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Introduction

We take our legal duty to safeguard your personal data and privacy very seriously. This privacy notice sets out what sort of information we hold on foster carers and people applying to become foster carers, why we need it, how we hold it, how we use it, with whom we share it and what rights you have in relation to this information. This privacy notice is also available on our website www.blueskyfostering.com

Under data protection legislation, Blue Sky Fostering is defined as a data controller. Our Registered Manager is Nici Crisp, her contact information is below.  We are also required to have a named Data Protection Officer (DPO). This person is responsible for making sure that our fostering service complies with its legal duties in how we collect, keep, and share your personal data.

Blue Sky Fostering’s DPO is Nici Crisp and she can be contacted at [email protected]

Why do we collect your personal data?

When you first submit an enquiry to us about becoming a foster carer with Blue Sky Fostering we begin to collect your personal data under the legal basis of taking steps to enter in to a contract.  We do this because we cannot progress your enquiry unless we collect your personal data.  Once you progress to the stage of us arranging to complete an initial home visit, we then collect, process and retain your personal data because we have a statutory legal obligation to do so under the fostering regulations. Before we can approve you as a foster carer, we must assess you to consider whether you are suitable to foster children and young people. This involves us collecting and recording a lot of personal information about you, your family and persons in your household. The law requires us to keep this information for several 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.

What personal information do we collect?

As part of the fostering assessment, the personal information we collect and record includes your name, address and contact details (including email address and telephone number), date of birth, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality, health, disability and religion or beliefs.

We will also collect information 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, financial checks and personal and other (professional) references Without these we cannot lawfully progress your application. We are required to hold this information in your case record.

If you are approved as a foster carer, we will need details of your bank account, and will continue to collect personal information, including records about the children placed with you and how you care for them, training that you undertake, any changes in your health or circumstances, and any complaints or allegations about you. You will have regular supervision meetings and annual reviews, and all this information will form part of your case record.  We will also periodically update some of the checks we completed during your assessment and will hold this information on your file.

How do we collect your personal data?

Much of the personal information we hold 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 for us to approach them.  We also complete checks through publicly available search engines and social media as part of our assessment of your suitability to foster.

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. We will also repeat the checks initially completed during your assessment at various stages throughout your time as an approved foster carer as part of our legal duty to ensure you remain suitable to be approved as a foster carer.

How do we use your personal data?

We keep and use your information to enable us to run a fostering service in line with the requirements that are set out in law. This will include assessing your suitability to be a foster carer, presenting a report about this to our 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.

Who has access to your data?

Employees of our fostering service will have access to your information for the lawful purposes set out above. Additionally, we may share your information with others in certain situations:

  • to allow your information to be held securely on our database, which is commissioned from the Social Care Network.
  • to undertake checks and references as part of the fostering assessment, and only where you have explicitly consented to this.
  • with members of our fostering panel at the time of your approval and at subsequent reviews.
  • across BSN Social Care Group for the purpose of administration.
  • 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.

We may make information 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.

How do we make sure your personal data is kept safe?

We have a range of policies and controls in place to try to ensure that your data is not lost, accidentally destroyed, misused or disclosed. We have a system to ensure that your information is accessed only by individuals authorised by us to do so in the performance of their duties.

For the majority of our approved foster carers, applicants and those enquiring about fostering, all personal data will be held electronically on a secure database. This is only accessible to authorised individuals, with password protection and other systems in place. These systems have been assessed and certified as appropriate by an independent organisation that specialises in this area of work.  Personal data that is held electronically is held on a database called ‘CHARMS’ provided by Social Care Network Solutions Ltd.  We have a written contract with them and they have a privacy notice that can be accessed at socialcarenetwork.com/home/PrivacyPolicy

Where a foster carer has been fostering for several years, some information may be held on a paper file.  This information is stored securely and confidentially by an archiving company. We don’t routinely have paper files at our offices.  Where we have paper based information about you (for example from attending a meeting where paper notes are shared) the Blue Sky Fostering employee will scan this information into your electronic file as soon as practicable.  The paper based copy will then be destroyed.

All our staff are trained in data protection duties and are required to comply with our data protection policies.

When we share your information with third parties, we are obliged to check that those third parties have systems in place to protect your information with appropriate security measures and that they will not disclose your information to others.   There is more information about when we might share your information with third parties in the section “Who has access to your data?” above.

How long do we keep your personal data?

The law is very clear that personal data should not be kept longer than is necessary, but in relation to fostering, the law also requires us to hold data for a set minimum period.

For approved foster carers, your 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 must be held 3 years from the date when it was decided that the enquiry or application would not proceed.  However, if our responsibilities under safeguarding and fostering legislation or our insurance cover requires it, Blue Sky Fostering may need to hold this information for longer.

Do we keep data on your family, including your children?

In assessing you to be a foster carer, and in working with you when you are a foster carer, it is necessary for us to have 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 we will not have a separate case record for your family or household members. We have developed a separate privacy notice for your household / family members and support network and will share that with them and/or you.

How can you see what personal information is held on your record?

You can ask to see what personal information we hold about you. This is sometimes called a Subject Access Request. We will provide this information to you within one month (unless things are very complicated), and there is no cost for this.  If repeated requests for the same information are made we may make a charge to cover the administrative costs of processing multiple requests.

If you want to see the information we hold about you, please contact the Data Protection Officer whose details are provided earlier in this notice. You do not have to give any reasons for why you want to see this information.

Your data protection rights

Under data protection law, you have rights to your information.  These vary according to the basis on which personal data is processed.  Blue Sky Fostering process personal data initially due to taking steps to enter into a contract and, once an initial home visit is planned, because we have a legal obligation to do so.  Your rights to your data are:

  • Your right of access – You have the right to ask us for copies of your personal information.
  • Your right to rectification – You have the right to ask us to rectify personal information you think is inaccurate. You also have the right to ask us to complete information you think is incomplete.
  • Your right to restriction of processing – You have the right to ask us to restrict the processing of your personal information in certain circumstances.

If you have made an enquiry to foster with us but not yet progressed to an initial home visit you also have these additional rights:

  • Your right to erasure – You have the right to ask us to erase your personal information in certain circumstances.
  • Your right to object to processing – You have the right to object to the processing of your personal information in certain circumstances.

As part of our responsibilities under safeguarding legislation, there may be times when we must refuse a request to erase information or object to processing.  In these circumstances, we will make you aware of the reasons for this as far as we are able to.

You are not required to pay any charge for exercising your rights. If you make a request, we have one month to respond to you.

Comments or concerns

If you have any comments or concerns about how we use your information, we would like to hear from you. Please contact the Data Protection Officer whose details are provided earlier in this notice.