Fostering Panel

After several weeks of information gathering and assessment writing, the assessment is completed and presented to panel: Panel members are at least five members of the community from diverse backgrounds and most of the members are independent to Sparks Fostering. The role of the panel members is to review the assessment and to identify any gaps or outstanding questions, then the panel members give their recommendation as to whether the applicant/s should be approved to foster. The ultimate decision about approval lies with the agency decision maker; however, more often than not, the agency decision maker (a senior manager of Sparks Fostering) agrees with the panel recommendation.

By the time the report reaches panel, it has been checked by a manager, so most reports are approved unconditionally. Panel may, however, request more information to be clarified, or they may defer the panel for more work to be done on the report. Panel also have the right to turn down the application; however, when Sparks Fostering staff feel that there is a risk of this, applicants would be made aware before panel.

Applicant/s are expected to attend their panel meeting with their assessing social worker. If a lone applicant feels very nervous about attending, or feels that they will struggle to communicate well with panel, the applicant can take an advocate (friend) with them to panel.

Unexpected delays in assessment

At any stage of the assessment, there may be delays or setbacks depending on the information available to the people reviewing the assessment at that time. This may lead to the assessment being put on hold, being put back to a previous stage, or the assessment could be terminated.

If the assessment is terminated after it has been allocated to a social worker, and the applicants disagree with the outcome, Sparks Fostering can signpost the applicant to the ‘Independent Reviewing Mechanism’, which gives an independent impartial view about decisions to terminate assessments.