Foster carers registration with us

Fostering Panels

The City of Edinburgh Council’s fostering panels are set up under Regulation 17 of the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009. The fostering panels’ roles include: 

  • making recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker (senior manager) on the approval and remit of prospective foster carers,
  • agreeing the remit details, e.g. age, gender and number of children, or approval to care for a specific child known to the applicants,
  • undertaking carer reviews. 

Each panel has between three and five members who have relevant knowledge, skills, experience, and expertise. The panel may include professionals, foster carers, and previous service users. The organisations medical adviser may also be present if there are specific health issues to discuss. An experienced panel member will chair the panel.   

Carer Review

Our regulations require that each foster carer is reviewed within one year following approval and then at least every three years. For The City of Edinburgh Council foster carers, a mid-point review will be convened and as the name suggests, this will take place in between fostering panels.  This mid-point review will include foster carers, the allocated FBC social worker and a FBC team leader.  The mid-point review is a more informal conversation. 

All review meetings are opportunities to look back and review a foster carers experience since their previous carer review.  It is an opportunity for recording and valuing the foster carer’s contribution and for raising any concerns or developmental areas. It also allows foster carers to give feedback to the organisation. This helps to provide information on the quality and range of services provided by us and shapes future recruitment, assessment, and training strategies. Early reviews can take place at the fostering panel. They occur when: 

  • there has been a significant change in the foster carer’s circumstance, eg separation, health issues, significant change in work patterns or a house move 
  • there is any request or recommendation regarding change or variation of approval status, eg increase in number or ages of children or young people to be placed. This can also include termination of approval. 
  • any significant incident, complaint, allegation, or a child protection investigation which has occurred. 

If an early review has taken place, the next review will be scheduled three years later unless the foster carer, the panel or the FBC social worker deems an earlier review would be helpful.  

Changes to a Foster Carers Remit

The Looked After Children’s Regulation Amendments 2014, introduced in December 2014, sets a maximum foster care placement limit of three children, with exemptions for sibling groups and emergency placements. The new law means that any new placements made since then, cannot have more than three unrelated children. The new law does not affect placements that were functioning successfully before that date.  

Placement Descriptors

It is our aim that all children and young people who require to, are secured in quality permanent placements at the earliest opportunity. The National Foster Care Review (2013) recognised that to support this, a mix of placements are required.  To achieve standardisation across foster care agencies, placement descriptors were introduced. 

A Permanent placement which is secured by a Permanence Order. For a child or young person this means that the care planning process has concluded that they will thrive best if they are cared for away from home on a permanent basis. A Permanence Order, which is applied for by the local authority through the courts, can provide the local authority, child or young person and their foster carer with the legal security, the stability and the time for strong relationship bonds and a sense of belonging to develop.

Long-term placement generally means a placement which has been in place for longer than 24 months not secured by a Permanence Order. These should only be made in exceptional situations and act as an indicator that the placement requires close supervision.

An Interim placement is generally considered one that has been in place for less than 24 months and not secured by a Permanence Order. For a child or young person this means that the care planning process has concluded that they will benefit from spending some time being cared for away from home and there is a time-linked plan for rehabilitation with parents or an alternative care placement being sought.

An emergency placement is considered an unplanned placement made in an emergency, where no other placement type has been identified by the local authority. (Under the Looked After Children Regulations 2009, an emergency placement must be reviewed by a local authority within three days and may be extended for a period not exceeding 12 weeks.) For a child or young person this will mean that there are immediate concerns for their safety and well-being, and they require to be removed from their home environment as quickly as possible while the care planning process establishes the best option for them.

A short break placement is one which forms part of a planned series of short breaks (including emergency placements with a foster carer who is already providing planned short-break placements to the child or young person). For a child or young person this will mean that because of special circumstances they and their caregiver will benefit from therapeutic services or periods apart.

Continued care placements were introduced by Part 11 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.  They offer all young people the opportunity to remain in their current foster care placement from their 18th until 21st birthday. The City of Edinburgh Council holds a policy position that young people accommodated in foster care after their 16th birthday will retain looked after status until they reach their 18th birthday. All young people in foster care are eligible for continuing care from their 18th birthday.

Where the following conditions exist, continuing care cannot be offered:

  • The young person does not wish to remain in their placement beyond their 18th birthday
  • The foster carers do not wish to provide a placement for the young person beyond their 18th birthday
  • It is deemed to be detrimental to the young person’s welfare to remain in their placement.

A Continued care placement should be seen as a continuation of the young person’s current placement and where possible, for many young people, will be our preferred option.  Discussion relating to a young person’s continued care placement will begin at their Looked After Review, whichever is closest to their 16th Birthday. The FBC social worker will begin to consider this with foster carers around the young person’s 16th Birthday.  It is important that foster carers understand how this adult placement differs from a foster care placement.  A FBC social worker will consider with the foster carer any changes required to their registration, their ability to continue to offer foster care placements to other children and any financial changes to the current fee and allowances received by them.  

The fee given to foster carers for a continued care placement are at a mainstream rate. If the young person’s social worker and the FBC social worker assess that the placement should continue at an existing specialist rate, they will submit an enhanced fee application to the FBC Team Manager who will screen this at the Foster Care Team Leaders Allocation Meeting. This will only be agreed in exceptional circumstances.

A specialist foster carer looks after a child or young person who is assessed as having a higher level of need. In recognition of this, specialist foster carers receive an enhanced fee. Children and young people who need specialist foster care are usually older. They have experienced varied degrees of neglect, abuse, and disruption. They have likely experienced and live with the effects of trauma. Some of the children and young people may have lived in residential care. They can present a higher level of social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties, but, with the right family, we know they can grow, develop, and thrive. For older children and young people this can mean a better start in adult life. For this to be most successful, foster carers need to be able to manage challenging behaviour and provide a safe home environment with security, clear boundaries, and therapeutic reparative care. Foster carers who are assessed as specialist, demonstrate a range of experience, skill, and knowledge in areas specific to trauma informed care.

Fostering a child or young person within the disability scheme will involve an enhanced fee.  Those requiring this specialised care are usually aged between two and sixteen and live with a range of disabilities. Some have difficulty with communication and can show some challenging behaviour. Others may have a physical or learning disability, hearing or visual impairments. Some children and young people will depend on foster carers for their physical care. They all need a high level of supervision and care which enables them to reach their full potential. Some will have complex medical needs or behavioural challenges, with their families requiring substantial support in the form of short breaks. For some children and young people, they may be unable to live at home and need full time care. A few may have experienced abuse or neglect. These children and young people need foster carers who can understand their individual needs and offer them commitment, consistency, and patience. Foster carers are assessed as specialist disability foster carers and will be able to demonstrate a range of experience, skill and knowledge in this area and take part in specific and ongoing training.

Carer Review Reports

The panel will consider the carer review report submitted by the FBC social worker. This is a competency-based assessment, with a recommendation which the FBC social worker submits to panel members alongside an endorsement from their FBC team leader. Foster carers are provided with a copy two weeks prior to any panel.

Included in the assessment will be

  • The foster carer’s main achievements, strengths, and skills. These are detailed under four main categories, namely, caring for children, safe caring, working as part of a team, and own development,
  • The report will detail any changes experienced by the foster carers since their last carer review, as well as any complaint, allegation or concern raised,
  • The support the foster carers have received,
  • The contribution the foster carers have made,
  • Any skills and training needs,
  • Outcomes of statutory checks.

Any previous, or current, children’s social worker will also be asked to submit a report. These can include the views of care experienced children, young people and their parents.  The foster carers and their own children and/or any other household member can also submit a report.  It is important that panel members have information gathered from several sources.

Statutory checks

The carer review process includes maintaining up to date checks to ensure the continued wellbeing and safety of foster carers and the child and young people they look after. The following checks will be concluded prior to any carer review

  • AH Medical, which is a face-to-face medical carried out every 6 years, or if a health issue has arisen. Or a AH2 Medical, which is when a foster carer gives authorisation for their GP to complete this from the medical records they hold. This will be carried out every 3 years, alternate to the face-to-face medical.
  • A new, or existing PVG will be carried out.
  • A local authority check will be carried out from the date of the previous one, unless otherwise specified.
  • A health and safety check and car document check will be made.
  • A pet questionnaire  
  • Any completed unannounced visit pro-forma will be submitted. 

Any person residing in a foster carers’ home and who is over 16, anyone regarded as a regular visitor, or babysitter to a care experienced child or young person, will be required to consent to checks being carried out prior to any carer review.  Any babysitter will be pre-agreed with the FBC social worker and must be over the age of 21.  A babysitter is a person who is delegated the care of a child or young person, on a temporary basis by the foster carer, and should not include overnight care or be confused with a nominated friends and family short break carer.

The checks required are

  • Basic or enhanced disclosure,
  • A medical records updates check,
  • A local authority check.

Carer review panel

A foster carer and their FBC social worker will attend and contribute to the discussion. A copy of the panel agenda will be available. The panel will ask questions to gain further information and to hear views. The panel may choose to discuss their recommendation on their own, prior to advising the foster carer. However, they may also choose to reach their recommendation with the foster carer and FBC social worker present throughout.  

The panel may recommend a foster carers approval for the following three years (or a specified shorter period). This may include changes to age, gender, or number of children to be cared for. It may also include a change to a different type of fostering, eg from short break to interim fostering, or continued care.  It may be a mixture of more than one.

A carer review panel may recommend that a foster carer should be de-registered because their care has been assessed as unsatisfactory or not meeting standards. This is an unusual occurrence, and the foster carer will be advised well in advance that this is likely to be the recommendation and the reasons for it. A foster carer may also choose to end their registration with us, either due to other commitments, or this has been pre-agreed with their FBC social worker, or due to retirement.  This is known as a de-registration panel.  A FBC social worker is required to submit a report and the foster care may choose to attend, or not.

The discussion and recommendations from the panel will be recorded and sent to the agency decision maker (ADM) who reaches a final decision. The foster carers will be notified in writing of the ADM’s decision and reasoning. This will include information on how to ask for an appeal panel if not satisfied.   A request for this should be sent in writing to the panel co-ordinator within 28 days of notification of the decision. A panel with different membership will be established to reconsider the recommendation made and a different agency decision maker will make the decision.

When a foster carers remit is exceeded

Foster carers may occasionally be asked to take on responsibilities out with your specific approval when there are high demands on services. This may relate to

  • the number of children and young people you are caring for,
  • the age or the gender of the children and young people.

Before taking on any additional responsibility foster carers should consider any request carefully with their FBC social worker. Upon agreement, the FBC social worker will submit a ‘Stretch’ request to the ADM. If this is agreed, and the placement continues for a further 4 weeks, the FBC social worker, at that point, will request a further stretch. This requires a more detailed assessment, inclusive of a date for a carer review panel, within a 3-month period of any further ADM decision being made.