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How do I know if I can apply to the IRM?
If you have received a letter from your fostering service provider called a qualifying determination (QD) and you disagree with this letter, feeling you are suitable to foster then you can apply to the IRM so long as it is within 28 calendar days of the QD letter.
What is a Qualifying Determination Letter (QD)?
This is a letter which advises you that your fostering provider does not consider you suitable to foster a child, or feels an alteration is needed to your existing terms of approval. A QD can be sent after you have been assessed to be a foster carer at stage two (either a brief or a full assessment), if you are a current foster carer whom your fostering provider no longer feel is suitable to foster, or they feel your terms of approval need to change. 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. If you are unsure if the letter you have received is a QD you can contact the IRM to confirm.
I am at stage one of a fostering assessment but have been told I am not suitable to foster can I come to the IRM?
No, the IRM can only accept applications from people that are at stage two of the assessment process.
How do I apply to the IRM?
You can send a letter or email to the IRM asking for an independent review so long as this is within 28 calendar days of your QD letter. You would need to include your name(s), address, contact details, the name of your fostering provider, date of your QD letter and finally why you disagree with the QD letter you have received.
I have been told I am not suitable to foster after a brief assessment report (short report) has been completed, can the IRM help?
After a brief assessment or short report has been completed this should be taken to the fostering panel for a recommendation. Following that, the Agency decision maker will issue a recommendation. If that recommendation is that your assessment should not continue at this point, you are then able to apply to the IRM once you have received your QD. The IRM panel will be able to recommend that your assessment should be completed and presented back to the panel or that you are not suitable to foster.
My fostering provider is changing the number of children I am able to foster from two to one, but I do not agree with this, can the IRM help?
This is called a change in terms of approval and you should be issued with a QD letter. You are then able to apply to the IRM. The IRM will then consider your suitability to foster and can provide advice on the number of children you may be suitable to look after, they may also find you unsuitable to foster.
My fostering provider will not allow me to foster a specific child, can the IRM help?
No, the IRM are unable to offer reviews involving matching issues.
Do I get informed of the outcome of the IRM panel on the day?
No, you are sent the recommendation of the IRM panel along with the reasons and minutes of the panel within 12 working days following the IRM panel. Your fostering provider is also sent these minutes and recommendation at the same time.
What happens if my fostering provider does not agree with the IRM recommendation?
Unfortunately the IRM are unable to provide any further assistance. If you are still unhappy with the fostering provider’s decision you need to seek legal advice.
Can I still foster if the IRM recommends that I am suitable to foster but my fostering provider does not agree?
You are able to approach another fostering provider to request an assessment to foster, however it is the decision of that fostering provider as to whether they will assess you. You will have to provide them with details of your situation and they will contact your previous fostering provider.
I wish to complain about how my fostering provider has treated me, what shall I do?
If you wish to complain about the treatment you have received from your fostering provider you would need to follow the complaints process of your fostering service. The IRM considers an applicant’s suitability to foster and does not deal with complaints about a fostering provider. You are able to apply to the IRM for a review of your suitability to foster and complain to your fostering service about how you have been treated simultaneously.
The Regulations and Guidance
- The Adoption Agencies and Independent Review of Determination Reg 2011
- The Independent Review of Determination (Adoption and Fostering) Reg 2009
- The Care Planning and Fostering (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2015
- The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011
- Assessment and approval of foster carers: Amendments to the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations. Volume 4: Fostering Services July 2013
- The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 4: Fostering Services (2011)
- Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards (2011)
- The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Care Planning's, Placement and Case Review 2010
- Family and Friends Care: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities (2010)