Independent review mechanism
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This is an independent body whose role is to review decisions:
- By a fostering service not to approve someone as a foster carer
- By an adoption agency not to approve someone as a prospective adopter.
- To withdraw approval.
- To change the terms of a foster carer’s existing approval.
Any foster carer or prospective adopter whose application has been rejected can use the mechanism to appeal. Or they can write to the fostering service or adoption agency directly. They cannot do both.
The independent review mechanism does not have the power to force a change in decision. But it can recommend that the fostering service or adoption agency reaches a different decision. The provider or agency will still make the final decision. They should take the independent review mechanism panel’s advice into account though.
The independent review mechanism panel will include:
- A social worker with specialist knowledge of fostering or adoption.
- People with personal experience of fostering or adoption; and
- Others with relevant experience (e.g. children’s guardians or teachers).
The independent review mechanism is run by Coram Children’s Legal Centre (a charity) on behalf of the Department for Education.
There is no right of appeal for anyone whose application to become a foster carer was turned down because they (or someone in their household) has a criminal conviction for certain offences. These are specified in regulations. They are mostly sexual offences, including against children.