If you’re thinking of fostering, you’ll have likely heard the term ‘Panel’ used when agencies or local authorities describe their recruitment process to you. You’ll have an understanding that members of a Panel will make recommendations on your suitability to foster. But how does this work, and what else are Fostering Panels responsible for?
Fostering agencies and services across the UK will establish Panels for several reasons. Team Fostering have established Panels in each region to carry out a range of functions, including;
- Making recommendations on applicants’ suitability to foster and the terms of each family approval;
- Considering reviews of foster carers, mainly annual reviews, and making recommendations about any changes to foster carer suitability or any changes to the terms of approval;
- To oversee the conduct of foster carer assessments and provide advice to the agency;
- To make recommendations to the agency about the termination of a foster carer appointment.
Subsequently, the role of the Panel is extremely important to the agency and not confined to one sole purpose. Panel members need to take on the above in Panel Meetings and therefore must be able to act fairly and impartially. So, how does the agency appoint an appropriate, balanced Panel?
Team Fostering aims to ensure its Panel members represent the diversity of the community, and as individuals and a group have expertise and experience necessary to make appropriate decisions. Each Panel will comprise of an Independent Chairperson or Vice Chair with experience of fostering and childcare social work at practitioner and management level, a Team Fostering Manager who will attend as the Agency Advisor, a Team Fostering social worker with at least 3 years post-qualifying experience and Independent Panel Members. Independent Panel Members are those that can offer a range of insight and expertise into making recommendations and will likely include a Medical Advisor, a qualified solicitor, someone with recent experience of fostering children, someone with personal experience of being fostered and/or someone with professional experience in educational matters. A dedicated minute-taker will be present in all Panel Meetings to make a written record of Panel discussion, recommendations and reasons for recommendations. This is shared with the agency’s appointed Agency Decision Maker who will make decisions and qualifying determinations after considering the information presented.
We ensure all Panel Members are subject to DBS and other statutory checks and follow a thorough recruitment process when looking for new members. Our Panel Members attend regular training and workshops to continually integrate their expertise with an understanding of Team Fostering as a not-for-profit agency, and we seek regular feedback form foster carers who have attended Panel to ensure that our values and behaviours are reflected in all meetings.
Team Fostering is a not-for-profit, independent fostering agency that operates across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands. Our ethical values and our not-for-profit status means that rather than pay shareholders we have the ability to reinvest more funds into the service we offer to foster carers, children and young people. This means that foster carers at the agency are supported with competitive weekly fees, comprehensive support services across the board and innovative training and development opportunities.
To learn more about fostering with Team Fostering, regardless of previous experience, contact us: