Transfer protocols guide the way in which fostering services should manage the movement of foster carers between fostering services. The Fostering Network produced the first transfer protocol for use across the fostering sector in 2004, and currently has protocols in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The protocols have been reviewed and revised at regular intervals to reflect changes in the legislation, regulations, statutory guidance and national minimum standards that govern fostering services across the UK.
The most recent version of the England protocol was published in 2014 and has been reissued in 2015 alongside the newly developed guiding principles. It is compliant with the requirements of The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 (as amended) and was shaped following consultation with The Fostering Network’s membership. The protocol is supported by the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS).
Following publication in August 2014, The Fostering Network worked with colleagues from across the fostering sector to develop guiding principles in respect of foster carer mobility and what must be considered to ensure that children and young people are safe and their foster placements stable.
In addition to the above, the guiding principles seek to reinforce the ethos of child-centred care planning and child-centred decision making in fostering and that financial factors alone should not determine a placement move.
The protocol and guiding principles should be read and used together and are designed to inform decision making and practice across the fostering sector.
This guidance lays out the issues and the procedures for foster carers moving from one fostering service to another in Northern Ireland. It recognises the principles of child care legislation and seeks to ensure that safeguarding the welfare of children is at the core of fostering policy and practice.
Where a foster carer decides to change fostering provider, the decision about whether any existing placement can or should continue will be made by the health and social care trust that has placed that child. It is most important that both foster carers and fostering services adhere to the guidelines.
This protocol has been developed by The Fostering Network and the joint forum of Independent and Voluntary Fostering Providers Scotland, and ratified by Social Work Scotland (SWS).
Fostering legislation and issues are very complex. This protocol recommends best practice guidelines to be followed when a prospective or approved foster carer wishes to transfer their application or registration from one registered fostering provider to another, that is, between one independent, voluntary or local authority fostering provider and another.
It is not intended to cover block transfers of foster carers, where a fostering provider ceases to carry out its fostering function, or contractual or commissioning arrangements which are outside of the scope of this document.