Persons Disqualified from Fostering
1. Persons Disqualified from Fostering
A person is disqualified from acting as a foster carer for the local authority (unless a relative of the child or already acting as a foster carer) if they or any adult member of the household has been cautioned for or convicted of an offence against a child involving violence or bodily injury (other than common assault or battery), cruelty (to a child under 16), indecency, abduction, the supply of Class A drugs or the importation/possession of indecent photographs of a child under 16 or a sexual offence against a child unless the offence was contrary to sections 6, 12 or 13 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 and the person concerned was under 20 when the offence was committed. A list of the specific offences is set out in the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000.
Applications to foster will not be considered from anyone who owns a pet that is registered or required to be registered under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (see Dogs and Pets Policy and Guidance).
If the applicant or a household member has a conviction within the last two years, a serious offence or a history of offending then the application will be taken to a Fostering Panel before proceeding.
Serious offences would include:
- Exceptions to the specified offences within the regulations i.e. teenage offenders;
- All those specified offences where the victims were adults;
- Murder, manslaughter, rape, armed robbery, blackmail/extortion;
- Violent offences including GBH, ABH, wounding, assault;
- Aggravated burglary;
- Drug dealing/supply, possession of illegal drugs;
- Prostitution, living off immoral earnings;
- Racism, fraud/dishonesty;
- Drink driving;
- Serious motoring offences.
Panels would expect to see applications where an applicant has a conviction for any of the above offences identified. In doing so, they require information on the following factors to be available so that consideration can be given whether to recommend that the application / assessment should proceed:
- Age when offence committed;
- Age now;
- Circumstances of the offence;
- Any supporting / corroborative information e.g. police report, probation etc;
- Outcome of court case, i.e. custodial sentence (length), fine etc;
- Whether disclosed on application form, and if not disclosed any explanation offered;
- Applicants attitude to offence;
- Current circumstances;
- Any post-conviction work undertaken with the offender to address their offending.
The individual circumstances of situations where an applicant has been accused but not convicted of such an offence must be considered with the full details and an assessment of any risks that they may pose to children be undertaken.
2. New Applications
Where Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks reveal that an applicant for approval as a foster carer is a disqualified person, applicants must be advised that their application cannot proceed. This must be confirmed in writing to them, together with the reasons, and retained with their application form.
Where the applicant is a relative or friend of the child seeking approval as a foster carer for a specific child and the person would otherwise be regarded as disqualified, an application for consent to proceed with the assessment in relation to the particular child can be considered by the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering) on the recommendation of the Fostering Panel.
In these circumstances, the assessing social worker responsible for carrying out the checks on the prospective foster carer should prepare a report on the application setting out:
- The reasons for the application;
- The circumstances surrounding the conviction or caution which would result in the person being disqualified unless consent is given;
- An assessment of whether the placement would meet the child’s needs despite the conviction/caution; and
- A recommendation as to whether the application should proceed.
The assessing social worker will arrange with the Panel Administrator a date for the Panel to consider the report, and the report should be sent to the Panel Administrator 10 working days before the relevant Panel meeting.
The Panel minutes will be sent to the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering), who will consider the recommendation of the Fostering Panel on any such applications. The decision of the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering) will be recorded in writing and a copy placed on the case record of the applicant. A copy of the decision will also be sent to the person concerned.
3. Approved Foster Carers
If information is provided or updating Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks reveal that an approved foster carer has been convicted of or cautioned for a criminal offence as a result of which he or she will become a disqualified person unless consent is given, an urgent review of the foster carer’s approval should be held - see Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure - and a written report detailing the circumstances leading to the conviction/caution, together with background information from the foster carer’s case record, must be presented to the Fostering Panel as soon as possible. The report should contain a recommendation on whether consent should be granted to allow the foster carer to continue to be approved as a foster carer for the child or children currently in placement.
The report should be sent to the Panel Administrator at least 10 working days before the relevant Panel meeting. Where such information is received, the social worker for any child currently in the placement must be informed and plans for the termination of the placement will also need to be considered as appropriate.
Where the report recommends the termination of approval of the foster carer, the report should be presented to the earliest possible Fostering Panel.
The Agency Decision Maker for Fostering will consider the recommendation of the Fostering Panel on any such applications. The decision of the Agency Decision Maker for Fostering will be recorded in writing and a copy placed on the case record of the foster carer. Written notice of the decision, together with reasons, must then be sent to the foster carer as soon as practicable.
Where a decision is made to terminate the approval of the foster carer, the Representations Procedure as set out in Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure will apply.