STATEMENT OF PURPOSE FOSTERING SERVICE 20011/2012. The Family Placement Team Room 600 Rutland building County Hall Leicestershire LE3 8RL

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1 STATEMENT OF PURPOSE FOSTERING SERVICE 20011/2012 The Family Placement Team Room 600 Rutland building County Hall Leicestershire LE3 8RL Telephone Fax October 2011

2 1. Introduction The Statement of Purpose for Leicestershire s County Council Fostering Services is required under the Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards The Statement of Purpose describes the aims and objectives of the family placement service and the range of services offered to support fostering. It is made available to staff of the organisation, foster carers, children and young people, parents and other professionals and is regularly updated and annually reviewed. Children placed with Leicestershire foster carers receive a copy of the Children s Guide to the Fostering Service. 2. Context of the Fostering Service In 2010 the management structure of Leicestershire s Children s and Social Care Services was reconfigured to create three Heads of Service, managed by an Assistant Director Specialist Services. Each Head of Service is responsible for the following areas: locality social work, children in care safeguarding. The fostering service comes within the responsibilities of the Head of Service for Children in Care. A central duty point was created for all referrals to Children s Social Care Services. Cases are passed from there into three locality Family Assessment Teams (FAS). Families needing longer term involvement go to either Strengthening Families Teams or to Child Protection Teams. Children who have been in care for more than 12 months are allocated within Children in Care Teams. These teams include a 16+ service. There is also a Disabled Children s Service. The Assistant Director of Children's Specialist Services is: Mr Walter McCulloch, Assistant Director, Specialist Services, Children and Young People s Service, County Hall, Glenfield, Leicestershire LE3 8RL Telephone (0116) The Registered Manager of the fostering service is: Mrs Jan Slater Head of Service Children and Young People s Service, County Hall, Glenfield, Leicestershire LE3 8RL Telephone (0116)

3 Jan Slater has a Diploma in Social Studies and a CQSW from West London Institute of Higher Education obtained in She also has 2 post graduate certificates in Management of Child Abuse obtained from the University of London in 1990 and in Leadership in Health and Social Care obtained from Northampton University in She has worked extensively in all aspects of Children s Social Care Services. 3. The Aim of the Fostering Service To provide high quality family based placements for all children and young people unable to live with their own families achieving the best possible outcomes for our children and young people, in terms of health, education, social and emotional well-being. Our main aim as a service is to ensure that we have a range of safe, high quality foster care placements for children and young people; with carers who value, support and encourage them to grow and develop as individuals. The needs, wishes, welfare and safety of the child or young person are at the centre of Leicestershire's Family Placement Service. Children come from a wide range of cultural, racial, linguistic and religious backgrounds; therefore the Fostering Service endeavours to recruit carers who reflect this. The ethnic origin, cultural background, sexual orientation, religion and language of looked after children and young people and the particular needs of disabled children and young people will be fully recognised and positively valued and promoted when placement decisions are made. Our service is underpinned by the Leicestershire County Council's pledge to Children in Care. The fostering service aims to provide a high quality responsive child-centred service in relation to its core functions: to recruit new foster carers from within our diverse community including the family and friends' networks of children in care to prepare applicants through training to be able to deal with the range of issues that foster carers face when looking after children to assess each applicant comprehensively to ensure that they are suitable and able to carry out this role to support and supervise carers in a constructive manner that promotes the welfare of children to provide carers with opportunities for developing their skills and knowledge to promote their own development and provide a rewarding fostering career. 4. Objectives of the Service To provide placements close to the child or young person s local community, wherever possible and appropriate for the child or young person's assessed need. To involve and consult with children and young people regarding their foster placement and their care, providing them with an age-appropriate level of choice. To promote the use of kinship (family and friends) care for children and young people. To ensure that a child s ethnic, religious, cultural, sexual and linguistic needs are properly understood and met in placement. 3

4 To ensure safe care is practised within every foster placement in order that children are protected from abuse and harm. To provide appropriate placements for older young people where they can develop the necessary skills and knowledge for independent living and make a successful transition to adulthood. To promote the educational achievement of looked after children and young people by ensuring that foster carers are supported and are able to access opportunities for children to achieve. To promote all aspects of the child s health and development to enable the child or young person to achieve the best possible outcomes, through the provision of good standards of care, access to services and support from other agencies and professionals, particularly health, education and youth services. To foster an open and partnership-based service that recognises the central role of foster carers, Children s Services staff and parents/significant others concerned with the welfare of the looked after child/young person. The Service will be responsible for: A recruitment strategy, which focuses on the recruitment of local carers who are able to meet the diverse needs of looked after children and results in an annual net increase in approved foster carers. Training courses according to a yearly training plan and based on foster carers needs so that they are trained in the skills required to provide high quality care to meet the diverse needs of each child or young person placed in their care. A wide range of support services to ensure that foster carers feel valued as part of the Fostering Service and their services as carers are retained. A range of specialist fostering placements providing placements for children and young people in need of specialist care. Appropriate specialist support for foster carers in the fields of education, health and mental health to support them in managing the particular needs of looked after children and young people in their care. A competitive, annually reviewed fostering fees and allowance structure, based on nationally recommended rates Ensuring that people who work in or for the service are suitable to work with children and young people and are managed, trained and supported to ensure the best possible outcomes for children in foster care. Cost effective services provided and commissioned to maximise available resources Appropriate records are kept in relation to individual foster carers, children and young people and the fostering service. 4

5 Foster carers having access to a handbook which guides their practice and clarifies expectations and standards. 5. Principles and Standards of the Service The Family Placement Service is committed to achieving and maintaining the highest standards and offering quality provision. It has been developed and is managed in accordance with the Fostering Service Regulations 2011 and the principles outlined in the National Minimum Standards. These standards apply equally to our kinship carers. The child s welfare, safety and needs are at the centre of their care. Children and young people should have an enjoyable childhood, benefiting from excellent parenting and education, enjoying a wide range of opportunities to develop their talents and skills leading to a successful adult life. Children and young people are entitled to grow up in a loving environment that can meet their developmental needs. Every child or young person should have his or her wishes and feelings listened to and taken into account. Each child or young person should be valued as an individual and given personalised support in line with their individual needs and background in order to develop their identity, self confidence and self-worth. The particular needs of disabled children and young people and children and young people with complex needs will be fully recognised and taken into account. The significance of contact, in its broadest sense, for children and young people in care, is recognised, as is the foster carer s role in this. Children and young people in foster care deserve to be treated as a good parent would treat their own children and to have the opportunity for as full an experience of family life and childhood as possible, without unnecessary restrictions. The central importance of the child s relationship with their foster carer should be acknowledged and foster carers should be recognised as core members of the team working with the child. Foster carers have a right to full information about the child and receive appropriate support and development opportunities to provide the best care for children 6. Management Structure and the Staff Group Caroline Walsh, Service Manager and three Team Managers are responsible for the day to day operation of the Family Placement Service. The Service and Team Managers are qualified and registered Social Workers with experience of fostering and placements experience. All social workers are registered with the General Social Care Council and have up to date CRB checks. The staff group are experienced and qualified in both operational and family placement work. The Family Placement team has an establishment 5

6 of 19 qualified Social Work posts and 2.6 Support worker posts. There are 5 administrative and clerical staff (3.8 full time equivalent). The staff group is culturally and racially diverse, comprising workers with experience both in fostering and other areas of children s social work. Caroline Walsh, Service Manager Team Manager Duty & Assessment Val Coote 4.5 Social Workers 6 Support Workers Independent Visitor Scheme 1 Support Worker Team Manager Post Support Maria Hunt 7.7 Social Workers Team Manager Specialist Schemes Joss Longman Connected Persons 1 Senior Practitioner 2.5 Social Workers Recruitment & Family Finding P/T Social Worker Training Training Officer Support Worker Carer Reviews P/T Senior Practitioner Short Breaks Scheme 1.5 Social Worker 1 Support Worker 7. Services Provided The fostering service will meet a range of children's needs by providing: Short term foster care to support families through crisis, family breakdown or in an emergency, to protect a child from harm. Permanent substitute family care for children who cannot return to their birth family, through long term fostering, Adoption or Special Guardianship Orders A shared care service providing respite day and overnight care for children with disabilities Kinship Carers, known as Family and Friends carers (Connected Persons) providing placements for children and young people known to the carer. Specialist placements which include Mother and baby placements and remand placements. An Independent Visitor service is provided for children and young people who may benefit from the service 8. Provision of Health Promotion The Service is committed to ensuring the health outcomes for young people looked after continually improve. There is close liaison with the health team for looked after children including a designated doctor and nurse. Children and young people placed in foster care have an initial health assessment carried out by a community paediatrician. Their health care reviews are then undertaken by community health teams as appropriate. Medical 6

7 forms recommended by British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) are used to record both the initial assessment and the annual reviews. There is a programme of health training which has been developed to meet the needs of foster carers, social care and health staff who work with children in care. This includes information on consent, confidentiality, initial and review health assessments and first aid. In addition practical training sessions are run for foster carers to enable them to provide a safe and healthy home environment; these include personal and pet hygiene, how to treat nits and other nasties, dental care and medicine management. Training sessions are offered to carers about understanding drugs and alcohol issues. Practice Guidance for dealing with substance use by young people who are looked after has been produced and has been issued to all foster carers. Foster carers who offer Short Breaks Care to disabled children are offered specialist training to meet the needs of individual children. The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) have established a Young People s Team to deliver specialist services to children in care. This team offers direct work, consultation and training. An introductory Children s Mental Health Awareness course has been developed and is delivered to carers within the first year of their approval. As part of the assessment process prospective foster carers have a health assessment undertaken by the carers GP which is then overseen by the medical adviser to the fostering panel. The medical adviser is a member of the fostering panel and able to advise on the health information provided on applicants. All foster carers have a health assessment every 3 years. In the intervening years they complete an adult health declaration. If there are any health issues of concern, an updated assessment is sought from the carer s GP. 9. Protecting Children from Harm Leicestershire s Children and Young People s Service including its fostering service are members of Leicestershire s Safeguarding Children s Board (LSCB). Suspected abuse or ill treatment of a foster child is investigated using the LSCB procedures. LCC operates a safe recruitment process for all staff employed by the agency. In addition, there is a rigorous vetting and assessment process undertaken with all potential carers. Enhanced CRB checks are repeated every 3 years for all carers and staff. Safe caring is an important part of foster carer training and all carers are given a Safe Caring Handbook. Individual safe care plans are produced to address any specific needs or challenges presented by the child or young person. Training on safeguarding and safe care practice is provided to all foster carers. All foster carers are given regular supervision to develop and review their practice. An unannounced visit to the foster home is made at least annually. Workers in the team are also aware of the particular vulnerability of disabled children. For children or young people who receive Short Breaks Care, close partnership work with parents is one of the important safeguards to protect these children or young people. 7

8 Allegations against foster carers are investigated using an established procedure. An independent person, usually the LADO, chairs the initial strategy meeting and oversees the process. Foster carers will continue to receive the fee element of their payment until the investigation is completed, where the child or young person is removed from their care. Training is offered to carers on: the allegations procedure, the role of the Foster Care Association to support carers under investigation the importance of safe caring procedures. There is an agreed Missing from Care protocol that all foster carers are expected to adhere to. All children and young people are expected to agree with their carer when they go out; where they are going and a time to return. If a young person fails to return at the agreed time, attempts are made to locate them, by telephoning friends, family and relatives. Carers can obtain advice about the operation of the Missing from Care protocol from the Emergency Team or from The Foster Care Support Line. The process for conducting risk assessments on missing young people and making reports to the police is detailed in the Joint Police and CYP Service Protocol Missing from Care". 10. Provision of Education Support Services All young people are expected to attend school and efforts are made to maintain children in their existing schools. Foster carers who transport children to out of catchment schools have their transport expenses reimbursed. Foster carers are aware that it is unacceptable to take children and young people out of school for family holidays. A protocol has been agreed about this and has been issued to all carers. A Promoting Looked after Children's Education Panel (PLACE) considers the cases of children with particularly complex educational problems. School attendance is closely monitored and is now showing significant improvement. All carers attend introductory workshops to ensure they have a comprehensive understanding of the educational needs of Children in Care and the resources available to help meet those needs. They support children and young people to attend their Personal Education Plan meeting. The department has a scheme for making computers for young people available in foster homes. Advice and guidance is available to foster carers on managing the use of the Internet and especially in relation to social networking sites. Additional tuition and revision guides are also provided. The achievements of children and young people are celebrated each year at Celebration of Achievement events. 11. Provision of Leisure, hobbies and interests The opportunity for children and young people to succeed in hobbies or sports is seen as an important element of the fostering task and reduced costs for accessing leisure facilities have been agreed across the districts. Financial support can also be provided to facilitate 8

9 participation in hobbies and interests. The Corporate Parenting Team arranges a wide variety of different opportunities for children in care and their carers Annual foster carer reviews consider the level of social opportunities young people in placement are supported to attend. 12. Staying Put Foster carers who are willing for their foster children to stay with them beyond the age of 18 are encouraged to do so. Carers can become supported lodgings providers and receive financial help and welfare rights advice. Financial guidance has been produced so that it is clear to carers what the new financial arrangements will be. 13. Arrangements for Consultation with Children and Young People All children and foster carers are given information about the Children's Rights Service, to which they have direct access. A Children in Care Council has been established which produced a children's pledge and provides opportunities for children and young people to inform the development of services. A coming into care booklet, issued by the Children s Rights Service contains information about this and other matters, such as contact and pocket money. There is a free helpline number to enable children to be able to directly contact the service Children and young people are individually consulted by the Independent Reviewing Officers as part of their statutory review and are encouraged to participate in their review. 14. Profile of Foster Carers At the 1 st April 2011 Leicestershire had: 154 approved mainstream foster carers including a group of short breaks carers 34 kinship carers 18 supported lodgings providers. 15. Fostering Allowances 2011 The department pays the National Recommended Fostering Allowance to all foster carers. Age Weekly Amount 0 4 years years years years 168 Carers also receive 4 weeks additional allowance to cover birthdays, holidays and Christmas (or other significant festivals). Mainstream carers who have completed 18 months as foster carers and who have finished their post approval training receive the experienced carer s allowance of 60 per week per child. 9

10 Professional Fee Payments Professional Fee Carers offer specialised family placements for children and young people. There are 5 levels of fees up to a maximum of 440 per week though most carers on fees receive fees at levels 2 or 3. The level of fee is agreed by the family placement team in consultation with the child s social worker and is determined by the following criteria: level of difficulty presented by the child or young person; the difficulty in achieving a stable placement the levels of care and skill required to look after a child or young person who presents challenging behaviour. 16. Number of Children Placed On the 1 st April 2011 Leicestershire County Council was looking after 350 children. This is in addition to the children with disabilities receiving short breaks. The Family Placement team receives an average of 30 placement requests each month. These referrals are for new placements, respite and day care placements. There is close liaison with commissioning and contracts officers to ensure that children and young people are appropriately placed in the right setting. 17. Complaints and Allegations The Family placement team have a Complaints policy which provides opportunities for informal and formal procedures to deal with complaints. The Specialist Service Standards leaflet, May 2011was shared with all foster carers which describes the standards of service for our users and the contact details for our complaints service. All allegations are investigated through the guidance of the Local Authority Designated Officer following LSCB procedures. Foster carers are supported through this independently through the LCFA and Fostering Network as appropriate. Children and young people also have access to the Council s Children s Rights Officer who will assist any child in making a complaint if they wish, and will support them throughout the process. Complaints can be made independently of the Fostering agency by contacting the Complaints Manager in County Hall or by at or alternatively writing to us at: Complaints Manager Social Care Service FREEPOST LE 1779 County Hall, Glenfield Leicester LE3 8XR 18. Recruitment, Approving Training, Supporting and Reviewing Foster Carers Recruitment The Fostering Service recruits and supports foster carers in accordance with the National Minimum Standards for Fostering (2011). Plans for recruiting foster carers are outlined in the Fostering Recruitment Strategy which is update and reviewed annually. The 10

11 Placement Commissioning Strategy has mapped current and projected gaps in placement capacity against expressed needs. The strategy also identifies how Leicestershire meets the Sufficiency agenda. In 2011 the fostering service worked in partnership with Leicestershire s Communications Team to produce new recruitment material and "Space for a child" branding. Information can be accessed through Leicestershire County Council website which provides an opportunity for online enquiries. Assessment Assessments are undertaken using the standard BAAF Form F. Assessing Social workers undertake a number of home visits to all members of the prospective fostering household. A full range of statutory checks are made as well as taking full employment and address histories. Personal referees are interviewed. A medical examination is arranged. All carers access Skills to Foster Training either through participation in groups or through individual support from the family placement team. Fostering assessments are presented to the Fostering Panel and applicants invited to attend and give written feedback on the assessment report. Recommendations are passed to the agency decision-maker. Representations about decisions can be made within 28 days as outlined in Fostering Services Regulations including the use of the Independent Review Mechanism. Full details about the Independent Review Mechanism are given to applicants and to foster carers. The Fostering Panel The Fostering Panel meets monthly to consider prospective fostering applicants for approval and to recommend whether or not a person is suitable to be a foster parent. It also considers whether a person remains suitable to be a foster carer at the first review and on any occasion requested by the fostering service. In 2010/11: 40 new households were approved; of these 17 were kinship placements. 17 families ceased to foster. The main reason for closure was because kinship carers were no longer needed to be foster carers. They had either obtained a permanent order for a child, or the child had returned home or had gone onto live with another family member. The panel is independently chaired and the Team Manager and Service Manager for Placements share the Agency adviser role. All panel members undertake checks as part of safe recruitment practice and have an annual appraisal. The Panel's recommendations are considered by the Agency Decision-Maker, the Head of Service, Children in Care, who makes the final decision on behalf of the agency. 19. Support and Supervision of Foster Carers The service recognises and values the important role that foster carers play in the lives of looked after children. The service aims to be receptive and responsive to their needs. A number of structures exist to help promote this relationship: All carers have a fostering social worker. 11

12 All carers have an agreed level of visiting/contact from their fostering social worker. Some visits provide formal supervision and others general support. All carers including kinship carers have an annual review that ensures that our carers and the services they receive meet the requirements of the regulations The department pays the annual membership fee for carers to be members of Leicestershire Foster Care Association (LFCA) and Fostering Network. LFCA, in conjunction with the department, publishes a newsletter to carers 3-4 times a year the Grapevine. A duty service is available during office hours as a point of contact for foster carers. A Foster Care Support line operates from 6pm until midnight each evening and 12 noon to midnight at weekends. The Family Placement Team have access to a specialist worker who offers support to carers which includes individual work with carers and children as well as surgery sessions. This worker can become involved following stability of placements meetings LFCA and the Emergency Team offer support to carers out of office hours. There is close liaison with Education of Children in Care Team to provide help to children and young people who have educational difficulties. Locality foster carer groups have been established in all areas to increase the level of local support that carers can offer one another. The fostering website area means that carers have ready access to a range of information. All new carers are linked with a mentor during the assessment period. This person can help the prospective carers to understand the fostering role and can help them when they are newly approved through their first placements. The fostering service hold quarterly meetings with the locality group co-ordinators and the mentors. This provides an invaluable opportunity to get feedback from the carers about the fostering service and how it can be improved. Foster Carer Reviews Formal reviews of foster carers take place at least annually. The first annual review is presented to the Fostering Panel within 12 months of the original approval. The review process meets the CWDC Standards for the Training, Supervision, Support and Development of foster care. A report is prepared by the Fostering Social Worker which leads to a recommendation about the carer s suitability to continue to be approved. The report includes an updated personal development plan identifying future learning and support needs, adult health reports, the safe caring policy, the fire escape plan and a Health and Safety checklist. Every 3 years CRB checks and a full health assessment is undertaken. The views of the foster carers, all members of the household, any children placed since the last review, their parents (where appropriate) and their social workers, and any other professional whose views are relevant will be sought and taken into account at the review. At each review the Foster Care Agreement is amended, updated and signed. Training and Development Training is a key element of the development of carers and of Family Placement Team Social Workers. 12

13 All fostering applicants are required to attend pre-approval training. Mainstream carers attend a modified version of the Fostering Network s Skills to Foster training course, which is delivered on a modular basis by trainers from the fostering team and incorporates a session for the sons and daughters of applicants, as well as input by experienced foster carers and care leavers. There is a similar shorter course for applicants for the Short Breaks Scheme which looks at the particular aspects of caring for a disabled child. Post approval training is a combination of Core Courses and other specialist opportunities to further develop carer s skills. The Core Courses comprise: First Aid Understanding how to care for the abused child Behaviour Management Allegations Record keeping Education Awareness Specialist Training opportunities include: Managing Contact SCIP training for dealing with conflict Attachment Understanding and Managing Behaviour of Disabled Children Children s Mental Health Awareness Drugs and Alcohol Awareness Sexual Health Delay Training Additional training is also provided from expert agencies such as CAMHS and other independent training consultants. Foster carers career and personal development is also supported by the opportunity to complete a NVQ Level 3 in Child Care. Foster carers are given support to complete the Children s Workforce Development Standards. This can be through regular workshops, one to one sessions, or through the overall programme of training available to all carers. 20 OFSTED Ofsted is responsible for inspecting the Fostering Service. They will also receive and investigate any complaints about the Fostering Service. Significant incidents are also reported to them. Ofsted can be contacted at: Ofsted National Business Unit Piccadilly Gate Store Street Manchester M1 2WD TEL: Monday-Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) 08.00am-18.45pm 13

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