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10.5 Supervision of Privately Fostered Children and the Support of Private Foster Carers

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  1. Supervision of the Child
  2. Support to Carers
  3. Termination of Arrangements
  4. Procedure for Providing Supervision and Support

1. Supervision of the Child

  1. The local authority has a duty to arrange for the child to be visited regularly to ensure that his/her welfare continues to be safeguarded and promoted. The minimum frequency of visits is:
    • Within one week of the start of the fostering arrangement
    • At intervals of no more than 6 weeks for the first year
    • At least 3 monthly after the first year.
    These are minimum requirements, but the actual frequency may need to be greater to ensure that the child's welfare is safeguarded and promoted.

    A visit should always be arranged if requested by the child or foster carer, unless the request is considered unreasonable, in which case the reason for not visiting should be recorded.

    A written report must be made of each visit.
  2. The following points should be taken into account when visits are made:
    • The overall standard of care, and the relationship between the child and the foster parents should be noted.
    • The child's current state of health and educational progress should be noted.
    • What arrangements are in place to promote the child's contact with his/her family.
    • The child must be seen at each visit, and must be seen alone if this appears to be necessary. Where there are communication difficulties, all necessary means must be employed, including the use of interpreters, to ensure that the child has an opportunity to express his/her views.
    • The child's bedroom should be seen.
    • Occasionally visits should take place when all members of the household are present.
    • It may be appropriate to make an unannounced visit.
    • Advice and guidance on matters listed in Key points 4 & 5 should be given to the foster carer when appropriate.
    • That any requirements or restrictions which have been imposed on the foster carer are being adhered to.
  3. Should matters of concern arise about the care being provided to the child, these should be discussed with the carer in the first instance, unless this would place the child at risk. If the care provided continues to be unsatisfactory, one, or more, of the following steps should be taken:
    • If there is any reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm, action should be initiated under the East Riding Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures and Guidance without delay.
    • ┬áConsideration should be given to whether restrictions should be imposed on the carer (see also "The Assessment of the Suitability of a Private Foster Carer Procedure").
    • The child's parents should be informed of the concerns and be advised of their responsibility to remove the child if the child is receiving unsatisfactory care.
    • Consideration should be given to whether any of the local authority's powers and duties should be exercised under the Children Act i.e. to undertake a Children in Need Single Assessment; accommodate the child or initiate care proceedings.

2. Support to Carers

  1. The local authority has a duty to consider whether the private foster carer is receiving all necessary advice and guidance to assist them to care for the child, and to make arrangements for this to be provided. This matters covered should include:
    • Details of the statutory provisions and regulations relating to private foster care.
    • All aspects of the care of the child. Particular attention should be given to the racial, cultural, linguistic and religious needs of the child, for example the foster carer's awareness of racial harassment issues and how they will deal with this.
    • The wider implications of fostering, including such matters as insurance cover.
    • Information about services and resources available in the locality, e.g. play groups, toy libraries, voluntary organisations or community groups, particularly those which may assist in meeting the racial, cultural, linguistic and religious needs of the child.
  2. Advice should be given about the information and records concerning the child, which the private foster carer should be keeping. This would include:
    • Maintaining and updating the child's medical history, including notes/dates of visits to the GP, health clinic etc;
    • A file of school reports;
    • A record of contacts with parents and other significant people,
    • Financial records of maintenance payments received from the parents,
    • A photograph album or other record for the child of significant events and people in the child's life.
  3. Advice and support can be provided to private foster carer s in a number of ways:
    • On an individual basis through the regular visits of the social worker and other professionals, such as a health visitor.
    • Linking the foster carer with support networks in place for other similar groups such as foster carers registered with the local authority or childminders. This might take the form of self-help support groups, "drop-ins" or training opportunities.
    • Facilitating support groups or providing training specifically for private foster carers.

3. Termination of Arrangements

  1. The private foster carer should be advised about the importance of planning any change in the fostering arrangements. A child's return home to his/her family may need careful preparation by both the foster carer and the child's parents depending on the length of time the child has been away. The aim should be to provide as much continuity for the child as possible.

    The private foster carer should not make arrangements for the child to move to another private foster carer without the knowledge and agreement of the child's parent.
  2. The provisions of the Leaving Care Act 2000 have limited applicability to some young people leaving private foster care. They are considered to be qualifying young people if they left a private foster care after the age of 16 years. The local authority has the discretion to provide advice and assistance as outlined in section 24 of the Children Act (prior to amendment by the new legislation), if they are satisfied that the person who was caring for them is not in a position to advise or befriend them. Assistance can include:
    • Contributing to expenses occurred in living near his place of employment, education or training.
    • Making a grant to meet the cost of expenses associated with education and training.
  3. In the event of the death of a child whilst being privately fostered, the foster carer is required to notify the local authority, and also the person from whom the child was received. However the social worker should ensure that the child's parents are notified in an appropriate manner. If there are any concerns surrounding the circumstances of the death, the East Riding Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures and Guidance should be followed.

4. Procedure for Providing Supervision and Support

  1. The social worker should undertake visits to the child in the foster home at a frequency agreed with their manager, but at least as frequent as the statutory minimum requirements (see key point 1). A written report of the visit should be completed.
  2. When making visits social workers have responsibilities to both the child and the private foster parent. On each visit they should take account of the guidance provided in Section 1, Supervision of the Child) in relation to the child, and Section 2, Support to Carers in relation to the private foster parent.
  3. The social worker should consider the training needs of the private foster parent, and liaise with the Fostering Team in relation to the inclusion of the foster parent in any training opportunities which are available to the Council's mainstream foster parents. This could be basic training such as the NFCA "Choosing to Foster" course or training on specific topics of relevance to the private foster carer's circumstances.
  4. Should there be any significant changes in the private fostering arrangements e.g. change of address of foster parent or child, additions to or departures from the household, these should be notified to information monitoring so that the SSID record can be amended.
  5. Should another adult join the household, the individual must be interviewed and checks and enquires as outlined in the "The Assessment of the Suitability of a Private Foster Carer Procedure" must be carried out.
  6. The private foster parent should notify the termination of a private fostering arrangement by completing the appropriate form. The social worker should notify Information Monitoring on the appropriate form.
  7. The social worker should consider whether a young person aged 16 years leaving a private foster home is entitled to assistance from Children's Social Care (see Part 5 of the Manual, Services for Care Leavers).