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What happens at a fostering panel?

Panel (1)
What is a fostering Panel and who are the members?

Firstly, a Panel is when two or more people interview you at the same time. In this instance, Panel meetings involve 5 or so Panel members, led by a Chair, and a minute-taker. Panel members have a wide range of knowledge and see life from many angles. Members come from diverse family backgrounds, cultures, and heritage, and have professional and personal experience. Some members have fostered or adopted; others have been looked-after children. Some are experienced Social Workers or qualified in Education or Health. Most members, including the Chair, are independent and do not work for Nexus Fostering. Others are members of our staff. They all share a commitment to the welfare of children and young people placed with the agency.

The Fostering Services Regulations (the rules relating to fostering agencies), set out what Panels must do. Panels have a responsibility to ensure that individuals who want to foster, and their households: are safe to do so; are motivated by the right reasons; understand the role, have the skills to carry it out well, and have been well prepared by the agency for the tasks ahead. Panels need to be confident that families will provide care and protection for the children and young people entrusted to them, and positively support them to develop to their full potential. The Panel must make a recommendation about your suitability to foster based on your life experiences, the lessons learned from those experiences, and how that learning relates to the way you might care for children and young people.

Why do I need to take part in a Panel meeting and what happens on the day?

All applicants have a right to attend Panels that are considering their approval. But more than that, being heard in person brings your assessment to life. If you are applying as a couple, both of you need to take part. If you are a single applicant, you may bring a supporter, although they will not be able to speak on your behalf. If you have children at home and they would like to be with you when you present, Panel will be happy to include them at some point. However, they might not be with you all the time. A lot of work will have gone into your assessment so far: the outcome will not be based only on your presentation in this meeting.

The Panel meets virtually using Zoom or in person. You will join the meeting from home or your local Nexus Fostering office. Panel members will have read the assessment report before they meet. They will discuss your report together on the day and agree on questions that encourage you to give broad answers, rather than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and help them understand how you might think and act as a foster carer. Your assessor will be available to support you. Panel will ask if you have questions for them, but few applicants do, so please don’t worry. You are likely to be part of the meeting for at least 20 minutes. After the questions have been answered, Panel will spend a brief time alone to make its recommendation. You will then link again with the Panel meeting to be told their recommendation.

What can Panel recommend, who makes the final decision and when will I begin to foster?

Having considered Panels recommendations, your assessment, and all other information regarding your case the Agency Decision Maker (ADM), a Director of the agency, makes the final decision. It may take up to 15 working days to hear in writing, but it is usually quicker than this. This sounds like a long time, but it allows for all the right procedures to be followed. In general, things happen sooner! If the decision is positive, your local team will be in touch soon after. On rare occasions, if the ADM considers you would not be suitable to foster for us, a letter will explain the reasons and set out details of your options.

Lastly, we can start the matching process and get you ready to begin your fostering journey!

This progress depends on making the right match between what you have to offer and what a particular child or young person needs. We think of you as being available from the day you are approved unless you have told us otherwise. We will discuss with you any child or young person that we think could benefit from what you have to offer. Where you have limited your potential matches e.g. by age, placing with you will take longer.



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Date published

09 April 2024

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