7.4.4 Permanent/Temporary Foster Carers and Short Term Break Carers: Joint Protocol

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This guidance sets out the arrangements for joint working between foster carers, social workers and supervising link workers. Where a personal advisor has taken case responsibility for a young person the roles and responsibilities of the social worker apply to the personal advisor instead.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the Safe Care Policy which is contained in Development of Positive Relationships Guidance.


Contents

  1. Carers Roles and Responsibilities
  2. Social Worker Roles and Responsibilities 
  3. Supervising Link Worker Roles and Responsibilities


1. Carer's Roles and Responsibilities

Also see Section 2, Social Worker’s Roles and Responsibilities.

Care of the Child

To provide a nurturing and stimulating environment in which the child's intellectual, spiritual, emotional, physical and social needs are met to the best of the carers' abilities through play and a high standard of child care. 

To encourage the child to build a relationship with carers in which he or she is valued and can feel safe from discrimination. 

To encourage the child to pursue interests, hobbies and talents that they may have or wish to develop.

To protect the child from abuse to the best of their ability. 

To agree not to use any forms of corporal punishment when caring for the child.

To encourage the child to take pride in his or her appearance and to support him or her in making choices in this respect.

To encourage the child to take pride in his or her background and heritage and to keep safe any certificates, photographs and mementos for the child.

To inform the child's social worker and any Supervising link worker making a placement of any prior commitments which may disrupt a placement, e.g. a holiday, family occasion etc.

To be proactive in promoting the child’s health and wellbeing.

To take an interest in and encourage the child to develop his or her educational potential, including encouraging school attendance, support with home work, attendance and participation at school events.

To avoid any action which may result in a child missing school during term time. In emergency situations this needs to be agreed with the social worker and the supervising link worker beforehand.

To notify key people of non school attendance as soon as possible.

To act as Appropriate Adult for a young person, where the carer/parent has received adequate training, and to assist in collecting a child who has absconded or been arrested, as long as this does not present an unreasonable additional strain and does not clash with existing arrangements.

To jointly work with the child's social worker and the Supervising link worker on plans which minimise trauma for the child, where the carer/parent is unable to continue to look after the child for a period time, e.g. childminding, approving a family member, sessional support, planned periods of respite care.

Specific Responsibility for Temporary/Permanent Foster Carers

To ensure dental and medical appointments are arranged and kept including attendance at all health appointments relating to the child, as long as this does not present an unreasonable additional strain and does not clash with existing arrangements.

To liaise with teaching and education staff, supporting the PEP process and the Excellence Files. 

To take responsibility for the safe transport of the child to school, as long as this is within walking distance and does not clash with existing arrangements for other children.

To assist in transporting children to school where the school is outside of walking distance, as long as this does not present an unreasonable additional strain and does not clash with existing arrangements.

To promote and support other events designed to promote children’s networks and participation including those arranged by the outreach team

Specific Responsibility for Short Term Breaks Carers

Maintain any special programmes requested by the parent for which instruction has been provided e.g. behaviour modification.

To liaise closely with parents/carers as to how the placement is progressing.

Where prearranged to ensure safe transport of the child to and from school.

Visits to the Child

To appreciate the child's social worker's legal responsibility to visit the child and to spend some of the time on their own with the child and to support the child in developing a relationship with his or her social worker. 

To allow the child's social worker or supervising link worker reasonable access to all areas of the foster carers' home, including unannounced visits.

Information/Communication

To ensure accurate recording of information in respect of the child, in line with the foster caring recording policy

To inform the child's social worker and the supervising link worker of any major change in the carers' household, personal circumstances or intended change of address and to inform the child's social worker of any significant events concerning the child.

To inform the child's social worker or a duty social worker (including out of hours staff) immediately:

  • If the child has absconded or is missing and when they have returned (please see Protocol for Children and Young People Missing from Home and Care (West Midlands Safeguarding Children Procedures);
  • If the carer fears for the child's safety or well being, including self harm, drug use or prostitution;
  • If the police are called to the foster carers home for any reason;
  • If the child attends hospital, has a serious accident, becomes seriously ill or dies;
  • If any member of the foster carers household contracts a serious infectious disease;
  • If the child makes an allegation of abuse against any person;
  • If the carer is accused of any criminal act.

To take note of information provided about the child by the parent and the agency eg LAC Forms (See ‘All About Me’ profile (See About Me ( For Disabled Children in Short Term Breaks) Guidance)

Planning for the Child

General

To work with the child in accordance with the Care Plan.

To attend and contribute to pre and post placement planning meetings, reviews and case conferences.

To communicate all relevant information to the child's social worker to enable the best possible planning to take place.

To appreciate that decisions made in respect of the child may not have the agreement of all involved in the child's life.

To discuss with the child's social worker and seek permission before acting in respect to all decisions not delegated to the carer, which may range from cutting a child's hair to changing his or her school.

Short Term Break

To participate in a planned introduction schedule which is likely to include visits to the child’s home.

To receive training as necessary in relation to meeting the child’s medical needs.

Financial Support for Foster Carers

General

To spend fostering allowances on maintenance and additional household costs associated with the child, broadly based on Fostering Network recommendations and in line with Walsall's guidance on pocket money.

To make the child's social worker or the supervising link worker aware of any financial strain experienced as a result of a child's specific needs.

To inform finance section of any over payments made immediately.

To inform the supervising link worker, or if unavailable the duty worker, that a child has been placed or has left the placement, within 1 working day.

Financial Support for Short Term Break Carers

To spend short term break allowance payments on maintenance and additional household costs associated with the child, broadly based on Fostering Network guidelines.

To make the child's social worker or the supervising link worker aware of any financial strain experienced as a result of a child's specific needs.

To inform finance section of any over payments made immediately.

Contact Arrangements

(This section does not apply to short term break carers)

To contribute to facilitating contact arrangements for the child with his or her birth family or other significant people in accordance with the care plan, and as agreed by the contact agreement.

To ensure the child is supported through contact arrangements, is ready at the agreed times and is received back as agreed.

To assist in providing transport to and from contact by negotiation with the child's social worker, where this does not put unreasonable strain on the carer or present a risk to the carer's safety, unless this clashes with other arrangements or jeopardises the needs of other children.

To assist in the supervision of contact where this does not present a risk to the carer, where this does not cause an unreasonable conflict of roles and where a contact agreement has been completed.

To refer any birth parents' requests in respect of contact arrangements back to the child's social worker.

To facilitate contact between a child and prospective adoptive parents at the foster carers' home, based on a joint agreement.

Complaints and Allegations

Also see Allegations/Complaints Against Foster Carers Procedure.

To adhere to safe caring practices and to keep records in accordance with the guidance in the foster carers recording policy.

To appreciate the social workers' duty to investigate allegations and complaints and to co-operate with any such investigations.

To make information about children’s rights and complaints procedures available to any child placed and if necessary to seek assistance in doing so.

To make him or herself familiar with the complaints procedure or seek assistance in doing so to ensure the carer can make use of his or her rights under this procedure.

Health and Safety Issues

General

To provide physical care to meet the child’s needs including administration of medication as prescribed and act in an medical emergency as necessary in consultation with the social worker/supervising link worker and parents.

To record such action and to ensure safe storage of any substances.

To administer non-prescribed medication only in accordance with the guidance (see foster carer handbook).

To monitor the safety of their own equipment and replace as necessary.

To take any necessary action agreed as a result of the Supervising link worker's risk assessment.

To maintain home standards at acceptable levels and provide common facilities and private space to the child.

To inform the Supervising link worker of any changes/alterations to the child's environment.

To ensure that an "all risk" household contents and building insurance is maintained and that insurers have been informed that foster children may be residing in the household.

To transport children only in vehicles for which:

Also see Transporting Children and Activities Procedure

  • The carer has a full valid driving licence and is confident to drive; 
  • The carer holds a current MOT certificate and insurance and the vehicle is road worthy. 
  • The carer has checked that seat belts are in proper working order, are appropriate to the child's size and needs and are used; 
  • The carer holds adequate insurance cover and has informed his or her insurer of the potential use of the vehicle to transport foster children.

To promote a healthy lifestyle. 

To comply with the Physical Intervention Procedure

Termination of Placement

To keep the child's social worker and Supervising link worker informed of any stresses which may lead to placement disruption.

To recognise that placement moves are likely to be damaging to a child or young person and to work as a team to prevent such moves.

To give as much notice as possible to the Family Placements Service and the child's social worker, if a child's placement has to end prematurely. Under no circumstances should the child be informed of this by the carer unless a joint decision to do so has been made.

To attend and participate in a problem solving or disruption meeting before a child is moved wherever possible.

To appreciate that in some circumstances the needs of a child dictate that the child is moved without notice.

Short Term Break carers are requested to give at least 28 days notice before terminating the placement.

Confidentiality

To follow guidelines in respect of this subject found in the safe caring booklet. For short term break carers reference should also be made to the safe and sound & safe and healthy booklets.

To maintain a child's right to confidentiality in line with the Council’s policies including the sexual health policy.

To discuss personal details of the child only with those who need to know to ensure the child's needs are being met.


2. Child's Social Worker's Roles and Responsibilities

Also see:

Section 1, Carers Roles and Responsibilities

Section 3, Supervising link Worker’s Roles and Responsibilities

Care of the Child

To provide as much matching information as possible to enable the most suitable care for a child to be identified.

To ensure LAC forms Part 1 are fully completed on placement and copies supplied to the foster carer. Short term break should also ensure that the All About Me child profile is supplied.

To provide advice and assistance to carers in an empowering manner.

To facilitate problem solving where a carer encounters difficulties in meeting a child's needs.

To take lead responsibility in making transport arrangements to and from school, where the school is outside walking distance and where this presents an unreasonable additional strain on carers or clashes with existing arrangements.

To advocate on the child's behalf in respect to educational provision.

To support carers in developing the child's self confidence and skills

To identify and promote the child’s cultural, linguistic, spiritual, religious and identity needs.

To support carers in striving for placement stability wherever possible.

To appreciate that carers occasionally are no longer able to care for a specific child and to jointly plan a move for the child where necessary.

To appreciate that foster carers work from their own home and have a right to have their own and their family's needs taken into account.

To raise any concerns openly with the carer and negotiate strategies to overcome these unless this jeopardises the child's needs.

To ensure carers have information about any interests, hobbies and talents a young person may have pursued previously.

To take lead responsibility for arranging an appropriate adult and for collecting a child who has absconded, where the carer is unable to assist.

Visits to the Child

See Social Worker Visits to Looked After Children Procedure.

To visit the child regularly, but at least in accordance with minimum statutory requirements and to spend at least some of the time with the child on his or her own.

To keep a record of the visit in line with Council policy.

To give the foster carer regular opportunities for debriefing and open discussion and to visit where this has been reasonably requested by the foster carer.

Information/Communication

To provide the fullest information available when a placement is made and to provide LAC forms Essential Information Part 2 and Placement Agreement Part 2 at the post placement meeting or within 14 days of placement whichever is the earlier. For short term breaks carers all LAC Paper work and the All About Me paperwork should be given before the first overnight stay. (See ‘All About Me’ profile (See About Me ( For Disabled Children in Short Term Breaks) Guidance)

For Temporary / Permanent Foster Carers only to ensure Assessment and Action Records are completed in full dialogue with the carer and young person.

To return carers' calls within 24 hours if at all possible, especially if the carer indicates that this is urgently required and to inform carers of a manager's or other person's contact name if the need arises to speak to someone in an emergency.

To keep foster carers and their supervising link workers informed of any significant developments in a child's case and/or change of circumstances in the child's birth family.

To give reasonable notice to the foster carer and the supervising link worker of any meetings arranged in respect of the child.

Planning for the Child

To endeavour, wherever possible, to place a child in a planned way and to attend and contribute to a pre-placement planning meeting.

To meet at regular intervals to up date agreements made at such meetings.

To consult carers and children fully in preparation for a child's review.

To give due consideration to carers' views and assessments of the child.

To ensure a clear plan for the child is formulated jointly with the foster carer and supervising link worker and any changes are fully communicated.

To keep the carer and supervising link worker fully involved in planning processes for the child.

General

To attend a post placement meeting if a child has had to be placed in an emergency, preferably within 72 hours of placement, but no later than within a week.

To arrange a permanence planning meeting for the child as soon as it becomes clear that a child may not be able to return to his or her birth family.

Short Term Break

To attend post placement meetings to review introductions and how the first stages of the placement are progressing.

Financial Support for Temporary/Permanent Foster Carers

To ensure that Finance Section is informed of a child's movement as soon as practically possible but at the latest within 48 hours to enable fostering allowances to be made.

To inform the Family Placement Service of the date a child is being placed or will move in advance, if possible, but at the latest within 1 working day of placement.

Contact Arrangements for Temporary/Permanent Foster Carers

To negotiate written contact agreements with carers which are able to meet the child's need, but respect carers' rights to safety in their homes and to consider their own family commitments.

To ensure that a full risk assessment is carried out in relation to contact arrangements, reviewed regularly and communicated to carers.

To regularly seek carers' views on the effects of contact arrangements for children and to help carers make sense of a child's experience by being clear about the purpose and function of contact arrangements and the benefits arising for the child.

To take lead responsibility for transport arrangements and facilitating contact, where this puts unreasonable strain on the carer or presents a risk to them.

Complaints and Allegations

Also see Allegations/Complaints Against Foster Carers Procedure.

To comply with the Children’s Services procedure on dealing with complaints and allegations against foster carers in co-operation with the Family Placement Services.

To empower children and carers to resolve difficulties arising from daily life together between them wherever possible and appropriate.

To ensure that the child has an appropriate understanding (in light of age, abilities and stage of development) of the complaints procedure and how to resolve difficulties and to empower the child to make use of the Children’s Rights/Advocacy Service.

Health and Safety Issues

To make a risk assessment taking into account all available information when referring a child for family placement.

To make the carer aware of any concerns in respect of health and safety issues the social worker has.

To negotiate risk reduction strategies as appropriate.

To assure themselves from time to time that sleeping and living arrangements for the child remain suitable.

Termination of a Placement

To fully involve carers in moving arrangements for a child unless this jeopardises the child's needs.

To provide feedback for use at the foster carer review which is a fair reflection of the carers' strengths and training needs and which can be openly shared with the carer.


3. Supervising Link Worker's Roles and Responsibilities

Also see Section 2, Social Worker Roles and Responsibilities

Care of the Child

To identify the most suitable match for a particular child, based on the information available and within the constraints of resources.

To provide regular supervision opportunities to the carers at least once per month.

To visit every child in placement at least once every three months.

To work as agreed with the carer to further his or her abilities to meet the needs of the child.

To identify training needs and strategies for meeting them.

To advise and guide on any aspect of the child's care in consultation with the child's social worker and parent/carer, including appropriate behaviour management strategies.

To enable the carer to focus on the best interests of the child in the context of the work of Children’s Services as a whole and specifically the care plan for the child.

To support the carer in promoting the child’s cultural, linguistic, spiritual, religious and identity needs.

To provide additional support to carers as part of an agreed strategy to maintain placements.

To jointly, with the carer, undertake specific pieces of work with the child, where this has been agreed with the child's social worker and where this empowers carers to better meet a child's needs.

In conjunction with occupational therapy ensure appropriate equipment is provided to meet the child’s needs and identify who is best to provide training on the use of this.

To inform carers of the child’s medical needs and arrange training as and where necessary.

Visits to the Carer's Home

General

To ensure jointly with the carer that the environment provided continues to meet the child's needs, including through unannounced visits.

To support the carer in empowering the child in building a relationship to his or her social worker and making sense of his or her experiences.

To regularly arrange the review of the carers' approval as stipulated by the fostering panel and legislation.

Short Term Break Carers

To ensure that carer’s have received as a minimum 6 monthly visits.

Information/Communication

To pass on any relevant information to the child's social worker and to the foster carer. 

To ensure that communication between all parties is positive and regular and to arrange a meeting between parties if necessary to identify barriers to communication and strategies to overcome them.

To act as back up for the foster carer if the carer is unable to pass on information to the child's social worker in specific instances.

To monitor carer recording eg logs, medication charts.

Planning for the Child

To arrange pre or post placement meetings and to monitor that agreed action is taken.

To support the foster carer in passing on all relevant information to aide planning.

To fully contribute to the decision making processes for children.

To support the carer to work in accordance with the Care Plan.

To advise the child's social worker in relation to family placement and/or permanence planning issues.

To act as an "advisor" to foster carers in relation to their role in the child's present and future life.

Financial Support

To ensure foster carers are fully informed of their obligations in respect to allowances.

To ensure issues of financial strain are raised and addressed as appropriate.

To advise temporary /permanent foster carer on any financial issues and procedures relating to discretionary payments and claim for mileage etc.

To process fee payments and applications for discretionary payments efficiently and speedily.

To advise short term break carers on financial issues and how to claim voucher payments and mileage.

Contact Arrangements for Temporary/Permanent Foster Carers

To ensure a reasonable balance is achieved in meeting the child's needs and respecting carers' capacity when contact arrangements are made.

To support carers through any difficulties which arise as a result of contact arrangements and re-negotiate these if necessary.

To appreciate the particular stresses and pressure foster carers may experience when a child moves to a permanent placement and/or during prolonged introductions.

Complaints and Allegations

To comply with the Children’s Services procedure on dealing with complaints and Allegations/Complaints Against Foster Carers Procedure.

To ensure that carers are appropriately supported through any process of investigation.

To ensure that carers can access independent organisations and sources of advice, including the independent counselling service.

To ensure carers are aware of their rights under the complaints procedure and feel able to access it.

Health and Safety Issues

To ensure a risk assessment is carried out as part of the carers' review and health and safety issues are fully discussed and actioned.

To monitor standards and raise any concerns with the foster carer.

To ensure carers are fully conversant with their obligations to inform insurers of their fostering status.

To ensure carers are fully aware of their obligations to ensure children are transported safely.

To ensure carers are fully aware of the positive handling procedure (See Physical Intervention Procedures)

Termination of a Placement

To offer opportunities to carers to openly discuss stresses and strains of a placement and the impact of an unplanned ending of a placement on the child and the foster family.

To arrange a problem solving or disruption meeting where a placement may need to end or has ended in an unplanned way.

To ensure a strategy is drawn up to address any concerns affecting placement stability which arise from carer supervision or liaison with the child's social worker.

To support the carer when a child moves on.

To provide learning opportunities to help avoid future disruptions and to feed these into the carer review and the child's end of placement report.

End