Managing allegations against foster carers and approved kinship carers - How agencies should respond

Managing allegations against foster carers and approved kinship carers provides detailed best practice guidance on how to respond when there are concerns about the safety and well-being of looked after children. It is designed to both help to ensure positive outcomes for looked after children and to minimise stress on foster and kinship carers.

Appendix 2

Glossary of terms as used within the good practice guidance

Agency Decision Maker: person in the agency who receives the recommendations from a fostering panel (and in some authorities the recommendations relating to kinship carers) and must decide about approvals, any conditions relating to the approval or the termination of the approval of foster carers/approved kinship carers for looked-after children.

Allegation: any claim or concern that a person may have acted in a way that leads to harm to a looked-after child.

Child Protection Committee: locally based, inter-agency strategic partnerships responsible for the design, development, publication, distribution, implementation and evaluation of child protection policy and practice across the public, private and third sectors in their locality and in partnership across Scotland. (National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2010).

Child Protection Investigation: an investigation carried out in accordance with local authority child protection procedures usually involving joint interviews of those involved by the police and social work.

Child Protection Social Worker: social worker in the local authority with responsibility for investigating allegations of abuse. They may be part of specialist Child Protection team or a worker from a Children and Families Team.

Child's Social Worker: social worker responsible for the looked-after child. They may also hold lead professional responsibilities.

Complaint: an accusation which is based on a belief either of the agency or another key person or anonymously that a carer's behaviour or practice has not met the standard expected of foster carers/approved kinship carer. This complaint could be made by the child, their birth parent, another agency or professional.

Concern: This is the term used in the National Guidance for Child Protection. A concern may be raised about a foster carer or approved kinship carer when someone believes that the child's wellbeing may be adversely affected by the actions of the carer or a member of their family.

Designated Manager(s): manager(s) in the local authority where the foster carers live who have been designated as responsible for overseeing concerns about the welfare or safety of a looked-after child who is being cared for by foster carers or approved kinship carers. In a registered fostering service, the designated manager will have responsibility for overview of any concerns raised about one of their foster carers and for liaison with the local authorities and other professionals involved with child protection enquiries.

Evaluation:opportunities at different stages of enquiry to reflect on the way the enquiries have been carried out and the impact on carers, children and staff. Focus will be on any learning from the process that should be incorporated into procedures. These meetings could offer Child Protection Committees a system for collating information on decision making and outcomes following concerns, so that they can monitor process and learn from current practice.

Foster Care Review: A foster care review as carried out in accordance with the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 [Regulations 25 and 26].

Fostering Manager: Line manager to the supervising social worker.

Fostering Panel: A panel set up to consider the case of every foster carer and prospective foster carer- Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 [Regulations 17-20].

GIRFEC: 'Getting it Right for Every Child' Government led approach to ensure the wellbeing of every child and young person is secured. This provides a framework for services working together to meet children's needs and to their achieving their potential. It includes the SHANARRI indicators: safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included.

Independent Support:The term 'independent' is used in relation to support and reviews. In most instances this means that the practitioner involved is outside line management for the child and carer family and so brings an element of objectivity. In small agencies, a reciprocal arrangement with a neighbouring authority to provide independent support could be considered. In very complex and contentious situations, it may be helpful for someone outside the fostering agency to provide independent support.

Initial Internal Discussion: Discussion held following notification of a concern to a member of staff in fostering services or to senior child protection staff. Its' purpose is to make an initial assessment of the nature of the concern and decide how best to respond to it. Those involved in this discussion are senior child protection staff, child's senior social worker and the fostering manager. In a case where significant harm or risk of significant harm is present this discussion must include the police.

Initial Interagency Discussion/Initial Referral Discussion: If the initial internal discussion indicates that the concern may involve a child being abused, an initial interagency discussion should be convened to consider how best to proceed. The decision may be to initiate a child protection investigation or to refer back to the fostering agency for further enquiries and review.

Lead Professional:Person who coordinates help for a child, young person and their family when two or more agencies need to work together to provide help to that child and family. It is an active role to promote team work to deliver the child's plan.

Named Person: Appointed for every child from birth to 18. May not be required to take an active role but is the first point of contact for children and family when they are seeking help. Named person can help to work out the advice, support and services that the child may need.

Planning or Strategy Meeting: An interagency meeting to plan a Child Protection Investigation. A planning meeting should always be convened to plan and review investigations involving foster carers or approved kinship carers.

PVG Scheme:The Protection of Vulnerable Groups Scotland Act came into force in 2007. It sets out the way in which checks about the background history of an applicant for a post involving Regulated work with children or vulnerable adults will be carried out. Where the record shows that the person has a history of offences or behaviour which could pose a threat to vulnerable groups they may be listed as unsuitable for that work. Any person listed as unsuitable is barred from working with children and vulnerable groups and commits an offence in applying for such posts. Any employer who engages a person who is listed as unsuitable also commits an offence if they employ that person.

Senior Fostering Manager: Senior manager within the fostering agency/service.

Senior Social Worker Child Protection/Team Manager: Senior worker who supervises child protection social workers and with responsibility for overseeing enquiries and investigations.

Supervising Social Worker: Fostering agency worker who supports the carers.

Team Leader/Child's Senior Social Worker: Line manager for the child's social worker.

Well-being: Based on SHANARRI indicators - safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included.

Key Relevant Legislation

'Looked After Child': defined in Section 17(6) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 as a child who is cared for by a local authority in terms of Sections 25, 70 or subject to an order, authorisation or warrant made under Chapter 2, 3 or 4 of Part 2 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 as amended by Schedule 2 para 9(4) of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007

The following terms are used as defined in the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 or other relevant regulations.

Fostering Agency: A local authority or a registered fostering service, as defined in Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009

Foster Care Review: A foster care review carried out in accordance with the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 [25 and 26].

Fostering Panel: A Panel set up to consider the case of every foster carer and prospective foster carer. Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 [17- 20].

'Foster Carer':Person approved in accordance with a decision made under regulation 22(3), 23 or 26(8), Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009.

Approved Kinship Carer: A person approved in accordance with a decision made under Regulation 10 of the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009.

Kinship Carer: A person related to the child or a person who is known to the child and with whom the child has a pre-existing relationship.


Email: Heather Brown

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