Why am I here?
A "qualifying determination" is a determination made by a fostering service provider that it considers a prospective or existing foster carer is not suitable to foster a child, or feels an alteration is needed to an existing foster carers terms of approval. A qualifying determination will be issued after either an assessment report or a review report has been prepared, possibly considered by a fostering panel and then considered by the agency decision maker. This qualifying decision is received in the form of a letter.
If you are a prospective or an existing foster carer who has recently received a qualifying determination which you don’t agree with, you have three options:
- You can apply to the IRM for a review of your fostering service provider’s qualifying determination, within 28 calendar days of the date of your letter.
- You can make written representations to your fostering service provider.
- You can accept the QD. In which case it takes effect 28 calendar days after the date on the letter.
You can only exercise one option.
The cost of having your case reviewed is met by your provider.
What the IRM can do for you
The IRM is a review process conducted by a Review Panel which is independent of your Fostering Service Provider(FSP).
If you choose to use the IRM the review panel will, where appropriate:
- review your suitability as a prospective foster carer(s) to foster a child
- review any proposed changes to your terms of approval
- make a recommendation to your agency on your suitability to foster a child and the terms of your approval, including approval for a specific child.
The IRM will not:
- make a final decision about your case, this is done by FSP, after they have received the recommendation of the IRM Panel
- will not consider the suitability of the care plan for a child e.g. whether they should be long-term fostered.
- will not process complaints against the FSP. Complaints should be dealt with through the FSP’s complaints procedure.
How the Review Panel works
The Review Panel considers the following information to make its recommendation:
- your grounds(reasons) for requesting a review and any relevant information you provide to evidence your suitability to foster.
- all information presented to the original Fostering Panel, any other relevant information requested from the FSP or yourself by the IRM.
- if the Review Panel needs further information, this will be requested from your fostering service or yourself before the Review Meeting.
On the day of the Review Panel both you and the FSP will attend and both parties will be asked questions to clarify aspects of the case. Although you will have a separate waiting room both parties will attend the panel together. The only exception will be if the Panel seeks clarification from the FSP about 3rd party confidential information you are not entitled to see.
The IRM will prepare a set of Panel papers which will be sent to you and to the FSP two weeks before the Panel date.
The panel will also receive independent legal advice and if required medical advice from its own advisors.
Results and outcomes
The IRM Panel will reach a recommendation on the day and a copy of the panel’s recommendation reasons and a full set of minutes will be sent to you and the FSP 12 working days after the Review.
Terms of approval cases - If the IRM is reviewing proposed changes to your terms of approval, they may recommend terms that they consider appropriate. However, if the panel considers that you are not suitable to foster, they have the power to recommend that you are not suitable to act as a foster parent. As in all cases, it is for your fostering service provider to make the final decision about your approval.
The foster service provider must take the review panel’s recommendation into account as well as the recommendation of the fostering panel when making its final decision on your suitability to foster a child.