Fostering Service Statement of Purpose

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1 Fostering Service Statement of Purpose Joanna Waterhouse Family Placement Service 21/6/2013

2 Registered Manager- Joanna Waterhouse, Head of Service Registered Provider- Joanna Waterhouse, Head of Service 2012 Confirmation of Approval/Comment: Revised and amended date: 28/06/2012 Strategic Director, Children s Services date: 28/06/2012 Executive Member date: 28/06/2012 2

3 Manchester Children s Services Department Fostering Service Manchester Fostering Services Statement of Purpose has been endorsed by Manchester Children s Services Strategic Director, the Executive Member for Children s Services and Family Placement Team Manager s Meeting. Date: 21 June 2012 The Statement of Purpose is available on: The Children s Services Electronic Manual In the Policy and Approval Pack for Foster Carers (Overview) On request to all children and young people, foster carers, birth parents, social workers supervising social workers, partner agencies. An abridged version will be made available for children and young people. Electronically and on Manchester City Council s website: Manchester City Council offers a translation and interpretation service which provides a translation and interpretation service in many languages, including audiotape production and a Braille service. For translation of any Manchester City Council publication please contact: Telephone

4 Table of Contents 1. Service Contact Details 3 2. Key Legislation 6 3. Aims and Objectives 5 4. Manchester Family Placement Service Management Structure 7 5. The Fostering Service - Services Provided: The Quality Assurance Team The Centralised Placements Team South, Central and North fostering Teams TOPS Treatment Offering Placement Stability The Adoption Team Staffing 7 6. Meeting Children s Needs in Foster Care Approved Foster Cares and Placements Foster carers at Placements of Children and Young People at Recruitment Retention Placements Assessments of Recruited Foster Carers Assessment and Approval of Family and Friend Carers The Fostering Panel Foster Carer Reviews Complaints and Representations Support to Foster Carers Training and Development Collaborative Working Provision of Information 25 4

5 MANCHESTER FOSTERING SERVICE Statement of Purpose Manchester Family Placement Service is part of Manchester Children s Services (which includes Education) and comprises both the Fostering and Adoptions Services. Fostering Service Address: Family Placement Service, Wenlock Way Offices, Wenlock Way, West Gorton, Manchester Telephone Registered Provider Address: Children s Services PO Box 536, Town Hall Extension Manchester, M60 2AF Ofsted: Ofsted National Business Centre Piccadilly Gate Store Street Manchester M1 2WD 5

6 2. Key Legislation governing the work of the Fostering Service: Standard 16 of the National Minimum Standards and Regulation 3 and 4 of the Regulations 2011, require all fostering services to produce a statement of purpose detailing its aims and objectives, the services and facilities provided and to keep this under review. In determining its aims and objectives, Manchester Fostering Service has adhered to the following legislation and guidance: The Children Act 1989 Care Standards Act 2000 The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards 2011 The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Reviews The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 4 Fostering Services 2011 Family and Friends Care Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities Manchester s Statement of Purpose has been written to meet the requirements of the Regulations and Standards and will be regularly reviewed. 3. Aims and Objectives Manchester Fostering Service aims to recruit, assess and support a range of high quality foster carers to improve outcomes for looked after children and to make children and young people s stay in foster care a positive experience. We aim to maintain a sufficient range of foster care placements and short break carers to meet the needs, age and diversity of looked after children requiring family placement in Manchester by regularly reviewing requirements in conjunction with agreed targets for recruitment and retention of foster carers. The service also assesses and support those carers connected to the child who are approved as family and friend foster carers. Manchester aims to continue to increase the number of Manchester approved and trained foster carers whilst decreasing the number of external placements so that the majority of the Council s looked after children are placed with Manchester approved foster carers including family and friend carers. The Fostering Service currently provides 414 placements to Manchester children whilst independent fostering providers currently provide 482 placements. For children placed with Manchester City Council foster families we work to the following principles: The child s relationship with their foster carer, their welfare, safety and needs are central to their care. The foster carer is the core member of the team around the child and will be involved in planning and decision-making for the child. 6

7 That children have an enjoyable childhood benefitting from positive parenting and a full experience of family life without unnecessary restrictions. That children and young people are valued as individuals and given personalised support. We achieve this by: Working in partnership with the child or young person, carers and those with parental responsibility. Working in partnership with the child s social worker and partner agencies such as Health and Education to support the child and the placement. Ensuring that placements meet the assessed needs of children with complex needs and those with disabilities. Before making any decision and throughout a child s placement, ascertaining the child s wishes and feelings in accordance with their age and understanding. If possible, ascertain the wishes and feelings of parents, those with parental responsibility or other relevant person. Supporting all children to maintain contact with their families and communities where this is in their best interests. Providing opportunities for children and young people and those supporting the child to provide views and feedback about the placement. Placing children with foster carers of a matching racial and cultural heritage wherever possible. 4. Manchester Family Placement Service Management Structure The day to day management of the Fostering Service is undertaken by, Joanna Waterhouse, the Head of the Family Placement Service. The overall responsibility for the management of the Family Placement Service lies with Bridget Keane, Assistant Director Safeguarding Provision, Children s Services: who is responsible to Mike Livingstone, Strategic Director Children s Services. 5. The Fostering Service 5.1 Range of placements Manchester Social Care Emergency Duty Service out-of-hours placements 4.30pm 8.45am. Telephone contact number

8 8.45am 4.30pm placement service provided by the Centralised Placements Team. Telephone contact number Short Term placements time-limited placements for children of all ages Long Term/Permanent placements for children for whom adoption is not appropriate and who cannot return to live in their family Temporarily or fully approved family and friend foster care placements for specific children Short breaks short planned stays to support the families of disabled children (based within the complex needs team) TOPS (Treatment Offering Placement Stability). Multi-dimensional Treatment Foster Care. Supported Lodgings for 16 years or over. 5.2 Services Provided by the Fostering Service The Deputy Head of the Fostering Service is Sonia Sandiford. The Service is made up of: A Quality Assurance Team which processes referrals for assessments, complaints, marketing, recruitment, policy and training. Three area teams supporting foster carers living in North, Central and South Manchester. Supported Lodgings Scheme (located within the North Team) A Centralised Placements Team receiving referrals for placements TOPS Treatment Offering Placement Stability Team Advanced practitioners have been appointed in each of the teams to take responsibility for complex work, to develop and progress new procedures and to support and induct new team members including supervision of foster carer support workers. 5.3 Quality Assurance Team The team has two advanced practitioners who take the lead on marketing, recruitment and all initial visits to prospective foster carers and adopters. Response times in terms of information to prospective applicants, initial visits, invitation to preparation groups and progress to assessment and approval are monitored by the three qualified workers within the team to ensure that timescales and agreed standards are met. The team combines general recruitment activity with specific targeted campaigns that are intended to meet the specific needs of particular groups of children. Recruitment activity for both fostering and adoption operates at a number of levels as evidence informs us that regular local advertising is as effective as joining larger annual regional and national events. Targeted recruitment is carried out based on information provided by a needs analysis and is monitored, analysed and reviewed using data provided by the Family Placement Service management information system. This information is presented to and incorporated into the recruitment strategy. 8

9 The Quality Assurance team is also responsible for managing all assessments for both recruited foster carers and connected people and ensures that all assessments are audited and ready for Fostering Panel by the agreed date. Social Work Consultant Family Placement works across Manchester Children s Services with area social work consultants and colleagues in Education and Health. The Consultant is also responsible for the development and review of all Fostering Service s policies and procedures and working with the Learning and Events Service to plan and arrange all foster carer training and development. Complaints Officer. The complaints officer responds to all complaints and allegations made against foster carers which require investigation. In addition to preparing reports for fostering Panel, the complaints officer is responsible for the Complaints Register, responding to complaints outcomes, ensuring that complaints are dealt within a timely way and that they meet National and Service standards and for subsequent feedback in order to maintain and improve the service. CHARMS Administrator. The CHARMS administrator is based in the Quality Assurance Team and is responsible for supporting and training staff on database recording. 5.4 South, Central and North Fostering Teams Each team offers support to recruited foster carers who are approved as short- term, emergency or long- term or family and friend carers who are temporarily or fully approved as foster carers for specific children. This includes, home visits, telephone contact, a range of support groups, training, 24 hour help line provided by Manchester Foster Care Association and the City council s Emergency Duty Service. The dedicated disabled children s supervising social workers within each team have developed a Short Break and Multi Link scheme where carers are paid a retainer and provide regular short breaks for 6 children. An advanced practitioner has been appointed to support and develop this scheme. The Supported Lodgings Scheme is managed by the North Area team manager and provides and supports supported lodgings placements for young people aged 16 tears and over. 5.5 Centralised Placement Team This team offers a referral point for all long, short-term and emergency placements during office hours. This team is also responsible for managing and monitoring the Service s contract with Independent Fostering Agencies who provide external placements. Whilst the team responds to urgent referrals, it endeavours to match children carefully with potential placements. Working closely with area social workers, wherever possible, the team ensures that children are introduced to placements even in emergencies prior to their arrival in placement. The team, through liaison with area social workers, works to ensure that carers are provided with relevant information on the child to be placed and that placement planning meeting are arranged within five working days of the placement being made. 9

10 The family finder is managed by the Centralised Placement team manager and is responsible for identifying suitable families for children waiting and matching children s needs to approved longterm foster carers. The family finder facilitates matching meetings and produces and forwards matching meeting minutes to the fostering panel for a recommendation. 5.6 Treatment Offering Placement Stability Team (TOPS) TOPS is a team who support foster carers who are able to look after young children, (usually between three and six years old) with behavioural difficulties and complex needs on a multidimensional treatment programme for a period of six months to one year. TOPS foster carers receive extensive training and an allowance which reflects the level of commitment and skill required. The foster carer is supported to maintain certain behavioural techniques to enable the child to develop social skills to increase their chances of being placed on a more permanent basis. Manchester is developing the KEEP Programme (Keeping Foster and Kinship Parents Supported) for all foster carers. Manchester is implementing the KEEP standard programme for 5 12 year olds, as well a KEEP adaptation for 3-6 year olds. KEEP will support fostering placements through the delivery of an intensive 16 week parenting training programme based on the Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care model with the aim of decreasing disruption and improving outcomes, especially in relation to the behaviour of children and young people placed. It is intended to roll out the KEEP programme from September KEEP-Adopt. Manchester is also planning to implement the KEEP Adopt programme to support adoptive parents. This is a new adaptation of the KEEP model and Manchester are working with the DfE to implement this adaptation over The Adoption Team While not part of the Fostering Service, this team works closely with the fostering teams and is a constituent part of the Family Placement Service. For further information about the Adoption Service and services offered, please see the Adoption Statement of Purpose. The aim of the team is to maximize the contribution adoption makes to provide permanence for children. 5.8 Staffing All staff and managers employed in the Fostering Service are recruited, selected and vetted through Manchester City Council s Equal Opportunity Recruitment and Selection Procedures. All supervising social workers and managers hold professional social work qualifications and are GSCC registered. Criminal Records Bureau checks are renewed at intervals of three years. See Appendix A for the service staffing details including qualifications and experience. A Family Placement Structure chart is at Appendix B. The Fostering Service provides an induction programme for new staff. Regular supervision is provided to all staff within the framework of the Children s Services Supervision Policy. All newly qualified staff are included in the NQSW Programme commencing June This is a rolling 12 month induction programme involving briefings, workshops and individual and group 10

11 support from social worker consultants, advanced practitioners and area assistant safeguarding managers. At the end of 12 months, staff attend an Employee Assessment Panel which will make recommendations of the individual s progression to a Grade 7 social worker post. Annual appraisal is completed for all staff. Training needs are identified within the supervision and appraisal processes and identified needs are incorporated into the training plan. The training plan and training delivery are monitored and reviewed annually by the Learning and Events Service in conjunction with the Fostering Service. New and existing staff are encouraged to continue their learning and development by qualifying as practice teachers and providing student placements, observing Fostering Panel and foster carer preparation groups, and attend national and regional conferences and briefings provided by e.g. BAAF and the Fostering Network. 6. Meeting Children s Needs in Foster Care 6.1 Children s Guides Two Children s Guides, one for children aged 4-10 years and one for young people aged 11 years or over, have been produced by the Fostering Service and recently updated to include recommendations made by The Fostering Services National Minimum Standards 2011 and following consultation with children in care through Manchester s Care 2 Change Council and the Children s Rights Service. The guides are made available to children and young people of sufficient age and understanding by the allocated supervising social worker but if a child requires support and assistance to read the guide, either the foster carer or the child s Social Worker will explain the contents. The guides explain what children and young people can expect in foster care, how they should be treated, bed-times and arrangements for pocket money and clothing, who they can approach for advice and support and advise on how to make representations and complaints, in accordance with their age and understanding. 6.2 Manchester Children s Rights Service Manchester Children s Rights Service is a Manchester City Council managed service providing an advocacy service for looked after children and young people from birth to 21 years, or 24 years if in further education. They also provide advocacy support for any child or young person accessing the Leaving Care Service or living at home who has a social worker. The aim of the Service is to ensure children and young people are listened to and safeguarded from abuse and poor practice in connection with a range of issues, including issues such as the child or young person s placement, the support received, contact with birth relatives, bullying or finance. If children and young people require advocacy support or if they are interested in getting involved in the Care 2 Change Council or writing an article for SHOUT, (a magazine produced by Children s Rights with and for children and young people in care), they can contact the Children s Rights Service directly on a Free phone number. Contact details are available in the Children s Guides and in the Foster Carers Handbook. 11

12 Care 2 Change Council Children s Rights assisted in setting up Manchester s Children in Care Council, named by the young people members Care 2 Change Council. This is a council made up of children and young people some of whom are employed as young advisers to sit alongside the Director of Children s Services and decision makers from various agencies working with children and young people. 6.3 Independent Visitors Scheme Independent Visitors are volunteers recruited and trained by the Children s Rights Service who visit, assist and befriend looked after children and young people who may have little or no contact with birth relatives or are feeling isolated. Foster cares and young people can request independent visitors via the child s social workers. 6.4 Contact We recognise the importance of the birth family, including extended family, not only in promoting plans for the child to return home but also in establishing a child s positive sense of identity. Foster carers are expected to promote and support contact between children and their birth families including half-siblings and grandparents, where appropriate, in line with each child s individual care plan and placement plan and the Service s Contact Policy for foster carers. Foster carers are expected to record the child s reaction before and after each contact visit in the child s weekly record sheet. We provide foster carers during their preparation training, with information on the importance of contact and their role in the facilitation of contact. This is contained in the Foster Care Agreement which is signed by all newly approved foster carers, including temporarily approved family and friends foster carers. The supervising social worker ensures that the carer receives advice and support in relation to any difficult issues that arise in relation to contact. 6.5 Recording - Weekly record Sheets All foster carers are now provided with a Weekly record Sheet book for each child in placement which provides recording advice and guidance about passing on concerns. Recording is read and signed by the Supervising Social Worker at each supervision visit. Children and young people are encouraged by the Service to contribute to the recording and read what has been written, in line with their age and understanding. 6.6 Consultation and Therapeutic Services for Looked After Children (CT-LAC) A clinical psychology service (CT-LAC) has been set up specifically for children and young people who are looked after by Manchester Children s Services. This service works together with carers and social workers to improve the emotional well being of children and young people. 12

13 The service works closely with carers, supervising social workers and social workers, supporting their work with a child or young person. Their aim is to help carers and workers think clearly about the best way of working with a child. The service helps to provide an understanding of some of the psychological dilemmas or mental health problems experienced by the child or young person. This means the worker from CT-LAC may not always need to see the child or young person but would work with the foster carers. CT-LAC consultants are involved in facilitating Webster Stratton parenting courses for foster carers, sessions on attachment and bonding, separation and loss and behaviour management strategies for the post-approval training course for foster carers and also contribute to the training plan by attending the Service s Training Steering group which meets every two months. 6.7 Safeguarding The safety of children is central to the delivery of the Fostering Service and underpins the recruitment, preparation, assessment and continuing development of foster carers as well as the support and monitoring of placements. We aim to provide a fostering service, which protects children from all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and deprivation. We commit to place children with carers who provide a safe, healthy and nurturing environment. Safe care guidelines are provided to all foster carers and the permissible forms of behaviour management and sanctions are explicitly stated. The Manchester Children Safeguarding Board s Child Protection Procedures provide a comprehensive framework for safeguarding the welfare of children and contain specific procedures for dealing with children missing from care, and allegations of abuse made against foster carers. There is a separate procedure for dealing with complaints against foster carers contained in Complaints Against Foster Carers and Prospective Adopters. Foster carers may only use control and discipline measures as outlined in the Foster carer s Safe Care Policy and Behaviour Management Policy. 6.8 Missing From Foster Care and Unauthorized Absences In circumstances where a child is absent from the foster home, the foster carer will follow the procedures in the Missing from Foster Care Policy and the Notification of Significant Events Guidance. 6.9 Complaints by Children and Young People All children and young people in care are given a copy of the Children s Services leaflet, How to Make a Complaint 5 19 year olds which outlines how and where to make a complaint. Advice about making a complaint is also contained in the Children s Guide given to all children and young people on placement in foster care. An advocacy role and support is available from a Children s Right s Worker throughout the process. 13

14 7. APPROVED FOSTER CARERS AT 31 MAY 2012 Type of Care No of Foster Carers (Households) Long-term foster carers 45 Short-term foster carers Dual approved short and longterm Emergency foster carers Respite foster carers Short term family and friends foster carers Temporarily Approved family and friends foster carers Fully approved family and friends foster carers Short break carers 16 Short-break project carers 12 Treatment offering placement stability foster carers (TOPS) Foster carers for unaccompanied asylum -seeking children 6 6 Total Carers: 389 Fostering Households Number of Children Placed On 31 May 2012 the total number of children placed with Manchester foster carers was Recruitment The service produces, in consultation with the Communications Team, an annual recruitment plan, which is implemented by the Quality Assurance Team Manager with support from marketing and communications. The annual recruitment plan must be responsive to changing circumstances throughout the year. The plan may therefore be amended in response to new information or available resources. 14

15 Manchester Foster Care Association, foster carers and young people are consulted and involved in our recruitment events. All recruitment and advertising materials are produced in consultation with the service. There has been an overall increase in the recruitment of new foster carers during there period March to May 2012, despite termination of approvals as a result of resignation, retirement and young people remaining in placement on a continuing care basis. Date Number of Recruited Foster Carers March August May Retention 9.1 Foster Carer Awards and Events An evening awards ceremony is held annually to celebrate foster carer achievements. Foster carers reaching between 10 and 25 years or more service or who have made a significant and valued contribution are thanked for their commitment to the children of Manchester. The Fostering Service has also arranged events such as Working Together to Improve Outcomes to bring foster carers together to meet each other, social workers, our colleagues in Health, Education and Barnardos Leaving Care Service and to provide information on developments and changes in the Service. 9.2 Referral Rewards Scheme It is recognised that the most effective method of recruitment is by word of mouth from experienced carers already in the service. The service recognises and values this contribution and has worked with the Communication Team in establishing the Referral Rewards Scheme for Manchester approved foster carers who refer a friend who is then accepted as an applicant. 10. Placements Manchester places children with foster carers approved under the Fostering Service Regulations 2011, (unless in very exceptional circumstances when an emergency placement requires temporary approval under 2010 Regulations). We aim to place the child with a member of their extended family or person connected to them where this is the most appropriate placement and meets the child s assessed needs. Where this is not possible, we provide an alternative family placement on a short term or long term basis. For the majority of children a local foster placement will be most likely to meet their needs. We endeavour to place siblings together where this is appropriate and meets their needs. 15

16 10.1 Matching We work to match children carefully to proposed carers as closely as possible in relation to their culture race and religion to ensure that children and young people in foster care have a positive view of their own identity. Where this is not possible, we work to establish community links to address children s cultural and racial needs and offer training for foster carers. Promotion of educational stability is paramount and this factor is taken into consideration in determining a suitable placement so that the young person can continue to attend their existing school/college where this is recommended as part of the care plan and is practicable. Where children are placed in an emergency we monitor their progress to ensure the placement can appropriately meet the child s needs Risk assessments The referral process and form for referring all children and young people requiring a fostering or residential placement contains a risk assessment completed by the referring social worker which is forwarded to the supervising social worker if a foster placement is made. The risk assessment is reviewed with the foster carer at the Placement Planning Meeting and a copy is retained on the foster carer s file for the duration of the placement CRB Risk Assessments all existing and potential carers undergoing an assessment will have a risk assessment completed by the assessing social worker where the carer, member of their household or regular support carer offences recorded on an ehanced CRB disclosure. The risk assessment will determine how the identified risks will be supported and managed to ensure the safety of any existing or proposed placements. 11. Assessments of Recruited Foster Carers All assessments are outsourced. Potential carers who apply to the service to be approved as foster carers (long or short- term) are allocated an assessment worker from the outsourced agencies. All the workers undertaking assessments are qualified social workers. The service provides quality, evidence based assessments of foster carers within agreed timescales on BAAF form F. Applicants are fully involved in their assessment process and informed of the requirements in Skills 2 Foster preparation sessions which must be completed prior to referral for assessment. The process of assessment is clearly set out for prospective foster carers and details are provided which define: The task to be undertaken The qualities, competences and aptitudes which are required or will need to be developed The standards applied in the assessment process Time scales and the stages in the selection process 16

17 Assessments for recruited foster carers are completed on BAAF Form F, including evidence of the applicant s competency and a portfolio compiled by the applicant evidencing the CWDC TSD (Children s Workforce Development Council, Training, Support and Development Standards) met at the point of approval. Completed assessments of prospective short term, short break and prospective long term foster carers are presented to the Fostering Panel and assessments of prospective adopters are presented to the Adoption Panel. 12. Assessment and Approval of Family and Friends Carers Area social workers and supervising social workers work jointly on assessing potential carers with a prior connection to the child. Where such a placement has been made under regulation 24 of the Fostering Service Regulations 2011 and the person is a temporary foster carer for a period of up to 16 weeks (where the intention is for the child to remain with the carer and it is within the statutory regulations), the joint assessment is agreed by the workers respective team managers and forwarded to the Area Safeguarding Manager who is the appointed person to agree temporary approval. If appropriate and recommended, the allocated supervising social worker completes a full foster carer assessment of their suitability as a family and friends foster carer. The child s social worker provides details of the child and the child s birth family. Manchester uses BAAF Form C for this purpose and for all family and friend foster carers who are to be approved as special guardians. Where it is a planned placement and a viability of the proposed carers is required, the social worker conducts a viability assessment in consultation with a duty supervising social worker. Where agreed, the supervising social worker supports the referral for a full fostering assessment to an outsourced assessor. For all assessments, the social worker and supervising social worker will advise the carer on the most appropriate routes to permanency for the child in respect of an application for long-term fostering, special guardianship, a residence order or adoption. All temporarily approved family and friends foster carers undergoing a full fostering assessment are invited to family and friend preparation groups prior to the completion of the assessment. When assessing and approving both temporary and fully approved family and friends foster carers, Manchester Fostering Service will: Take into account a carer s suitability to be a family and friends foster carer, the likely length of the placement, the age of the child, the wishes and feelings and concerns of the child, the capacity of the carer to meet the child s needs and, if appropriate the wider family s contribution to the child s long term care. Potential family and friends carers are provided with information about the assessment process, how they will be assessed, what is expected of them, how issues will be addressed and what support will be offered during the assessment process, during the transition of the 17

18 child into the placement and support to manage contact for the child. Financial and other support is at a level which is equivalent to that provided to unrelated foster carers. Training and support groups are made available to family and friend foster carers at the same level as it is provided to unrelated foster carers but it also addresses the particular needs and circumstances of family and friends foster carers. Manchester Local Authority Children s Services policy for family and friends carers is contained in Family and Friends Care Policy Caring for Somebody Else s Child, October 2011, a policy to promote and support the needs of children living with family and friends carers. The policy is available for comment on Manchester City Council s Website: _policy_2011 Feedback All recruited and family and friend foster carers are provided with a feedback form on completion of their assessment to provide the Service with their views on the experience of the assessment and to suggest any areas for improvement of the assessment process. 13. The Fostering Panel Manchester s Fostering Panel meets weekly and makes recommendations concerning: A foster carer s approval or re-approval. The terms on which they should be approved. The first review of newly-approved foster carers. Any subsequent reviews referred to consider the carer s suitability for continuing approval. When there has been a complaint or allegation. Fostering plans for looked after children and recommendations for matching with specific foster carers. The quality and conduct of assessments carried out for or on behalf of the service. Additionally, to give advice and monitor foster care s review procedures and any other matter referred by the service. For family and friend foster carers temporarily approved, the Fostering Panel gives advice and direction at two weeks (10 working days) from the date of the temporary approval to ensure that Regulations are being adhered to and that the child is appropriately safeguarded in the placement. 18

19 Panel members are drawn from a central list of members who form a multi disciplinary group and provide a wide range of kills and expertise.. Fostering Panel is chaired by an Independent Chair Person. Manchester Family Placement Service has separate Adoption and Fostering Panels The Role of the Panel Adviser Manchester Family Placement Service has a Panel adviser for both Fostering and Adoption Panels. The Panel Adviser is an adviser but not a voting member of Panel and offers a quality assurance and advisory role to the Panel Chairs and to Family Placement and area social workers Attendance by Applicants All applicants have the right to attend panel at their initial approval. Applicants are actively encouraged to attend by their allocated or assessing supervising social worker. All applicants, including family and friend foster carers being assessed as fully approved foster carers will receive a copy of the Fostering Panel leaflet for applicants that explains the panel process. Applicants and approved foster carers are informed in writing of the venue, time and date of their Fostering Panel appointment. Feedback All recruited and family and friend foster carers attending Panel are provided with a feedback for to record their view and to suggest ways in which foster carer s attendance at Panel may be improved Applicants Not Approved, Resignations and Retirement If a foster carer s approval is terminated the reasons for this are made clear in the Fostering Panel minutes and constitute one of the following: Standards of Care Retirement Resignation All applicants who are not approved receive written notification of the decision. Those who wish to contest aspects of the recommendation in relation to the terms of their approval have the right to a review of the decision either to the Agency Decision Maker or the Independent Reviewing Mechanism Decisions Applicants and approved foster carers receive verbal notification within two working days and written notification within five working days of any Panel recommendation confirmed by the Agency Decision Maker who makes a decision within seven days of receipt of the Panel minutes. 19

20 14. Foster Carer Reviews Foster carers are reviewed annually and within six months of approval to consider their suitability to continue as approved foster carers or if there has been a change in the foster carer s circumstances. Foster Carer Reviews are undertaken by an Independent Reviewing Officer (based in Manchester s Safeguarding and Improving Unit) and are usually held in the carer s home. The minutes of the first review are referred to the Fostering Panel for consideration. There is a clear written procedure for undertaking foster carer reviews. Independent Reviewing Officers monitor the timescales and dates for all foster carer reviews. The review includes consultation with social workers of children placed since approval or the previous review, children who are currently or have been in placement and discussion with the foster carer and household members, including birth children about their experiences and requirements. Specifically designed consultation leaflets for foster children and birth children are available for these purposes. The review provides an opportunity for both the supervising social worker and the foster carer to reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead. Foster carers are supplied with copies of the completed and signed reviews. 15. Complaints and Representations We take all representations made to us seriously. We recognise the importance of being open to feedback and challenge. However we also understand how difficult the process of complaint investigation can be for foster carers. We therefore deal with all representations seriously using procedures that have been shared with carers in advance. We endeavour on all occasions to do this in as prompt and as timely manner as possible. Complaints in relation to staff in the Fostering Service are dealt with within the framework of the City Council s Complaints Procedure. Complaints by foster carers are also dealt with within the framework of the City Council s Complaints procedure. Complaints in relation to the conduct of or care provided by foster carers are investigated within the framework of the procedures for Investigation of Complaints Concerning foster carers and prospective adopters. These have been developed in partnership with Manchester Foster Care Association. Complaints are investigated by the dedicated Complaints Officer. Allegations of abuse by foster carers are investigated under the Manchester Safeguarding Children s Board s, Managing Allegations Against Foster Carers, Prospective Adopters and 20

21 Supported Lodgings Provider s procedures in circumstances where the threshold criteria as defined in those procedures are met. All allegations made where the threshold criteria are met or where there is any doubt are forwarded to the Local Authority Designated Officer. Foster carers who are the subject of complaints and allegations have the right to support and assistance from the Manchester Foster Care Association s Complaints and Allegations Officer. Foster carers who wish to address the decision made about their approval or re-approval by the Agency Decision Maker will be advised to follow either the Appeals procedure or Independent Reviewing Mechanism process Complaints Numbers/outcomes Between 1 April 2011 and 31 May 2012, five (5) complaints were made about the conduct of foster carers to the Fostering Service. All complaints were investigated and the investigation recommendations were considered by the Fostering Panel Allegations Against Foster Carers Between 1 April 2011 and 31 May 2012 nine (9) allegations were made about the foster carers to the fostering service. All allegations were referred to the LADO by the nominated officer. Where recommendations were made to conduct an investigation into the foster carer s standards of care an investigation was carried out by the complaints officer. All investigation recommendations were considered by the Fostering Panel. 16. Support Services to Foster Carers Foster carers, children and young people, social workers and partner agencies working with the child are able to contact the Fostering Service for advice and support. Foster carers will receive support from the Family Placement Service in the following ways: An allowance to care for the child. A named, allocated supervising social worker offering regular support and regular supervision. A duty supervising social worker available during office hours to answer any issues or queries. A formal preparation and induction training process. Identification of areas for development and a personal professional development plan. 21

22 Post approval training and progression to the Children and Young People s Workforce Diploma Level 3. Support from the child s allocated social worker. Support from partner agencies including health, education, child psychology, education and behaviour management. Annual foster carer reviews to assess progress and identify areas of development. Locally based foster carer support groups. Referral for a support worker to work on specific issues with the foster carer and/or child. Out of office hour s support from Manchester s Emergency Duty Service and Manchester Foster Care Association. General support, advice and advocacy from Manchester Foster Care Association. Following approval all foster carers are allocated a supervising social worker for support. Family and friends foster carers are allocated a supervising social worker prior to temporary approval. Supervising social workers ensure that: Foster carers are given full information on the child and will pursue relevant information where this is not supplied. Foster carers are involved in the plans for the child and contribute to the Placement Plan. Foster carers understand which decisions about the child are delegated to them and have a signed Delegated Authority Check-list for each child in placement. (This check-list will be introduced to foster carers social worker and supervising social workers in December 2011.) The child or young person in placement is given the opportunity to state their wishes and feelings and that these are listened to and taken into account when decisions are made. All children in placement are consulted prior to their review by their social workers, the Independent reviewing officer and prior to the foster carer s annual review, by the supervising social worker Support from Children s Social Workers The child s social worker is the first point of contact if advice is required in respect of a specific child and will support the foster carer in meeting the child s needs. The social worker s role is also to monitor the care plan and ensure all involved implement it. As the supervising social worker shares a safeguarding role with the social worker, it is essential that both workers work closely together in order to support the placement and to discuss and respond to any issues or concerns Fostering Allowances The cost of caring for a child or young person is met through fostering allowances and foster carers receives regular payment on time with written information on what the allowances cover. Manchester fostering allowances are incremental on a payment for skills basis and are in line with rates recommended by the National Minimum Standard and the Fostering Network. 22

23 All approved foster carers receive a copy of reviewed allowances annually Support Groups Supervising social workers in the three area fostering teams arrange day-time and evening support groups on a regular basis. Two groups are run per area on a monthly basis to enable foster carers to access local venues. Separate support groups are arranged for family and friends foster carers and networking groups for foster carers of disabled children Foster Carer Support Workers Foster carer support workers work with the supervising social workers to provide additional support to foster carers when needed. Work can be targeted on specific issues with children including support to prevent placement breakdown. Foster carer support workers have been trained by the Education development Officer for Looked After Children to work with foster carers and children on the use of Time Together Bags to encourage foster carers to talk to children through the medium of stories. All foster carers are provided with written information about the role of the support worker and how to request support. An information leaflet is included in every approval pack Foster Carer Profiles The new National Minimum Standards for Foster Carers (2011) require that children are carefully matched to foster carers; Children should be given information about their foster carers before arrival, and any information (including photographic information) they need or reasonably request about the placement, in a format appropriate to their age and understanding. Foster carer support workers have assisted short-term, emergency and long-term foster carers to complete family profiles with photographs which are now available to children, young people and their social workers Manchester Foster Care Association Manchester Children s Services recognises the importance of a strong representative body for Manchester foster carers and is committed to working jointly with MFCA to improve the support and retention of foster carers. This will be achieved by: Regular (at least quarterly) meetings between MFCA and managers from the Fostering Service. Consultation with MFCA on all developments within the Fostering Service. An agreement with MFCA to provide: 23

24 Support for foster carers subject to a complaint or allegation of abuse. Peer support to new foster carers. Joint production of a quarterly newsletter for Foster Carers, Fostering Matters. Involvement of MFCA in working groups looking at aspects of the Fostering Service. Involvement of MFCA in other initiatives, e.g. recruitment drives. In collaboration with the Manchester Fostering Service the Manchester Foster Care Association has developed an Out of Hours Advisory Service for foster carers. This is provided by experienced foster carers to supplement the out of hours Emergency Duty Service to members of the public and all service users. The Association also runs a group for the sons and daughters of foster carers and provides group activities and outings in addition to group support in relation to being a member of a family who fosters. 17. Training and Development Foster carers are expected to prepare for their role and invited to preparation groups prior to Fostering Panel approval. An Annual Training Calendar with training for the forthcoming year is sent to all foster carers following full approval. The calendar details the Service s Payment for Skills Training Path and explains how foster carers can apply for courses. Payment for skills is available to all approved foster carers following Induction and completion of the CWDC TSD Standards. On completion of Post Approval Training foster cares can apply for the Children and Yong People s Workforce Diploma Level 3 (previously NVQ Level 3). Foster carers are encouraged by their supervising social workers to take advantage of training and development opportunities. The foster carer s progress is recorded on their Personal Professional Development plan and monitored during supervision sessions and recorded in the foster carer s annual review. A member of Manchester Foster Care Association is also a member of the Service s Training Steering Group and also supports foster carer training with approved foster carers. These expectations are made clear in the Foster Carer Agreement and the Foster Carers Handbook CWDC Training, Support and Development Standards The Children s Workforce development council has set out the required Induction standards for all newly approved foster carers. The National Minimum Standards for Fostering 2011, have made it a requirement that all recruited foster carers complete the seven standards within a year of approval and that family and friends complete the six standards for family and friend foster cars within 18 months of approval. All existing foster carers are expected to show they meet the standards, whether they are family and friend foster carers, short break carers, long-term or short -term foster carers. 24

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