Introduction to delegated authority
Delegated Authority is spoken about in several other places in FosterWiki, namely our page on PR (Parental Responsibility) and more, however it is such a crucial part of your fostering role we felt it needed a page of it’s own.
Delegated authority is important on several levels, primarily it is about giving the children and young people in your care as normal life as possible and all the same opportunities afforded to their peers, it is also to enable the foster carers to make day to day decisions without having to seek permission and authority every time.
What is delegated authority?
Delegated authority is designed to enable foster carers to make every day decision. That might be haircuts, sleepovers, signing school trip consent forms, taking part in certain activities and more.
Foster carers never have Parental Responsibility (PR) here is the FosterWiki page on PR, it is very important you understand it. https://fosterwiki.com/wiki/parental-responsibility-pr/
Carers can not make decisions for a child in their care unless they have express permissions from those who have parental responsibility, delegated authority does exactly that.
National Minimum Standards 2011 – Delegated Authority
National Minimum standards can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/192705/NMS_Fostering_Services.pdf
- Section 1 outlines what is expected in relation to the child’s wishes and feelings and the views of those significant to them being taken into account.
- Section 2 ‘Promoting a positive identity, potential and valuing diversity through individualised care’ states ‘ foster carers meet children’s individual needs as set out in the child’s placement plan as part of the wider family context.’ (NMS 2.3)
- Section 4 ‘Safeguarding children’ identifies the need for ‘foster carers to take appropriate risks as a normal part of growing up’ (NMS 4.4) and that ‘the service implements a proportionate approach to any risk assessment.’ (NMS 4.5)
- Section 6 ‘Promoting good health and wellbeing’ states ‘children’s health is promoted in accordance with their placement pan and foster carers are clear about what responsibilities and decisions are delegated to them and where consent for medical treatment needs to be obtained.’ (NMS 6.5)
- Section 7 ‘Leisure activities’ refers to foster carers understanding ‘what is in the child’s placement plan and have clarity about decisions they can make about the day to day arrangements for the child, including such matters as education, leisure activities, overnight stays, holidays, and personal issues such as hair cuts’ (NMS 7.3) and ‘foster carers are supported to make reasonable and appropriate decisions within the authority delegated to them, without having to seek consent unnecessarily’ (NMS 7.4).
- Section 9 ‘Duty to promote contact’ expects that ‘foster carers understand what decisions about contact are delegated to them, in line with the child’s care plan, and make those decisions in the child’s best interest’ (NMS 9.7).
Statutory Guidance on delegated authority:
- The Children Act 1989 Statutory Guidance Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2010). Chapter 3 addresses the placement including the placement plan and shared responsibilities and consents
- The Children Act 1989 Statutory Guidance Volume 4: Fostering Services: Chapter 3 contains a section on foster carers’ delegated authority and also refers to delegated authority in sections on contact with family and friends; achieving healthy outcomes for looked-after children and educational achievement
- The Children Act 1989 Statutory Guidance Volume 1: Court Orders. Chapter 3 contains a section on the effect of care orders
How do you get Delegated Authority?
When a child or young person is placed with you ensure part of the placement planning paperwork a completed and a signed ‘Delegated Authority Tool’ is in place, if not make a request for one as soon as you can.
You will go through it with the social workers to establish what you have authority to do and what you don’t, who can give permissions for things and who can’t.
This makes it easier to make day to day decisions but also gives clarity around what decisions are not within your authority to make, which is really important. Making decisions that are not yours to make can lead to standards of care investigations and allegations.
All decisions will be made taking into account many factors, age, legal status, views, who has parental responsibility (PR), care plans. However it is not a fixed document and may be changed over time by the social workers in agreement with whoever holds PR.
Consultation, collaboration and good team work are essential for making delegated authority a success and consequently giving the child as normal family life as possible whilst they are in care.
What is in a Delegated Authority Tool?
There are several sections covering a wide range of permissions, this is just a guide as all local authorities will have their own policies and documents.
There could be times when more than one person can have authority to do something, this could be in signing consent forms for school trips or attending parents evening, and other situations, if this arises the respective roles and how this will work should be clarified in the ‘notes’ section.
TOP TIP: IF IN DOUBT DON’T. If you are unsure about giving authority or permission for something then don’t do it, contact your supervising social worker and the child’s social worker for clarification.
- Medical and Health
- Emergency medial treatment
- routine immunisations, Planned medical procedures
- Medical procedure carried out in the home where the person administering the procedure
- requires training (eg child with disability/illness)
- Dental treatment, signed consent to dental emergency treatment, routine treatment
- Opticians, appointments, eye tests, glasses
- Consent to examination or treatment by school doctor
- Administration of prescribed or over the counter medications
- Permission for school to administer prescribed/over the counter medications
- Referral or consent for child or young person to access another service (i.e. CAMHS)
- Signed consent for school day trips and school abroad
- Using computers
- School photographs
- Who attends parents evenings and Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings
- Who goes to unplanned meetings when incidents or issues arise
- Registration for a school, changing school
- Accessing other services through school
- Personal health and social education
- Home life, personal, leisure
- Passport application
- Overnight sleepovers with friends or family
- Holidays in and out of the UK
- Membership of sports or social clubs
- Higher risk activities such as horse riding, canoeing, skiing, rock climbing
- Hair colouring
- Tattoos/body piercings
- Mobile phone
- Part time jobs
- Accessing social networking sites, photos or any media engagement
- Religion and Faith
- New or changes in faith, church or religious observance
- Attendance at a place of worship
- Identity and names
- Life history work
- New or changes in ‘nicknames’, order of first names, or preferred names
- Contact/family time
- Who arranges
What does a Delegated Authority tool look like?
Here is an example, this is Hereford County Council.
There should also be a section at the end for additional notes, this is because every child is unique as is every fostering family and everything is not always as clear cut as we would like them to be.
There will be a lot of factors involved including any looked after children in the fostering home and the carer’s own birth children.
The document will be signed and dated, but the foster carers, supervising social worker and child’s social worker and the child or young person (only where appropriate).
Information, Help and Support
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