19. Agencies where there are no children placed with foster carers
Information about inspecting agencies where no children are placed with foster carers.
Ofsted usually inspects an agency that has commenced operation within 7 to 12 months of its registration. If, when the first inspection after registration is due to take place, no child or young person has been placed with an agency since its registration, inspectors should seek to delay the inspection until the agency has begun to accept placements. The first inspection of a fostering agency must occur within three years of its registration date. If no child is placed with the agency at the time of inspection, the inspector should decide whether a planned inspection should be postponed.
If there are no placements at the time of the inspection and children have been placed since the last inspection, it may be possible to use information about their placements as evidence.
Inspectors should consider the likely evidence that can be collected to support the inspection judgements.
Where a fostering agency has had no children placed with foster carers for more than 3 months and the agency has indicated that it does not intend to operate in the near future, reports must contain the following statement:
[Insert name of fostering agency] has been closed for [insert length of time]. The registered provider has indicated that they will not be operational for [state length of time from the date of inspection]. Should the agency decide to accept placements, they are required to inform Ofsted of their intention before they do so.
A condition of registration for the provider to notify Ofsted when a child, or children, are placed with a foster carer should be imposed. The condition must be worded as follows:
[Insert name of fostering agency] must inform Ofsted of their intention to place children and young people with foster carers one week before a child or young person’s placement commences.
The timing of when best to undertake the first inspection should be kept under regular review. Once completed, the condition of registration should be removed (the removal will need to be imposed and follow the Notice of Proposal/Notice of Decision process).