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6.1.8 Guidance for Supervising Social Workers when Foster Carers Separate


  1. Introduction
  2. Report to Fostering Panel
  3. Foster Carer Review

1. Introduction

When foster carers separate it needs to be considered under a 'significant change' and as a consequence of this the foster carer's approval and circumstances need to return to the Fostering Panel. It can be a time of uncertainty and change.

Couple's themselves may be unclear about their future and what might happen.

As a Fostering Service it is important, alongside support to the carers, there is a continued focus on the carers ability to continue fostering, to meet fostering standards and the children's needs following the separation.

At the time of the separation the placing social workers should be notified and their views sought. Consideration needs to be given to whether the placement/s are able to continue. It may be useful to hold a professionals meeting to look at the support to the placement and children during this time.

When couple's separate and one partner moves out of the home the supervising social worker needs to complete a brief interim report on the carers circumstances. This should be sent to the Foster Panel Adviser who will notify the Fostering Panel under AOB. The aim should be that the Panel Adviser should be able to do this initial notification no later than 3 months after the couple has separated.

2. Report to Fostering Panel

The report should contain the following info;

  • Details of couple - name and address, date of birth;
  • Date and terms of approval;
  • Last review date;
  • Children in placement.

A brief summary outlining the split of the relationship and how the couple are managing including contact with children.

A brief summary of the arrangements that have been put in place for the children and how the carer is continuing the fostering task. (It is not expected that this report will be more than a side of A4).

3. Foster Carer Review

6 months after the separation the supervising social worker should undertake a review of the foster carer. The focus of the review needs to be on the work undertaken by the remaining foster carer (rather then the work of the couple) in the interim period since the last review but should also make reference to how the foster carer will meet the needs of the Child/ren in Care and fostering standards and expectations as a single carer.

Alongside the review a more detailed report needs to be prepared giving a brief chronology of the relationship break up, arrangements for the children and how the couple have managed the break up. This should be presented to the Fostering Panel at the earliest opportunity following the Annual Review. The Panel Adviser needs to be alerted to this in sufficient time. It is expected that the foster carer will attend panel

The carer who has moved out of the home should be encouraged to offer their resignation unless they wish to be assessed as a foster carer in their own right. If they wish to continue then the same arrangements as above should apply along with H and S checks for the new home.

In a situation where the couple reunite following a separation and notification at Panel a review will also need to take place. Alongside the Annual Review the supervising social worker will need to undertake an assessment of the couple's relationship, looking specifically at the stability of the relationship. The assessment will need to look at factors leading to the separation, how these have been resolved and what has changed to ensure stability of the relationship in the future.