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12.13 Foster Carer Recording Policy

REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS

STANDARD 26 - Records

Outcome - Records are clear, up to date, stored securely and contribute to an understanding of the child’s life.

26.2: Staff, volunteers, panel members and fostering households understand the nature of records maintained and follow the service’s policy for the keeping and retention of files, managing confidential information and access to files (including files removed from the premises). There is a system in place to monitor the quality and adequacy of record keeping and take action when needed.

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Why do we need this policy?

The Fostering Services National Minimum Standards require that The Nottinghamshire County Council Fostering Service has and implements a written policy that clarifies the purpose, format and content of information to be kept on the fostering services’ files, on the child’s files, and on case files relating to foster carers. This policy sets out our expectations in relation to foster carer recordings.

AMENDMENT

In January 2016, this chapter was updated and should be re-read throughout.


Contents

  1. The Purpose of Recordings
  2. The Content and Style of Recordings
  3. The Format of Recordings
  4. Responsibilities in Relation to Storage and Confidentiality
  5. Responsibilities of Your Supervising social worker
  6. End of Placement
  7. Further Information and Advice on Recording


1. The Purpose of Recordings

Everyone who works with looked after children will be involved in recording. As a foster carer, you play a key role in the care of Looked After Children, and you are uniquely placed to record important information during a child’s placement with you.

It is essential that you keep accurate records, because:

  • Records can offer children and young people an opportunity to look back at what has happened during the placement, and to understand why decisions were made, clarify what your role was in the child’s life and improve a child’s identity;
  • Recordings can provide an opportunity to reflect, and allow analysis of behaviour; it also allows sharing of information with other professionals to enhance the child’s life, it also assists in continuity when there are changes in care;
  • Records can provide accurate information that can be used in plans and assessments about your fostered child;
  • The information may be required in court;
  • Recording can be useful if allegations are made against a foster carer. It also forms part of ensuring you as foster carers are meeting the accountability and standards expected of your role. Recording also supports your supervision and professional development as a foster carer.


2. The Content and Style of Recordings

You are expected to keep a record of all significant events and incidents during the child’s placement with you. Include anything that you think is important, even if it seems a small detail. However, you do not have to record anything or everything each day.

You should ensure that all records are relevant, accurate, up to date, and stored securely in line with the Data Protection Act 1998. Recordings need to be clear and legible, and the language should be kept simple and free of jargon. Remember, these records should be useful to the child or young person now and in the future and you should be writing in a way that you would be happy for the child or young person to read what you have written. Recording should offer a balanced view of the child’s life, and include the good points as well as the more difficult points.

Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards
26.5) Entries in records, decisions and reasons for them, are legible, clearly expressed, non-stigmatising, distinguish between fact, opinion and third party information and are signed and dated.

Records should be signed and kept in date order, in the file provided by The Fostering Service, with a separate file for each child placed with you. You should avoid recording opinion and stick to the facts wherever possible, however, if you feel you need to record opinion make sure you clearly state that this is your opinion.

Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards
26.6) Information is recorded clearly in a way which will be helpful to the child when they access their files now or in the future. Children are actively encouraged to read their files, other than necessary confidential or third party information, and to correct errors and add personal statements.

Records should include the following:

  • Details of the improvements and achievements of your fostered child;
  • Details of all medical appointments;
  • Records of all medication, prescribed and non prescribed, including details of any medication given in error;
  • Details of any injuries or illnesses, include how they were acquired, the details of any witnesses and the details of any emergency actions taken;
  • Physical intervention - record what happened before, when it happened, and how it was dealt with;
  • Quotes or comments from the fostered child or young person - these can useful for the child or young person to look back on, and can provide important evidence for assessments;
  • Details of delegated authority and how you reach decisions;
  • Significant changes in behaviour (positive and negative changes), and how this was dealt with;
  • Contact with other agencies and professionals;
  • Details of any times that the child is away from the foster home, with friends, birth family, or missing;
  • Details of contact visits, including how the child or young person responded, and any reasons for failed visits;
  • Disagreements and complaints, and how they were dealt with;
  • Details of visits by the child’s social worker and the supervising social worker, including details of any missed meetings and any agreed actions;
  • Details of any theft by the foster child, or damage caused by the foster child;
  • Details of any specific events or changes in the foster carer household that may have an impact on the foster child.


3. The Format of Recordings

You will receive a file for each child or young person placed with you. You must use separate files for each child. The file is divided into sections for you to record significant events. Do not worry about recording the ‘wrong’ information in the ‘wrong’ section, as long as all significant information is recorded. You can cross reference information in sections to avoid duplicating information, for example, if you were recording an incident that took place at school this could be recorded in section 7 (Incidents and Injuries) with a cross reference in section 3 (Education), or record in section 3 with a cross reference in section 7, there is no wrong way! Recording can be done electronically please read guidance with regard to electronic recording elsewhere within this policy.

Section 1: Health and Development Records

  • Details of appointments and telephone calls with medical practitioners;
  • Details of developmental milestones and achievements - a developmental chart is available from your health visitor, or for younger children the information you record should complement the ‘Red Book’;
  • Patterns to allergic reactions, or asthma attacks;
  • Symptoms and progress of any illnesses.

Section 2: Medication

  • Record all medication that you give to the child or young person, prescribed and non-prescribed;
  • Record details of any chemical treatments for head lice;
  • Record the child’s response and any reactions;
  • Record any self administered medication for young people assessed as being of the age and understanding to self administer.

Section 3: Education

  • Record details of all visits and telephone calls regarding education, including PEP meetings, parents evening etc;
  • Record achievements and attainment at school, or school related activities;
  • Record details of extra curricular activities (social/ leisure/ play activities) in and out of school;
  • Keep a copy of your child’s PEP in this section.

Section 4: social worker and other professionals visits

  • All visits and telephone calls from Children’s Social Care staff, including your supervising social worker, and professionals other than Health and Education;
  • The record of all appointments to YOU should be kept separately.

Section 5: Contact

  • Details of all forms of contact between the child or young person and their birth family;
  • Include details of all telephone calls, text messages, emails and visits;
  • Complete the contact record if planned contact did not go ahead, recording the reason why the contact did not go ahead;
  • Record your child or young person’s responses and reactions to any contact arrangements.

Section 6: Missing from foster home

  • The Missing from Care policy should be followed (contained within your recording file and available online in the foster carer handbook);
  • An up to date photograph of the child should be kept for use by the police - this should be updated every 6 months;
  • For some young people, assessed as being at risk from influences in the community, record their significant ‘comings and goings’ and any regular visitors they have to your home.

Section 7: Incidents and Injuries

  • Record details of how the incident/ injury took place and the injuries sustained, and who was present;
  • Record actions taken and by whom;
  • Always inform your child’s social worker and your supervising social worker of all significant incidents and injuries;
  • Details of any incidents of self harming and what action was taken and by whom;
  • Details of any incident that involves you or a member of your household being harmed or injured by the child or young person;
  • Details of any incidents which involve physically restraining the child or young person. You should always inform the child’s social worker and your supervising social worker. Record the context of the incident and the outcome.

Section 8

  • Record anything about family life that is significant or important;
  • Record family events, religious events, family celebrations, the child’s achievements, rewards and sanctions that were given and any staying visitors to the household;
  • Record any difficult behaviour that child displays, how you managed the behaviour, what worked, what did not work, what the possible ‘triggers’ might have been.

Support carers will be provided with recording sheets to be completed for each episode of support care. You should give these sheets to your supervising social worker who will ensure they are uploaded to the child ‘s electronic file and the support carers electronic file (framework) and any pertinent information forwarded to the main carers SSW to share with the main carers.


4. Responsibilities in Relation to Storage and Confidentiality

Whilst you record and hold information on looked after children and young people, this is on behalf of The Fostering Service. All information provided about a child, who is or has been placed with a foster carer is confidential and governed by the Data Protection Act 1998. Information about a child, young person, or their family should only be provided to another person if it is for the purpose of the child or young person’s protection or welfare. Whilst the child is in placement with you, you are expected to keep the file in a safe, secure and confidential manner in your home, as agreed in section 7 of your Foster Care Agreement.

Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards
26.4) Information about individual children is kept confidential and only shared with those who have a legitimate and current need to know the information, and to those parts of a child’s record or other information that they need to know.

Records can be kept electronically and your supervising social worker can provide templates upon request. If you use a computer to record information, make sure the computer and the files are password protected with a secure password. Documents will need to be printed off as required to ‘travel’ with the child’s file. If documentation is emailed to The Department, the information must be made anonymous, by using the child or young person’s initials throughout the documentation. Do not send confidential information as part of the email message itself, as non NCC email addresses will not be secure.

We recognise that issues of confidentiality relate not only to record keeping, but in a wider sense to conversations you may have with family and friends and in the community. There are situations where there is a legitimate need to share information relating to the background of your fostered child with family or friends who are involved in their care, for the purpose of the child’s protection and welfare. However, seemingly innocent conversations within the community could lead to accidental breaches of the child’s confidentiality.

A breach of confidentiality could lead to a review, at panel, of your suitability as a foster carer. If you have any concerns about confidentiality, or if you are worried you may have accidentally breached confidentiality, please talk to your supervising social worker.


5. Responsibilities of Your Supervising social worker

Your supervising social worker should regularly read and countersign records, and place a copy of the records on the child or young person’s file and the carer’s file within the children’s social care electronic recording system. Supervising social workers should ensure that the child’s social worker receives a copy of the foster carer’s recordings, as appropriate.

For support carers, your supervising social worker will ensure that your recording sheets are sent to the primary foster carer to be included in the child’s file where appropriate or uploaded electronically to the child (and support carers) electronic file (framework).


6. End of Placement

At the end of a placement the file should be returned to your supervising social worker and the social worker informed the file has been collected. You should keep a record of the child’s name, and the date he/she arrived and left and when the information was returned.

Good Practice Tips

Be accurate
Be concise
Avoid personal views
Record child’s comments in the child’s words
Keep records separate for different children
Record in date order
Keep all information secure and confidential
Write in a way that you would be happy for the child or young person to read what you have written


Talk to your supervising social worker if you are unsure of what you should be recording, and remember, the information that you record may be invaluable to your fostered child.


7. Further Information and Advice on Recording

The Fostering Network

Fostering Regulations and National Minimum Standards

GDPR Principles (ICO Website)

Write Enough - an interactive training pack commissioned by the Children's Services Division, Department of Health (now Department of Education and Skills), to support good practice in recording.

Reporting and recording training is available from the department please discuss with your supervising social worker.

End