Criminal Records Disclosure Procedure


Assessments and Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure

See Adopt North East (ANE) for Adoption Services in Northumberland

This chapter was added to the manual in January 2019, it is originally from the Northumberland Fostering and Adoption Services Manual and has been updated.

1. Introduction

The Family Placement Service is required to ensure that applicants to foster and other members of their household are safe and appropriate to care for children and do not have convictions for specified offences. The service is also required to regularly check the suitability of members of the fostering and prospective adopters household.

The Family Placement Service requires each applicant who wish to foster or adopt and any individual resident in the household to undertake a check with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Checks will be undertaken at least every three years.

Having a caution or conviction for an offence / offences does not preclude an individual from fostering or adopting, from residing in a fostering or adopting household. However, it is necessary for the agency to assess the risk and the implications of the history of offences upon suitability.

2. Notification of Disclosure Process

Individual applicants are the only recipients of their DBS certificate. If the Family Placement Service has processed and verified the DBS application form we can track the progress of the application, but have no access to the information contained. This information will need to be obtained directly from the applicant on production of their DBS Certificate. Copies of the DBS certificate cannot be retained by the service.

Two weeks and then weekly thereafter following the submission of a DBS application an authorised member of the Administration Support Team will make an enquiry with the DBS regarding the status of the application.

Once it is confirmed that the DBS certificate has been sent to the applicant the Administrator will notify by email the allocated Assessing Social Worker that this has occurred.

The Assessing Social Worker will make arrangements with the applicant to meet them and see the original certificate. They will compare any offences declared on the initial Declaration Form and note any additional cautions and convictions not originally declared.

3. Risk Assessment

Where information has been disclosed by the DBS process the SSW must consider the information and make an assessment as to the risk and the suitability of the applicant / household member / foster carer supporter to undertake the role.

To make this assessment the SSW must undertake the following:

  1. Interview the individual concerned and gain their account and attitude to the offence/s. (The SSW may in certain circumstances be unable to disclose certain police intelligence with the individual. Guidance before proceeding must be sought from the Family Placement Manager.);
  2. Establish if the offence is one that would prevent approval as a foster carer under the Fostering Regulations 2011, Section 26 (5), (7) and (8) and Schedule 4;
  3. Assess the risk and suitability based on the information available;
  4. Consider if further information is needed;
  5. Complete the risk assessment template and make a recommendation;
  6. Provide the Risk Assessment form to the Fostering Manager.

The Family Placement Manager will consider the risk assessment and make a decision about the suitability or otherwise of the individual concerned.

The Fostering Placement Manager will either:

  • Make a recommendation to the Family Placement Service Manager;
  • Ask the SSW to make further enquiries about the matter and update the assessment.

The Family Placement Service Manager will receive a copy of the risk assessment signed by the Family Placement Manager and countersign the recommendations if satisfied that an appropriately robust risk assessment has been undertaken.

The risk assessment is to be returned to the SSW and Fostering Manager and uploaded on to ICS.

The outcome will inform the decision on how to proceed with any fostering assessment or fostering approval status.

4. Guidance

It should be noted that the Adoption Regulations 2005, Section 23 and the Fostering Regulations 2011, Section 26 specify certain offences that prevent an applicant being approved as an adopter or foster carer. There is further provision though to enable family members to be approved as foster carers if cautioned or convicted for some offences where mainstream carers would not be permitted. Fostering Regulations 2011, Section 26 (8).