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7.5 Supervision and Support of Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all approved foster carers, it explains the role of the allocated supervising social worker.

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol (Fostering Network)

AMENDMENT

In June 2017, the following information was added into Section 5, Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker - The Safer Care Policy should be updated as required to reflect any changes in household circumstances and any health and safety issues including the addition of any new pets to the household and the environment in which the pets are kept.


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 first line of support for foster carers is their supervising social worker, who will visit regularly, usually on a 3-4 weekly basis. Out of office hours, the Fostering Support phone line is available to deal with difficulties that arise, and/or to refer onto the out of hours Emergency Duty Team.

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 and professional development opportunities. 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 the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers and gaining the Certificate of successful completion from the Work Force Development Unit. 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 reviewed at regular intervals and endorsed 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;
  • Ensure Foster Carers are aware of and kept up to date on the expectations on them;
  • Ensure the supervising social worker is aware of any issues within the household likely to impact on the fostering role:
  • 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 and Training, Support and Development Standards are fully met;
  • Complete personal development plans for each carer, which are linked to their training log 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;
  • Record differences of option or discrepancies highlighted through supervision;
  • Feedback on progress and compliments;
  • Discuss concerns and explore progress;
  • Any support needs expressed by the foster carers and how they will be met;
  • Any financial discrepancies;
  • Any health or welfare issues of the foster carer.

The agenda for each meeting should cover:

  1. Matters arising from the previous 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. 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 reviewed by the supervising social worker who should sign the foster carers' diary;
  7. Any other matters relevant to the fostering role.

The supervision visits should be recorded on a pro forma Foster Carer Supervision Record, signed by the foster carer and the supervising social worker. This document will be read and signed by the supervising social workers line manager before a copy is returned to the foster carer and a copy saved on Mosaic.

Completion of the Supervision Record:

  • Used on every visit to register and record discussions;
  • Completed in full, as often as possible but fully completed  at least 3 monthly;
  • Unannounced visits at least annually (recorded).

Filing/storing information:

  • Foster carers should read and sign the form during the visit;
  • If possible forms should be typed unless written neatly and scanned and a copy stored on Mosaic, copies will then be sent to carers for agreement.

Signatures

All supervision forms must be signed and dated by:

  • The Supervising Social Worker;
  • The Foster Carer;
  • The Line Manager.

A record of all meetings should be kept on the foster carer’s Mosaic record and a 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 once every six weeks, or:

  • As needed within the first three months of approval when a higher level of support may be necessary;
  • Monthly to Foster Carers who take emergency or challenging placements;
  • Up to six weekly for long term placements including long term family and friends placements;
  • As required during difficult periods.

Regularity of visits should be discussed with the carers and the agreed frequency recorded and agreed with the line manager.

Further visits, telephone calls, correspondence and general contact should be available for carers between supervision visits where necessary and recorded on Mosaic.

Additional visits may be made for the purposes of support (to the foster carer or any member of the foster family) with telephone contact at least every four weeks.


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.

The unannounced visits will be undertaken by the foster carers' supervising social worker 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 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 unless this is pre-arranged.

Unannounced visits should be recorded.

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 discussed with 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 the standards and achieve the training support and development standards for foster carers certificate of completion by their first annual review, or soon after if extra support is required;
  2. Show carers how to access the Foster Carers' Handbook;
  3. Ensure that the signed Foster Carer Agreement has been returned and that a copy is placed on the carer's file. Following approval the Foster Carer will have been sent a Foster Carer pack. This will include information regarding fostering for the Council, details of the complaints procedure, and York Foster Carers Association's (YAFCA) welcome letter and list of committee members. The pack will also contain a Foster Carer's Agreement form. This must be signed and returned by the foster carers before the first placement is made. It will then be passed to the Agency Decision Maker for counter signature;
  4. Inform the foster carer of the Council's public liability and professional indemnity insurance for all staff and foster carers;
  5. Inform the foster carer about the system of payments and expenses.

Pre-Placement

  1. Approaches to foster carers asking them to take a particular child will be made by the foster carers' supervising social worker, or in their absence another family placement worker.
    • The supervising social worker will:
      • Give information about the child, ensuring that the foster carer understands the confidentiality of the information given;
      • Ensure that the foster carer has a choice about taking the child on placement;
      • Inform the child's social worker of the outcome;
      • Provide the foster carer with the placement request information relating to the child.
    • The child's social worker will:
      • Consult with the child and involve him or her in the initial stages of identifying a placement, as far as this is practicable;
      • Ensure the completion of the LAC forms for children to be placed;
      • Ensure adequate and accurate information is provided on the child, the child’s history and general circumstances where this is known.
  2. 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 the 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;
  3. Take part in discussions about potential placements;
  4. Take part in planning meetings regarding placements;
  5. 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;
  6. Discuss issues relevant to contact with birth parents and other family members;
  7. Discuss how the child's health needs are promoted and how children should be encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle;
  8. Assist carers in dealing with other relevant services such as health and education;
  9. Discuss appropriate training to provide appropriate care when caring for children with complex health needs;
  10. Assist carer with training needs for appropriate safer care practice, including skills to care for children who have experienced harm. For foster carers who offer placements to disabled children, this includes training specifically on issues affecting disabled children;
  11. Discuss financial issues with the carer: allowances, pocket money, leisure activities, toiletries and travelling etc. The foster carers should be given clear information on allowances payable, before a child is placed;
  12.  Ensure that the child's social worker has completed a change form to begin payments (and to end payments if a child leaves);
  13. 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;
  14. Exchange contact numbers with all relevant members of the family, including out of hours support;
  15. Ensure that arrangements are made for the provision of specialist equipment for disabled children;
  16. Set date of first visit after the placement;
  17. Let the social worker for a child already in placement know when another child is placed;
  18. 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, 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 Children and Young People in Care 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 is updated and where appropriate 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 if agreed by the carer or as necessary;
  13. Record contact with carers;
  14. Provide reports for Panel as required under the relevant procedures;
  15. 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.

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

  1. Offer support to the family and consider the on-going practical and emotional support needs of the family;
  2. Make the carers aware of the process and of their rights during any investigation;
  3. Make the carers aware of their own possible conflict of interests and inform them that they can seek alternative support and advice from YAFCA and/or the Fostering Network.
Discuss with the line manager whether the circumstances are such that additional independent support should be offered via a named worker from Fostering Network.

End