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4.3.7 Foster Carer Support and Supervision

Please see relevant section of Forms Library to access the required template.

See also Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol England (The Fostering Network).


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Types of Support
  3. Preparation for becoming a Foster Carer
  4. Providing Support and Supervision
  5. Providing Training


1. Introduction

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1. Foster carers are a vital part of the authority's resources and must be treated as such by all members of staff;
2. Foster carers may require support and advice with difficulties that arise from the particular demands of the fostering role, as well as help that may be required in connection with the care of a specific child. Fostering places demands on the whole family and can create stress within family relationships. It is, therefore, important that foster carers are offered appropriate support and assistance.


2. Types of Support

Caption: Types of Support
   
1.

Support should consist of:

  • Induction - preparation for the role of foster carer;
  • Arrangements for training and development, including annual reviews of needs. The Department for Education Training Support and Development Standards for foster carers should be met;
  • Personal development plans must be completed for each carer, linked to their training and their annual review;
  • Encouragement of self-help group networks and links with other carers;
  • Supervision and support from the Fostering Team including provision of a fostering social worker;
  • Information and advice from the fostering social worker and a good working relationship with the child or young person's social worker;
  • Assistance in dealing with other relevant services, such as education and health when needed, as part of the corporate parent role;
  • Accessible and transparent support for hard to reach carers;
  • Out of hours support;
  • Information and involvement;
  • Respite care, which must meet the needs of placed children;
  • Rights to breaks between placements.
2. Carers regard availability, speed of response and accessibility as key characteristics of a good quality support service;
3. Each carer should be visited by or have telephone contact with the fostering social worker at least once a month while a child is placed with them;
4. Meetings with the fostering social worker must have a clear, recorded purpose. There should be a good system of communication between the foster carer and the fostering social worker;
5. It is essential that the role and responsibilities of the fostering social worker are clear to carers. It should be understood at the outset that the fostering social worker's first responsibility is to the child or young person in placement, even though they do not have case management responsibility for the child. They are managers of the fostering resource and, as such, the managers of the foster carers;  
6. The fostering social worker should give priority to ensuring that the quality standards are met, and to assist foster carers to achieve them. Supervision meetings should be an opportunity for all parties to raise issues of concern. The career development of carers, establishing training needs with them and making plans to meet these must also be addressed;
7. The report of each supervision meeting should record any concerns expressed, any support needs expressed by the carer and proposals for how these will be met. The carer should be given a copy of the report;
8. Foster carers should be helped to see supervision as their right, and a source of support, rather than as an imposition;
9. If the foster carer moves, but continues to be a carer, details of their development and training should be made available to the relevant agencies in their new area.


3. Preparation for becoming a Foster Carer

Caption: Preparation for becoming a Foster Carer
   

1.

Preparation for the role as foster carers should begin as part of the assessment process, as the foster carer learns about foster care and what is required of a foster carer. After approval, the foster carer and the fostering social worker should agree on what further preparation and training is needed prior to a child being placed and during placement and beyond. This should form part of the Foster Care Agreement. Opportunities for training and support are provided at three levels:

  • Support and supervision in the home;
  • Participation in and/or access to foster carer groups and support services; and
  • Participation in formal training events with other foster carers and social workers.
2.

Fostering social workers need access to appropriate training resources to meet the needs of foster carers. Handbooks and other information can be provided electronically. The help of health professionals should be sought in local training schemes. Reading material should also be available to foster carers. Some themes should be common to all preparation and training programme's, such as working with parents. All training should aim to enable foster carers to help and work with parents and children in the context of an ethnically diverse society and to develop positive attitudes towards less advantaged groups.

Initial training and preparation should alert foster carers to the possibility that hitherto undisclosed abuse of a child, including sexual abuse, may come to light during placement. Foster carers need to know how to respond and the steps they should take. Similarly, all foster carers need to be aware that some children may have undetected health conditions. Being aware of these issues can help foster carers to understand the circumstances and factors which suggest a child may be at risk and the implications for family life and the child's care. There should be a clear understanding of the responsibility to provide support if circumstances of this kind arise.

The policy is that all training fits within a framework of equal opportunities and anti discriminatory practice. Each foster carer should be trained in identified key areas prior to any child being placed in her or his home and each foster carer should have a written training profile detailing all training undertaken and future training needs.


4. Providing Support and Supervision

Caption: Providing Support and Supervision
   
1. All foster carers should have a named fostering social worker whose responsibility is to provide support and supervision;
2.

There must be an agreed visiting plan dependent on the needs of the carer. The fostering social worker must visits at least monthly if a child has been placed in the foster home. This will be reviewed at least annually. Visits may be made at a more frequent level as and when the need arises, e.g. if the foster carer requests a visit, circumstances alter, etc.

Visits should have a clear purpose and provide the opportunity for supervision of the carers in the same way as a Team Manager supervises a worker;
3.

Support visits must be recorded on the foster carer's file by the fostering social worker and must include details of:

  • When the visit was made;
  • Who was seen on each visit; and
  • The issues covered in the support visits, any particular concerns and any agreed action as a result of discussions.

A copy of the report on the visit must be given to the carer.

Other members of the foster household must be seen on a regular basis, including the foster carer's own children;
4.

Areas for discussion during visits should include:

  • Any changes within the foster home which may create stress (e.g. loss of employment, death within the foster family);
  • Financial matters;
  • Babysitting arrangements where appropriate;
  • Safety aspects;
  • Sleeping arrangements;
  • Any behaviour management concerns in relation to the child;
  • Communication within the home;
  • Sexuality and gender issues;
  • Race and ethnicity;
  • Religious issues;
  • Dealing with other agencies and services;
  • Contact issues arising from contact between the child and parents;
  • Any difficulties with attitudes of neighbours and extended family, friends;
  • Any problems foster carers are experiencing in carrying out agreed tasks;
  • Training needs;
  • Transport and equipment issues; and
  • Arranging support for other members of the household particularly the child or children of the foster family, e.g. by offering a group to carers children and/or meeting with them at regular intervals or at the end of the placement.
This list is not exclusive, but highlights areas that should be discussed during the course of support visits to the foster family;
5. Foster carers should be made aware of and encouraged to use local support group. Other experienced foster carers may also be useful as a means of support to less experienced foster carers;
6. Foster carers should be advised of, and issued with the "Foster Carer Complaints Procedure" at the time of approval;
7.

The fostering social worker prepares the annual review report on each carer who they supervise, for presentation to the Fostering Panel.

Any area of concern that the social worker or foster carer has or the need for additional support which is identified between reviews should be addressed at the time, rather than waiting for reviews.


5. Providing Training

Caption: Providing Training
   
1.

The "Skills to Foster"/Basic Training course should be arranged for all prospective foster carers as part of the assessment process. The fostering social worker should arrange for the prospective foster carers to attend a "Skills to Foster" course within 16 weeks of initial enquiry (see "Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure").

The fostering social worker should be sensitive to foster carers needs when organising locality and convenient times of courses, provision of child care and payment of reasonable expenses. Consideration should be given to inviting all members of the household to at least one session of the Basic Training course. Specific consideration must be given, by the authority, to any training needs of the sons and daughters of foster carers;

2. Training needs should be identified with the foster carer as part of the process of approval and recorded in the Foster Carer Agreement and discussed at the Fostering Panel;
3.

The identification of training needs should be a continuing process and form part of the foster carer's review. Following approval foster carers will be expected to undertake further core training. All modules of the core training should be completed within the first 2 years after approval.

Further specialised training may be needed to help foster carers to undertaken specific tasks in relation to particular children;
4.

Training courses attended should be recorded and placed on the Foster Carer's file for future reference;

5. Information on any training courses will be entered on the Fostering Training database by the fostering training officer;
6. Each foster carer annual review includes an appraisal of training and development needs, documented in the review report.

End