Privacy Notice - Foster Carers and Prospective Foster Carers
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is a registered data controller and we collect and use information personal to you in accordance with Data Protection legislation.
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Family Placement Team keep and use your information to run a fostering service in line with the requirements that are set out in legislation (The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011). This will include assessing your suitability to be a foster carer, presenting a report about this to the Fostering Panel, matching you with children who need to be fostered, supporting and supervising your activity as a foster carer, and reviewing your continued suitability to foster at least annually. This outlines what you can expect when you provide your personal information.
Making an initial enquiry
Prospective foster carers will complete an enquiry form with the Foster with North East regional hub (otherwise known as North East Pathfinder) via a web form on the Foster with North East website or via telephone. Personal data submitted as part of the initial enquiry is stored electronically on a bespoke enquiry and outcome system which is hosted on behalf of the North East Pathfinder Hub by Together for Children (on behalf of Sunderland City Council) in its secure data centre which is onsite.
Depending on the residence of the enquirer or upon request to our local authority, enquirer details will be sent to Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council via secure email to log and allow us future contact.
Why we are asking for your information and how will we use the information about you?
We collect and use your personal data in relation to your position as a foster carer or person applying to foster because the law requires us to do so. Before you can be approved as a foster carer, you must be assessed to consider whether you are suitable to foster children and young people. This involves the collection and recording of a lot of personal information about you, your family and persons in your household. The law requires us to keep this information for a number of years, whether or not you end up being approved to foster.
If you are approved as a foster carer, we have a duty to supervise and support you to look after children, and to keep records of how we are doing that. We also have a legal responsibility to review your approval at least annually and the information we have gathered and recorded is also used for that purpose.
In assessing you to be a foster carer and in working with you when you are a foster carer, it is necessary to record personal information about others in your family and/or living in your household. Most of this information will have been provided by you as part of your assessment or in supervision after you are approved, or by them directly, or very occasionally by others. This personal information will be contained within your records and will not be held on a separate case record for your family or household members.
The Supported Lodgings Scheme is an accommodation scheme for young people who are over 16 and unable to live at home but not ready to live independently. It aims to provide young people with additional options for accommodation. This can include emergency accommodation when there is the chance of homelessness or planned long-term accommodation. As with foster carer applications, supported lodgings applications and associated records will be handled in the same way. In assessing you to be a supported lodgings provider and in working with you when you are a supported lodgings provider, it is necessary to record personal information about others in your family and those living in your household. Most of the information will have been provided by you during the application and assessment process.
Who will use your information?
Employees in the Fostering Service will have access to your information for the lawful purposes set out above. Additionally, your information may be shared with others in certain situations:
- to allow your information to be held securely on our database
- to undertake checks and references as part of the fostering or support lodgings assessment and only where you have explicitly consented to this
- with members of the Fostering Panel at the time of your approval and at subsequent reviews or for long term matches with children
- with local authority commissioning services that are considering whether you might be suitable to foster a specific child they are seeking to place
- with Ofsted when it is inspecting the fostering service, as required by law
- with the Independent Review Mechanism if you ask for a review of any decision by the fostering service about your suitability or continued suitability to foster
Information may be made available to regulatory authorities, governmental organisations, or others, if required to do so by any regulatory or legal authority, or in order to comply with the law, or in some circumstances if you ask us to do so.
If you would like further information about who your information is shared with, please contact the Information Governance team on email@example.com
What personal information do we hold about you?
As part of the fostering assessment, the personal information collected and recorded includes your:
- contact details (including email address and telephone number)
- date of birth
- disability, and
- religion or beliefs
Information will also be collected about your childhood, family and other relationships (including current and past marital status), education experience, employment history, and finances. Your social worker will explain the assessment process to you and show you the form we use to record these details. You will be asked to give written consent to us taking up criminal record, health and other checks and personal and other references, as without these your application can not be lawfully processed. This information is required to be held on your case record.
If you are approved as a foster carer or supported lodings provider, details of your bank account will be required. Personal information will continue to be collected, including records about the children placed with you and how you care for them, training that you undertake, changes in your health or circumstances and any complaints or allegations made about you. You will have regular supervision meetings and annual reviews; all this information will form part of your case record.
Much of the personal information held will have been provided by you directly on your application form to foster, or in conversations with your assessing social worker, or the supervising social worker allocated to you after approval.
Other information will come from third parties during the assessment, such as criminal records checks, or from personal referees or employers but only where you have given consent to approach them.
For approved foster carers, additional information may come from children you are looking after, their parents or family and from professionals working with the children. Information about you may also come to our attention from other sources.
If you would like further information about this, please contact the Information Governance team on firstname.lastname@example.org
How long we will keep your personal information for?
For approved foster carers and supported lodgings providers the case record must be kept for at least 10 years from the date on which you ceased to foster. Where a person has enquired about fostering but for whatever reason, including withdrawing their application, has not gone on to be approved, the case record will be held for 3 years from the date when it was decided that the enquiry or application would not proceed.
There may be circumstances in which, where there is a legal basis to do so, it is decided that the case record should be maintained for more than the 3 or 10 years required by law.
Access to your information and correction
You have the right to request the following in relation to the personal information we hold. Subject to some legal exceptions, you have the right:
- to have any inaccuracies corrected
- to have your personal data erased
- to place a restriction on our processing of your data
- to object to processing; and
- to request your data to be ported (data portability)
If you would to like to exercise any of the Rights outlined above please contact the Information Governance team on email@example.com. If you would like further information about your Rights to your information, please visit the Information Commissions Office website.
You also have the right to request a copy of the personal information that the Council holds about you.
If you have given your consent for us to use your personal information and wish to withdraw this consent. Please contact the Information Governance team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is your personal information processed overseas?
Your information is not processed outside of the UK.
What happens if I don't provide you with my personal information?
If you do not provide us with the personal information requested, it may not be possible to deliver services to you. For more information about how this might affect you please contact the Information Governance team on email@example.com.
Keeping your personal information secure
Appropriate security measures are in place to prevent personal information from being accidentally lost or used or accessed in an unauthorised way. Those processing your information will do so only in an authorised manner and are subject to a duty of confidentiality.
Procedures are in place to deal with any suspected data breach. You and any applicable regulator would be notified of a suspected data security breach, where we are legally required to do so.
How to contact us
The registered manager of the Family Placement Team can be contacted at:
Address: Family Placement Team, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Queensway House, 2nd Floor, West Precinct, Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, TS23 2NL
Telephone: 01642 526216 or 526218
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Data Protection Officer is Martin Skipsey.
If something goes wrong with your personal information or if you have any questions about how it is used, please contact the Information Governance Team in the first instance at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01642 527521.
If you remain unhappy about the way which we have handled your personal information and wish to complain, you can contact the Information Commissioner's Office.
Address: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Telephone: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745
Fax: 01625 524 510