To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what Criminal Records Bureau checks take place before someone can qualify as a foster parent; and what criteria are used to determine a person's suitability for fostering following such checks.
The approvals process for prospective foster carers is set out in the Fostering Services Regulations 2002. Paragraph 13 of schedule 3 of the regulations requires that, before any person can be approved as a foster parent, an enhanced disclosure check must be obtained. Adult members of the prospective foster carer's household are subject to a standard disclosure check.
In assessing any person whom it considers may be suitable to become a foster carer, the fostering service provider is required to obtain the range of information prescribed in schedule 3 of the regulations as well as any other information it considers appropriate. On the basis of this information, the fostering service provider is required to prepare a written report which is referred to the fostering panel for consideration; the fostering panel then makes its own recommendation about the individual's suitability to foster. The final decision is made, taking into account this recommendation, by the fostering service provider. Subject to paragraph 27(6), a person would automatically be considered unsuitable to become a foster carer if he/she, or any other adult member of the household, had committed a specified offence under the terms of the regulations. If this is not the case, the decision as to whether or not to approve an individual as a foster carer is made by the fostering service provider in line with the process outlined above.