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.


Foster carers and approved kinship carers look after children who will all have experienced trauma, abuse or neglect in their early years which has led to them being placed away from their birth family.

Caring for these children is challenging for carers and children may find living with another family difficult and this may lead them to try to find ways to break up the placement. This may be through making an allegation that the carer has abused or neglected them or through complaining about things being wrong in the placement.

As looked-after children are in public care it is vital that services respond appropriately when children or young people, their parents or others raise concerns about the child's safety or well-being when in the care of foster carers or approved kinship carers. This document aims to describe good practice in managing and responding to allegations, concerns or complaints.

It is recommended that the areas covered in this good practice guidance are incorporated into local child protection and fostering services procedures. Child Protection Committees will be central to ensuring that the particular considerations that are required in responding to allegations or concerns where the child is looked-after by a foster carer or kinship carer are addressed and that opportunities for familiarisation with the guidance are provided.

Interim guidance has been used across Scotland for a number of years and a parallel guidance document is available for managing allegations in residential care settings.

Since the publication of all these earlier documents GIRFEC principles and approaches have been embedded across Scotland and the role of the named person and lead professional have been included in this guidance. SHANARRI outcomes are relevant to this document with the child's safety and need for nurturing being central to protecting children.

The National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland was published in 2010 and the strong message from that guidance is that child protection investigations should be closely linked to situations where there has been significant harm or risk of significant harm to a child. The National Guidance stresses that it is not appropriate for child protection investigations to be used for minor concerns.

"Only where risks cause or are likely to cause significant harm to a child would a response under child protection be required." (Scottish Government, 2010, para 46).

This guidance on responding to allegations against foster or kinship carers reflects the National Guidance and covers situations where the concerns relate to situations where significant harm means that a child protection response is required as well as situations where the concerns are about the general well being of the child but where no significant harm has been identified.

The child's plan will be at the heart of decision making and the lead professional for the child and named person where in place will be key people to participate in gathering information to help in making the decision about how best to deal with any allegation or concern.

This guidance does not propose a different response to allegations and concerns because the child is a looked-after child living with foster or kinship carers, rather it outlines the importance of considering fully the context of care for the child and carer and how the allegation and behaviour may be linked to a child's emotional state.

The central consideration must always be the safety of the child and that will determine the activities of enquiry and decision making. In relation to the carer it is important that the carer is respected and kept involved and their views valued throughout the whole process.

Appendix 1 contains definitions of the key terminology used in this guidance.


Email: Heather Brown

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