To recap the final paragraph of last time:

“So, perhaps we should transfer folk quickly, simply because it’s the right thing to do…?

What if we could get it done in a few days, 3-4 weeks tops?

Sure, that’d be nice, I hear…

… I mean, we all value our amazing families don’t we, but is it really safe, and compliant… seriously…. no new DBS or medical, no updated form F?! 

Sounds like cutting corners… Ofsted aren’t going to like that…?”

Is it really safe… to do what?

To assess someone’s suitability to foster?

When we do that for brand new families, our conclusion is nothing more than our best guess.

Whether they are suitable to foster, is a hypothesis. We won’t know, until they do it.

They won’t know, until they’ve done it.

At a family’s first annual review, have you ever heard someone say something like…

“Oh maan! We know you told us, but we had no idea!”

“It’s been a steep learning curve!”

“We’ve had our challenges, and we’ve wondered if we could keep going…”

“It was not what we were expecting… it’s much harder… we didn’t know we’d feel the way we do.”

For brand new folk, we gather relevant details, triangulate thoroughly, use qualified and experienced skills… to come up with a best guess. We have to have humility that we do not really know, but we’ve done our best to figure it out.

Once families have been through that process, and better still once they’ve fostered children in their home… we have solid evidence of their suitability… to actually foster.

We’re not hypothesising, guessing any more. We can reflect on how things turned out, what actually happened once they were approved. 

So when families apply to a new service, we have something more solid to look at, when we undertake the assessment as required by the regulations. We know, more.

And those statutory checks, that can take a while to arrive…

Pop quiz:

Q: Does a DBS expire?

A: No.

Q: Is a DBS guaranteed to tell you whether someone has committed a crime?

A: No, only if they got caught.

Q: How long can you rely on the information in a DBS, and in a medical?

A: Only the day those checks arrive. If you get a DBS and a medical for me today, then tomorrow I commit a crime and have a heart attack… 

Q: Right… so does everyone renew the DBS and medical checks every day then?

A: They do not.

Q: Hmm… so how often do we renew DBS and medical checks?

A: Typically every 2-4 years.

Q: And every service lives with the ‘risk’ of that, day in day out,  with all their existing, approved families?

A: Correct. 

Q: So no one really cares about criminality and health in foster families after that first approval?

A: Oh, no… they do care… that’s why families are monitored closely, with supervisory relationship, and home visits, and unannounced visits, and annual reviews, and reading daily recordings etc to look for signs of anything changing.

Q: Oh, OK… so management of risk is way more than those checks?

A: Absolutely

Q: And - remind me - in a family waiting to transfer, there may be children placed who are exposed to whatever risks that family present, so whilst we’re waiting for new checks… that kid is still in that home, exposed to those risks?

A: Correct

And don’t forget… all the while the family is sitting somewhere they don’t want to be, potentially being treated badly - high anxiety, high stress, simple frustration… the risks over there are only increasing.

So for the child in place, or for the one in an abusive environment waiting to be placed… is it safer to wait for new checks?

Q: So we could start our own, but rely on the ones already in place for the purposes of re-assessment, and getting the transfer decision quickly?

A: Aha! Yes indeed… probably the DBS, we could just wait until the usual renewal period for medicals… some people never renew those.

Ok, alright… I hear…

…so it might be safe enough… safer than for new families, safer for the kids to get the transfer done quickly… but there’s nothing in the regs, standards or guidance that allows for that… I mean, we’d love to, but our hands are tied! 

I kinda see how maybe we could get it done in a few weeks… I’m still struggling with a few days to be honest… but anyway… we have to be compliant! 

We have local authorities to reassure, and Ofsted… they aren’t going to like it!

We’ve always done it this way for a reason, right…?

Tune in next time, for the thrilling finale!

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Fast family transfers

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