The Fostering Agreement

  • FosterWiki
  • Author:FosterWiki
  • Published:March 2022
  • Country: United Kingdom

The Fostering Agreement

The Fostering Agreement

Introduction to the Fostering Agreement

When foster carers are approved by a panel they sign a Fostering Agreement with their providers. This is a written agreement that identifies the contractual obligations and expectations between you and the fostering provider.

It sets out everything the foster carers are expected to do and obliged to abide by, and the same for the fostering provider. When both have signed the agreement it is an acceptance of those terms and conditions by both yourself and your fostering provider.

An example of a fostering agreement can be found here https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/downloads/file/16045/fostering_agreement.pdf

Is the Fostering Agreement a legal document?

Yes, it is, as set out in The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011, section 5, matters and obligations in Foster Care Agreements and in the Scottish and Welsh counterparts.

What is in the Fostering Agreement?

This is set out in fostering regulations by the individual governments of the UK. They are all pretty similar to the UK one, The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011, schedule 5.

What must be recorded in the Fostering Agreement

  1. The terms of the foster carer’s approval.
  2. The support and training to be given to the foster carer.
  3. The procedure for the review of approval of the foster carer.
  4. The procedure in connection with the placement of children and the matters to be included in any placement plan.
  5. The arrangements for meeting any legal liabilities of the foster carer arising by reason of a placement.
  6. The procedure available to foster carers for making complaints and representations.

What foster carers agree to

  1. To care for any child placed with them as if the child was a child of the foster parent’s family and to promote that child’s welfare having regard to the long and short-term plans for the child.
  2. To give written notice to the fostering service provider without delay, with full particulars, any intended change of the foster parent’s address, any change in the composition of the household, any other change in the foster parent’s personal circumstances and any other event affecting either their capacity to care for any child placed or the suitability of the household, and any request or application to adopt children, or for registration as an early years provider or a later years provider under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006.
  3. Not to administer corporal punishment to any child placed with the foster parent.
  4. To ensure that any information relating to a child placed with the foster parent, to the child’s family or to any other person, which has been given to them in confidence in connection with a placement is kept confidential and is not disclosed to any person without the consent of the fostering service provider.
  5. To comply with the terms of any placement plan.
  6. To comply with the policies and procedures of the fostering service provider issued under regulations 12 and 13.
  7. To co-operate as reasonably required with the Chief Inspector and in particular to allow a person authorised by the Chief Inspector to interview the foster parent and visit the foster parent’s home at any reasonable time.
  8. To keep the fostering service provider informed about the child’s progress and to notify it as soon as is reasonably practicable of any significant events affecting the child.

Can providers change the content of the fostering agreement?

The agreement is set out in fostering regulations so it can’t be changed that much, the only changes that can be made are to the terms of approval that will be written in the agreement (ie how many children you are approved for, age ranges, only respite etc) and if those terms of approval change you will receive an amended copy of the Foster Care Agreement to sign.

Providers should not change the basic framework and contents of the Fostering Agreement.

History, politics and legal challenges

In recent years there has been an increasing number of legal challenges around the Fostering Agreement and the working status of foster carers. It has long been claimed by providers and government alike that the agreement is not a contract. This has prevented carers from acquiring a legal working status and basic employment rights.

The legal challenges have been that foster carers should be classified as workers specifically Limb (b) workers as the fostering agreement is a contract. A limb (b) worker is someone who is a ‘dependent contractor’, they are registered as self-employed but provide a service as a part of someone else’s business, ie they work and are contracted to one organisation, in the case of a foster carer, one local authority or agency.

The argument has hinged on whether The Fostering Agreement is a contract or not, in the past, it has also hinged on the argument that The Fostering Agreement and the work as foster carers are ‘set in statute’ which in other words means it is set out in the law, in this case, the Children’s Act and Fostering Regulations around the UK.

This argument has since been challenged by Lord Justice Bean in the NUPFC case (see below).

Links

Contract Court Fostering Fostering Agreement J Johnston v Glasgow NUPFC The National Union of Professional Foster Carers v The Certification Officer