Delegated authority is a term that is frequently used in Foster care. What does it mean? Very simply it is the name given to the everyday process that permits foster carers to make the basic decisions needed on a daily basis as part of looking after a child. This can mean giving permission for a foster child to visit a friend’s house or signing the necessary consent forms for a school visit. The point of delegated authority is to give a child or young person a day to day experience that is as close a possible to normal life. Some decisions can be taken by foster carers and others cannot. The holders of parental responsibility for a child can ‘delegate’ authority to foster carers so that ordinary daily tasks or activities are made possible. It should be stressed that foster carers never have the parental responsibility for the child or young person they might be caring for. This means that they can only take the decisions about a foster child where the authority has been delegated to them by their local authority and/or the parents.
More information for foster carers covering delegated authority
There can often be an issue around clarification. As children get older certain decisions needing to be taken may rest on a wide range of factors. This can be the young person’s legal status, age, conditions within the care plan the care plan or the wishes of the parents. Good communication and effective consultation are necessary to ensure that the day to day experiences of both the foster child and foster carer run as smoothly as possible. Social workers will also play a part in making sure that the delegated authority a foster carer has, is always appropriate.
Problems with delegated authority
If there is confusion around this issue, children and young people in care can often miss out on sleepovers, holidays and trips.
- Parents of children/young people may often feel slightly irrelevant and on the outside of decisions that are being made. Sometimes they are unclear about who can make decisions about their children.
- Foster carers can also become unclear about their roles and responsibilities. They can often feel trapped between the different approaches that can be taken to the delegation of authority.
- Supervising Social Workers, Field team Social Workers and Managers need to be clear with regards to delegated authority.
The responsibility of foster carers in relation to education and delegated authority
A common question asked is just who is included in the definition of a ‘parent’ in the Education Act of 1996? In fact the Act, defines within section 576, the term ‘parent’ to include anyone who has parental for a child, or who has ‘day-to-day care for him or for her. This means that someone, and this can include a foster carer, can be a ‘parent’ for education purposes, but this does not mean that they have the parental responsibility for the child concerned. This makes it important that foster carers fully understand their rights and responsibilities. Education law makes parents directly responsible for their child (rens) regular attendance at school. If a child is being looked after by foster carers and that child fails to attend school regularly, the foster carer(s) concerned, may be asked to enter into a parenting contract. If the attendance of the child does not improve, and the foster carer is unwilling to work with the school to improve the attendance, it’s possible that the foster carer may be prosecuted or fined.
There are a significant number of looked after children who are SEN (Special Educational Needs); or would benefit from being assessed in order to get the appropriate educational support, if they are SEN. If a child has a Statement of SEN, then his/hers foster carer(s) should be given a copy of this. In some circumstances, it is possible for there to be an appeal to the Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal (SENDisT) on issues such as refusal to assess whether a child has SEN, or disagreement about the particular school named in a Statement of SEN, may be made by a foster carer(s). Although
carers have these legal rights, they should be advised not to act without first consulting those parties who have the parental responsibility for the child(ren) concerned. This would be either the Local Authority or the child’s birth parents – as appropriate to individual circumstances. The same applies in the other direction as the Local Authority and the child’s school should make sure that foster carers are always consulted and actively involved in decisions affecting the child’s education – as well as those who have parental responsibility for the child.
Think about applying to be a foster carer with Rainbow
At Rainbow we help and guide our carers to be professional in every sense of the word. We do this by making the most up-to-date training available. We are now looking to recruit people wanting to provide stable, loving homes for vulnerable children and young people. We very much welcome people to apply – regardless of their ethnicity, religion or cultural background, relationship status or sexual orientation. Please call today on 020 8427 3355 for more information on fostering with Rainbow.
Because there is such a pressing need for more carers: we regularly provide up to date figures so that people may consider a career in foster care. Hopefully this will demonstrate just how much they are needed: the country at this present time is facing a shortage of some 7,000 carers. The situation as it relates to England is detailed below:
• at the moment, there are 44,625 fostering families caring for children and young people in England;
• the leading charity, The Fostering Network is estimating there will be a need to recruit a further 5,900 foster families in England over the next twelve month period.
Read about the issues affecting foster care on our website
Court rules in favour of foster care victim
October 19th, 2017
In a landmark ruling, a woman who experienced abuse from her carers as a child, has won a battle against Nottinghamshire County Council. The court ruled against the council, judging it was “vicariously liable” after placing the her with two foster couples during the nineteen eighties (for more visit) http://bit.ly/2e8PrIK
‘Rainbow Rewards’: bonus payments available
Qualify for a special bonus of £500 by simply referring someone to us who progresses to become an approved carer with Rainbow. The money will be paid once your referral has received their very first placement. And for existing carers – please have chat with us if you are thinking of working with a new agency. Carers who transfer to Rainbow, can also qualify for our special ‘reward’ payment: please note that this payment will only be made for carers who are currently looking after a child on a long-term basis.
And the good news at the end of this rainbow…more birthday celebrations for our children to mark this month. Happy Birthday from everyone at Rainbow Fostering!
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