asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether an independent review mechanism already exists in relation to foster care; and, if so, whether it consists of one or more panels; who are their members; and whether they have powers to consider and resolve allegations against foster parents. [HL637]
There is currently no independent review mechanism for foster carers. However, Clause 29 of the Children and Young Persons Bill currently being considered by Parliament, amends Schedule 2 to the Children Act 1989, to allow for the independent review of decisions by fostering service providers on the suitability of foster parents. This mechanism will allow all prospective and existing carers whose approval has been turned down or removed the option of having the decision reviewed by an independent panel.
Under the Bill, the panel will not have the power to consider or resolve allegations against foster parents; this function will remain with the fostering service provider. However, the DCSF has funded the publication of a range of information and training materials relating to improving the way in which allegations against foster carers are handled and to support foster carers through that process. In addition, a review of the implementation of guidance on handling allegations is currently under way and the outcome of this review is due to be published in early 2008.