In the Autumn of 2020 the Welsh Government launched a consultation to request views on whether there is a need to retain a system of independent reviews in fostering, or whether there are alternative mechanisms which could be put in place to ensure that foster carers / prospective foster carers who disagree with decisions about their terms of approval can make their views known.
The Independent Reviewing Mechanism (IRM) manages the process by which prospective or approved foster carers, can seek a review of a ‘qualifying determination’ made by a fostering provider. This includes local authorities and independent providers. Qualifying determinations are made where an agency is proposing not to approve an individual as a foster carer, or to terminate or make a change to the individual’s terms of approval.
The Fostering Network believe that bringing the review function for independent reviews of determinations under fostering agencies’ complaints procedures would pose many challenges, including the loss of an important level of independent scrutiny for foster carers and quality assurance across fostering providers. We are concerned that the new proposed system might put foster carers in an awkward or compromising position when registering a complaint.
We propose that the above challenges could be overcome through the introduction of a national register of foster carers. The registration body would make final decisions on a foster carer's continued suitability to remain on or be added to a national register. All qualifying determination decisions regarding someone’s suitability to continue to be approved would have to be referred to the registration body by fostering service providers, and that body would make the final decision. Therefore, foster carers could be removed or refused entry to the register for two reasons: the foster carer does not meet the entry requirements; or the registration body decides to deregister based on a referral from a fostering service.