Supervision and Support of Foster Carers
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to all approved foster carers.
This chapter should be read in conjunction with the Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol.
AMENDMENTSection 6, Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker (During Placement) was updated in September 2017 to reflect that 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.
The following pattern and expectation of supervision visits is seen as a basic tool for recording and monitoring placement standards, support and both personal and service development.
Person to be seen/consulted
|The Primary Carer||Monthly|
|Other Adults in the Household||Bi-Monthly|
|Children in the Placement (This is supplementary to the statutory obligations of the child's social worker, see Social Worker Visits to Looked After Children Procedure)||Bi-Monthly|
|Children in the Household||Bi-Monthly|
There is an expectation that all visits will be planned, however, within a 12 month period all carers will receive at least one unannounced visit. See Section 5, Unannounced Visits.
The supervising Social Worker holds a key role in the service for supervising and supporting the foster carers to carry out their fostering task.
This role can be divided into four main areas:
- To ensure that quality standards set by the service for its foster carer resource and the provision of care to children and young people are met;
- To complete personal development plans for each carer, which are linked to their training and their annual review;
- To ensure the carer understands their role and works within the agencies policies and procedures;
- To support the carer and other family members, by representing their views, liaising with other professions, advising on placement issues, i.e. behaviour management and arrangements for placements, i.e. finance, equipment etc.
Through working with carers, the supervising social worker will be able to have an overview of the carers, development and understanding of the fostering task, the service and standard of care received by children and young people and a recognition of areas of need to develop the fostering service.
Arrangements for joint visits with the social worker of the child/young person in placement will be negotiated at a minimum of 4 per year (where placements are not expected to have the duration of 12 months, individual schedules of joint visiting will be negotiated).
Supervision should provide a positive, enabling and supportive experience for foster carers and should help them to have:
- Their strengths and weaknesses recognised and developed;
- Their skills and potential enhanced;
- Their relationship with the local authority enhanced;
- Their performance positively challenged and managed.
The supervision meeting should include:
- An assessment of the understanding of the foster carer of the standards, policies, procedures and guidance of the Children's Services Department in relation to looked after children, including health and safety issues;
- An assessment of the training needs of the foster carer and the identification of suitable ways of meeting those needs including the foster carer's responsibility for their own development;
- A discussion about the foster carer's attendance at support meetings;
- The need for any additional support or training;
- A review of the foster carer's record keeping to ensure that the Daily Records are being completed appropriately and in sufficient detail and that records of the child's health, any incidents, absences and restraints are being kept in accordance with procedures;
- The monitoring of how the records kept by the foster carer are stored;
- A discussion about how a child or young person's education, development and health care are being promoted.
Records of the supervisory meetings will be kept by the supervising social worker and retained on the foster carer's case record. A copy will also be sent to the foster carer.
The supervising social worker will also sign the records kept by the foster carer and indicate on the records the date when they were reviewed.
5. Unannounced Visits
The supervising social worker will also monitor and evaluate the performance of the foster carer by carrying out unannounced visits at least annually. After such a visit, the supervising social worker will provide a written report to the foster carer, a copy of which will be placed on the foster carer's case record. Supervising social workers must notify the Fostering Team manager of the unannounced visit and any areas of concern. These must be addressed at the earliest available opportunity.
Unsuccessful unannounced visits should be recorded on file and a repeat visit undertaken. Concerns about lack of access or finding the carer home should be discussed with the supervising social worker's supervisor.
The date of the successful visit should be notified to the central record holding system by the supervising social worker.
6. Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker
Supervising social workers should ensure the following tasks are done:
- Ensure that all new carers complete the induction programme and that their support, development and training needs are assessed and met so that they meet the standards and achieve the ISCW certificate of completion by their first annual review, or soon after if extra support is required;
- Give Foster Carers' Handbook to new carer;
- Give Foster Carer Agreement to the carer: 2 copies to be signed and one returned and placed on the carer's file;
- Support carers with any specialist issues for disabled children e.g. support in completing applications for Carers' Allowance, Disabled Living Allowance etc.;
- 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;
- Take part in discussions about potential placements;
- Take part in planning meetings regarding placements;
- 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;
- Discuss issues relevant to contact with birth parents and other family members;
- Discuss how child's health needs are promoted and how children should be encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle;
- Assist carers in dealing with other relevant services such as health and education;
- Discuss appropriate training to provide appropriate care when caring for children with complex health needs;
- 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;
- 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 Council's insurance policy for carers;
- 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 that alternative arrangements can be made;
- Exchange contact numbers with all relevant members of the family, including out of hours support;
- That arrangements are made for the provision of specialist equipment for disabled children;
- Set date of first visit after the placement;
- Let the social worker for a child already in placement know when another child is placed;
- Provide carers with training and written policy on behaviour management;
- 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;
- Provide foster carers with breaks from caring as appropriate, which must meet the needs of placed children
- Take part in any Strategy Meetings and Section 47 Enquiry relating to the foster family. Be involved in interviews/support as agreed;
- 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;
- Prepare for and attend Foster Carer Review Meetings (see Annual Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure);
- Ensure training programme is updated and accessed by carers and carers' family and children;
- Visit regularly in accordance with the Foster Carer's needs, the child's Care Plan and as required (see also Section 1, Frequency and Section 5, Unannounced Visits);
- Review the Safer Caring Plan and any changes in household circumstances;
- 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;
- Make unannounced visits as required;
- 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;
- Update medicals on the carers every 2 years or as necessary;
- Record contact with carers;
- Provide reports for Panel as required under the relevant procedures;
- Where appropriate contribute to Court Reports as agreed with child's social worker;
- Discuss how the carers can support young people into adulthood;
At End of Placement
- Support the family as much as possible in what can be a very difficult time;
- 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;
- Assist the foster carer to complete their end of placement report if required;
- Attend Disruption Meetings as required.