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2.4 Family Placement Service - Short Breaks for Disabled Children

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

The Leeds Family Placement Service for Disabled Children provides a short breaks family link service in the homes of family placement carers. The service promotes the social model of disability and the inclusion of disabled children in all aspects of family and community life.

This chapter should be read in conjunction with the following:

All relevant forms can be found in the Resources and Forms Library.

Providing community based family linked short breaks is a different task to providing other fostering services and some policies and procedures are specific to the short breaks service. The short breaks service therefore has specific policies in relation to:


Contents

  1. How to Obtain Short Break Placements
  2. Placements made where the Child is in Foster Care and is Already Looked After by the LA
  3. Placements where the Child is Accommodated for over 120 Days Per Year
  4. Emergency Short Breaks
  5. Increase in Allocation of Days
  6. Established Short Breaks Family Link Placements
  7. Recruitment and Training of Short Break Foster Carers
  8. Carer Approval Categories
  9. Arrangements for Safeguarding


1. How to Obtain Short Break Placements

The child's social worker must submit a request to the Resource Allocation Decision and Review Panel (RADAR) for consideration and approval.

A copy of the request can be sent to Family Placement and the Children's Health & Disability Team (CHAD) prior to RADAR. Once the request has been approved by the RADAR Panel, the Family Placement administrator will allocate the referral.

Matching

A supervising fostering officer from the Family Placement Service will visit the parent/primary caregiver and child within 14 days of the request being approved at RADAR. This is a chance to review the request documentation and gather any further information about the child that has not been captured within the Child and Family Assessment. The Family Placement supervising fostering officer will also give the parent/primary caregiver and child the Family Placement Information Pack for Parents and the Family Placement Children's Guide for the child.

Before any discussion takes places with the child and their parent/primary caregiver about possible matches the occupational therapist will visit and assess potential carer(s) within their home environments and then visit the child with their parents/primary caregivers to assess the child's individual needs. This is to avoid raising the hopes of the child and the parent/primary care giver if a suitable placement can not found.

The child's papers can then be considered at the next matching meeting. The short breaks service hold matching meetings every three weeks where all children referred or waiting for a suitable carer are considered in relation to the skills, experience and accommodation of carers with vacancies.

If at the initial matching meeting a potential carer can not be immediately identified for the child, then Family Placement will inform RADAR and the child's social worker straight away. Discussion can then take place with the family and alternative services put in place until a suitable match is found.

If a potential carer has been identified, the Family Placement supervising officer will provide the potential carer with all the necessary information about the child so that the carer can consider the potential match. A response from the potential carer to proceed or not is expected within seven days.

Where a potential carer has expressed an interest in pursuing a match the social worker for the child will be given the carer's profile or information about the carer to share with the parents/primary caregivers. The child's social worker must share this information with the child's parents/primary caregiver, and inform the Family Placement supervising fostering officer whether they wish to proceed.

Pre Placement Visit (PPV)

If the match is to proceed the child's social worker will arrange a pre-placement visit. This takes place at the Family Placement carer's home. The child's social worker, accompanied by the assigned OT, takes the parents/primary carers and child (and where appropriate others close to the child) to meet the potential short breaks carer. The meeting will be an opportunity for the parties to begin to get to know each other; for the potential carer to give more information about themselves and their experience, for the child and parents to discuss the child's likes and dislikes, and for the families to identify areas of common interests. It also facilitates, for example, continuity of any lifting and handling techniques used by the parents/primary carers/other agencies. If the intention is that the placement will be overnight the child and parents should be given the opportunity to see the bedroom where the child will be sleeping. NB a decision to proceed is not taken at this point.

Following the PPV the child's social worker will discuss the PPV with the parents/primary caregivers and the child. The Family Placement supervising fostering officer and the assigned OT will discuss the PPV with the potential carer. They will then liaise regarding outcome of PPV and whether all parties wish to proceed.

Placement Agreement Meeting (PAM)

If it is agreed to proceed a PAM will be arranged by the Family Placement supervising fostering officer. The parents/primary caregiver, the child (where appropriate), the child's social worker, the assigned OT, the Family Placement supervising fostering officer, and Family Placement carer will attend. A placement cannot progress until this meeting is held.

The Family Placement CSWS Short Breaks Placement Agreement CSIR 35 will be completed at the PAM (which can be found in the Resources and Forms Library). It is essential that this document is thoroughly completed by the social worker as (alongside the Essential Information and Pen Picture) it contains the same information as that provided in the CLA documentation in a format which is appropriate for short breaks and is the consent and information document for the placement. It also outlines for all parties how the potential carer will meet the needs of the child across key areas. Following the meeting all parties present at the meeting should be given a copy of the CSIR 35 for their records.

The child's social worker will also lead on updating the risk assessment completed at the outset to include any further relevant information identified and to identify any risks specific to the carer household. The risk assessment should address the consequences of identified risks and how these will be managed. Following the meeting, when the social worker has updated the risk assessment all parties present at the meeting should be given a copy of the completed risk assessment for their records. Also see Risk Assessment Guidance Notes

Children with Complex Health Needs

The PAM should identify whether the child has any health or nursing needs which are covered by the training protocol with the Leeds Children's Community Nursing Services or NHS trusts. This protocol covers training in all invasive nursing procedures for Family Placement carers and foster carers and is reviewed annually with health. Children will not be precluded from accessing short breaks because of their nursing requirements. Also see Dysphagia Guidelines

The parent/primary caregiver will be asked to sign to give their consent to the Family Placement carer being trained in the nursing procedure/s at the PAM using the Identification of Procedure and Parental Consent Form (which can be found in the Resources and Forms Library). The child's social worker /lead professional will complete parts 1-5 of this form.

The Family Placement social worker for the child will arrange for the Family Placement carer to receive training by sending a separate pro-forma request letter (which can be found in the Resources and Forms Library) to the child's community nursing team or the school nursing service.

The Family Placement social worker will liaise with the identified nurse and the Family Placement carer and the parent to agree where the training will take place. This will usually be at the child's school when the school nurse is undertaking the training or the child's home if the training is to be undertaken by the community children's nursing team.

The Family Placement social worker will ensure that the form is passed to the identified nurse who will complete parts 7,8,9 and 11, including the risk assessment for the procedure. The form will then be returned to Family Placement to be signed off as completed by the Family Placement supervising fostering officer. The Family Placement supervising fostering officer will ensure that the copies of the completed agreement are sent to the parents/primary caregivers, the social worker for the child, the relevant nursing team, the Family Placement carer, and that a copy is placed on the carers file in the training section. 

Introductions

A period of introductions or phasing-in will be agreed at the Placement Agreement Meeting (PAM). These will be part of the PAM planning and specific to the individual needs of the child. The type, duration and frequency of introductions will be decided by all parties present at the PAM and will usually involve a planned series of short visits.

At the end of the introductory period the placement will be confirmed as on-going. The social worker for the child and the Family Placement supervising fostering officer will liaise as to whether any amendments are required to the child's risk assessment or to the CSIR 35.


2. Placements made where the Child is in Foster Care and is Already Looked After by the LA

It will be regarded as good practice to complete the procedure in How to Obtain Short Break Placements with the exception of the requirement to establish eligibility at RADAR. Disabled children in foster care have an allocation of 40 days short breaks/respite. Short breaks carers for these children will additionally be given copies of CLA paperwork for the child.


3. Placements where the Child is Accommodated for over 120 Days Per Year

Regulation 37 series of short term breaks does not apply where children are accommodated for over 120 days. In this situation the child is looked after under the full provisions of CLA, Children Act Section 20 and full fostering regulations apply.


4. Emergency Short Breaks

If an overnight placement is required in an emergency situation, or at short notice which means the procedures outlined above cannot be followed in the timescales, or a placement is required at short notice for a child usually matched to a different carer. It is permissible to apply for an emergency placement or short notice placement for a child already awaiting a match if the family circumstances require this. The Family Placement Service may be able to offer a one off placement in a situation where an on going match has yet to be identified or where a disabled child has not previously been referred to the short breaks service. In these circumstances Head of Service approval is required.


5. Increase in Allocation of Days

The initial maximum allocation of days to children meeting the eligibility criteria will be 36 per year. A smaller package can be awarded if the parent and child wishes this.

If an increase in days is required this must be part of the Care Plan for the child and should be recommended following a Childcare review in respect of the child. The request should then be submitted to the RADAR panel for approval.

If the days are increased to over 120 per year the placement will be regarded as full CLA.


6. Established Short Breaks Family Link Placements

When a short breaks placement is established the following procedures must be followed.

The child's social worker will ensure that the parent/primary caregiver is aware that it is their responsibility to:

The Family Placement supervising fostering officer will ensure the Family Placement carer is aware that it is the responsibility of the family placement carer to inform the family placement supervising fostering officer of dates and times of visits. This information is outlined in the carer's handbook. If the carer does not inform the Family Placement Service there maybe a delay in payments.

Cancellations of placements

If a parent / primary caregiver cancels a placement they must inform the child's social worker and the Family Placement carer as soon as reasonably possible. If the cancellation is less than two days notice the carer will keep the first day maintenance payment for expenses incurred.

It is accepted that in a busy scheme there will be some situations where placement cancellation is unavoidable. This should be exceptional and wherever possible the Family Placement Carer should keep to placement dates arranged. Care should be taken not to cancel placements at short notice unless this is unavoidable. It is the duty of the Family Placement carers to inform the Family Placement Service and the parent/primary caregiver if they cancel or change a placement date. Supervising fostering officers may take action to consider a carer's registration if they unreasonably or consistently cancel placements. This information is outlined in the Carer's Handbook.

The Family Placement supervisory fostering officer will inform the child's social worker of any cancellations by foster carers.

Transport

It is the responsibility of the child's parents/primary caregivers to arrange transport to and from the placement if necessary. In exceptional circumstances where this is facilitated by the foster carers mileage will be paid.

Liaison with the child's school. The child's social worker will liaise with parents/primary caregivers to ensure that child's school has the dates of children's placement and the address of the Family Placement carer. It is important that school's are aware when children are on placement so that they can be attuned to any impact on the child.

Childcare Reviews and Consultation to Reviews

See: Looked After Reviews Procedure

Foster Carer Reviews

The Family Placement carer will also be subject to Annual Review. This is a requirement under National Minimum Standards in Foster Care (2002) and will be completed as good practice for carers providing Day care. The Family Placement Service will send consultation forms to the parent/primary carer givers, Family Placement Carers, the child's social worker, and to children receiving placements. For children living at home with parents/primary caregivers consultation forms for the child will be sent directly to the child's home address. For children who are looked after in foster placements the child's consultation form will be sent via the social worker. The child's social worker must visit the child to assist him/her to complete their consultation form. It is essential that children have the opportunity to participate and to give their views about the placement.


7. The Recruitment and Training of Short Breaks Foster Carers

Carers offering overnight short stays to children are regulated under Section 20 of the Children Act (1989) and fostering regulations therefore apply.

Short Breaks Carer Recruitment

The Family Placement Service has a clear strategy for the recruitment of short breaks carers. The Family Placement Publicity Group is chaired by the Family Placement Coordinator and has Family Placement social workers, Family Placement carers, and admin staff on its membership. The publicity group puts out adverts, cards in shop windows, posters, press articles, etc, throughout the year. Family Placement has an up to date website and a duty system where social workers are available to talk to potential carers about the service between the hours of 8.30am - 5pm.

When potential carers make contact with the service they are sent a Family Placement Information Pack for new carers. This includes information about the service, and an invitation to the next preparation session.

Short Breaks Carer Assessment

All short breaks carers are required to attend pre-induction preparation training for short breaks carers. Preparation sessions are run four or five times per year. They are held over two days at weekends or six evening sessions. The preparation sessions cover the particular fostering issues relating to short breaks and caring for a disabled child.

The preparation sessions give potential carers the opportunity to explore whether short breaks is right for them and give the service the opportunity to meet the carers and begin the assessment process.

Potential Family Placement carers are invited to complete a Family Placement Short Breaks Application Form when they have begun the preparation course.

On the receipt of the Application Form the Family Placement admin officer registers the application and undertakes statutory and medical checks which include:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks;
  • Health Authority Checks;
  • Child Protection Checks;
  • A Self Completed Medical Form which is then commented on and relevant medical questions are answered by the potential carer's GP.

When these initial checks are returned the carer assessment is then allocated to a supervisory fostering officer on the Family Placement Short breaks Service. The assessment should be completed within 12 weeks of the allocation and will include an OT assessment of the home environment.

Fostering procedures apply in full and must be read in conjunction with these procedures. (Except that the relevant preparation course is the short breaks preparation course and a full medical is not required. The assessment report is to approve for short breaks and proportionality will apply in this respect). See Section 3.11, Foster Carers of this manual

The completed assessment should be submitted to the appropriate fostering panel two weeks in advance of the meeting. The report must be signed by the assessing worker, the applicant/s, and the team manager. The fostering officer is expected to attend the panel meeting to present the report and the applicant/s are encouraged to attend.

The carer's registration will subsequently be re-confirmed at the first annual review (which will go to fostering panel), and thereafter subject to satisfactory subsequent reviews.

DBS checks and GP medical checks will be updated every three years.

Post Approval Induction Training

It is the responsibility of the Family Placement Service to ensure that all new carers meet the National Minimum Standards in Foster Care in a way which is appropriate and proportionate to short term breaks. Standard 21 (2002).

All new Family Placement Short Breaks Carers will have a one to one induction with their supervisory social workers (this may be over a number of supervisory visits) and will include the following:

  • The provision of a Carers Handbook for Short Breaks carers, and going through the contents of this with the supervisory fostering officer. This will include policies and procedures on safeguarding, intimate care, medication and medical matters, bullying, discipline and restraint, allegations, HIV, Hepatitis and Infectious Diseases and the requirement for good personal hygiene and hand-washing following any intimate care, recording including accidents and incidents, moving and handling, etc;
  • A discussion of the Foster Carer Agreement for Short Breaks and the rights and responsibilities accruing from this;
  • A discussion on the role of the short breaks foster carer, the role of the Family Placement supervising fostering officer (including the requirement for supervisory visits), and the role of the child's social worker (including visiting the child in placement);
  • A discussion of the foster Carer's Safe Care Plan, initially completed by the foster carers as part of the assessment, and whether this needs to be updated;
  • A discussion of induction standards for foster carers;
  • A discussion of the requirements for post approval training;
  • The provision of a foster carer diary. A discussion of the need to record a brief overview of how the placement went, any significant events, and the requirement to record accidents and significant incidents on the Accident/Incident recording sheet;
  • To discuss the moving and handling policy and the need to involve the occupational therapist in assessments and the provision of equipment;
  • A discussion of financial issues, including insurance and the payment structure for short breaks.

Post Approval Training and Development of Short Breaks Foster Carers

All Family Placement short breaks foster carers will be required to complete training courses which are mandatory for their level as outlined in the short breaks Tasks, Skills and Competencies Framework (TSC):

  • Family Placement short breaks carers will be supported by their supervisory fostering officer to complete their Induction Standards for Children's Workforce short breaks induction booklet within their first year of approval or within one year of their first child being matched;
  • All Family Placement short breaks carers will have a Personal Development Plan which will be reviewed annually. It is the responsibility of the supervising fostering officer to ensure that this is in place. See Additional Procedures for Foster Carers and Foster Carer Handbook;
  • All Family Placement short breaks carers will receive the workforce development Training Calendar for foster carers from the Organisational Development Unit CSWS;
  • All Family Placement short breaks carers will receive notification of the training courses run or facilitated by the Family Placement Service in relation to working with disabled children and their families;
  • Short breaks foster carers will be encouraged to identify other relevant training opportunities and courses as part of their personal and professional development and will be supported in pursuing these;
  • There will be progression opportunities for foster carers working with disabled children within the short breaks TSC framework, and to be assessed as Level 4 Payment for Skills carers for a disabled child where carers wish to do so.


8. Carer Approval Categories

The Family Placement Short Breaks Fostering Service is not assimilated into the Leeds CSWS Fostering Payment for Skills scheme. The scheme has a parallel Task, Skills and Competencies Framework, with a parallel payment structure designed for short breaks which recognises that the costs of caring for a disabled child are not necessary age related. Placements are financed by making maintenance payments to carers and, for levels B and C, by paying a fee.

The Family Placement Short Breaks Service has three levels A, B and C linked to a Task, Skills and Competency (TSC) Framework, and fees are paid to carers on levels B and C.

The short breaks TSC framework sets out a list of competencies which short breaks foster carers for disabled children must be able to demonstrate at each level. It also sets out training and support group requirements at each level.

Level A carers provide short breaks to one or two (occasionally more) families of disabled children on a "voluntary" basis. They are paid a maintenance allowance but no fee. Level B carers provide placements for more than 90 days per year to disabled children and their families, and are paid a fee equivalent to 1/4 of the Level C carers. Level C carers are contract carers for Family Placement Short Breaks Service. Although self employed foster carers, they are contracted directly to CSWS, and under their terms and conditions cannot have paid employment outside of short breaks fostering for Leeds CSWS. Level C carers are equivalent to Level 4 PfS carers and are paid the same fee. Level C carers have 28 days paid holiday and are contracted to undertake placements five nights out of seven.

A short breaks foster carer's registration will specify:

  • their approval level;
  • the type of fostering for which the carer is approved (short breaks);
  • the number of children the carer is approved to take;
  • the age and gender of the children who may be placed.

All of these are subject to an appropriate fostering panel recommendation and subsequent agency decision.


9. Arrangements for Safeguarding

Refer to the following:

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