Receiving your application
After receiving your application by email or post we confirm that all of the information needed is included and that the application has been made within the required timescales. We will contact you if any further information is required for the application. We also contact your Fostering Provider to inform them of your application and ask them to confirm that they have issued a Qualifying Determination (QD) letter.
Accepting the application
After the IRM Contract Manager has confirmed that your application can be accepted a letter will be sent to you confirming acceptance. This letter also includes a form for you to return requesting your consent to disclose all documentation including medical information if required.
Requesting papers that went to your panel
A letter will also be sent to your fostering provider requesting a copy of all the documents that were provided to your original fostering panel, any additional information that may have been considered by the Agency Decision Maker and a copy of the QD letter. The IRM panel will consider your case afresh and therefore will not see the fostering panel minutes, however, they will be informed of the reasons for the fostering panel and decision maker’s recommendation not to approve.
Organising your review panel
The IRM Panels are located in London, Birmingham and Leeds. In most cases we will allocate the Panel closest to your home. We will advise you of the date, time and location of the review panel meeting, giving you at least six weeks’ notice. You will also be given a date by which to submit any extra relevant information you wish panel to consider.
Requesting further information
Your IRM caseworker and our legal advisor will review all of the paperwork submitted to your original panel. We will consider whether further information will be required from your fostering provider or yourself. If necessary a medical advisor will provide a medical report to the IRM panel. They may seek additional information to assist them with this report from you or your GP.
All the relevant papers will be collated by the IRM office and a copy is sent to you and your fostering provider at least two weeks prior to the Panel Hearing. Neither party receives a copy of the IRM Legal report or the IRM medical report. The only other information which will not be shared is 3rd party confidentiality information. E.g. references or Strategy Meeting minutes.
Review Panel meeting preparation
Your agency should provide you with independent support to assist you prepare for the IRM Review. On the day of Panel this person or if you prefer another adult supporter may attend Panel with you to provide moral support. However they will not be able to advocate for you at Panel If you have a physical, sensory or learning impairment, or English is not your first language, you may bring an interpreter or helper with you in addition to a friend. Please inform the IRM as soon as possible if you require this additional support. Your fostering service provider will be invited to send up to two representatives to the Review Panel meeting. We expect them to send someone who will be accountable for your case in most cases this is the assessing or supervising social worker and their line manager.
Panel members will have had at least two weeks to read the papers prepared for your case. Please note further written documents cannot be provided on the day of panel, and you are advised to bring the copy of the papers sent to you by the IRM to the Review for ease of reference
Review panel meeting
On arrival at the Panel venue you will be taken to your waiting room where you will be able to view the panel member profiles (brief information about the panel members sitting on your panel). The fostering service representatives will have a separate waiting room. The Chair or Professional Advisor will come and welcome you and briefly explain the procedure. Following this both parties will be taken into the Review Meeting where all Panel members will introduce themselves. Panel commences with the panel chair informing the review meeting of your strengths as a foster carer that have been identified in the panel papers. Panel members will have a number of questions to put to the applicants and agency. They will start with questions to you, the applicants and be followed by questions to the fostering service provider. After the questions you and your fostering provider are given a brief opportunity to provide any further comments you wish to make. Before being advised that you can leave, panel members will consider if they have any further questions they need to ask. After you and your fostering provider representatives has left, panel will have a discussion regarding your suitability before reaching their recommendation regarding your suitability and if deemed relevant offering advice on your terms of approval. There are occasions where panel may need to ask your fostering provider questions of a third party/confidential nature to which you are unable to be present but you will be inform if this is to happen on the day. Apart from this and the panel discussions you will be present through the whole of the panel review and will need to be available for up to two hours.
After the review panel meeting
Within 12 working days we will send you a copy of the review panel's recommendation and reasons with a copy of the panel minutes (these are not a verbatim record). A copy of the panel’s recommendation, reasons and a full set of minutes will be also be sent to your fostering service provider to assist them in their decision making. Your fostering service provider will then write to you informing you of its final decision taking into consideration the IRM’s recommendation.
There is no appeal process against an IRM recommendation or the Final Decision of the Agency. If you are unhappy about the outcome or process you may wish to seek your own legal advice from, for example, a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau, as to what action you may take.