Allegations procedures

Extract from Sussex Child Protection & Safeguarding Procedures
(Volume 2)


8.21.80 For the purposes of the procedures in section 8.21, the term ‘carer’ refers to formally approved foster carers, short break carers and supported lodgings carers. The carers may work for the local authority or work on behalf of private or voluntary organisations.

8.21.81 This procedure also covers approved adopters, where a child has been ‘placed for adoption’ and the prospective adopter has given notice of her / his intention to adopt.

8.21.82 Whenever an allegation is made against a carer or approved adopter, involving a looked after child, the following procedures must be followed in addition to those described in chapters 3, 4 and 5.

8.21.83 Any allegation about abuse or neglect of carers’ own child/ren must be responded to in the same way as with any other child, but there must be consideration of the implications for any placements.

8.21.84 Fostering / adoption staff should be informed and involved in strategy discussions to provide information and consider the implications for past, current and future placements, and the requirements of panel procedures.

8.21.85 The response to private foster carers should be as for any other member of the public.

8.21.86 Compliance with the requirements detailed below should ensure that where allegations of abuse are made or where there is suspicion, organisational responses are prompt, thorough, independent and proportionate to the issue of concern.


8.21.87 Carers are prohibited by law from applying more than specified types and levels of restraint to those children for whom they are professionally responsible.

8.21.88 Allegations or suspicions of abuse or neglect by carers e.g. physical punishment, use or restraint other than permitted by guidance, or other forms of abuse as outlined elsewhere in this (child protection) procedure manual must be taken seriously and staff from all agencies must report any allegation concerning abuse by a carer.

8.21.89 An allegation may require consideration from 4 inter-related perspectives: child protection, criminal investigation, fostering or adoption panel procedures and the complaints procedure. This manual addresses the child protection perspective.

Making a referral

8.21.90 Recognition of concerns or an allegation may arise from a number of sources e.g. a report from a child or an adult within a placement, a complaint or information arising from a complaint investigation.

8.21.91 When a member of staff is suspicious or has received allegations of abuse about a carer, or by a person living within a placement, s/he must report this to his/her line manager.

8.21.92 The recipient of an allegation should not attempt to determine its validity and failure to report it in accordance with procedures is a potential disciplinary matter.

8.21.93 If the allegation or child protection concern relates to a placement in another authority, the referral must be made to that authority and dealt with under its local child protection procedures. In these instances Sussex/Brighton and Hove Children and Families would be expected to fully assist the enquiry.

Initial response to a referral

8.21.94 The social worker receiving the referral must inform her/his first line manager.

8.21.95 If the supervising social worker receives the allegation, her/his team manager must be informed and the referral passed to the relevant locality social work team.

8.21.96 The locality / duty & assessment practice / team manager and fostering / adoption team manager (as appropriate) must consult and decide whether the complaint / concern / allegation is one of child protection or of standards of care. There may be occasions where children are harmed in the course of managing a child’s challenging behaviour and such cases may be appropriately responded to through internal management structures.

8.21.97 Where the managers decide that the concern / complaint / allegation constitutes a child protection referral, both operation / service managers must be informed.

8.21.98 Disagreements (about whether or not the concern is one of child protection) should be resolved through line managers and the senior child protection manager. Where there is any doubt child protection procedures should be initiated in the first instance.

8.21.99 The decision and the reasons for this decision must be clearly recorded on both the child and the carer’s files.

8.21.100 If the matter is to be considered under the child protection process Children and Families must discuss the case with the police at the first opportunity and inform them if a criminal offence may have been committed against a child (see chapter 5).

8.21.101 Ofsted must be notified of any allegation against a registerable carer.

8.21.102 Other local authorities may need to be alerted e.g. if they have a child placed with the carer.

8.21.103 The manager of the team responsible for the enquiry (see below) should make an immediate assessment of the level of risk to the child/ren in placement (and any need to move them prior to the strategy meeting) in consultation with the investigating social worker, the supervising social worker and child/ren’s social worker/s and manager/s.

Independence of staff conducting the enquiry

8.21.104 The close inter-relationship between carers and Children and Families, and the need to ensure the investigating social worker’s independence should be taken into consideration in the allocation and management of any enquiries / investigation.

8.21.105 The person undertaking the enquiries should not be the child’s social worker, or a worker managed by the person with line responsibility for the child/ren.

8.21.106 It is not permissible for a member of staff to conduct an enquiry about a suspicion or allegation of abuse with respect to a:

  • Relative
  • Friend
  • Colleague or someone who has worked with her/him previously

Strategy discussion

8.21.107 A strategy discussion, in the form of a meeting, must be held within 48 hours of the referral and the chair should be independent of management responsibility for the child or carer. If emergency action is required immediately, the strategy meeting should be called as soon as possible after the action has taken place.

8.21.108 The following should be invited to the strategy discussion:

  • Police (all first strategy meetings)
  • Child’s social worker and manager
  • Supervising social worker (fostering, short breaks) and manager
  • Social workers for any other children in placement
  • Child protection advisor
  • Ofsted representative
  • Relevant health and education representatives

8.21.109 The strategy meeting must consider and record whether any further action is required under the 4 headings:

  • Child Protection
  • Criminal Investigation
  • Fostering or adoption panel procedures
  • Complaint procedures

8.21.110 In addition to planning enquiries in accordance with strategy meeting procedures in 5.8, the meeting should consider the following issues:

  • The significance of any other previous allegations made against the carers or their family
  • Whether the child/ren remain in placement (removal of child/ren should not be an automatic course of action - the decision making should be in the context of the best interests of the child and the information available)
  • Other children currently living in the carer’s household, and those previously placed with the carers (including the need for strategy discussions / meetings with regard to any of these children) and what information to be given
  • The status of the carers, as co-workers and individuals who have a right to be heard
  • Who will inform the carers of the allegation and when
  • The support to be provided to the child/ren in the placement, including the carer’s children
  • The support to be provided for the carers from the family placement / supervising social worker and the fostering team
  • How, and when, will the parents be informed of the allegations
  • Whether to initiate complex abuse procedures

Conducting the enquiry/investigation

8.21.111 The S.47 enquiry and any police investigation will take place in accordance with chapter 5 of this manual.

8.21.112 Enquires must be conducted in the strictest confidence so that information can be given freely without fear of victimisation, and in a way that protects the rights of carers and their families.

Informing parents and those with parental responsibility

8.21.113 Parents of relevant children should be given information about the concerns, advised on the process to be followed, and the outcomes reached. The provision of information and advice must take place in a manner that does not impede the proper exercise of the enquiry, disciplinary and investigative processes.


8.21.114 No further placements of any kind will be made with the foster carers until the enquiry has been concluded.

8.21.115 The fostering / adoption team manager will need to decide on the nature of payments to be made to carers during the enquiry.

Support for carers during the enquiry

8.21.116 The role of the fostering / adoption team in the provision of support should be considered at the strategy discussion, which must ensure that all involved understand the focus for the supervising social worker is the child and that s/he is unable to provide unconditional support to the carer.

8.21.117 The supervising social worker should explain her / his role to the carer and ensure that the carer is aware of other sources of support. This could be from one or more of the following:

  • A friend
  • Local Foster Care Association or
  • Fostering Network
  • Fostering Support Ltd (if carer funds this)

8.21.118 Carers who are members of the Fostering Network have access to legal advice (see the Fostering Handbook for details).

8.21.119 Foster carers should be enabled, through their local authority, to have free access to legal advice.

8.21.120 Carers must be informed that, if the allegations culminate in court proceedings, witnesses including support workers or friends may be required to give evidence.

8.21.121 During the course of the investigation carers have the right to:

  • Details concerning the nature of allegations (timing of this will be dependant upon CPT and the Children and Families' investigation)
  • Contact details for the relevant managers
  • A copy of the procedures being followed
  • A statement about existing placements
  • A statement about future placements
  • A statement about financial arrangements
  • Make a written statement to the fostering team
  • An indication of the time scale for the investigation
  • Details of independent support and how this may be acquired
  • Receive details in writing of all decisions made and actions taken
  • Conclusion of Enquiries

8.21.122 A strategy discussion must be held at the conclusion of an enquiry to ensure all information is shared and

  • That all actions agreed in previous strategy meetings have been completed
  • Agree the conclusion of the enquiry:
  • – The alleged abuse has taken place (papers may or may not be forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service)
  • – The alleged abuse has not been proven but concerns remain
  • – There may be standards of care issues that need to be addressed
  • – The allegation of abuse was not founded
  • Address whether the looked after child/ren remain or return to the placement
  • Address how best (if applicable) to protect any children in the home including whether or not an initial child protection conference is to be convened

8.21.123 The concluding strategy discussion minutes and decisions arising from it must be put in writing and placed on both the child’s and carers’ files.

8.21.124 The team manager responsible for the enquiry must ensure that within 2 weeks of the concluding strategy discussion a letter is sent to all parties, including parents and carers outlining the conclusions made and actions to be taken. A copy of this should be placed on the carer’s file.

Informing the Fostering/ Adoption & Permanence Panel

8.21.125 The Fostering / Adoption and Permanence team must review the status of the carers within 28 days of the conclusion of the enquiry and present a review report to the Fostering / Adoption and Permanence Panel. The report will address:

  • The findings of the enquiry, including if a report has been forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service
  • What, if any concerns remain
  • Whether a report has been forwarded
  • The feelings and experiences of the carer
  • The views of the supervising social worker
  • Training issues
  • Any other issues relevant to an annual review
  • Other information relevant to the child in placement.

8.21.126 This process provides the carer with the opportunity to reflect on their experience and consider what action they might wish to consider. They must be informed of the panel date and information on the complaints and access to files procedures.

8.21.127 Following the review, the service manager must confirm in writing to the carer the recommendation that will be made to the panel along with a copy of the review report. The possible recommendations are:

  • Immediate re-instatement of the carer, if approval and use had been suspended
  • Re-assessment of the carer in relation to the identified concerns
  • The carer remaining on hold pending the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service
  • The carer choosing to withdraw
  • The concerns are sufficiently serious to warrant termination of approval regardless of whether there is a Crown Prosecution Service decision to prosecute.

The Panel

8.21.128 The Panel must consider the following information prior to making a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker:

  • The review report and recommendation by the supervising social worker
  • Any written submission by the carer/s
  • Minutes from any relevant child protection conference

8.21.129 Both the supervising social worker and her/his manager must attend the Panel meeting.

8.21.130 The Panel will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker who must write to the carer/s with her/his decision. A copy of the letter must be sent to the team manager (fostering / adoption) for inclusion on the carer’s file.

Support for child after the enquiry/investigation

8.21.131 The team manager responsible for the child must consider whether any additional / individual support should be offered to the child and her/his family at the end of the S.47 enquiry.

Support for carer after the enquiry/investigation

8.21.132 The fostering / adoption team manager must consider whether any additional / individual support should be offered to the carer and her/his family at the end of the S.47 enquiry.

8.21.133 Following conclusion and feedback of the results of the enquiry and any investigation the supervising social worker should offer the carers the opportunity to discuss the process, including its impact on the family and future implications for provision of care.

8.21.134 Following the Panel’s recommendation and agency decision maker’s decision a further visit should be arranged to discuss the implications with the carer/s.

8.21.135 Whatever the final outcome, carers should be offered continued advice, support and help from the fostering / adoption team, using a written agreement to define the period of time, level and quality of support.

Role of the supervising social worker

8.21.136 The role of the supervising social worker should be to:

  • Be informed of the allegation from the outset
  • Attend the strategy meeting
  • Link with investigating social workers as to when to make contact with the carer/s
  • Contact the carer as determined at the strategy discussion
  • Ensure the carer receives appropriate information and advice
  • Attend any follow up interview with the carer and her/his family, unless this is judged inappropriate

Other linked processes

8.21.137 If following the conclusion of protection processes, further enquires are pursued for the purposes of the Fostering Panel, Ofsted or a complaint investigation, they should be arranged in a way that avoids the repeated interviewing of children and other vulnerable witnesses.

8.21.138 Subject to legal constraints, any evidence gathered in the course of an enquiry about allegations against foster carers can be made available to staff responsible for complaints, Fostering Panel, and Ofsted.

8.21.139 Consideration must be given by the case responsible team / service manager and the strategy meeting chair about the possibility that the circumstances may meet the criteria for a serious case review. The senior child protection manager must be consulted and informed of any potential cases.


8.21.140 Any instigation and outcome of a S.47 enquiry involving a child placed with foster carers must be notified to Ofsted.

8.21.141 In Brighton and Hove and East and West Sussex, the supervising social worker should complete a report after the panel have made their recommendation and agency decision maker has made a decision. This should include the following information:

  • Name of foster carer/s
  • Date of birth and ethnicity of foster carer/s
  • Address of foster carer/s
  • Name, date of birth and ethnicity of child/ren concerned
  • Nature of child protection enquiry, including date of allegation
  • Outcome/s of Fostering Panel’s decision i.e. immediate reinstatement of the carer / re-assessment of the carer in relation to the concerns that have been identified / the carer/s remaining on hold depending on the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service / the carer/s choosing to withdraw / the concerns are sufficiently serious to warrant termination of approval regardless of whether there is a Crown Prosecution decision to prosecute.
  • Date of outcomes

8.21.142 This report should be countersigned by the Fostering Team Manager and copies sent within 7 working days of the panel’s decision to:

  • Ofsted
  • Service Manager Adoption and Fostering
  • The carer

8.21.143 A copy of the report must be placed in key information in the carer’s file.





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