Did you know that approved foster carers have the freedom to change the fostering agency they belong to if they so wish? This right is supported by The Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol 2014, which was developed in a partnership between The Fostering Network and the joint forum of independent fostering providers, with the support of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.
What is the Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol?
The Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol was created to lay out ‘good practice’ guidelines that should be followed when a foster carer wishes to transfer between agencies. It is based on the following principles:
- That the principles of child care legislation are upheld and that safeguarding the welfare of children in placement is paramount
- The views of the child, and their parents or other relevant parties are considered, and children are protected from against moves that are unplanned and/or not in their best interests
- That foster carers have the right to move to a different fostering agency
- That fostering agencies and services are committed to actively recruiting those new to fostering, and they comply with all relevant legislation, regulation, standards, and statutory guidance.
The Protocol also has several aims:
- To promote high standards of practice, both within and between agencies
- To ensure continuity and consideration of care for children in placement during the transfer of their foster carers to another agency
- To minimise the time taken for the transfer to take place, and provide a framework for negotiation where the financial implications of a foster service transfer are concerned
- To protect foster carers from being pressured to transfer to another fostering agency in order to ensure a long-term foster
The difference in Transfer Procedures
As you may expect, the Protocol outlines different procedures for foster carers’ transfer between agencies depending on whether there are children in placement, take a look at the two different types of procedures you can expect:
When there are no children in placement
Foster carers can resign from their current agency at any point when there are no children in placement, but they must give written notice to their agency. Their approval by the current agency is automatically terminated 28 days after the notice is received.
However, if the foster carer wishes to remain approved the procedure outlined in the Transfer Protocol must be followed. The carer must inform their current foster agency in writing that they are considering a move in agencies, once this notice has been received by the agency then the recruiting agency can begin the assessment. It is good practice for the recruiting agency to confirm with the carer’s current agency that the notification of potential transfer has been received.
When the foster carer has been approved by the recruiting agency, they should issue a written notice of resignation to their current agency. To ensure that the foster carer stays continuously approved, the two agencies must co-operate in scheduling the dates of the foster carer’s termination and approval.
When there is a child in placement
Foster carers must issue written notice of their intension to transfer agencies to their current foster agency (and the placing authority, where different) when there is a child, or multiple children in placement.
When this notice is received, the child(ren)’s IRO must be notified of the intended change in placement provision, and within 28 days a meeting must be scheduled between the placing authority (or lead authority), the current fostering service, the recruiting fostering service, and the foster carers themselves.
In the meeting several factors will be considered, including:
- Is it in the best interests of the child to continue in their current placement, following the results of their latest case review.
- How the child(ren) in placement would be affected by a move.
- Will their particular needs will be supported by the new agency.
- The parallel arrangement of the approval by the recruiting service and the termination of approval by the current service.
- The arrangement to move the child(ren) to another foster placement, if the current placement is not to continue.
A final decision on the suitability of the prospective foster carer will be made within eight months.
What other guidance does the protocol offer?
The Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol 2014 also sets out guidelines for more than just process itself. You will find guidance for topics like:
- the sharing of information about a foster carer
- the standards of training, support, and development
- all payments concerned with the movement of a foster carer between fostering services, or between the local authority and independent fostering services; and payments to foster carers.
If you have any questions regarding the transfer between fostering agencies, NFA will be happy to help. You can call us on 0845 200 4040, or email us at [email protected]