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Nottinghamshire Fostering Scheme - Payment For Skills

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter details the Fostering Scheme, Payment for Skills Scheme, which aims to ensure that children and young people are looked after by foster carers who have the experience, skills and training necessary to meet their needs.

It also covers the payment levels linked to the scheme and the specific tasks that are expected of the foster carer.

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011, Standard 28

Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011

Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010

Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in January 2016 and should be re-read throughout.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Principles
  3. Payment Rates
  4. Progression
  5. Learning, Training and Development
  6. Foster Carer's Task Description
  7. Fostering Skills Profile


1. Introduction

The Nottinghamshire Fostering Scheme, Payment for Skills, was launched in September 2000. The scheme aims to ensure that children and young people are looked after by foster carers who have the experience, skills and training necessary to meet the needs of the child better.

The scheme also provides a simple and equitable structure for making fee payments to foster carers.

The scheme has been revised to take into account, the National Minimum Standards for Foster Care (2011), the Fostering Services Regulations (2011) and the Training, Support and Development Standards (2008). The aim continues to be one of improving the overall quality and stability of services for children in foster care.


2. Principles

The key principles underpinning the scheme are to:

  • Recognise and reward carers for their skills and experience;
  • Ensure children and young people are not 'labelled' in order that increased payments will be made;
  • Ensure that specific tasks to be undertaken by the foster carer are identified;
  • Identify necessary resources and placement supports at an early stage;
  • Provide carers with the training and learning opportunities to help them develop their skills.

The scheme offers advantages to:

The Children and Young People

In the scheme, the assessment prior to placement is an integral part of the process. The social worker requesting the placement will identify the needs of the child and those tasks that have to be undertaken by the foster carer in order to implement the child's Care Plan.  

The supervising social worker will then aim to match those tasks with the skills required and link these with the different skills levels of the scheme.

The attached fostering skills profile gives a range of examples of the sorts of tasks and skills that might be expected of carers approved at the four different levels of the scheme. The assessment and matching process will identify a young person's needs and what should be done to meet those needs.

Foster Carers

One of the scheme's central principles is that the skills, experience and training of foster carers are recognised and properly regarded.

Approval at the different levels will depend on:

  • The carer's assessed core skills;
  • The length of experience as an approved carer;
  • The training that has been undertaken.

A carer will receive a fee, a "level's allowance", linked to their level of approval, whenever a child or young person is placed with them.

The scheme provides a clear "career pathway" for foster carers to progress through the levels if they wish to do so. The carer's annual review of approval is a statutory requirement and is another opportunity to assess the carer's performance against their current level of approval.


3. Payment Rates

The Payment Rates for each foster child:

The payment rates for 2015/2016 are as follows. Since April 2010, the rates have not been increased in line with an inflationary increase due to budgetary control measures within Nottinghamshire County Council.

Level 1 - Weekly fostering allowance but no additional fee payment

Level 2 - Weekly fostering allowance PLUS an additional fee payment of £21.75 per week.

Level 3 - Weekly fostering allowance PLUS an additional fee payment of £43.50 per week.

Level 4 - Weekly fostering allowance PLUS an additional payment of £106.00 per week.


4. Progression

Assessment for progression through the Levels

Initial approval at Level 1 and progression through the higher levels of the scheme will be decided following an assessment against the skills expected of carers at the four Levels (see Fostering Skills Profile).

For example, on approval applicants will be expected to demonstrate their ability to meet the National Minimum Standards for Foster Care (2011) and all the core skills/competencies required at Level 1.

Progression to Level 2 will be automatic upon award of certification upon completion of the Training, Support and Development Standards in Nottinghamshire, the completion of these standards is achieved if the carer successfully completes the agency’s induction training.

Progression to Level 3 and Level 4 is dependent upon an assessment of the carer's current level of skill and competence. This assessment is considered through the process of the annual foster carer review. Carers will be expected to demonstrate their ability to meet the core skills/competencies at the new Level. The supervising social worker will help carers to plan how they will offer evidence of the new skills required.

The decision about approval at Level 2 is made by a Fostering Team Manager. A supervising social worker will present a completed Induction Training/ Training, Development and Support Standards workbook for consideration by the Fostering Team Manager. If the Fostering Team Manager awards a certificate of successful completion, progression to Level 2 is automatic.

The decision about progression to Level 3 and Level 4 is similarly made by a Fostering Team Manager.

The decision about progression to Level 4 can be made in a number of ways:

  1. An approved foster carer who achieves a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 3 or above, in a Health/Social Care/Child Care/Education discipline, will be awarded automatic progression to Level 4. It is required that the training criteria, for progression to Level 4 is also met in such circumstances;
  2. An approved foster carer who achieves the BTEC Advanced Foster Care qualification will be awarded automatic progression to Level 4. It is required that the training criteria, for progression to Level 4, is also met in such circumstances.

There will be a few instances where a carer meets all but one or two of the skills at the new Level. In these cases, it may still be decided to progress a carer to the higher Level, as long as the required skills are demonstrated within 6 months.

An approved foster carer who is not satisfied, with the Fostering Team Manager’s decision regarding their progression through the scheme, has the right of representation. This should be submitted to the Fostering Service Manager. The Fostering Service Manager will arrange for an independent review of the decision.

Level 1 Carers

New foster carers will be considered Level 1 carers for at least the first year following their approval.

Prior to approval, the carer will have undertaken foundation training in preparation for fostering. It is expected that all applicants, including joint applicants, should attend this training, which forms part of the initial assessment.

Relatives or friends of a specific child, who become Family and Friends foster carers for that child, will be approved as Level 1 carers.

Support Carers who are recruited to support full-time fostering placements will also be able to progress through the levels. They will need to have had a child in placement for the equivalent/accumulative amount of time as full-time carers and meet the same requirements in respect of levels of skill and training.

Level 2 Carers

Approval at Level 2 is achieved by the successful completion of induction training and the award of a Training, Support and Development Standards Certificate of Successful Completion (Training, Development and Support Standards).

Level 3 Carers

Approval at Level 3 can only be achieved by meeting the following criteria:

  • The carer has had a further one year of fostering experience since approval at Level 2;
  • A child has been in placement for a minimum of 75% of that time;

    OR

    A child has been in placement for 9 months since approval at Level 2;
  • The skills/competencies at Level 1, 2 and 3 are considered to be met;
  • The carer has undertaken the required training and can evidence 20 hours learning and development in the last 12-month period. If a two partner household, each foster carer MUST evidence that the required training has been completed;
  • Positive placement feedback has been received from children and placing social workers.

Level 4 Carers

 Approval at Level 4 can be achieved by meeting the following criteria:

  • The carer has had a further two years of fostering experience since approval at Level 3;
  • A child has been in placement for a minimum of 75% of that time;

    OR

    A child has been in placement for a total minimum of 18 months since the carer was approved at Level 3;

    OR
  • The foster carer has achieved NVQ3 or above in a health/social care/child care/education discipline;
  • The skills/competencies at Level 1, 2, 3 and 4 are considered to have been met;
  • The carer (both carers if a two partner household) has undertaken the required training;
  • Positive placement feedback has been received from children and placing social workers.

N.B. An applicant who has an NVQ Level 3 or above, in a health/social care/child care/education discipline, may be considered for Level 4 status upon approval. The evidence must be provided, within the assessment, training history and portfolio, that Level 4 competence is apparent or projected. Where Level 4 competence is neither apparent nor projected, the assessing worker should make recommendation to the Fostering Team Manager as to the level at which the applicant should be approved.


5. Learning, Training and Development

A carer is required to undertake 20 hours training per annum; if the foster household is a two partner household, each foster carer is required to undertake 20 hours training per annum. The training can take the form of attending events, e-learning, self-learning, and home learning. Learning outcomes have to be evidenced for consideration of progression through the Levels.

A Foster Carer Training Plan is published each April. This programme details the training events for carers and signposts carers to other providers of earning and training. In addition, carers will continue to have access to training organised by the County Council's Workforce and Organisational Development service and to training provided in the community by independent learning providers.


6. Foster Carer's Task Description

The four Skill Levels of this scheme were developed from the core competencies (Level 1) advocated in the Code of Practice on the recruitment, assessment, approval, training, management and support of foster carers, published by National Foster Care Association (1999) on behalf of the U.K. Joint Working Party on Foster Care.

The National Minimum Standards 2011, The Fostering Service Regulations 2011, the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 and the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Carer, have further developed the four skill levels.

The Overall Task is:

To be responsible for the day-to-day care, of a child or children placed by Nottinghamshire's Children’s Social Caret and to work with Partner Agencies in helping children to fulfil their potential. The National Minimum Fostering Standards 2011 specify the requirements of a foster carer.

All involved in the care of vulnerable children are required to ensure that children are kept safe, are healthy, enjoy and achieve in educational and leisure pursuits, achieve economic prosperity and make a positive contribution to society. Foster Carers are instrumental in enabling a child to secure good outcomes in these five areas.

Specific Tasks are:

  1. Caring for Children;
    • To provide a good standard of child care (emotional, physical health, safety) aimed at encouraging the full potential of each child;
    • To recognise the particular needs of children separated from their families;
    • To take part in carrying out the child care plan which will include specific tasks, such as encouraging family and friends who are important to the child to have purposeful contact;
    • To promote the healthy growth and development of the child or children, with particular emphasis on health and educational achievement;
    • To ensure that children in their care are encouraged in a positive understanding of their background, heritage, religion and culture;
    • To help children's understanding of their life history by saving keepsakes, mementos and photographs of the child;
    • To enable children and young people who are moving on from their home to do so in a positive way.
  2. Providing a Safe and Caring Environment;
    • To ensure that children are kept safe from harm and abuse and that they are taught how to keep themselves safe and how to get help if necessary;
    • To provide an atmosphere of acceptance, respect and warmth which enables children to feel safe in their attachments to the foster family;
    • To set appropriate boundaries and manage behaviour without physical or inappropriate discipline;
    • To act as advocate for each child, and help them express their views and opinions;
    • To encourage children in their care to use the Independent Visitor and/or Advocacy Service as appropriate.
  3. Working as Part of a Team;
    • To work alongside the Supervising social worker in considering the impact of fostering on the foster carer and their family and the development of the carer's skills in fostering;
    • To work alongside other professional people within the Department's policy and procedures;
    • To attend and actively take part in all reviews, planning meetings, case conferences, and Court hearings as required;
    • To keep a record of the child's placement as required by the Recording Policy for Foster Carers. To contribute to reports about the child;
    • To take up appropriate training and learning opportunities and recognise the benefit of continued training;
    • To deal responsibly with confidential information.

N.B. Please read 'child' as 'child or young person', which has been omitted to avoid unnecessary repetition.


7. Fostering Skills Profile

Click here to view the Fostering Skills Profile

See also: National Minimum Standards 2011 - standards 1-12.

End