View Safeguarding Procedures View Safeguarding Procedures

3.11.8 Supervision of Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all approved foster carers

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Fostering Service Statement of Purpose

AMENDMENT

In June 2017, the following information was added into Section 6, During Placement - The Safer Care Policy should be updated as required to reflect any changes in household circumstances and any health and safety issues including the addition of any new pets to the household including the environment in which the pets are kept.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Planned Supervision Visits
  3. Personal Professional Development Plan
  4. Frequency of Supervision
  5. Unannounced Visits
  6. Support Provided by the Supervising Fostering Officer
  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 Fostering Officer (SFO). The allocated Supervising Fostering Officer 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 and the agency's policies, procedures and guidance.

However, it is the social worker of the child or children in the foster placement who hold responsibility for specific advice or support in relation to the child and his or her Care Plan and Placement Plan.

The supervising Fostering Officer 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 for Foster Care. 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 set up and agreed between the foster carer and the Supervising Fostering Officer from the time of the foster carer's approval, and endorsed by the social worker's line manager. Visits should be recorded on form SS320.

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’ work to ensure National Minimum Standards and Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care 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 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.

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 issues for the foster carers and family;
  5. Safe caring and health and safety issues;
  6. Foster carer’s recording which is to be reviewed by the Supervising Fostering Officer who should sign the foster carers' diary.

The supervision visits should be recorded on a pro forma Foster Carer Supervision Record, signed by the foster carer and the supervising social worker, and should 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 kept on the foster carers' 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 Professional Development Plan

The Personal Professional Development Plan (PPDP) (see Prospective Foster Carers Report: Initial Personal Development Plan (PDP) Procedure) should be discussed between the supervising social worker and the foster carers as it becomes the framework for supervising foster carers during their first year of fostering and a review of this PPDP should be presented to panel with their first annual foster care re care review. There is a separate PPDP for foster cares who are approved for short term breaks for disabled children (see Personal Professional Development Plan for Short Term Breaks for Disabled Children).


4. Frequency of Supervision

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

Additional visits may be made for the purposes of support (to the foster carer or any member of the foster family) with telephone contact at least every four weeks. 

All members of the household should be seen by the Supervising Fostering Officer annually.

The Supervising Fostering Officer 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. 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 carers' Supervising Fostering Officer 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 Supervising Fostering Officer 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 be recorded.

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 Fostering Officer

Supervising Fostering Officer's 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 Foster Carers' Handbook to 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, Disabled Living Allowance etc.

Pre-Placement

  1. Complete risk assessments surrounding bedroom sharing, mixing with other children in 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 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 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. Take part in any Strategy Meetings and Section 47 Enquiry relating to the foster family. Be involved in interviews/support as agreed;
  3. Ensure the Supervising Fostering Officer and the foster carers receive invitations to child’s Looked After Reviews and Child Protection Conferences, and attend when appropriate;
  4. Prepare for and attend Foster Carer Review Meetings (See Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure);
  5. Ensure training programme is updated and accessed by carers and carers’ family and children;
  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 4, Frequency of Supervision and Section 5, 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. Make unannounced visits as required;
  11. Update Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on members of the family every three years, including those reaching eighteen years of age, and other persons who come to live at the home, who are eighteen plus;
  12. Update medicals on the carers every 2 years or as necessary;
  13. Record contact with carers;
  14. Provide reports for Panel as required under the relevant procedures;
  15. Where appropriate contribute to Court Reports as agreed with child’s social worker;
  16. Maintain the foster carer's file in accordance with the relevant recording policy (see Policies, Values and Principles);
  17. With the foster carer, complete a Personal Development Plan which addresses the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care and Payment for Skills training needs.

At 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 form CC1 at the end of each placement.


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 Supervising Fostering Officer should:

  1. Support the family;
  2. Discuss fully, with the carer and their family, all the issues that have led to the allegation, as agreed at the Strategy Meeting;
  3. Make the carers aware of the process and of their rights during any investigation;
  4. Make the carers 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