What happens if an allegation is made against me or my family?

Standards and Regulations

Fostering Services National Minimum Standards (England) 2011:

Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care:

See also: Developing a Safer Caring Plan.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Ways in which you can Manage Risks
  3. What Happens if an Allegation Is Made
  4. Dealing with Any Change of Status


1. Introduction

Occasionally allegations and complaints are made against foster carers or those in their family. Obviously this can be a difficult and distressing situation.

When a child is placed with you, their social worker will provide you with all relevant information needed to keep them safe, including details of any abuse or neglect they have experienced, and/or previous allegations made by the child.

All foster carers will receive training and guidance on how to provide a safe home environment for any children in their care and all other members of the foster family. You will also be provided with information on how to access the relevant Regional Child Protection Procedures for West Midlands. It is important that, on an on-going basis, you record any incidents or concerns involving children in your care and any complaints made by the child or their family as they can provide important evidence if an allegation is made.


2. Ways in which you can Manage Risks

  • Ensure that you carefully consider the referring information from the social worker, and seek additional clarity if needed from the practitioner who accompanies the child during the initial visit or introduction;
  • Sometimes, concerns about a child will not be fully appreciated until more in-depth assessment is undertaken. Be prepared to raise any queries that you, as a foster carer, have at the Placement Planning Meeting (which should be held during the first 5 working days of the initial placement) or before if required;
  • Keep a daily record of any concerns or incidents which occur;
  • Be clear on 'house rules' and expectations around behaviour and ensure all members of the household are aware of these;
  • Develop your own Safer Caring Plan to keep everyone safe, this should consider who in the household may be vulnerable to allegations;
  • Follow the training you have received and access support from your Supervising Social Worker;
  • Make sure you have appropriate insurance cover;
  • When needed, or if you feel unsure, approach your Supervising Social Worker to ask for advice and guidance in a timely way on any concerns you may have; and
  • Work closely with other professionals, taking on board any practice advice or information provided. It is important you also share this with your Supervising Social Worker.


3. What Happens if an Allegation Is Made

If an allegation is made against you or a member of your family you will be notified verbally and in writing.

The allegation will be investigated fairly and confidentially in line with the Regional Child Protection Procedures for West Midlands (see Allegations against staff or volunteers). All investigations into allegations are overseen by a Designated Officer in the local authority (also called the LADO) who will coordinate and oversee allegations, and monitor the progress of cases to ensure they are dealt with as quickly as possible consistent with a fair process.

Where there are concerns that a child has suffered significant harm, a multi agency Strategy Meeting will be called within 2 working days of the allegation being made or received to decide whether an investigation by Children’s Social Care Services and / or the Police is required and if so, how it will be carried out. Ofsted will need to be informed of all allegations (see: Significant Events and Notifications - When I need to tell other people about things Procedure) and they will be invited to send a representative to any Strategy Meeting. Your Supervising Social Worker will also attend.

Any Strategy Meeting will also consider whether, due to the nature of the allegation, your own children should be considered as part of a Child Protection Conference.

You will be given the chance to respond to the allegation before a final decision is made about what action to take. Your views and opinions will be sought in any Assessment undertaken by the social worker dealing with the allegation.

The minutes of the Strategy Meeting and any relevant information will be held on your record. In some situations depending on the seriousness and nature of any allegation, the local authority may look for a new placement for the child and a decision may be made not to place any other children during the investigation and until there is an outcome to the investigation.

Your Supervising Social Worker will not be able to discuss all the details of the allegation with you during the investigation.

The fostering service provider will make sure you have information on the following:

  • How you will be supported whilst you are under investigation, including local arrangements for payments;
  • The address and contact telephone number of the independent agency who can provide you with support during the investigation;
  • Insurance arrangements for legal expenses.

Sometimes a child living with foster carers might make a false allegation of abuse. Possible reasons for this can include:

  • Misinterpreting an otherwise innocent action;
  • To bring attention to past or non recent abuse for the first time and because you or someone in the household is trusted;
  • As a way to have some control over their life which may seem out of control;
  • To express some anger or frustration (albeit inappropriately);
  • To bring an end to a foster placement.

In such situations, you should work alongside the child’s allocated social worker to identify any additional support which could be provided to the child.

The outcome of the investigation into the allegation may:

  • Recommend that the child is transferred to another placement on a short term or permanent basis;
  • Ask that a member of your household resides elsewhere, at least on a temporary basis. (Note that this will not include your child);
  • Identify additional training needs for you;
  • Recommend that the Fostering Panel considers your approval category or considers your suitability to continue as a foster carer (see: Reviewing My Approval and Appeals Procedure).

If a child or other person tells you about any concerns they have in relation to another person, you should inform your Supervising Social Worker or the child’s social worker as soon as possible or within 24 hours. If you are concerned that the child is at immediate risk of harm, always contact the Police.

It is important to note that, although there may be insufficient evidence to support a Police prosecution in some cases, this does not mean that action cannot be taken to protect a child and the possible termination of your approval could be considered.


4. Dealing with Any Change of Status

See also: Reviewing My Approval and Appeals Procedure.

If, as a result of the investigation into any allegation, the Fostering Agency identifies that you should no longer be a foster carer, or seeks to change your category of approval, and you are unhappy with this, you can challenge this decision by making a representation in writing within 28 days to the fostering service provider or the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) (see: Prepare for a review panel: adopters and foster carers).