South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

6.1.6 Exemptions and Extensions/Variations to Foster Carer 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 revised in September 2017 with procedural corrections and updates to job titles.


Contents

  1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children
  2. Reasons why an exemption may be considered
  3. The Process for Exemptions
  4. Long Term Placement Exemptions
  5. Exemptions of Wiltshire's Carers Living Outside Wiltshire
  6. Exemptions of Other L.A. or I.F.A Carers Living in Wiltshire


1. Usual Fostering Limit on Number of Children

A foster carer may not usually foster more than three children at any one time. This is defined as "the usual fostering limit".

This limit may be exceeded if the children concerned are all siblings in respect to each other, in which case no exemption is needed. In any other circumstances, if foster carers wish to exceed the "usual fostering limit" they must obtain an exemption from the local authority in whose area they live.

A request for an exemption is made to the local authority in whose area the foster carers live. This means that for:

  1. Wiltshire's approved carers living in the county;
  2. Other local authorities' carers living in the county;
  3. Independent fostering agencies carers living in the county.

The request is made to Wiltshire's Operational Children’s Services. However, for carers in (ii) and (iii) the preparation work is undertaken by the organisation making the request (see below in Section 6, Exemptions of Other L.A. or I.F.A Carers Living in Wiltshire).

For Wiltshire's approved carers living outside the county the request is made to the appropriate local authority Department in the area where they live (see Section 5, Exemptions of Wiltshire's Carers Living Outside Wiltshire).

Wiltshire Fostering Panel will review all exemptions to the usual fostering limit – all new exemptions as they are agreed and all on-going exemptions on a six monthly basis. Family Placement Social Worker to attend panel and provide information for Panel’s consideration to include the following:

  • For new exemptions, the most recent foster carer annual review, any risk assessment, Safer Caring policy and the Exemption report, including a predicted duration of the exemption;
  • For ongoing exemptions, the most recent foster carer annual review, any risk assessment, Safer caring policy, a six month update to the review and the Exemption report, including a predicted duration of the exemption;
  • For both the above, feedback from the children in placement regarding their experience of living in the fostering household.

Foster carers may be invited to attend the Foster Panel.

Please consult the attached flowchart for further guidance (see Exemption to the Usual Fostering Limit Procedures and Flowcharts).


2. Reasons why an exemption may be considered

Applications for an exemption 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

On receipt of the request, the carer's Family Placement Social Worker should arrange to consult with:

  • The social worker of the child to be placed;
  • Other social workers using the placement;
  • The carers and their own children;
  • The child to be placed and the parents;
  • Other foster children in the placement.

If the time scales or other factors prevent consultation, the reasons need to be recorded within Care First on Form FC35 Exemptions to the usual fostering limit FC35 67kb.

The FP SW will complete form FC35 Exemptions to the usual fostering limit FC35 67kb, in consultation with the Family Placement Manager (the carers' most recent annual review could be used to assist in the consultation process).

The FPM will consider all circumstances, including the comments from the consultation process and will make a recommendation to the Head of Service, Children in Care, who makes the decision regarding exemption and any conditions to be imposed by completing FC35.

On receipt of decision the FP administrator will prepare letter FC36 - Letter Notification to carer of exemption to usual fostering limit FC36 37kb, confirming that the exemption has been agreed including for what period and any conditions imposed, and will send this to the carers. A copy of the Comments, Compliments and Complaints leaflet should be attached and a copy of Form FC35 Exemptions to the usual fostering limit FC35 67kb.

A copy of the exemption document FC35 Exemptions to the usual fostering limit FC35 67kb, and notification letter FC36 - Letter Notification to carer of exemption to usual fostering limit FC36 37kb should be placed on the carers' file.

The matter is then considered at the next Fostering Panel, as above, and will be booked in by the Panel Administrator.

The FP SW will need to provide the Panel with a copy of FC35 Exemptions to the usual fostering limit FC35 67kb, together with any Risk Assessments, the carers' Safer Caring Policy and the report from the last annual review. Where the exemption is ongoing, a six month update is also required.

A copy of the Panel minute with the Agency decision maker's comments must be placed on the carers' file.

Once the exemption is in place it will be monitored and reviewed by the FP SW through carer's supervision and on a six monthly basis via the Panel process. Where the exemption exceeds six months, a second unannounced visit will be completed by the FP SW. If the exemption is required beyond the agreed period a new request must be made. The Fostering panel should be informed when an exemption ends for information/monitoring.

If the Head of Service, Children in Care does not agree with an exemption request, letter FC37 - Letter: Exemption to the usual fostering limit Not granted FC37 33kb will be sent to the carers informing them of the reasons and enclosing a copy of the Comments, Compliments and Complaints leaflet.


4. Long Term Placement Exemptions

Any plan to consider long-term exemption should be discussed at a review of the carers' approval. This will usually be at the annual review, but may be brought forward in order to discuss the proposed placement.

The procedure to be followed thereafter will be the same as in the Exemption Process (above), except there will be less time pressure, so proper consultation with all the relevant parties can be assured and the exemption will be considered at Fostering Panel as part of the matching process for long-term placements.

Long-term and on-going exemptions will be reviewed 6 monthly, by the Fostering Panel. The FP SW will be responsible for providing information to Panel.


5. Exemptions of Wiltshire's Carers Living Outside Wiltshire

In these situations the carers' FP SW will make a request via completed FC 35 for an exemption to the local authority in whose area the carers live, asking for details of their process for dealing with exemption requests.


6. Exemptions of Other L.A. or I.F.A Carers Living in Wiltshire

In these cases, the relevant local authority or independent fostering agency must make the request to the Service Manager – Placement Services for an exemption, on behalf of the carers.

The organisation making the request will be sent letter FC38 - Letter to another agency re. UFL application FC38 33kb which outlines their responsibility for undertaking the tasks involved:

  • Completion of form FC35 Exemptions to the usual fostering limit FC35 67kb;
  • Carrying out consultations with all the relevant parties and noting their comments;
  • Sending copies of the carers' current annual review.

The organisation must send all the completed documentation to the Service Manager – Placement Services for the attention of the Head of Service, Children in Care, for a decision. FP Team administrator will prepare letter FC36 - Letter Notification to carer of exemption to usual fostering limit FC36 37kb, confirming that the exemption has been agreed including for what period and any conditions imposed, and will send this to the carers. A copy of the Comments, Compliments and Complaints leaflet should be attached and a copy of Form FC35 Exemptions to the usual fostering limit FC35 67kb.

The Assistant Team Manager for Fostering (or in their absence, the Team Manager) will ensure compliance with these arrangements).

If the Head of Service, Children in Care does not agree with an exemption request, letter FC37 - Letter: Exemption to the usual fostering limit Not granted FC37 33kb will be sent to the carers informing them of the reasons and enclosing a copy of the Comments, Compliments and Complaints leaflet.

The requesting organisation will be sent FC35(a) and copy of FC36 or FC37,

The matter is then considered at the next Fostering Panel and will be booked in by the Panel Administrator.

Once the exemption is in place it will be monitored on a six monthly basis via the Panel process. If the exemption is required beyond the agreed period a new request must be made. The Fostering panel should be informed when an exemption ends for information/monitoring.

End