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3.11.11 Training and Support for Foster Carers


Contents

  1. Foster Carer Training
  2. Expenses
  3. Equipment
  4. Transport
  5. Insurance
  6. Applications and Financial Assistance regarding larger Accommodation, House Purchase, Conversion or Improvement
  7. Representations and Complaints
  8. Foster Carer Retention


1. Foster Carer Training

It is a requirement of the Payment for Skills TSC (tasks, skills and competency) framework that all carers attend training and support groups.

There will be an annual foster carer Training Strategy produced by EDU staff in conjunction with the Fostering Service. The Training Strategy will reflect the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers and the Payment for Skills (PFS) requirements, including the provision of a range of post approval mandatory and vocational training opportunities (NVQ).

All PFS carers will have a Personal Development Plan which will be discussed with SFOs at supervisory visits. Following attendance at training they will complete a Reflective Learning Log which they will retain in their Personal Development Portfolio.

Training and development needs and requirements will be reviewed and considered as part of the annual Foster Carer Review. A copy of the completed CC12(a) will then be forwarded to Training Section (EDU) to assist in planning, and to identify future training needs.

Foster carers may, from time to time, be supported in attending external training courses. This is subject to available funding; application is via an appropriate Fostering Team Manager.

Every effort is made to support carers in post-approval training; they may claim child care and travelling expenses, using form SS383, which should be submitted to EDU.


2. Expenses

For more detailed guidance on enhancements and fees please refer to Staff Instruction: Financial Arrangements for Foster Carers (FN16) and Internal Delegations.


3. Equipment

The equipment budget is managed by the Team Managers (Fostering) and the Resource Team Manager and is designed to provide basic and safety items (e.g. beds; car seats, fireguards etc - see FN16).

Requests for items outside of these categories should be made to the Team Manager (Fostering), clearly indicating the cost and giving supporting reasons.

If requests relate to the needs of an individual child, applications should be made following consultations with the child's social worker.

All equipment and furniture remains the property of Leeds Social Care and is regarded as being `on loan` to foster carers.

Equipment is usually ordered and purchased by the Department using approved suppliers. Requests for equipment should be made via the supervising fostering officer who will complete Form SS470 for consideration and approval by the Team Manager.

Before purchasing an item, Resources Admin will check that no suitable item is available for reissue from stock.

Only exceptionally will cash grants be made to foster carers to either reimburse expenditure for an item already bought or to provide expenditure to buy an item. Receipts must be provided.

The condition of all furniture and equipment must be addressed as part of the annual foster carer review; necessary replacements should be identified at the time.


4. Transport

Both the Department and foster carers must be aware of the need to transport children safely; attention is drawn to the Departmental Policy on Health and Safety.

Arrangements can be made for carers to hire larger vehicles / minibuses for a maximum of one week in any financial year for the purpose of a holiday.

Requests are made via the supervising fostering officer who will complete a Form SS470, countersigned by the Team Manager (Fostering) and forwarded to Resources Admin, who will then liaise with Transport Section. Resources Admin will maintain a record of all requests.

Requests to hire over and above the one week period will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Full cost vehicle hire provision is available for UK vehicle use only. Carers wishing to take vehicles overseas must meet any additional cost (i.e. the difference between UK and overseas hire costs). Intended destinations must be clearly stated on the SS470.


5. Insurance

Carers are expected to have adequate motor vehicle insurance, and also their own domestic / household insurance to cover contents and buildings. This will be checked during the assessment and at each annual review.

Insurance cover provided by the Department covers circumstances which would be beyond the scope of normal household insurance e.g. theft by a foster child, malicious damage etc as well as providing third party cover and public liability.

There is a procedure for claiming from the Department's Insurers.


6. Applications and Financial Assistance regarding larger Accommodation, House Purchase, conversion or Improvement.

Applications for larger LA accommodation

Leeds Homes tenants seeking to transfer to larger accommodation, can be supported in their application through completion of the appropriate Social Care referral form, signed by the foster carer applicant, SW/SFO,and Team Manager, and submitted to Leeds Housing. Forms are available on the intranet (fostering forms page).

House Purchase, Conversion or Improvement

Grants may exceptionally be available to enable carers to adapt / improve their existing property or, exceptionally, to purchase a property for the purpose of accommodating children in foster care.

If such an application relates to the placement of a specific child it must be presented jointly by both the Fostering Section and the relevant SW team. If named children are not involved, the Fostering Section should present the application.

Approval must be sought from the Head of Service who controls the budget.

Once the budget has been committed in a financial year no further applications can be considered unless the request is to commit the following year's budget.

There is a procedure in Properties Section for looking at applications for building works to see if they are realistic, offer advice on who might carry out the work, and check to see if the work has been carried out properly.

All such grants will be subject to legal agreement between the Department and the carer whereby the monies may be recovered in the event of the fostering arrangement ceasing prematurely.

There are primarily two types of legal agreement:

  • A sliding scale / incremental repayment agreement;
  • A legal charge attached to a property.

Further advice and guidance can be obtained from Team Manager (Fostering) and Legal Services Section.

The supervising fostering officer must co-ordinate and lead the process throughout.


7. Representations and Complaints

Carers views on and involvement in the fostering service are essential to achieve partnership. Participation in the management of the fostering service is promoted by:

  • Feedback from support groups;
  • The Leeds Foster Care Liaison Group;
  • Consultation with The Fostering Network to at a local and national level;
  • Regular review of PFS Foster Carer Terms and Conditions;
  • Membership of various working groups regarding the fostering service;
  • Consultation with Leeds Foster Care Association.

Foster carers can make representations and complaints both on their own behalf in relation to the fostering service and on behalf of the child / young person they care for, regarding plans, services provided and decisions made or not made. They also have access to the Foster Carer and Adopters Whistle blowing Policy.

Carers may also make representations or complaints on behalf of a child or young person who has ceased to be in their care but for whose welfare they are still legitimately concerned.

On approval, carers are made aware of and given written information regarding the Complaints Procedure.

Carers can pursue representations and complaints by contacting the Complaints Manager.

Representations and complaints which relate to the carer's approval and registration will be dealt with by the Team Manager (Fostering), relevant Fostering Panel and related representations and appeals processes.

Complaints against foster carers, whatever their origins or source, must be taken seriously. Any complaint must be brought to the attention of the Team Manager (Fostering) who may need to liaise with the Complaints Service regarding the subsequent handling of the complaint.

It should be possible for the majority of complaints to be resolved at a local level through the SFO after consultation with the Team Manager (Fostering).


8. Foster Carer Retention

Initiatives to assist with foster carer retention, e.g. information provision / carer factfile / newsletter, are developed and implemented by the Development Officer (Fostering).

Information collected from the recording of De-Registrations, Exit Interviewing and other sources / forums (e.g. Foster Carer Liaison Group) is used to inform this provision.

The Exit Interviewing and Questionnaire service is overseen independently by Strategic Services Section, and an explanatory letter is sent by fostering admin with the de-registration letter.

All foster carers are eligible for formal recognition of length of service as follows:

Length of Service (years) Long Service Award
Certificate + gift token to the value of:
5yrs £25 + Flowers
10yrs £50 + Flowers
15yrs £75 + Flowers
20yrs
(or retirement after 10yrs service)
£100 + Flowers
and personal letter from The Chief Officer

Eligibility for awards will be monitored through carer reviews and coded: 50/391/563/32.

End