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7.8 Foster Carer Recording

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in December 2012. Section 3, Foster Carers’ Case Recording was updated and should be re-read.


Contents

  1. Types of Information Held by Foster Carers
  2. Retaining/Returning the Information
  3. Foster Carers' Case Recording


1. Types of Information Held by Foster Carers

The information that foster carers may have can be broadly categorised into three main areas:

  • Information about fostering in general;
  • Information about themselves;
  • Information about children placed in their care.

For the duration of their registration, foster carers will keep the following information:

  • The general fostering information is not confidential but foster carers need to have access to the information to assist with the task of fostering;
  • The information about themselves should also be stored as confidential.

For the duration of each placement, foster carers will keep the following information:

  • The information about any child placed with them and their families is to be kept confidential. It should be kept in a locked cupboard / drawer/ filing cabinet. If the foster carer does not have this facility, Children’s Services will provide a lockable filing box in which to store this information. The box is portable and foster carers should give some thought to its safe keeping. The supervising social worker will check the contents of the cupboard /drawer/ filing cabinet / box as part of their supervisory role - see Supervision and Support of Foster Carers Procedure.


2. Retaining/Returning the Information

On ceasing to be a foster carer the following arrangements apply:

  • Any information that falls into the category of general fostering may be kept. However, care should be taken not to share information about other foster carers that may be contained in newsletters (e.g. addresses of carers running local support groups);
  • Foster carers may keep any information that they have been given about themselves, except for their identity ‘badge’;
  • Any child based information held by foster carers, whether it has been provided for them or if they have made the record, must be returned to the agency once the placement has ended or if the foster carers cease to foster. The only exceptions are if the foster carers secure the child’s placement with a Child Arrangements Order, Special Guardianship Order or Adoption Order or with the young person's permission (for example, the child may reach 18 but remain with the family informally and wish for the information to be available ‘at home’).

Foster carers may have access, at a later stage, to anything that they have written, should they wish. As such, on returning any information, foster carers may and should keep a record of:

  • The name of the child in placement (first name only);
  • Placement dates;
  • Where the information will be stored;
  • What was included in the information (list of documents).

Foster carers should obtain a receipt for them, dating when and to whom the information or documents were given.

Foster carer files are kept for a minimum of 10 years after they cease to be foster carers. Information kept on Children in Care’s files is kept for 75 years after their 18th birthday.


3. Foster Carer’s Case Recording

Increasingly foster carers are being asked to keep records about children placed with them, in much the same way that records are kept in residential care services. Foster Carers will be provided with a Child Placement File, in which they can (and will also be asked to) collate and provide the following information:

The reasons these records are required are:

  • To accurately recall behaviour or incidents and provide a balanced picture of events;
  • To assist in looking at the progress of a placement over time and developing a picture of the child’s pattern of behaviour;
  • To inform decision-making at reviews, planning meetings and conferences;
  • To help the foster carer to review and develop practice;
  • To provide information needed for court proceedings;
  • To support an application for additional help e.g. therapy;
  • To reduce the risk to foster carers and their families while the child is placed, and, in some cases, after the child has moved on;
  • To provide information in the event of an investigation, allegation or serious incident;
  • To provide information to children and young people in later life should they wish to access it.

Additionally the foster carer may keep a diary for appointments.

At the Placement Planning Meeting, there should be a decision as to:

  • What recording is required;
  • Who the information shall be shared with;
  • By what means the information will be shared;
  • How frequently the information will be distributed.

In terms of writing records, foster carers should follow some basic guidelines:

  • The language should be simple and jargon free;
  • The record should be concise and factual with enough information to accurately report and recall the event;
  • The records are designed to provide a picture of the young person’s life, experiences and events and also to be used to provide a picture of family life for the child to help them recall interesting, amusing and even sad events;
  • Record facts;
  • If opinion is recorded then say this is your view and why you think it;
  • The record should be made contemporaneously, signed and dated. If any information is changed or added later this should be clear from the record.

The sorts of things that should be recorded are:

  • Dates and brief details of meetings/visits by social workers and other professionals;
  • Dates of reviews or any other meeting concerning the child, list the participants and the key decisions;
  • Dates of any school or education meetings, list the participants and key decisions. Keep a record of achievements, schools attended;
  • Dates of any health appointments, list the participants and key decisions. Keep a record of any treatment, immunisations and illnesses;
  • Details of any contact visits or telephone calls, letters etc. Name the person who has contacted the child. Note any reaction the child may have to the contact. Keep a record of where the child’s family is living;
  • Details when the child is away from home, visiting family or friends, or if they are missing and any relevant details;
  • Details of times, when alternative care is given - baby sitting arrangements, delegated support or short breaks and please note: your supervising social worker will require prior notice of these events unless the agreement has been given through the planning process etc;
  • Details of any specific incidents or complaints or disagreements;
  • Details of any behaviour or comments from the child that give rise to concern. Make a note of your actions and any observers or witnesses. This may help to identify what triggers such behaviour and what stops it and provide essential information and evidence in the event of any concerns raised;
  • Details of any accidents or injuries. Describe what, when, where and how the accident happened and what follow up action was taken. Record when the incident was reported to which social worker;
  • Detail any theft or wilful damage caused by the foster child. This will be required for any claims;
  • Detail any involvement with the police, noting the date, which officer was involved and the reason for the involvement;
  • Detail any request made to the agency for support or resources and any difficulties reported, note the date of the request, the response and when it was received.

End