Adoption, Fostering and Special Guardianship privacy notice

Privacy notice specifically for services relating to Adoption, Fostering (including supported lodgings) and Special Guardianship.

This privacy notice explains:

  • how personal information for applicants and approved applicants in the foster and adoption department is going to be used
  • what it is used for
  • who it might be shared with and why
  • how long it is kept.

The information you provide helps us deliver our services effectively.

Personal and special category data

The categories of personal data we are collecting are:

  • name, gender and date of birth
  • marital status
  • occupation
  • address and phone number
  • ethnicity and language spoken
  • religion
  • information relating to financial, social and family circumstances, lifestyle and behaviour
  • health information such as medical assessments and medical history
  • involvement with other services
  • criminal/police involvement
  • bank details (name, account details, national insurance, tax code).

We also obtain information from:

  • the local authority where you used to live
  • other West Sussex County Council departments
  • previous partners
  • health services
  • social media
  • references (personal and employment)
  • Disclosure and Barring Service
  • schools/education providers
  • other fostering agencies and other local authorities with whom you have fostered.

Data Controller

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) complies with the Data Protection Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It is registered as a ‘Data Controller’ with the Information Commissioner’s Office (Reg. No. Z6413427). 

You can find details for the WSCC Data Protection Officer (DPO) on our Privacy Policy.

We ensure that your personal data is accurate, processed fairly and lawfully, kept secure and retained for no longer than is necessary.

The legal basis for processing personal data

To enable us to provide services to you it is necessary for us to use your personal information to help assess your needs and identify the most appropriate services available. To do so we will use the following legal basis for sharing your information:

Processing is necessary:

  • for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller
  • for compliance with a legal obligation to which the Council is subject.

This information is needed to comply with:

  • Children Act 1989
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002
  • Fostering Services Regulations 2011
  • Care Standards Act 2000
  • Disclosure of Adoption Information (Post-Commencement Adoptions) Regulations 2005, Section 6
  • Special Guardianship Regulations 2005 as amended 2016
  • Children and Social Work Act 2017.

The legal basis for processing special category data

We rely on Health and Social Care, which we use for the provision of health or social care, or treatment/management of health or social care systems, for special category data.

You will be asked to sign consent to us accessing the necessary information to enable us to carry out a thorough assessment as required by the regulations and associated enquiry and application forms.

How we use your personal information

Our Privacy Policy determines how we use personal data. We use it specifically to:

  • respond to your initial enquiries about foster care, adoption and special guardianship
  • process and assess foster carers, adopter and special guardianship applications, which will include carrying out background checks
  • train and develop people wishing to become adopters and foster carers
  • make recommendations to the Fostering and Adoption Panel (which could include both West Sussex and another agency’s panel if a match with a child from another area was being considered)
  • process foster carer and adopter and special guardianship payments
  • provide supervision and training
  • carry out annual reviews
  • provide information to Revenue and Benefits for Council Tax exemption
  • share your information with another fostering agency in the event of a transfer from West Sussex
  • share your information with another adoption agency in the event that prospective adopters transfer at any point in the adoption process
  • provide other local authorities with information should they request foster placements in West Sussex. We may share your information with them for this purpose in order to provide the best match for children and carers
  • share your contact information with external Fostering organisations which WSCC has set up paid membership to allow all foster carers to have access to independent support and advice:
    • Fostering Network - National organisation
    • United Foster Carers Association (UFCA) - West Sussex based.

Who we share your information with

We may pass data to:

  • West Sussex children’s social care teams and Finance
  • the Fostering and Adoption Panel
  • other local authorities
  • Ofsted (in the event of a local authority inspection of children’s services)
  • external audit services of the Council’s practices - Southern Audit Internal Partnership
  • fostering agencies - Regulation 26(1A) gives the fostering service undertaking the current assessment the power to request records about the applicant held by the fostering service or adoption agency which granted the approval (provided the applicant consents)
  • WestSussexChoices, a benefits platform which offers access to discounts and offers on travel, cinema tickets, days out, leisure activities, high street vouchers and reloadable cards.
  • Inland Revenue as part of the verification process of foster career, adopter and special guardian payments or allowance
  • Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) if there is an application to de-register a foster carer or a foster carer challenges a qualifying
  • nominated fostering organisations to provide access to independent support and advice:
    • Fostering Network
    • United Foster Carers Association (UFCA).

You should be aware that we have a duty to protect public funds, which include allowances and discretionary payments made to foster carers, special guardians and adopters. We may therefore use the information we have for the prevention and detection of fraud. We may share this with other bodies for these purposes. We may also share this information with other parts of the council or other relevant organisations for purposes, which may include enforcement.

If a child or other person is considered to be at risk of significant harm, people working with you will have a duty of care to share the information with the relevant services without consent.

We will not share data with third parties for marketing purposes.

See our Privacy Policy if you require more information about how we use this data.

Transfer outside the European Economic Area

If your data needs to be transferred, we will make sure that an adequate level of protection is in place.

How long we keep your personal data

Personal data will not be retained for longer than is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are collected.

The council is currently reviewing and updating its retention policies. See our records management page for published retention schedules.

Your rights

You have the right to:

  • be informed of data processing (which is covered by this privacy notice)
  • access information (also known as a Subject Access Request)
  • have inaccuracies corrected
  • have information erased
  • restrict processing
  • data portability
  • intervention in respect of automated decision making (automated decision making is rarely operated within WSCC)
  • withdraw consent (see below)
  • complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (see below).

To exercise any of these rights please contact the relevant manager of the team that you are involved with in the first instance.

See our Privacy Policy for more information on your rights.

Right to object

You have the absolute right to object to the processing of your personal data if it is for direct marketing purposes.

You can also object, providing specific reasons, if the processing is for:

  • a task carried out in the public interest
  • the exercise of official authority vested in West Sussex County Council
  • where we have processed your data on legitimate interests.

In these circumstances the right to object is not absolute. West Sussex County Council may continue to process your data where we can demonstrate compelling legitimate grounds for the processing.

In the event of an objection, West Sussex County Council will respond within one calendar month. This may be extended by two months in the event the matter is complex.

Withdrawal of consent

The lawful basis upon which WSCC process personal data is that it is necessary in order to comply with its legal obligations and to enable it to perform tasks carried out in the public interest. However, where personal data is solely processed on the basis of consent, you will have the right to withdraw that consent.


See our Privacy Policy for information about making a complaint.

Complaints to ICO

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you may wish to ask for a review of our decision by contacting the DPO.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.

Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our internal review procedure.

Last updated:
24 October 2023
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