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12.8 Supervision of Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all approved foster carers. It details what the foster carer can expect following approval from their supervising social worker. It also covers the supervising social workers role if there is an allegation against the foster carer.

RELEVANT LEGISLATION, GUIDANCE AND INFORMATION

Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011

The Children Act 1989 Guidance Volume 4 (2011) Chapter 5

Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011, Standard 21

Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care

Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol England (2014) re-issued 2015

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated throughout in January 2020 and should be reread.


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 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. This will include an understanding that they must work within the National Minimum Standards for Fostering, the agency's policies, procedures and guidance and the law.

It is the social worker for 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 and completing identified mandatory training. 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 arranged and agreed between the foster carer and the supervising social worker from the time of the foster carer's approval, 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;
  • 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' role 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 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;
  • Challenge foster carers when they are not adhering to National Minimum Standards and Safe Caring Practices;
  • Ensure where there are two foster carers in the household, the expectation is they both attend supervision. If this is not possible, due to work commitments, the foster carer and supervising social worker should be flexible to enable this to take place.

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;
  3. Child/ren in placement - their health, cultural, educational, leisure and contact needs - and any support needs;
  4. Training/development needs for the foster carers and family;
  5. Safe caring and health and safety matters;
  6. Foster carer’s recording which is to be reviewed by the supervising social worker who should sign the foster carers' records.

The supervision visits should be electronically recorded on a pro forma Foster Carer Supervision Record, signed by the foster carer and the supervising social worker, and should include the above discussions and include:

  • Any concerns expressed;
  • Any support needs expressed by the foster carers and how they will be met;
  • Any financial issues.

A record of all meetings should be entered onto the foster carers' file on MOSAIC, in case notes and one copy given to the foster carers.

The supervision records will contribute to the Foster Carer’s review report - see Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.


3. Frequency of Supervision

Supervision meetings will take place on a monthly basis for all foster carers.

Additional visits should be made for the purposes of support to the foster carer or any member of the foster family alongside telephone calls and emails to share information.  Visits will take place to address concerns/allegations, often with immediate effect, in line with the Managing Allegations and Concerns Policy. 

It may be agreed between the foster carers, Supervising Social Worker and Team Manager that supervision meetings are held less frequently, in the case of a carer who provides support care only for one child. The decision is at the discretion of the Team Manager. Any agreed variation from monthly supervision MUST be clearly recorded by the authorising Team Manager in case notes and highlighted in the Annual Review.


4. Unannounced Visits

There should also be unannounced visits at least twice a year. The main purpose of the unannounced visit will be to look at the home environment that a child is living in. Good practice would be to undertake additional visits.  In cases where there have been concerns, a plan should be in place to undertake additional visits.

The unannounced visits will usually be undertaken by the foster carers' supervising social worker, although other supervising social workers could undertake the visits.

On the visit they would need to have a knowledge of:

  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.

Unannounced visits should include:

  • An opportunity to talk to the LAC child;
  • See the child’s bedroom;
  • Observe the home environment in terms of health and safety and safe caring. Address any concerns;
  • Observe the relationship between all adults and children present.
Unannounced visits should be recorded on case notes.


5. Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker

Supervising social workers should ensure the following tasks are done: 

Post Approval

Ensure that all new carers complete the Post-Approval training course 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 certificate of completion by their first annual review, or soon after if extra support is required.

  1. Give foster carers support to enable them to access Learning, My Career to book on relevant training courses;
  2. Foster Carer to read and sign the Foster Carer Agreement. Two copies to be signed and one returned and placed on the carer’s file.

Pre-Placement

  1. Ensure the bedroom identified for the Looked After Child is appropriate in terms of equipment. This would be adapted/changed when a placement is identified to ensure it meets the needs and age of the child;
  2. Discuss potential placements;
  3. The supervising social worker and foster carers are present at the placement planning meetings and ensure all aspects of a child’s care is discussed, agreed and recorded;
  4. 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;
  5. Discuss contact arrangements prior ro placement being made at the placement planning meeting;
  6. Discuss how child's health needs are promoted and how children should be encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle;
  7. Assist carers in dealing with other relevant services such as health and education;
  8. Discuss appropriate training required to provide appropriate care/medical requirements when caring for children with complex health needs;
  9. Review the safe care policy in line with specific children’s needs.Foster carers who provide placements to disabled children, this will include training specifically specific core needs;
  10. Discuss financial matters with the carer in line with the Financial Information and Advice document and the importance of complying with the terms of the Council's insurance policy for carers;
  11. Ensure the foster carers home and insurance policy meets the requirements of a foster carer;
  12. 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;
  13. Any holiday arrangements the carers have should be shared with the child’s social worker prior to placement being made;
  14. That arrangements are made for the provision of specialist equipment for disabled children;
  15. Arrange the date of first visit after the placement;
  16. Liase with the social worker for a child already in placement know when for consideration that another child is to be placed;
  17. 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 immediately;
  2. Provide foster carers with breaks from caring as appropriate, which must meet the needs of placed children;
  3. As part of the Managing Allegations and Concerns against foster carers, supervising social worker will be involved in the process as advised by the fostering team manager;
  4. Make every effort to ensure the supervising social worker and the foster carers receive invitations to child’s Looked After Reviews and Child Protection Conferences, and attend when appropriate. If supervising social worker or foster carer do not attend, a report to be provided;
  5. Prepare for and attend Foster Carer Review Meetings (See Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure);
  6. Ensure training programme is updated and 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 5, 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. Assess and review the pet assessment for the annual review or when there is a change;
  11. Update Disclosure and Barring Service checks on members of the family every three years, including those reaching eighteen years of age, and other adults who come to live at the home, or stay at the home;
  12. Update medicals on the carers every 2 years or earlier if required;
  13. Record all contact with foster carers on case notes;
  14. Where appropriate contribute to Court Reports as agreed with child’s social worker;
  15. Discuss how the carers can support young people into adulthood.

At End of Placement

  1. Support the family as much as possible;
  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 needs;
  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

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

  1. Make the carers aware of the process and of their rights during any investigation;
  2. Make the carer’s aware of their own possible conflict of interests and inform them of where they can seek alternative support and advice from the Fostering Network or other independent sources.

End