So you want to… Transfer providers
So you want to… Transfer providers
A foster carer’s guide to transferring to another local authority or agency
In 2014 the “Transfer of foster carers protocol’ in place” for England, Wales and Scotland were introduced by the Fostering Network, it was developed with the joint forum of Independent Fostering Providers and is issued with the support of the ADCS (Association of Directors of Children’s Services).
It should be, on paper, a straightforward and timely process, but very often it is not (see foster carers comments section 5). If you want to transfer providers we advise that you are as informed as you can be on the protocol in place to assist you in your transfer and ensure that protocols are being followed, as in all things fostering they are not always, and frustrations can set in, specifically around time scales.
When we apply to be foster carers we are taken through an approval process, called the “Form F”, which is essentially your license to foster. Currently, these are ‘owned’ by your fostering provider. Unfortunately, some providers make it challenging for the new agency to get your whole Form F and due to GDPR often large parts of it are redacted.
So foster carers find themselves having to go through the entire approval process again. You might have to be efficient in chasing up departments and social workers to make sure everyone’s doing what they should, especially within the timescales. Lengthy difficult transfers can cause anxiety and stress.
This page is intended as a guide to transferring from the foster carer’s perspective. For the full protocols and underpinning legislation please see the links at the bottom.
Check out FosterWiki ‘Top 10 Tips on transferring providers’ https://fosterwiki.com/wiki/top-10-tips-for-transferring-provider/
2. What does the protocol say?
- Foster carers have the right to freedom of movement between fostering services.
- The welfare of the child is paramount, and consideration should be given to the views of the child (where appropriate) and where applicable birth parents and other relevant parties.
- Fostering Services and Independent Fostering Agencies will comply with all relevant legislation, regulation, standards and statutory guidance.
- Continuity of care for children throughout the transfer process must be ensured, the care plan must be taken into account.
- They must minimise the length of time taken in the transfer process.
3. How does it work?
There is a strict protocol in place as timings in the process are important. You can not be approved by more than one provider at a time, therefore your resignation and joining your new agency have to all happen on the same day.
- You make enquiries into new providers, we advise these early discussions are in confidence.
- When you have found your new local authority or agency you put in an ‘Intention to transfer’ email to your current agency. This is not a resignation letter. (Template available in members area).
- The recruiting fostering service may begin an assessment once notification has been received by the current service.
- The new provider will ask the current provider for a reference, which they must supply, which includes their original report on Form F (approval file), a copy of the carers’ last review, and details of any concerns or allegations.
- It is considered good practice that the current agency provides a copy of a foster carer’s assessment report (Form F) to the recruiting service and for the foster carer to have a copy. It is important to note here that much of it is the foster carer’s data and as such you are entitled to it. If it is being withheld you can submit a SAR (subject access request, template available in members area) however this would take time and your current provider should be producing this.
- You are assessed by the new fostering provider.
- Once the assessment has been completed and it is going to the panel the new provider will inform you and you should give your 28 days’ notice of resignation to your current provider. You can not be approved by more than one fostering service at the same time so the two providers need to ensure a smooth transition on the day. Especially as the fostering regulations state that an approval will be terminated 28 days from written notice of resignation being received from a foster carer and that once submitted written notice of resignation automatically takes effect after 28 days and cannot be rescinded. Make sure when you give in your resignation that they acknowledge they have it, sometimes carers do it by hand or recorded delivery.
- You go to the panel
- Once the fostering panel of the fostering service you are transferring to has made its recommendation and the service indicates that it is ready to approve you as a foster carer, you should submit your resignation to the current fostering service. The new agency decision maker (ADM) may state that they will approve you on a specific date in the future, which could be planned to coincide with the termination of your existing approval at the expiry of the 28-day notice period. However, the two agencies, fostering panel and the decision-maker must achieve the desired outcome in the right timescales, their overriding objective must be to promote the welfare of the children in placement. A timetable for the approval of the foster carer/s by the recruiting service should be in place and the expectation is that it should take no more than two to four months. When these timescales cannot reasonably be adhered to all parties will be kept informed about developments and the anticipated time to completion.
Allegations and Standards of Care investigations
This statement is from the ‘Transfer of foster carers protocol (2014) (Reviewed 2019).
Whether we like it or not, and despite the majority of providers working with integrity and good practice, we have experienced some less ethical providers in the past using sudden and unfounded “allegations” or “standards of care” investigations in a transparent and inappropriate effort to try and prevent a foster carer transferring or to discredit them, or to prevent children moving with them, as you can not transfer agencies whilst there is an active ongoing investigation.
The protocol states that where it is agreed that a child’s placement will continue with a foster carer, the recruiting service should, as a minimum, continue to pay the foster carer their current rates of allowances and fees in relation to that placement. These rates should continue to apply for the duration of the placement, subject to any annual agreed increases and movement through the age bands.
4. What is the procedure where a child is in placement?
Many foster carers putting in intentions to transfer will have foster children in placement they wish to move with them. Whether this is possible will depend on a myriad of things. Where objections are genuine the carer must take this into consideration and the welfare of the child is paramount. However, it is rarely not in the interests of the child for them not to stay in their families if they are settled, secure and happy. However, as we say, there will be many mitigating factors.
Where there is a child (or children) in placement, foster carers must give written notice of their intention to consider moving to another agency both to the current service and to the placing authority/authorities.
The child’s IRO (independent reviewing officer) will be informed and a meeting will be held to consider if it is in the best interests of the child, how it will affect their care plan, how the move may affect each child including the potential loss of support or relationships, medical or other health needs and education. It will also look at contact with the birth family and how that can be sustained, especially if the foster carers are transferring due to moving house, it will also take into account the views of birth parents.
5. What the foster carers say:
There are many examples of good practice (as you can see from the foster carers’ comments), and equally, there are still lots of problems and issues in transferring. Many foster carers we spoke to had not been aware there was a protocol in place and felt they were “at the mercy” of their current providers, many found there were a lot of obstructions in the way. We have also found an uncomfortably high incidence of carers speaking about transferring to their SWs or provider triggering allegations or concerns.
We recommend FosterWiki’s “Top 10 Tips” for transferring fostering providers as it was compiled from the carer’s experiences.
Foster carers comments
- The Fostering Network transfer protocol https://www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/sites/default/files/content/transferoffostercarersprotocol_1.pdf
- Transferring in Wales https://www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/sites/default/files/content/transferringfosteringagenciesfactsheetseptember2019.pdf
- Transferring in Scotland https://www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/sites/default/files/content/best-practicetransfer-protocol-scotland-sept2015.pdf
Good luck from the FosterWiki Team Experts by experience
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