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Conflict of Interest in Fostering

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to Norfolk County Council employees. Particularly to those employed within Children and Young People Service, to all Norfolk County Councillors and to other professionals who work with children with disabilities and young people in Norfolk.

This chapter was added to the manual in July 2020.


Members of staff and councillors will often possess the necessary skills, understanding and motivation to become foster carers. However, this must be balanced against the need to protect both staff and children from any potential conflict of interest.

Some employees are automatically barred from applying under the Fostering Regulations 2011.

The regulations automatically preclude applications from:

  • Social workers/support workers/managers working directly with the Norfolk Fostering Service (and, to all intents and purposes, Adoption Service).

Prior to any other council employee or councillor applying to become a Foster Carer there are a number of issues, which need careful consideration. These should be addressed in the Conflict of Interest Assessment.

  • The Working Commitments;
  • Employment status, should an allegation of abuse or misconduct occur whilst acting as a Foster Carer;
  • Confidentiality and access to information;
  • Maintenance of objectivity;
  • Local Authority’s duty to protect and safeguard children;
  • Capacity to focus on the needs of the child;
  • The Fostering Service’s commitment to fair and transparent processes.

Anyone working in the wider field of child care e.g. community nurses, should also be subject to a Conflict of Interest Assessment.

Mandatory Procedures

  1. Any Norfolk County Council employee wishing to become a Foster Carer must complete a Conflict of Interest Assessment Form, which must be approved by the Agency Decision Maker;
  2. Where, at the time of an initial visit, an enquirer is found to work with young people in Norfolk (e.g. community nurse), then a Conflict of Interest Assessment form should be completed;
  3. The Conflict of Interest Assessment will be completed after the initial visit, at the same time as a formal application is made. It must be approved by the Agency Decision Maker before a formal fostering assessment (Form F) is begun. It will include a recommendation by the Fostering Social Worker based on a risk assessment. It will identify potential conflicts of interest and suggest ways in which these can be avoided or effectively managed;
  4. If permission to proceed is granted, the fostering assessment will be carried out by staff and supervisors who are not in the management line of the employee;
  5. Applicants should discuss their application with their own line managers, so that potential conflicts of interest can be identified, and resolutions considered at an early stage. The views of line managers will be sought in respect of such applications;
  6. The recommendation of the Foster Care Panel will be taken to the Agency Decision Maker.

End