Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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6.2.9 Supervision and Support of Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter covers the support, supervision and monitoring of Foster carers

RELEVANT CHAPTERS LEGISLATION / GUIDANCE

Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol England (2014)

National Minimum Standards for Fostering

Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

Allegations Against Foster Carers Procedure

AMENDMENT

In July 2017 Section 5, During Placement, was updated to indicate that in the Safer Caring Plan, any changes in household circumstances along with any health and safety issues including the addition of any new pets and the environment in which they are kept should be reviewed as required.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Planned Supervision Visits
  3. Frequency of Supervision
  4. Unannounced Visits
  5. Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker
  6. Tasks of Social Worker if Allegations are made Against the Carer


1. Introduction

All approved foster carers will have an allocated, suitably qualified supervising social worker. The allocated supervising social worker is responsible for supervising and supporting carers, ensuring that they have the necessary guidance, support and direction to maintain a quality service, including safe caring practices. This will include an understanding that they must work within the National Minimum Standards for Fostering and the agency's policies, procedures and guidance.

However, it is the social worker of the child or children in the foster placement who holds responsibility for specific advice or support in relation to the child and his or her Care Plan and Placement Plan.

The supervising social worker must also ensure that the foster carers' training and development needs are identified, and that newly approved carers work towards meeting Training, Support and Development Standards (TSDS). They also have the responsibility to ensure foster carers are familiar and made aware of new policies and guidance.


2. Planned Supervision Visits

A programme of supervision visits should be set up and agreed between the foster carer and the supervising social worker from the time of the foster carer's approval, and endorsed by the supervising social worker's line manager.

Supervision is essentially a supportive and enabling a two way process to:

  • Ensure the foster carers understand how they contribute to the trusts services for children;
  • Enable foster carers to contribute effectively to the plans for the children for whom they are caring;
  • Provide appropriate monitoring and feedback on the foster carers' work to ensure National Minimum Standards for Foster Carers are fully met;
  • Complete personal development plans (PDP's) for each carer, which are linked to their training and their annual review;
  • Support foster carers by providing advice or making this available from elsewhere as appropriate;
  • Give foster carers an opportunity to raise any problems and make sure they are addressed appropriately;
  • Acknowledge the challenges and demands that the fostering tasks make on foster families and ensure appropriate support is available;
  • Recognise and address any difficulties the foster carers’ own children may be experiencing arising from fostering;
  • Assist foster carers to work in an anti discriminatory way that respects and promotes individual differences.

The agenda for each meeting should cover:

  1. Matters arising from the last supervision;
  2. Personal issues, e.g. effect of a placement on the foster carer’s own family;
  3. Child/ren in placement - their health, cultural, educational, leisure and contact needs - and any support needs;
  4. Children and Young People's achievements
  5. Training/development issues for the foster carers and family;
  6. Safer caring and health and safety issues;
  7. Foster carer’s recording which is to be reviewed by the supervising social worker who should sign the foster carers' diary;
  8. Any concerns expressed;
  9. Any support needs expressed by the foster carers and how they will be met;
  10. Any financial issues. Including sight of evidence of secured savings for children and young people.

The supervision visits should be recorded on a pro forma Foster Carer Supervision Record, signed by the foster carer, the supervising social worker and their line manager.

N.B. Bedrooms for foster children should be viewed by the supervising social worker at least 3 times a year.

A record of all meetings should be kept on the foster carers' file and one copy given to the foster carers.


3. Frequency of Supervision

Supervision meetings will take place at least 6 weekly.

Additional visits may be made for the purposes of support (to the foster carer or any member of the foster family) as necessary including telephone contact.


4. Unannounced Visits

There should also be unannounced visits at least twice a year. The main purpose of the unannounced visit will be to look at the home environment that a child is living in.

The unannounced visits will be undertaken by the foster carers' supervising social worker or the other supervising Social Workers with the Fostering Service who will need to check:

  1. Who is in the home;
  2. Who is looking after the child;
  3. If the carer is not at home, what arrangements have been made for the care of the foster child.

If the foster carers are not at home, the supervising social worker should leave a note for the foster carers to say that s/he has visited.

If the foster carers are not at home but the child is present and being looked after by someone else, the social worker should check the identity of that person but should not continue with the visit.

Unannounced visits should be recorded on a different coloured home visit form.

There should not ordinarily be a regular programme of unannounced visits without particular reason - for example if a foster carer is being closely monitored. In such an event the reason for such will be explained to the foster carer.


5. Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker

Supervising social workers should ensure the following tasks are done: 

Post Approval

  1. Provide carers with a Slough Children's Services Trust Fostering Services Welcome Pack, containing essential information that carers need to have at the start of their fostering to orientate themselves into the fostering service;
  2. Ensure that all new carers complete the TSD standards and that their support, development and training needs are assessed and met so that they meet the standards and achieve the certification by their first annual review, or soon after if extra support is required;
  3. Give Foster Carers a Handbook or sign post them to the electronic version as well as providing them with access to versions of the and children's guide to being in foster care;
  4. Give carers a Foster Carer Agreement and Code of Conduct to the carer: 2 copies to be signed and one returned and placed on the carer's file;
  5. Support carers with any specialist issues for disabled children for e.g. support in completing applications for Carers' Allowance, Disabled Living Allowance etc.

Pre-Placement

  1. Complete risk assessments surrounding bedroom sharing (each child over 3 has their own bedroom or, where this is not possible, the sharing of the bedroom has been agreed by the placing authority), mixing with other children in home, etc. Discuss and check equipment (especially in the child's bedroom) and ensure it is appropriate to the age of the child in placement;
  2. Take part in discussions about potential placements;
  3. Facilitate placement planning meetings in respect of new placements (within 7 days of the placement being made with the foster carer) including the completion in writing of the plan and the delegated authority tool. The plan and the delegated tool must be uploaded onto ICS on the child's file and copy kept on the foster carers file;
  4. Ensure that the child's social worker give the foster family full information about children about to be placed, including a history of abuse or suspected abuse and the reason for the placement, the child’s educational, medical, religious, racial, linguistic and cultural needs;
  5. Discuss issues relevant to contact with birth parents and other family members;
  6. Discuss how child's health needs will be promoted and how children should be encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle, including how children will be involved to make choices;
  7. Assist carers in dealing with other relevant services such as health and education;
  8. Assist carer with training needs for appropriate safer care practice, including skills to care for children who have been abused. For foster carers who offer placements to disabled children, this includes training specifically on issues affecting disabled children;
  9. Discuss financial issues with the carer: allowances, pocket money, leisure activities, toiletries and travelling etc. and the importance of complying with the terms of the Trust's insurance policy for carers;
  10. Enquire about holiday plans the carers have made, and if the child is able to join them?  If not the carer must inform the child’s social worker so alternative arrangements can be made;
  11. Exchange contact numbers with all relevant members of the family, including out of hours support;
  12. That arrangements are made for the provision of specialist equipment for disabled children;
  13. Set date of first visit after the placement;
  14. Let the social worker for a child already in placement know when another child is placed;
  15. Facilitate carers access to training and written policies on behaviour management.

During Placement

  1. Where necessary, check and follow up on all issues raised during the placement. Discuss any areas of concern with foster carers and ensure appropriate support/advice is addressed and in place at the time rather than waiting for reviews;
  2. Provide foster carers with breaks from caring as appropriate, which must meet the needs of placed children;
  3. Take part in any Strategy Meetings and Section 47 Enquiry relating to the foster family. Be involved in interviews/support as agreed;
  4. Ensure the supervising social worker and the foster carers receive invitations to child’s Looked After Reviews and Child Protection Conferences, and attend when appropriate;
  5. Prepare for and attend Foster Carer Review Meetings (See Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure);
  6. Ensure training programme is updated and accessed by carers and carers’ family and children;
  7. Visit regularly in accordance with the Foster Carer’s needs, the child’s Care Plan and as required, (See also Section 3, Frequency of Supervision and Section 4, Unannounced Visits;
  8. Review the Safer Caring Plan and any changes in household circumstances;
  9. Assess and review any health and safety issues within the fostering household including the addition of any new pets and the environment in which they are kept;
  10. Make unannounced visits as required;
  11. Update Disclosure and Barring Service checks on members of the family every three years, including those reaching eighteen years of age, and other persons who come to live at the home, who are eighteen plus;
  12. Update medicals on the carers every 2 years or as necessary;
  13. Record contact with carers;
  14. Provide reports for Panel as required under the relevant procedures;
  15. Where appropriate contribute to Court Reports as agreed with child’s social worker;
  16. Discuss how the carers can support young people into adulthood;

At End of Placement

  1. Support the family as much as possible in what can be a very difficult time;
  2. Discuss fully with the carer and their family all the issues that have led to any unplanned end of a placement and identify any learning/training opportunities;
  3. Assist the foster carer to complete their end of placement report if required;
  4. Attend Disruption Meetings as required.


6. Tasks of Social Worker if Allegations are made Against the Carer

For the detailed procedure, see Allegations Against Foster Carers Procedure and refer them.

Where allegations regarding childcare or child protection are made, the supervising social worker should:

  1. Support the foster family.
  2. Discuss with the carer and their family, any issues that have been agreed by the Strategy Meeting.
  3. Make the carers aware of the process and of their rights during any investigation.
  4. Make the carer’s aware of their own possible conflict of interests and inform them of where they can seek alternative support and advice from the Fostering Network or other independent sources.

End