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6.1.5 Supervision and Support of Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all approved foster carers.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Training Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers (Department for Education)

Transfer Protocol for Foster Carers 

AMENDMENT

In August 2017, Section 5, Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker (During Placement), was updated 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.


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

    Appendix 1: Supervision and Support Visit Checklist

    Appendix 2: Guide To The Payment

    Appendix 3: Annual Personal Development Plan


    Appendix 4: Placement Agreement Plan

    Appendix 5: Foster Carer Partnership Agreement

    Appendix 6: Unannounced Visit Record

    Appendix 7: Confidential Fostering Disruption Questionnaire

    Appendix 8: Chairing Disruption Meetings (Powerpoint)


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 Social Worker and Social Worker Fostering will work together to help the carer meet the child’s needs as specified in the Care Plan by carrying out joint visits to the carer at regular intervals and after each CLA review when the plan is updated.

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 the Training, Support and Development (TSD) Standards and gaining the Certificate of successful completion. They also have the responsibility to ensure foster carers are familiar with, and made aware of, new policies and guidance.


2. Planned Supervision Visits

Supervision visits should be set up and agreed between the foster carer and the supervising social worker at each visit and actual frequency monitored in supervision by the supervising social worker's line manager.

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

  • Ensure the foster carers understand how they contribute to the Local Authority's services for children; see Appendix 5: Foster Carer Partnership Agreement;

  • 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 Standards for Foster Carers are fully met;
  • Complete personal development plans for each carer, which are linked to their training and their annual review; see Appendix 3: Annual Personal Development Plan;
  • Support foster carers by providing advice or making this available from elsewhere as appropriate; see Child Action Northwest;
  • Give foster carers an opportunity to raise any problems and make sure they are addressed appropriately;
  • Acknowledge the challenges and demands that fostering makes 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, progress on the outcomes identified in the Care Plan – and any support needs;
  4. Training/development issues for the foster carers and family;
  5. Safe caring and health and safety issues;
  6. Foster carer’s recording which is to be collected on visits by the supervising social worker and reviewed thereafter;
  7. The supervision visits should be recorded on a pro forma Foster Carer Supervision Record, signed by the foster carer and the Supervising Social Worker, and should include:
    • Any concerns expressed;
    • Any support needs expressed by the foster carers and how they will be met;
    • Any financial issues.

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

The supervision records will inform the Foster Carer’s review – see Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.


3. Frequency of Supervision

Supervision meetings will take place at least every six weeks and usually monthly.

Additional visits may be made for the purposes of support (to the foster carer or any member of the foster family) with telephone contact as and when required/appropriate/helpful.


4. Unannounced Visits

There should also be unannounced visits at least once a year. The main purpose of the unannounced visit will be to look at the home environment that a child is living in and the care they are receiving.

The statutory annual unannounced visits will be undertaken by a qualified Social Worker who will need to check who is in the home;

  1. Who is looking after the child;
  2. If the carer is not at home, what arrangements have been made for the care of the 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 will be recorded on the carers record. See Appendix 6: Unannounced Visit Record.

The service is dedicated to undertaking more than one unannounced visit per year as a service enhancement. These may be undertaken by a Social Worker Fostering, a Fostering Support Worker or a known student Social Worker.

There will not ordinarily be a regular programme of further additional 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. 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 and achieve the Training, Support and Development (TSD) Standards by their first annual review, or soon after if extra support is required;
  2. Give Foster Carers’ Handbook to new carer;
  3. Give Foster Care Agreement to the carer: 2 copies to be signed and one returned and uploaded onto the carer’s record;
  4. 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 6 should normally have 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. Take part in planning meetings regarding placements. See Appendix 4: Placement Agreement Plan;
  4. Ensure that the Central Placements Team or 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; the prospective carer should normally be put in contact with the previous/current foster carer for enhanced information purposes;
  5. Discuss issues relevant to contact with birth parents and other family members;
  6. Discuss how child's health needs are promoted and how children should be encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle;
  7. Assist carers in dealing with other relevant services such as health and education;
  8. Discuss appropriate training to provide appropriate care when caring for children with complex health needs;
  9. 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;
  10. 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. See Appendix 2: Guide To The Payment.
  11. 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. It is the responsibility of the carer to inform the Social Worker at the earliest opportunity of any plans which may require permission for the child to be away from their normal place of residence, or which may require an Approved Support Care placement to be identified. Except in emergency situations, this should include sufficient time for proper introductions of the child to any new placement.
  12. Exchange contact numbers with all relevant members of the family, including out of hours support;
  13. That arrangements are made for the provision of specialist equipment for disabled children;
  14. Set date of first visit after the placement; Set date of placement planning meeting. This must take place as soon as possible and certainly within 5 working days of placement commencing;
  15. The Central Placements Team will consult the social worker for a child already in placement when consideration is being given to another child being placed;
  16. Provide carers with training and written policy 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, where this is agreed in advance and meets the needs of placed children;
  3. Take part in any LADO/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 Children 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 3 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. See Appendix 7: Confidential Fostering Disruption Questionnaire.


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

For the detailed procedure, see Allegations Against Foster Carers Procedure

Where allegations regarding childcare or child protection are made, the Supervising Social Worker should:

  1. Support the family within the remit of their role;
  2. Discuss fully, with the carer and their family, all the issues that have led to the allegation, at the appropriate time, as agreed at 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 Child Action North West (CANW), the Fostering Network or other independent sources.


Appendices

Appendix 1: Supervision and Support Visit Checklist

Appendix 2: Guide To The Payment

Appendix 3: Annual Personal Development Plan


Appendix 4: Placement Agreement Plan

Appendix 5: Foster Carer Partnership Agreement

Appendix 6: Unannounced Visit Record

Appendix 7: Confidential Fostering Disruption Questionnaire

Appendix 8: Chairing Disruption Meetings (Powerpoint)

End