any proposed changes to your terms of approval;
  • Make a recommendation to the fostering service provider on your suitability.

The IRM will not:

  • Make a final decision about your case; this is done by the Agency Decision Maker;
  • Deal with complaints against the fostering service provider– these should be made through your fostering service provider complaints procedure.

Click here to see Prepare for a review panel: adopters and foster carers.

When a foster carer has submitted a written representation to either the fostering service provider or the IRM, the Agency Decision Maker for the fostering service provider must make a final decision taking into account any recommendation made by the Fostering Panel or any recommendation of the IRM. The final decision will be communicated to the foster carer as soon as possible and will confirm either:

  1. That the foster carer continues to be suitable, and that the terms of the approval continue to be appropriate;
  2. That the foster carer’s approval is terminated from a specified date, and the reasons for the termination; or
  3. The revised terms of the approval and the reasons for the revision. The only circumstance where you are not able to ask for a review by the Independent Review Mechanism is if you are disqualified or have been cautioned for an offence.

The only circumstance where you are not able to ask for a review by the Independent Review Mechanism is if you are disqualified or have been cautioned for an offence.