Skip to main content
City of York Logo


Top of page

Size: View this website with small text View this website with medium text View this website with large text View this website with high visibility

8.5 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)

Fostering Statement of Purpose

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated throughout in July 2021.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Planned Supervision Visits
  3. Personal Development Plan (PDP)
  4. Frequency of Supervision
  5. Unannounced Visits
  6. Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker (SSW)
  7. 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 (SSW).

The allocated SSW 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.

The SSW must also ensure that the foster carers' training and development needs are identified, and that newly approved carers work towards completing the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers Workbook.

The foster carer(s) should be fully aware of the Notification of Significant Events and the need to immediately report to their SSW or Fostering Agency the following:

  • The death of a child;
  • A serious illness or serious accident of a child in their care;
  • The outbreak at their home of any infectious disease (which in the opinion of a general practitioner attending the home is sufficiently serious to be notified);
  • An allegation that a child in their care has committed a serious offence;
  • Concerns that a child in their care is being sexually exploited;
  • The Police being called to the carer’s home as a result of a serious incident relating to a child placed there;
  • A child placed in their care going missing;
  • Any serious concerns about the emotional or mental health of a child, such that a mental health assessment would be requested under the Mental Health Act 1983.

See also Notifications of Significant Events Procedure.

The child’s allocated social worker should be contacted for specific advice or support in relation to the child and their Care Plan and Placement Plan.


2. Planned Supervision Visits

A programme of supervision visits should be set up and agreed between the foster carer and the SSW from the time of the foster carer's approval reviewed at regular intervals and endorsed by the Service Manager. Visits should be recorded on Mosaic.

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;
  • 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 carer’s work to ensure National Minimum Standards and Training, Support and Development Standards for foster carers are fully met;
  • 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 carer’s 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, changes in the carer’s situation and circumstances etc;
  3. Child/ren in placement :
    1. Their health, cultural, educational, leisure and contact needs – and any support needs;
    2. Progress and work with respect towards each child’s Care Plan;
    3. Any accidents, injuries and illnesses experienced by each child;
    4. Any complaints in relation to children placed with them and their outcomes;
    5. Any concerns around behaviour management in relation to children they are caring for;
    6. Any other significant events (see Section 1, Introduction);
    7. Any medication, medical treatment or first aid administered.
  4. Training/development issues for the foster carers and their family;
  5. Safe caring and health and safety issues;
  6. Foster carer’s recording which is to be reviewed by the SSW who should sign the Child Placement Folder, Section 4.

The supervision visits should be recorded on a pro forma Foster Carer Supervision Record, signed by the foster carer and the SSW and should include:

  • Any concerns expressed;
  • Any support needs requested by the foster carers, and details of how these will be met;
  • Any financial issues.

A record of all meetings should be kept on the foster carer’s file 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. Personal Development Plan (PDP)

The Personal Development Plan (PDP) should be discussed between the SSW and the foster carers as it becomes the framework for supervising foster carers during their first year of fostering. A review of the PDP should be presented to panel with their first annual foster care review.


4. Frequency of Supervision

Supervision meetings will take place at least once every 4 months.

Additional visits may be made for the purposes of support (to the foster carer or any member of the foster family) with regular telephone contact depending on the stability of the placement and the needs of carers.

All members of the household should be seen by the SSW at least annually.

The SSW should facilitate support groups and networks for and between approved carers.


5. Unannounced Visits

There should also be unannounced visits at least once a year. Two is best practice and advisable. 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 carer’s SSW 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 SSW should leave a note for the foster carers to say that they have visited.

If the foster carers are not at home but the child is present and being cared for by someone else, the SSW should check the identity of that person but should not continue with the visit unless.

Unannounced visits should be recorded on mosaic on the supervisions sections and noted in case notes.

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 explained to the foster carer.


6. Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker (SSW)

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 complete the Training, Support and Development Standards workbook by their first annual review, or soon after if extra support is required;
  2. Give the Foster Carer’s Handbook to any new carer;
  3. Give Foster Carer Agreement to the carer: 2 copies to be signed and one returned and placed on the carer’s file;
  4. Support carers with any specialist issues for disabled children for e.g. support in completing applications for Carer's Allowance, Disability Living Allowance etc.

Pre-Placement

  1. Complete risk assessments surrounding bedroom sharing, 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;
  2. Take part in discussions about potential placements;
  3. Take part in planning meetings regarding placements;
  4. Ensure that the child's social worker give the foster family full information about children about to be placed, including any abuse or neglect and the reason for the placement, the child’s educational, medical, religious, racial, linguistic and cultural needs;
  5. Discuss issues relevant to contact with birth parents and other family members;
  6. Assist carers in dealing with other relevant services such as health and education;
  7. 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 city’s insurance policy for carers;
  8. 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;
  9. Exchange contact numbers with all relevant members of the family, including out of hours support;
  10. Organise equipment as required. Be aware of the process for Occupational Therapy referrals for adaptations and items of support for disabled children, and liaise with the child’s social worker to ensure these services are acquired;
  11. Set date of first visit after the placement;
  12. Let the social worker for a child already in placement know when another child is placed.

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 in place;
  2. Recognise and address any difficulties the foster carer’s own children may be experiencing arising from fostering;
  3. Assist foster carers to work in an anti-discriminatory way that respects and promotes individual differences;
  4. Record differences of opinion or discrepancies highlighted through supervision;
  5. Feedback on progress and compliments;
  6. Discuss concerns and explore progress;
  7. Discuss positive parenting and meeting the emotional needs of the child or young person;
  8. Communicate with the child / young person about their placement and relationships;
  9. Personal issues e.g. health, relationships, change in circumstances, finances, new pets;
  10. Any support needs expressed by the foster carers and how they will be met;
  11. Any financial discrepancies;
  12. Take part in any Strategy Meetings and Section 47 Enquiry relating to the foster family. Be involved in interviews/support as agreed;
  13. Ensure the SSW and the foster carers receive invitations to child’s Children and Young People in Care Reviews and Child Protection Conferences, and attend when appropriate;
  14. Prepare for and attend Foster Carer Review Meetings (See Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure);
  15. Ensure training programme is updated and accessed by carers and their family and children;
  16. Visit regularly in accordance with the foster carer’s needs, the child’s Care Plan and as required (see also Section 4, Frequency of Supervision and Section 5, Unannounced Visits);
  17. Review the Safer Caring Plan and any changes in household circumstances;
  18. 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;
  19. Make unannounced visits as required;
  20. Update Disclosure and Barring Service checks on members of the family every 3 years, including those reaching 18 years of age, and other persons who come to live at the home, who are over 18 years;
  21. Whilst there is no statutory time interval, as good practice medical information should also be updated at least every 3 years by writing to the foster carer’s GP. In the event of any serious concerns about the foster carers health, a review of the foster carers approval should be carried out immediately; Update medicals on the carers every 2 years if agreed by the carer or as necessary;
  22. Record contact with carers;
  23. Provide reports for Panel as required under the relevant procedures;
  24. Where appropriate contribute to court reports as agreed with the child’s social worker;
  25. Maintain the foster carer’s mosaic file in accordance with the relevant recording policy (see Foster Carer Recording Procedure);
  26. With the foster carer, complete a Personal Professional Development Plan which addresses the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care and Payment for Skills training needs;
  27. Any other issues associated with the fostering role.

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;
  5. Send the child’s social worker an end of placement form.


7. 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 SSW should:

  1. Support the family and consider the on-going practical and emotional support needs of the family;
  2. Discuss fully with the carer and their family all the issues which have led to the allegation as agreed at the strategy meeting;
  3. Make the carers aware of their own possible conflict of interests and inform them that they can seek alternative support and advice from Fostering Network or other independent sources.

End