Salford Children's Services Procedures Manual Salford City Council website
Greater Manchester SCB Procedures
Greater Manchester SCB Procedures Greater Manchester SCB Procedures

3.12.10 Allegations Against Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter should be read in conjunction with Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015 and Salford Safeguarding Children Board Procedure.

AMENDMENTS

This chapter was amended to take account of the changes in the Fostering Services National Minimum Standards 2011. The changes are:

A senior manager within the fostering services is the designated person who liaises with the LADO

All staff to know the role of the Independent Reviewing Mechanism

Support to Foster carers in regard to payment

The need for accurate and confidential record keeping.


Contents

  Introduction
  Scope
1. Allegations Procedure
  1.1 Identification
  1.2 Complaints about Foster Carers
  1.3 Referral & Immediate Response
  1.4 Salford Approved Foster Carer’s
  1.5 Foster Carer’s Resident in Salford but Approved by Another Fostering Agency
  1.6 Actions by the LADO
  1.7 Strategy Meeting and Subsequent Enquiries
  1.8 Preparation for the Strategy Meeting
  1.9 Decision to Proceed with Section 47 Enquiries
  1.10 Decision not to Proceed with Section 47 Enquiries
  1.11 Informing the Foster Carer(s)
  1.12 Informing the Child’s Parents
  1.13 Where Enquiries are not Continuing:
  1.14 Where Enquiries are Continuing:
  1.15 Informing the Child
  1.16 Section 47 Enquiries
  1.17 Decision not to Pursue Enquiries
  1.18 Concluding Enquiries
  1.19 Concluding Strategy Meeting
  1.20 If an Allegation is Subsequently Withdrawn
  1.21 Continuing Work with the Foster Carers
  1.22 Minor Concerns about Standards of Care
  1.23 Follow up & Recording
  1.24 References and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks
2. Relationship between the Foster Carer and the Fostering Service
  Appendix 1: Form B - Decision Making Record
  Appendix 2: Flowchart - Allegation in Respect of a Child placed in Foster Care


Introduction

Children can be subjected to abuse by those who work with them and care for them in a variety of settings. All children are entitled to the same level and standard of protection from harm. This document is concerned with the protection of children in foster care.

Fostering services need to have clear and transparent procedures for dealing with allegations and serious concerns relating to foster carers. The procedures should be shared with foster carers and throughout the process foster carers should be treated with openness, honesty and fairness. Foster carers must be given appropriate support through the process of investigation, and workers should adhere to the procedures as outlined in this document.

This document should be read in conjunction with Salford Safeguarding Children Board - Procedure for managing allegations against workers, carers and volunteers who may have contact with children. This procedure provides the over-arching approach to managing allegations against workers and carers, and individual teams are expected to provide procedures that relate directly to the services for which they have responsibility.

Statutory guidance in Working Together requires organisations providing services for children to operate a procedure for handling allegations of abuse. (Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2015).

Fostering service providers also have to manage situations where there are serious concerns about foster carers' suitability and standards of care or practice. Both allegations and serious concerns may lead to the termination of a carers' approval to foster. The Fostering Regulations 2011 provide the basis for this (Fostering Services Regulations 2011 Part 5 S.28 Reviews and terminations of approval).

In addition, in relation to the Fostering Service, it is an expectation of the Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011 that:

  • A senior manager within the Fostering Service is identified to be the Designated Person who liaises with the LADO in all cases to which this procedure applies and manages the allegations process;
  • All staff within the Fostering Service are aware of the requirements of this procedure, including the role of the Disclosure and Barring Service.


Scope

This procedure would be used in the following circumstances, when a foster carer or a member of their family has:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or
  • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates s/he is unsuitable to work with children.

For allegations in respect of children placed in foster care where the allegation is not against the foster carer or a member of their household, Salford Children Safeguarding Board Procedures should be followed and the child’s social worker and the family placement social worker should be fully engaged in the enquiries/investigation.

The Allegations procedure outlined below applies in the event of any allegation where a child is placed with foster carers where:

  • The foster carer is approved by Salford City Council;
  • The foster carer resides in Salford, but was approved by another independent fostering agency or local authority, where children are placed in foster care.

Any allegation that a child placed with foster carers in Salford has suffered, or is at risk of suffering Significant Harm at the hands of their carers or where there are concerns about a foster carers suitability will be referred to Salford Children’s Services Directorate and dealt with in accordance with the procedure below. This procedure is consistent with the requirements within Salford Safeguarding Children’s Board Safeguarding procedures.

In those circumstances where allegations involve foster carers approved by Salford but resident elsewhere or where there are allegations against carers approved by other fostering agencies who live out of Salford, but with whom Salford children are placed, it is the responsibility of the Local authority in whose area the foster carers live to investigate any allegation of harm under their own safeguarding procedures.

In addition it is the responsibility of the authority where a child is resident to follow up any concerns following allegations in respect of the child. However the relevant local authority will wish to work alongside the child’s Salford social worker and team manager and the family placement social worker to investigate the concerns and or allegations in those circumstances where it is appropriate.

The Local Authority Designated Officerin Salford can act in consultation and liaison capacity to assist staff in ensuring that the allegation is dealt with appropriately. The LADO in Salford can be contacted on 0161 603 4328 Safeguarding Children and Quality Assurance Unit,Sutherland House 303 Chorley Rd' Swinton,M276AY,M300TE


1. Allegations Procedure

1.1

Identification

  1.1.1 Any concern that a child placed within a foster placement in Salford may be suffering, or is at risk of suffering ill treatment, due to the actions or in-actions of a foster carer will be treated as an allegation of Significant Harm pending further enquiries.
  1.1.2 Concerns about the care that a child placed in foster care is receiving that may suggest Neglect, Emotional Abuse, Sexual Abuse or Physical Abuse or where there is concern about smacking; rough handling or punishment regimes should all be dealt with within this procedural framework.
  1.1.3 Where there is any doubt about whether a situation reaches the threshold for child protection enquiries or whether the carers’ suitability should be reviewed, discussions should always take place with the LADO so that advice can be obtained.
  1.1.4 Allegations may come from a variety of sources; an accusation that a child is, or has been, mistreated by a carer may be made by a child, a parent, a member of staff, another carer, or anyone else. Concerns about Significant Harm may arise as the result of a single event, observation or accusation, or a number of events which, individually, might not be seen as significant but collectively constitute harm.

1.2

Complaints about Foster Carers

  1.2.1 Complaints may be made about a foster carer’s actions or behaviour, by a child or member of the public. Complaints will be dealt with under the Children’s Services Complaints procedures as governed by the Children Act 1989, Representations Procedure (England) Regulations 2006 (see complaints processes for Older Looked After Children and Younger Looked After Children). Eligible complainants should be informed of their rights under the Children’s Services Complaints procedure and given the contact details for the Customer Care Manager. Alternatively in the case of other fostering agencies, a complaint will be responded to according to the fostering agency’s own complaints procedure as appropriate.
  1.2.2 Matters investigated under the Allegations Procedures may also constitute a complaint. Regulation 8(3) of the Children Act 1989, Representations Procedure (England) Regulations 2006 refers to 'concurrent consideration' and enables a Local Authority to give written notice to the complainant that the matter will be dealt with under disciplinary proceedings or is the subject of a criminal investigation. However the complainant is entitled under Regulation 8(4) to resubmit the representation once disciplinary proceedings or a criminal investigation is concluded. It is important that the need to inform the complainant about the outcome is not overlooked at the conclusion of an investigation. 
  1.2.3 The Children’s Services Complaints Procedure or where appropriate, the relevant Fostering Agency’s Complaints Procedure may also be used where an investigation under the Allegations Procedures has not covered all the issues raised by a child or young person.

1.3

Referral & Immediate Response

  1.3.1 Any person who is concerned about the welfare of a child placed in foster care should contact Salford City Council Children’s Services Directorate directly.
  1.3.2 Any person to whom an allegation or concern is first reported should treat the matter seriously and keep an open mind.
  1.3.3

He/she should not:

  • Investigate or ask leading questions if seeking clarification;
  • Make assumptions or offer alternative explanations;
  • Promise confidentiality, but give reassurance that the information will only be shared on a 'need to know' basis.
  1.3.4 Any professional receiving such information should report to their line manager (senior manager) at once. The Designated Senior Manger within the Fostering Service must be informed.
  1.3.5

The senior manager should not investigate the matter. He/she should:

  • Obtain written details of the concern/allegation, signed and dated by the person receiving (not the child/adult making the allegation);
  • Record any information about times, dates and location of the incident(s) and names of any potential witnesses; and
  • Ensure that the following people are notified immediately:
    • The child's worker and team manager;
    • The foster carer’s social worker and team manager family placement;
    • The team manager (senior manager) of the fostering agency with which the foster carer is approved if other than Salford City Council.

1.4

Salford Approved Foster Carer’s

  1.4.1 The child's team manager and the team manager family placement will within one working day, contact Salford’s Local Authority Designated Manager (LADO).
  1.4.2 The supervising social worker linked to the foster carer, and his or her manager will liaise with the Designated Senior Manager within the fostering service.
  1.4.3 The team manager family placement will consult immediately with the Head of Service, Looked After Children who will notify the Assistant Director, Specialist if appropriate and other relevant people. If the involvement of the press is likely this will include briefing the Lead Member for Children's Services, the Director, Children's Services and the press office. In the absence of the Head of Service notification will be made to the Assistant Director, Specialist or another available senior manager at 3rd tier or above.
  1.4.4 OfSted should be informed of the allegation and kept up to date as necessary by the appropriate team manager. OfSted should be contacted in writing about the allegation and advised of the date of any subsequent strategy meeting, in order for them to consider whether or not they should attend.

1.5

Foster Carer’s Resident in Salford but Approved by Another Fostering Agency

  1.5.1 For children placed by Salford Children's Services, the child's practice manager and the Designated Senior Manager of the relevant Fostering Agency will, within one working day, contact Salford’s LADO. The LADO will decide whether on the information available the matter should be investigated under the Allegations Procedures. In reaching a decision, the LADO will be guided by the definitions of allegations and concerns set out above. The procedures as set out below in respect of the actions of the LADO will then be followed.
  1.5.2 The child's practice manager is responsible for alerting the placing authorities of any other children in placement immediately.
  1.5.3 If the child has been placed in Salford by another Local Authority, the responsible authority should contact Salford’s LADO who will consult with the relevant senior officer of the placing authority.

1.6

Actions by the LADO

  1.6.1

There are up to 3 strands in the consideration of an allegation:

  • A police investigation of a possible criminal offence;
  • Enquiries and assessment by children’s services about whether a child is in need of protection or in need of services;
  • Decisions about a foster carer’s suitability to foster, in accordance with Fostering Service Regulations 2011.
  1.6.2

On receipt of referral, the LADO will make a record of the discussion, which may take place by telephone, with the officer informing them about the allegation. The person contacting the LADO (usually the team manager family placement) should have the following information available to them.

  • The legal status of the child concerned, the local authority with responsibility for that child, length of time in placement, contact details of the relevant staff and foster carers;
  • Information about other children in the foster home;
  • Details of the allegation;
  • Any action already taken by the fostering service, the responsible local authority or others;
  • Whether the foster carer is aware of the allegation, bearing in mind that a foster carer should not be informed by professionals about any allegation until a strategy meeting has been held;
  • A discussion about the needs of all the children in the foster home and what might be done in relation to decisions about their care;
  • Information about the carer’s record in fostering and whether the foster carers are temporarily suspended from taking further placements of children;
  • The foster carer’s views, where known;
  • The views of the supervising social worker;

And, if available:

  • The views of the social workers of children in placement;
  • The views of the independent reviewing officer.

If the manager/worker does not have access to all this information it should not cause delay in making the phone call to the LADO.

  1.6.3  The LADO and the practiced manager family placement should consider first whether further details are needed and whether there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the allegation may be false or unfounded.
  1.6.4 If the allegation is not demonstrably false and there is cause to suspect that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, the LADO should refer to the child’s social worker (LAC) and convene an immediate strategy discussion or meeting. 
  1.6.5 The LADO will be responsible for convening of a strategy meeting within 48 hours or sooner if in consultation with the child's team manager and the carer's team manager, the LADO considers that there is a need for urgent action via an immediate strategy discussion on the same day.
  1.6.6

If the LADO decides that the matter does not meet the threshold for investigation under the Allegations procedure (significant harm, or the likelihood of suffering significant harm or suitability of the foster carer) but does constitute a serious breach of standards:

  • The practice manager Family Placement will immediately consult the service manager fostering and adoption for advice on how to proceed.
  1.6.7 In either case the practice manager Family Placement should ensure that a regular report on progress, at least once every 2 weeks, is made to the LADO.
  1.6.8 All participants will keep a record of the action they have taken, and, if appropriate, the reasons for any decisions made at this stage. A record will be placed on the child and the foster carer’s files.
  1.6.9 The initial decision to invoke the Allegations Procedure should be open to review in the light of further information. If, at any stage of the investigation, it appears that a matter initially viewed as a concern is more properly dealt with as an allegation, or conversely, the worker responsible for the matter should seek guidance from the LADO.

1.7

Strategy Meeting and Subsequent Enquiries

  1.7.1

Following the actions outlined above the LADO will convene and chair a strategy meeting within 5 working days to consider the need for any action to:

  • Safeguard the welfare of the child concerned, any other children living in the household, or with substantial contact with the carer(s) including the carers children;
  • Arrange for a medical to be undertaken if needed;
  • Begin a criminal investigation.
  1.7.2

The following should always be invited:

  • The child's social worker;
  • The allocated social worker's practice manager (who will liaise as necessary with the designated senior manager within the Fostering Service);
  • The worker and/or manager for any other child currently placed with the foster carers;
  • The family placement social worker;
  • The practice manager family placement;
  • The Police Public Protection Investigation Unit;
  • Legal adviser.
  1.7.3

The following may also be invited:

  • A professional with substantial knowledge of the child, e.g. a health worker or therapist;
  • A representative from the child's school;
  • Any other appropriate person in consultation with the LADO.
  1.7.4 Consideration should also be given as to the need for a social worker other than the child’ s allocated social worker to be invited. This will be necessary in cases where it is considered appropriate for a worker from another team to conduct any subsequent enquiries/ investigation on account of the circumstances of the allegation, and/or the need for a suitably trained worker to conduct the enquiries/investigation.
  1.7.5 If it is felt necessary to remove, or prevent the foster carers from having contact with, a child or children, the participants will agree what information can be shared at this stage with the child(ren), their parents, and the foster carers involved and who will do this. Consideration should be given to any specific communication needs and if necessary interpreters provided.
  1.7.6 The LADO will ensure the strategy meeting is minuted and minutes are circulated to all involved.
  1.7.7 The family placement social worker or their practice manager will inform the foster carers of the support available to them, (see later section on relationship with foster carers). In most cases the family placement social worker will remain responsible for providing support to the foster carer. If this is not appropriate or feasible another member of the family placement team will be identified to carry out this role. The foster carers must be informed on how they will be supported and paid whilst they are under investigation.
  1.7.8 If the concerns are considered so significant, consideration as to the need to remove the child immediately will need to be given or whether notice should be served on the placement. In this event legal advice should be sought immediately to clarify the child's status under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and hence the course of action that will need to be taken. If the child is to be moved, then clarification should be sought on what explanation should be offered to the new carers for the change of placement.
  1.7.9 The strategy meeting should also consider if an immediate referral to Disclosure and Barring Service barred list is required. The advice of the LADO should be sought in such circumstances.

1.8

Preparation for the Strategy Meeting

  1.8.1

The child's social worker will ensure that the following information is available to the strategy meeting.

  • The full name and date of birth of the child or children;
  • Whether the child has any special needs, communication difficulties, or uses a language other than English;
  • How long the child has been in the placement;
  • Significant recent events in the child's life;
  • Details of any other worker closely involved with the child;
  • The date the child was last seen by the worker and the circumstances;
  • Any previous concerns the worker has had about the foster carers and what action was taken;
  • Details of the child's own family members, particularly those with parental responsibility;
  • The child's legal status.
  1.8.2 If there are other children in placement, then their worker or manager will also prepare the information outlined above.
  1.8.3

The family placement social worker and their manager will ensure that the following information is available to the strategy meeting:

  • Full name, address and date(s) of birth of the foster carer(s);
  • Whether the foster carer(s) work or have worked with children in either a paid or voluntary capacity;
  • Full names and dates of birth of any other members of the household;
  • Date of approval, and dates of Reviews;
  • Details of children currently placed and their workers;
  • Details of other children living in the foster carer’s household or who have significant contact with the foster carer(s);
  • A list of all the names of all children previously placed with the carers where applicable and their dates of birth;
  • A summary of any previous concerns or allegations concerning these foster carer(s) and their outcomes as recorded on the file.
  1.8.4 Managers in conjunction with the LADO should consider the need for a media strategy and who will be responsible for this in accordance with the specific case and should alert the assistant director, Inclusion and the lead member for Children’s Services to any such requirements.

1.9

Decision to Proceed with Section 47 Enquiries

  1.9.1 The purpose of a strategy meeting is to consider, whether in the light of the information available at the time, it is possible that the child(ren) may have suffered, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm.
  1.9.2 If this possibility cannot be ruled out then child protection enquiries under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 must take place and those present at the meeting will need to plan how the enquiries should proceed. The team manager for the child will attend the strategy meeting and will be responsible for arranging for a social worker to conduct the Section 47 enquiries. In cases where it is decided that a social worker other than the child’s social worker should undertake these enquiries, it needs to be clear which manager is responsible for managing the section 47 enquiries.
  1.9.3 The possibility of a criminal investigation should be explored, and decisions taken about whether the scope of enquiries should include other children the foster carers have cared for. It is important that, without prejudice to the investigation, the support and communication needs of both the child(ren) and the foster carer(s) should be considered.
  1.9.4 Careful planning will be needed to ensure that the child and the foster carer(s) are given information as quickly as possible about what is happening. Those present at the strategy meeting will also need to consider what information the police record as it may be disclosed for Disclosure and Barring Service checks on the carer in future. It is especially important that if the police attend the first strategy meeting but are not involved in subsequent enquiries, that the police are given accurate information on the outcome of enquiries.
  1.9.5 Time-scales for the enquiries must be established which take into account the distress caused to a child and the foster carer(s) by delays and uncertainty. Whilst it is rarely possible to predict how long enquiries may take, a date for further strategy/enquiry planning meeting or, if possible an outcomes meeting should be set for within 15 working days. Where available information about the allegation is limited and a clarification interview is planned, a further review meeting should be arranged at the Strategy Meeting. Wherever possible investigation will be concluded within a 4 week period.

1.10

Decision not to Proceed with Section 47 Enquiries

  1.10.1 If it is considered that the concerns/allegations do not meet the threshold for significant harm, then the reasons for a decision not to proceed with Section 47 enquiries must be recorded by the LADO and copied for the child and the carer's files. Any decision and consequent action to further explore the concerns or issues raised should also be recorded.

1.11

Informing the Foster Carer(s)

  1.11.1 Unless otherwise advised by the police to avoid prejudicing a criminal investigation, the foster carer(s) should be informed as soon as possible after the strategy meeting if not already aware of the allegation. Foster carer(s) should be given the following information, both verbally and in writing in their preferred language.
  1.11.2 All relevant documents in relation to the investigation, whatever the outcome, must be retained on the child's and the foster carer's records, a copy of which should be given to the carer.

1.12

Informing the Child’s Parents

  1.12.1 Consideration should be given at the initial and subsequent strategy meeting as to whether when and how the child’s parents should be informed of the concerns and the response to the concerns. A written record of all decisions should be maintained on the child’s file signed by the child’s team manager.

1.13

Where Enquiries are not Continuing:

  1.13.1 Where no further action is proposed under this procedure, it is the joint responsibility of the child's practice manager and the practice manager family placement to inform the foster carer(s) in writing of the details of the allegations. Foster carer(s) should be given a copy of the papers that will be placed on their file, and invited to make written representations if they wish. Where further exploration as a concern is planned, this should be clearly explained to the foster carer.

1.14

Where Enquiries are Continuing:

  1.14.1

It may not be possible to share full details of the allegations or concerns at this stage as it is likely that the social worker conducting the Section 47 enquiries and /or police will need to conduct a formal interview. However, unless the police advise otherwise, the practice manager family placement should ensure that foster carers are informed both verbally and in writing about:

  • The process of the enquiry and why it is taking place;
  • The time-scales agreed at the strategy meeting in respect of S47 enquiries and what will happen next;
  • The reasons for the removal of children, and about any temporary changes in approval status during the course of the S47 enquiry, e.g. if further placements are suspended until the enquiry is complete, placements are restricted, or children currently in placement are only able to remain if the person accused of the abuse is no longer resident;
  • When, where and by whom interviews will be conducted;
  • Advice to obtain legal representation if interviewed by the police and information on legal representation;
  • Contact details for independent support from the Fostering Association;
  • The information and support needs of the foster carer(s) own children should be discussed and recorded.
  1.14.2 All information supplied should be confirmed in writing in the foster carer(s) preferred language following verbal discussion.

1.15

Informing the Child

  1.15.1 Where the alleged victim has made the allegation(s) under investigation, as well as ensuring protection from future harm, it is important that he or she is informed of what actions have been taken in response to his/ her concerns. Normally responsibility for keeping the child informed will fall to the child's social worker. In all circumstances the child has the right to know the outcome of any enquiries and/or investigation.

1.16

Section 47 Enquiries

  1.16.1 Wherever possible, the social worker conducting the Section 47 enquiries and /or their practice manager should attend the strategy meeting.
  1.16.2

The social worker where this is not the child’s social worker should meet with the child's worker to consider:

The child's history, with particular reference to any known or suspected previous abuse or allegations

The child's placement history and current placement, including any particular problems previously identified

The child's preferred method of communication and how best to conduct the interview.

  1.16.3

The social worker should also meet the foster carer(s) social worker to consider:

  • The foster carer(s) experience, strengths and weaknesses;
  • Relevant Information about the foster carer(s) family;
  • The foster carer(s) use of support;
  • Any problems previously identified with the placement of the child(ren) concerned;
  • The foster carer(s) preferred method of communication and how best to conduct the interview.
  1.16.4 Following these preliminary enquiries the child should be interviewed as soon as possible. In some circumstances this may be a joint interview with the police. Where the police are not involved, a full written record should be made of this interview and a copy sent to the child's practice manager, the practice manager family placement and the LADO.
  1.16.5 The foster carer(s) should also be interviewed by the investigating officer(s) as soon as possible after the above enquiries have been completed. It is important that interviews of both the foster carer(s) and the child are conducted by the same investigating officer(s).
  1.16.6 Where the enquiries are being conducted jointly with the police, information about the nature of the allegations will be withheld from the foster carer(s) unless the police consent to disclosure.
  1.16.7 The conclusion of the police investigation will not necessarily end Section 47 enquiries by the Children’s Services Directorate. However the investigating social worker will, when the police consent, inform the foster carer(s) of the outcome of the police investigation and what will happen next.
  1.16.8 Where the police are not involved in the enquiries, a full written record will be made of the interview and the foster carer(s) responses. Foster carer(s) should be encouraged to provide all information they feel will assist in making their case. The foster carer(s) should be invited to make a written response to the investigating social worker if they wish to do so. If such a submission is received, the investigating social worker will ensure a copy is sent to the LADO and the child’s and the team manager family placement.
  1.16.9 It is the responsibility of the investigating social worker to keep the LADO and the child's and fostering practice managers updated about the progress of the investigation. The practice manager family placement will need to ensure that the foster carer(s) is kept informed of events.
  1.16.10 The LADO is responsible for ensuring that enquiries are concluded within the time-scales set out at the strategy meeting. If a delay is unavoidable due to the need to gather further information, or to widen the scope of the investigation, then the reasons for the delay should be recorded. The LADO should immediately set a revised date for the concluding Strategy Meeting and ensure all parties are notified.
  1.16.11 The family placement social worker or the practice manager family placement will keep the foster carer(s) informed of the timetable of the investigation and any necessary delays.

1.17

Decision not to Pursue Enquiries

  1.17.1 If it appears that the evidence does not support the continuation of enquiries under this procedure, then the LADO and other participants in the strategy meeting should be informed immediately. The LADO will make a decision about whether a Concluding Strategy Meeting should be held in these circumstances.
  1.17.2 The ending of Section 47enquiries will not necessarily conclude the investigation as there may still be serious issues that require exploration under the procedure for managing concerns about the foster carer(s) practice. The LADO and the team manager family placement should be consulted and a decision made as to whether the circumstances warrant further exploration.
  1.17.3 Information gathered by the Children’s Services Directorate in the course of making the decision about whether to proceed with a S47 enquiry should be made available for use by the Children’s Services Directorate or the relevant fostering agency in relation to implementing its own procedure, unless there are restrictions applied by the police.

1.18

Concluding Enquiries

  1.18.1 The investigating social worker officer should prepare a written report to include details of the allegation or concern, the enquiries undertaken and his or her findings taking account of any issues of consent for disclosure. If time-scales have slipped the reason for the delay should be recorded in the report. The foster carers should also be encouraged to make a written submission in advance of the concluding Strategy Meeting.
  1.18.2 The report must be distributed before the concluding Strategy Meeting to those who will attend. The investigating social worker and the practice manager family placement and the family placement social worker will arrange to visit the foster carer(s) to discuss the report's contents.

1.19

Concluding Strategy Meeting

  1.19.1 At the conclusion of the Section 47 enquiry into allegations against foster carers, it is good practice for the LADO to call a further strategy meeting to conclude the investigation and agree final outcomes. This will ensure that links are made between the Section 47 enquiry, the needs of the children and adults concerned, and any action to be taken by the Adoption Service/agency in relation to its own procedures. Where a criminal investigation is in progress a concluding Strategy Meeting can be conducted unless legal advice is received that it should not.
  1.19.2 All those who attended the initial strategy meeting should attend plus a legal adviser.
  1.19.3 The remit of the meeting is set out in Salford Safeguarding Children Board Procedure for managing allegations against workers, carers and volunteers who may have contact with children.
  1.19.4 The Chair is responsible for ensuring a written record of the concluding Strategy Meeting is made and distributed.
  1.19.5 The foster carer(s) should also have copies of all papers that will be placed on their file, unless third party rights of confidentiality would be breached by the disclosure.
  1.19.6

The concluding Strategy Meeting must consider, irrespective of the outcome of any police enquiry, whether there is reasonable cause to suspect the child has, or is likely to, suffer significant harm and arrive at one of the following determinations concerning the allegation:

  • Substantiated (supported by evidence and found to be true)with risk of continuing harm if child remains in placement;
  • Substantiated (supported by evidence and found to be true) with no risk of continuing harm if child remains in placement;
  • False (evidence shows it to be untrue);
  • Unsubstantiated (the available evidence is insufficient to show it to be true or false).
  1.19.7 It should also consider any potential risk to any other children living with or having significant contact with the foster carers?
  1.19.8 All professionals attended the meeting will be asked by the Chair to give their opinions concerning the appropriate determination. The outcomes meeting may also make recommendations for further actions.
  1.19.9 A recommendation for referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) barred list will be considered by the concluding Strategy Meeting. Unless otherwise advised by the LADO, the Assistant Director, Inclusion will make a referral to DBS within one month of such a recommendation.
  1.19.10 The meeting should determine what information should be given to all those affected by the enquiry, including birth parents, and identify who should do this, and what records will be kept on the files of the child(ren) and carer. The meeting should identify who will ensure that the police are updated where necessary.
  1.19.11 The meeting should also consider whether there is a need to make general recommendations for improvement in policy or practice relating to this procedure arising from the investigatory process.
  1.19.12 The Independent Reviewing Officer for the child should also be informed of the outcome of the enquiries and the concluding Strategy meeting. The possibility of an early LAC review should be considered at the point.
  1.19.13 The family placement social worker should prepare a full report for the Fostering Panel setting out all the relevant information, the conclusions and the recommendation of the concluding Strategy Meeting regarding the foster carers continuing suitability to foster.

1.20

If an Allegation is Subsequently Withdrawn

  1.20.1 If it comes to light at any stage that an allegation investigated under this procedure has been withdrawn, enquiries are needed to ascertain that the withdrawal is genuine. In all cases the worker for the child must ensure that this information is passed on to the practice manager family placement for the foster carer(s) so that a record is made on the foster carer(s) file. A strategy meeting will usually be called to ensure all appropriate safeguards have been put in place for all parties.

1.21

Continuing Work with the Foster Carers

  1.21.1

Foster carer(s) should be offered the opportunity to meet with their family placement social worker and the team manager after a decision has been made about the plans for the child in placement following an investigation. This will provide an opportunity for the foster carer(s) and the fostering service to consider:

  • The impact of the investigation on the foster carer(s) and their family;
  • The conduct of the investigation and its outcomes;
  • Clarification of any remaining uncertainties about the plan for the child or the consequences of the investigation for the future;
  • Any risk management plan or training plan in place and how this will be monitored and reviewed;
  • Any support needs the foster carer(s) or their family may have.
  1.21.2  A written record of the meeting should be sent to the foster carer(s) and a copy placed on their file.

1.22

Minor Concerns about Standards of Care

  Also see Supervision of Foster Carers Procedure and Training Foster Carers Procedure.
  1.22.1 Questions may arise concerning the care provided to a child, or a possible breach of the standards expected of foster carers. These may include issues related to discipline methods, hygiene standards, confidentiality, or level of supervision.
  1.22.2 Minor issues should be dealt with promptly and as part of supervision of the foster placement but should be recorded on the foster carer(s) file and the child’s file.
  1.22.3 Where a child's worker has initiated the concern, he or she should send a report of the concern to the family placement social worker and the team manager family placement. The report should be used to record how the matter was addressed and a copy given to the foster carer.

1.23

Follow up & Recording

  1.23.1 The practice manager family placement should ensure that all appropriate papers are placed on foster carer(s) file and that the foster carer(s) file is updated with the final outcome. He or she should confirm that no confidential information concerning third parties is left on the foster carer(s) file. Foster carer(s) will want to ensure that records are accurate, fair, and include their own views. This information is retained on the confidential file, even after someone leaves the fostering service, until the person reaches normal retirement age, or for ten years if this is longer.
  1.23.2 The practice manager family placement will, in discussion with the family placement social worker consider the support needs of the foster carer(s) and family, and make arrangements for this to be provided where appropriate.
  1.23.3 The practice manager(s) for the child(ren) will ensure that the records contained on the child's file are accurate and complete, that the outcome is recorded and that any confidential information concerning the foster carer(s) is removed. The practice manager(s) for the child(ren) will also consider how the child should be informed about the outcome, whether therapeutic or other support is needed, and if appropriate liaise with the Customer Care Manager about any outstanding complaints.

1.24

References and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks

  1.24.1 Foster carer(s) should be informed that information about any investigation under the Allegations or Concerns procedures will be disclosed as part of a reference for future work with children in any capacity. If the matter was dealt with under the Allegations Procedure it may also be disclosed in the course of a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.


2. Relationship Between the Foster Carer and the Fostering Service

When an allegation is made it is vital that foster carers and their families should not be subject to unnecessary delay. It is equally important to be thorough and fair in the complex circumstances that often surround allegations against foster carers or family members. Appropriate timescales are set out in this procedure.

The relationship between fostering service providers and the foster carers should be fair and honest. Decision-making and communication with foster carers should be timely. In addition, training, supervision and continuing support are vital to ensure that foster carers are enabled to safeguard fostered children and minimise the possibility of allegations of abuse being made. Supervision notes should be kept by the supervising social worker and signed off after each session by the foster carers and the family placement worker. The rolling programme of training for foster carers includes sessions on allegations, abuse and safe care.

All foster carers in Salford have access to the Fostering Association based at Beech Street Centre, Beech Street, Winton, Eccles M30 8GB, telephone number 0161 778 0454/0464. Members of the fostering Association are trained to support and guide foster carers through an allegation.

Fosterline is a national information and advice service available to foster carers by telephone, email or post. Fosterline is open between 9.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday except band holidays: free phone 0800 040 7675.

The National Minimum Standards for fostering services (Standard 22.9) specify that fostering services should provide independent support during an investigation into an allegation. Children’s services directorate will consider any request for a carer to be advised and supported by an independent agency. Consideration should also be given into providing independent support for the children of foster carers.

The foster carers supervising social worker should normally have continuing responsibility for being the link between the fostering service and the foster carer, even when the carer has independent support. However, it is important to take the views of the foster carer into account, and another representative of the fostering service provider should be nominated if the supervising social worker will not be fulfilling this task.

Payment to Foster Carers During an Investigation

If as a result of an allegation being made fostered children are removed from placement and the foster carer is suspended from taking new placements Salford Children’s services directorate would continue to pay the skills payment element to the foster carer for the number of children in placement removed.

The directorate will continue to make such payments, until the time that the agency decision-maker (taking into account the recommendation of the fostering panel) has terminated the carer’s approval as foster carers. This should be confirmed in writing to the foster carer if they are suspended from taking further placements.

Under Fostering service Regulations (2011) Part 5 S.28 (12) written notice must be given to the foster carer that the fostering service proposes to terminate the carer's approval, together with the reasons, and inviting any representations within 28 days. As part of this procedure, the letter should also confirm that payments will cease, and the date.

Transfer of Registration to Another Fostering Provider

If a foster carer wishes to transfer from one fostering service provider to another during the course of the operation of this procedure, the family placement worker should notify the other fostering service that the foster carer is subject to an investigation under managing allegations procedures, and inform them of the target time for completing the investigation/review of approval.

Every effort should be made to reach a conclusion in all cases. Compromise agreements must not be used. If a foster carer decides to resign as a result of any allegation, the outcome of any strategy meeting held should still be heard at the fostering panel, and a clear recommendation about deregistration made.

Informing EDT

It is likely that new placements will not be made during the course of an investigation, and that EDT in Salford should be informed of this by the family placement social worker via email.

Information for Foster Carers Regarding the Process of Investigation

As stated earlier, the foster carers family placement worker, or the practice manager family placement should be responsible for communication with the foster carer/adult member of the carer's family. Whoever is delegated to communicate should ensure that the foster carers are given a copy of the local authority's safeguarding children procedure.


Appendix 1: Form B - Decision Making Record

Click here to view Appendix 1: Form B - Decision Making Record.


Appendix 2: Flowchart - Allegation in Respect of a Child placed in Foster Care

Click here to view Appendix 2: Flowchart - Allegation in Respect of a Child placed in Foster Care.

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