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- Child Abuse Allegations against Foster Carers
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Where Carers are subject to serious allegations, no further children will be placed with them until the matter has been fully investigated. The Localities responsible for the children accommodated by the Foster Carers will judge whether it is safe to leave the children with them, or whether they should be removed. The children’s safety in such situations is paramount. Care will be taken to consider the impact on a child or young person of removing them from the placement. The views of young people able to understand the situation will also be considered. Making the decision to remove children is not taken lightly, and will rest with the Care Manager and Practice Manager, or with the members of a strategy meeting as appropriate.
Once an investigation is completed, and those involved in the strategy meeting have carefully considered the information available, decisions will be made as to what should happen next. The outcomes listed under Complaints apply.
The most serious outcome for Foster Carers would be a referral of the complaint to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration of serious charges. In these circumstances, children or young people placed by the Local Authority will be removed.
The worst situation is where there is no clear conclusion, because the evidence is one person’s word against another. The Social Services Department then has to decide, on the balance of probabilities, whether the abuse has occurred or not – and whether, with no proof either way, it can risk the placement of further children with the Carers.
As with serious complaints, recommendations regarding Carers’ possible de-registration will be taken at the Foster Care Approval Panel, and referred to the agency decision maker for a final decision.
The outcome of the enquiry, and the subsequent decision, will be given to Foster Carers both verbally and in writing. Details of the outcome will be held on the Carer’s file. The Foster Carers can have access to the file, in line with County policy, unless there are criminal proceedings pending.
Further information and resources
Visit the Foster Carers Independent Support Service (FISS) website – independent support for Devon County Council foster carers facing allegations, complaints, and serious concerns. Talk to your social worker first.
Process for securing independent support for foster carers
If a carer is subject to an allegation which progresses to an investigation, the carers are entitled to independent support. In the first instance the supervising social worker for the carers will alert the Operations Manager Fostering to a potential need for support. The Operations Manager Fostering will arrange for the carer to access an independent support worker. The Operations Manager Fostering is responsible for ensuring that the support to the carers is monitored and if necessary extended to meet the needs of the carers or to recognise the ongoing nature of the investigation.