Statement of Purpose. Buckinghamshire County Council Fostering Service

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1 Statement of Purpose Buckinghamshire County Council Fostering Service Contact Officer: Keith Francis Date: November 2013 Division: Children & Families Service Version Number: 1.4 Approved by: Angela Macpherson Cabinet Member for Children s Services Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

2 Fostering Service Statement of Purpose Reviewed November 2013 The information contained in this Statement of Purpose can be provided in different formats, for example, large print, Braille, audiotape or disk. The information can also be translated into other languages. Please contact your link social worker to request this service. CONTENTS Introduction 3 Aims and Objectives of the Fostering Service 4 The Services Provided 9 Remit of the Fostering Team 10 The Management Structure 13 The Staff 14 Staff Numbers and qualifications 14 Role of the Fostering Advisor 15 Role of the Office for Standards in Education 15 Comments, Compliments and Complaints Procedures 17 Recruiting, approving, training, supporting and reviewing carers 18 Role of the Fostering Panel 22 Provision of other services for children placed by the Fostering Service 24 Process for Reviewing the Statement of Purpose 25 Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

3 INTRODUCTION Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) exercises its fostering functions through 2 Fostering teams and the Fostering Panel. First Step Fostering Support Team, which now includes Take A Break service for children with disabilities These are part of Children s Services, located in the Children and Young People's Portfolio. The fostering service exists to provide placements and support for children in the care of the local authority and to provide short-term respite breaks for children with disabilities, most of whom live with their families. The functions of each team are covered in more detail in a later section of this document. Fostering Service throughout this document refers to these two teams and their collective functions and responsibilities. Fostering Social Worker refers to the involved social worker from the relevant team. In BCC, the work of the Fostering Service is governed by the Fostering Service Regulations 2011 and the accompanying National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services. It is now also informed by the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations Specific guidance to staff and carers regarding policies and procedures about fostering-related activities is available through Children s Services Procedures on the BCC Intranet, and within the Foster Carers Handbook. Leaflets are also available for carers about specific aspects of their role, i.e. Family and Friends carers, Health and Safety issues. Contact Details: Family Placements First Step: Fostering Support Team: Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

4 1. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE FOSTERING SERVICE a) To provide a high standard of care in a family setting for all children and young people who need it either to support them to remain with or return to their own family wherever possible or to ensure they are safe and stable in a new family setting. Undertake comprehensive assessments of prospective carers Ensure all carers have their own allocated Fostering Social Worker Ensure Household Reviews are undertaken as required Have effective systems in place for the management and supervision of carers Provide preparation training to all prospective applicants Assess training needs through supervision and household reviews Provide a development/training programme for all approved Foster Carers to enable them to meet the needs of children placed with them Achieve TSD (Training, Support & Development Standards) training compliance Maintain and where possible exceed the National Minimum Standards for Foster Care b) To give priority to placing children/young people appropriately within their extended families or with friends so long as their welfare is safeguarded. Explore all possibilities within the extended family or friend s network ( connected persons ) at the earliest possible stage in planning suitable placement Encourage relatives/friends to come forward for assessment as Foster Carers Have systems in place to provide an appropriate and timely response with regard to undertaking assessments under Regulations 24, 25 and 26 of the Care Planning and Placement Review Regulations 2010 to achieve the safe temporary approval of kinship carers c) To offer a choice of placements to ensure needs are appropriately met. Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

5 Have in place management information systems that identify need and shortfall in provision that informs recruitment practices Implement and review on a regular basis a strategy for the recruitment of Foster Carers Recruit and retain a wide range of carers engaged in providing different tasks to meet the differing needs of children/young people in care who require foster placements d) To have safe systems and practices in place to ensure children and young people are protected from harm. Provide all Foster Carers with information about procedures for protecting children and investigating allegations including those made against Foster Carers Provide appropriate training and supervision to Foster Carers Ensure Foster Carers maintain clear records of actions and events, and that these are regularly read and signed by their supervising social workers Undertake assessment of risk prior to or immediately upon placement, reviewed and revised as required Encourage Foster Carers to identify ways to make their home safe for everyone in it and develop their own Safe Caring Policy, ensuring any child/young person in placement is clear about rules and expectations within the home. Each child/young person placed will have a Safe Caring Policy specific to them. These will be regularly reviewed, and amended in accord with the needs of the children in placement Health and safety checks to be regularly maintained in line with the Household Review Process A minimum of one unannounced visit per year by the Fostering Social Worker to the carer s home Visits by Social Workers to children/young people in placement in line with statutory requirements, which will also include occasional unannounced visits Advise carers on managing behaviour e) To ensure no Foster Carer or applicant receives less favourable treatment because of race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion or disability Ensure staff attend appropriate training in relation to diversity and equality Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

6 Provide a diversity and equality statement for all prospective and approved Foster Carers Recruitment of Foster Carers must encompass a diverse range of backgrounds, cultures and religions diversity positively encouraged and welcomed Discriminatory practice will be challenged, and appropriate support/training given, or other action taken where required Interpreters and translation services made available where appropriate Fostering Panel members attend appropriate training on diversity issues f) To ensure that the needs of all children/young people placed in Foster Care in respect of race, language and culture, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or disability are considered and met in the planning and provision of each placement. Recruitment of Foster Carers from diverse backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles Prior to placement, the wishes of the child/young person and their family are considered as to what type of placement would best suit the needs of the child/young person Placement of children/young people with Foster Carers having the same culture, language and religion where required Placement of children/young people with Foster Carers who acknowledge and proactively address the needs of a child in respect of gender, religion, ethnic origin, language, culture, disability, sexuality All planning meetings, reviews etc regarding a child/young person s placement ensure that their needs in respect of identity and heritage are fully considered Where the placement is not able to meet aspects of the child s assessed needs i.e. culture, then those unmet needs are clearly recorded, and actions noted to address them, with appropriate resources/timescales attached Interpreters and translation services made available where appropriate Training for Foster carers regarding diversity issues, including trans-racial and transcultural placement issues Provision of appropriate literature and learning aids to enable Foster Carers to understand and promote the diversity needs of the children placed with them Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

7 To maintain the provision of knowledge and particular expertise in specialist areas, e.g. family based care for children with disabilities g) To ensure that the health and education needs of children placed in Foster Care are maintained and developed in order to promote their physical and mental well-being. All planning meetings, reviews etc to ensure that the health and education needs of the child are shared and met, with all appropriate plans in place Information about education and health needs are provided to Foster carers as soon as that information is available, in the appropriate format, as required by BCC procedures Appropriate support, including practical, provided to Foster carers e.g. Education of Children in Public Care Team (ECPC), Specialist Nurse for Children in Care, CAMHS support Training provided to Carers as appropriate Children and young people receive regular health checks, including dental, orthodontic and ophthalmic h) To work in partnership with carers, social work staff, the placing agency, parents and children to ensure the best interests of the child in working and planning together. Parents and young people consulted and wishes sought in respect of placement choice For planned placements, arrange pre-placement visit and chance for young person to meet the carers in private, where practicable All parties to be involved in planning meetings and reviews where possible Parents and children/young people provided with information about recording processes, Data Protection and Access to Records Complaints procedures in place and copies given to all foster carers on approval, and to all children and young people at the point of entry into care Not ending placements unless in child/young person s best interests Ensure children and young people are consulted with in relation to the ongoing development of the Fostering Service Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

8 i) To achieve a professional status for carers. Foster carers receive appropriate levels of allowances, which are reviewed on an annual basis and exceed national recommended minimum levels To promote participation in the BCC Payment for Skills scheme for foster carers (Foster Carers Career Progression Scheme) Fostering and Family & Friends carers To support all Foster Carers in meeting and exceeding the Training, Support and Development Standards Provide comprehensive training for new and experienced Foster Carers as part of an overall Personal Development Plan, and specialised training that is required to enable carers to meet the specific health/medical needs of the children linked with them Encourage Foster Carers to undertake nationally recognised qualifications Support Carers in attending local and national events/conferences, and in contributing to the ongoing development of quality Fostering Service Promote the recognition of Foster carers as professional partners by encouraging other professionals to recognise and utilise the carer s knowledge, skills and expertise j) To support the children of carers recognising the impact of the caring role upon their lives Children of Foster carers are consulted in the assessment process and prepared for the impact of Fostering in their lives The views of the children of carers are sought, and included in the Household Review, using age-appropriate materials/tools Provide support group for sons and daughters of approved carers Provide individual support from Fostering social worker as/when required Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

9 2. THE SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE FOSTERING SERVICE Marketing of the Family Placement Service through it s own campaigns General and targeted recruitment activities Preparation, training and assessment of Carers Post approval training, supervision, support and review Duty service to the public interested in becoming carers Duty service to respond to the needs of children to be placed in foster care Day-time duty service to assist carers with issues in absence of child s social worker or Fostering social worker Identifying appropriate placements and links for children and young people Information & advice to foster carers and colleagues in Children s Services Support to all carers from the Placement Service: Supervision, respite care, training, carer support groups, Sons and Daughters group, equipment, financial etc Support provided by Children s Services statutory visits, Education of Children in Public Care (ECPC) etc Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

10 3. REMIT OF THE FOSTERING TEAMS a) First Step Team This team has a coordinating role in recruiting, training and assessing new foster carers. After Fostering Panel, they hand over newly approved carers to the Fostering Support Team. The First Step Team is based in Aylesbury and provides the following aspects of service: Information and advice about the fostering role, enabling informed decisions as to whether fostering is an appropriate choice Information and advice to Family or Friends assessed as foster carers to provide short term or permanent placements to a child or young person who is known to them. As a result of an emergency (when a placement is made under Regulation 24 & 25 of the Care Planning and Placement Review Regulations 2010) or as part of a planned move to live with a relative or friend which will be related to care proceedings Assessments of Family and Friends who are part of the child s support network, who are assessed as potential foster carers for the child in question, as part of care proceedings. Assessments are submitted to the Fostering Panel for approval, and to the Court in relation to the care proceedings Assessments for Special Guardianship Order in private law applications and in cases where applicant is known via kinship care assessment or is an existing foster carer, and assessed support needs put in place through the Carers Support Plan. Presentation of reports to panel as well as Court where required Promoting awareness of Private Fostering and monitoring notifications and compliance with regulations Assessment of the suitability of private foster carers, jointly with Children's Team and ongoing support as required Signpost enquiries to allied services such as Adoption, where applicable Promote fostering recruitment through public meetings, advertising and events Collaborate with the Fostering team and provide support, advice and assistance in marketing and advertising activities Advertise through a range of media; seeking value for money and effective response Adapt to the trends and changes in recruitment target groups Initial Visits to prospective carers, screening and advising on suitability (Quality Assurance and Safeguarding role) Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

11 Rolling programme of Skills to Foster preparation courses for prospective foster carers Assessment report and presentation to Fostering panel b) The Fostering Team This team works with all approved foster carers from the point that they are approved at the Fostering Panel. Family & Friends approved carers are also transferred to this team. Each foster carer has an allocated Fostering Social Worker, who will support the foster carer in providing the best care possible to the children placed with them. The Fostering Support Team is based in Aylesbury and provides the following: Duty response for placement requests; matching in-house foster carers Short term/emergency placements for children for a temporary period either on a planned or emergency basis until they are able to return home, move on to a new permanent family or independent living. This could be for a few days, months or longer dependent on the circumstances at the time Respite Regular planned breaks normally with the same carer in order to support children and families to remain living at home together. Can be on a day basis, overnight or regular weekends. Respite can also be provided to support other foster carers with their placements Respite/ Short breaks for children with disabilities - offering day care or overnight care in the carer s home, in the child s home or in the community. Carers are carefully matched, and linked with a family needing respite care, and many of these links have extended over several years Bridging to permanency short term placements where work takes place to prepare children and move them on to a new family Bridging to independence short term placements where work is done to prepare young people for leaving care and moving them on into independent or semi independent living Mother and baby a carer who is able to provide a placement for both mother and baby in order to support and assist the mother in caring for her child, and help them to move on into independent living Permanent/long-term fostering - A placement through fostering where the plan is for the child to stay permanently in the carer s home throughout their childhood Supervision, support and training of Foster Carers Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

12 Supervision, support and training of Family and Friends Carers, including financial support Supervision, support and training of Shared Care Respite Carers and Contract Carers Contract Carer scheme: Project with small number of carers paid a fee for providing more sessions than traditional Shared Care Respite Carers To offer a range of activities for all carers, carers own children and children who they care for To celebrate success via an Annual Awards evening Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

13 Children & Family Services Service Director Children & Family Services Head of Family Resilience Head of Children in Need (North) Head of Children in Need (South) Head of Children s Care Management Head of Children s Care Services Head of Children s Quality Standards & Performance Head of Youth Offending Service Business Manager Group Manager Group Manager Group Manager CiN Group Manager CWD Group Manager CiC Clinical Psychologist Senior Practitioner Family Group Conferencing Youth Crime Prevention Manager Family Resilience Consultant EWS CiN Unit 1 CiN Unit 7 CWD Unit 1 CiC Unit 1 Team Manager Family Placements First Step Senior Practitioner Family Group Conferencing Ops Manager Aylesbury Family Resilience Consultant CWD Parenting CiN Unit 2 CiN Unit 8 CWD Unit 2 CiC Unit 2 Team Manager Fostering Adoption & Fostering Advisor Ops Manager Wycombe Family Resilience Consultant Elmhurst CiN Unit 3 CiN Unit 9 CWD Unit 3 CiC Unit 3 Team Manager Permanence Independent Reviewing Manager Family Resilience Consultant Cottesloe CiN Unit 4 CiN Unit 10 CWD Unit 4 CiC Unit 4 Team Manager Supervised Contact Child Protection Conferencing Manager Family Resilience Consultant Lane End CiN Unit 5 CiN Unit 12 CWD Unit 5 CiC Unit 5 Residential Manager Rights to Information Manager Family Resilience Consultant Chesham CiN Unit 6 CiN Unit 13 CiC Unit 6 ICS / Safeguarding Policies Manager Family Resilience Consultant Wycombe CiN Unit 11 Team Manager Family Court Assessment Team Manager After Care Family Resilience Consultant Burnham Peripatetic Team Team Manager Junior CATCH North Head of Virtual School Team Manager Junior CATCH South Team Manager Senior CATCH Team Manager First Response Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

14 5. THE STAFF Buckinghamshire County Council is an organisation that actively promotes a safe and secure environment in which the children it serves can feel protected and free from abuse or exploitation. All candidates for posts that involve work with children are subject to a rigorous recruitment process. This process includes detailed checking of information given by candidates on application forms, enhanced DBS vetting, formal written references and a Safeguarding interview process, which concentrates on the personal qualities and strengths needed to undertake such an important job as working with the children of Buckinghamshire. Numbers and Qualifications: Full details of current staff and their qualifications will be provided to OFTSED when required. All Social Workers hold a recognised Social Work Qualification and are required to be registered with Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). fte 0.69 Clinical Psychologist (cross Family Placement Service) (fte = Full time equivalent) The First Step Team comprises: fte 1 Team Manager 2 Assistant Team Managers 9.59 Social Workers 1.08 Children and Family Worker The Fostering Support Team comprises: fte 1 Team Manager 2 Assistant Team Manager 9.5 Social Workers 1 Children and Family Worker 1 Fostering Training Coordinator Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

15 Staff members have a variety of social work experience from backgrounds including children and family social work, education, probation, residential units and family centres. They have experience ranging from 2 years to 25 plus years. Some of the staff members are practice teachers, so student social workers are regularly attached to the teams. Fostering Advisor: role and responsibilities Not all Local Authorities employ a Fostering Advisor, and this post was a new post within BCC Children s Services in January The post is situated within the Quality, Standards and Performance service area, with the remit of providing an off-line quality assurance function in contributing to the development of quality services for children placed in the care of BCC Children and Young People s Services. The key purpose of the post holder is to provide advice on all matters relating to fostering. Undertaking the role of Professional Advisor to the Fostering Panel Ensuring that recent research, legislation, policy and guidance is disseminated to, and understood by, social work practitioners, and where relevant, staff from external agencies Ensuring that statutory requirements, standards and policies are adhered to Providing an off-line quality assurance role with regard to fostering-related practice Development of fostering-related policies within BCC Children s Services Establishing and maintaining effective multi-agency links and partnerships, and contributing to the effectiveness and development of the Fostering Service 6. THE ROLE OF OFSTED The address and telephone number of the Office for Standards in Education, Children s Services and Skills (OFSTED) Head office functions operate from the following address: Ofsted Piccadilly Gate Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

16 Store Street Manchester M1 2WD Telephone: Website: Specifically, Ofsted has a duty to monitor the quality and effectiveness of local arrangements operated by Fostering Service providers, and to use its powers and procedures to investigate complaints. The Buckinghamshire County Council fostering service was most recently subject to Ofsted inspection in June 2012 this resulted in an overall grading of Good Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

17 7. COMMENTS, COMPLIMENTS AND COMPLAINTS PROCEDURES Children s Services complaints and representations procedure is described in the literature available for children and young people upon placement (Welcome Pack) and via the local authority Complaints Officer ( ) Anyone who receives services has a right to complain if they think that something that should have been done has not been done or that something has been done badly or incorrectly. We welcome complaints as an opportunity to learn lessons and put matters right. We also welcome comments or compliments as a way of learning about our practice and use them as an integrated part of our Quality Assurance processes. Information for carers on the procedures for dealing with complaints both by and about them, and about allegations of inappropriate behaviour is available in the Foster Carers Handbooks. Hearing the Customer s View Complaints Procedure: Stage 1 - The first stage of the procedure is the informal, problem solving stage. Service Managers, Team Managers or staff themselves, with their Team Manager s awareness deal with complaints at this stage. Within Direct Services the responsibility lies with Team Managers. Stage 2 - If it is impossible to resolve the complaint at the first stage, then the complainant may ask for their complaint to move to the second stage. The request should be made to the Complaints Officer within 20 working days of the final response to Stage 1. The Complaints Officer appoints an independent investigator and an independent person to look into the concerns raised and following the report made, the Head of Service makes a response to the complainant within 25 working days of their request whenever possible. This period may be extended to a maximum of 65 working days in certain instances. Stage 3 - Following the conclusion of this stage, the complainant may take their complaint to Stage 3 of the complaints procedure. An Independent Review Panel is set up to consider the reports of the independent investigator and independent person and any additional information provided by the complainant. The Panel s recommendations are sent to the Strategic Director for consideration when making the Local Authority s Stage 3 response to the complainant. It should be noted that these are not binding on the Local Authority although there would need to be strong reasons for not complying with these. This marks the end of the Social Services complaints procedure. Should the complainant remain dissatisfied, they may take their complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

18 8. RECRUITING, APPROVING, TRAINING, SUPPORTING AND REVIEWING CARERS Recruitment: Recruitment of carers must be from a diverse range of backgrounds in order that services are appropriate to a wide range of family arrangements and circumstances, including cultural differences in family customs and practices. Applicants need to be aware that carers can only be registered with one fostering agency. Approval: The First Step and Fostering Teams aim to carry out all full assessments in a swift and timely manner and will strive to be compliant with the relevant timescales for all forms of family based care. Methods of preparation and assessment, such as information evenings, training meetings, contact with carers etc will be made available. Assessment and approval of carers will be carried out in accordance with Regulations 27 of the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011, using as a guide the Fostering Services, National Minimum Standards. Since April 2008, the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers have been integrated into the Preparation Course, and assessment, for new applicants. The fostering assessment process includes talking to all members of the applicants household. 4 personal references are required per fostering applicant. A total of three are then visited. For Shared Care Respite Carers applications, 3 personal references are taken up, 2 are visited and the third will provide a reference via a telephone discussion. Checks will be made on all adults living in, or with unsupervised access to, a prospective carer's home prior to approval with the Criminal Records Bureau, GP, NSPCC, Probation, Area Health Authority, Education Department, employers and any other agencies likely to have information regarding an applicant s suitability or unsuitability. Information is presented to the Fostering Panel with a recommendation as to the applicant s suitability and any terms or conditions that should apply. The applicants will take an active part in the assessment. They will have the opportunity to add comments before signing the report. All applicants are invited to attend the Fostering Panel and prior to their attendance, are provided with information about Panel processes, functions and membership. Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

19 All carers are required to sign a Foster Carers Agreement before a looked after child can be placed with them, which will include undertakings not to administer corporal punishment and to undertake ongoing training. Training: All carers must attend a Preparation Course as part of the assessment process. Consideration will also be given to the preparation of the children of potential carers. Carers will be expected to undertake ongoing training in Child Protection issues and providing a Safe Caring Environment. Carers will also be expected to produce their own Safe Caring Policy for each young person placed. Post-approval training and learning begins with the provision of induction materials to carers. Buckinghamshire s Foster Carer Handbook includes key information such as the Out of Hours Duty Team telephone number and local child protection policies and procedures. Carers will also be given information on forthcoming training courses. After approval, Fostering Social Workers identify training needs with carers during routine visits and at the annual review. Agreement will be reached on how these are to be met. All newly approved Foster Carers will have a Personal Development Plan. All new Foster Carers will be expected to complete the TSD Standards within 12 months of approval The Fostering Service s Training Co-ordinator has responsibility to co-ordinate and deliver a training programme for all foster carers that meets identified group and individual learning needs and responds to different learning styles. The Training Co-ordinator with the fostering social worker is able to provide information about specialised external training, self-study packages, videos, CD/DVD s or any relevant books or resources to help with the fostering task. Foster carers are required to maintain a Training and Learning Portfolio and are encouraged to include information about skills and qualifications from previous jobs/vocations, which can be used/adapted in their role as a foster carer. Foster carers will also have the opportunity to obtain relevant Level 3 qualifications. The Fostering Service s Training Co-ordinator will also deliver training to assist Foster Carers in understanding the TSD Standards and provide the underpinning knowledge required to complete them. A Payment for Skills scheme (Foster Carers Career Progressions Scheme) has been developed that will recognise the skills, knowledge and experience of carers against an agreed set of competencies for each level. Appropriate training will be made available to run concurrently with the requirement for the levels of skills. Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

20 Supporting: A named Fostering Social Worker supervises each approved carer on a regular basis in accordance with the type of care provided i.e. short-term, respite, long-term. They have access to adequate social work and other professional support, information and advice to enable him/her to provide consistent, high quality care for a child or young person placed in his/her home. Caring makes demands on the whole family and can be the cause of stress in family relationships. Appropriate advice, support and assistance should be provided to the carers and their families. Management and support arrangements need to be properly integrated and consistent, with the main purpose to provide good quality and safe care for children at the forefront. Support consists of: Supervision, support, information and advice, from a named Fostering Social Worker to carers and their sons and daughters. Arrangements for training and developments, including an annual review of needs, by the Fostering Social worker. A good working relationship with the child s Social Worker Encouragement of self-help networks and links with other carers Two Foster Carer co-ordinator roles within the Foster Carer group Regular Foster Carer Forum meetings Assistance in dealing with other relevant services, such as education and health when needed, as part of the corporate parenting role Information and Involvement 14 nights per year paid respite care is made available to all carers The right to breaks between placements Prompt payment of allowance Insurance cover Availability of senior managers to meet carers groups Circulation of newsletter to carers Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

21 Social events Membership of Fostering Network for all Foster Carers Provision of an Advice and Mediation Service from an independent body Reviewing: Regulation 28 of the Fostering Service (England) Regulations 2011 requires reviews of approvals of whether the carer and household continue to be suitable, at intervals of no more than one year. The aim of the annual review is to determine whether approval should continue, be revoked or whether there should be any change in the terms of approval. A review should also follow the investigation of a complaint or serious allegation against a carer or after any significant incident. The format for annual reviews incorporates both the assessed performance of the carer, based on the Training Support and Development Standards, and the carer's assessment of the quality of service and support provided by the authority. Updates of statutory checks are also carried out. The Fostering Social Worker compiles the review report. It incorporates the written views of the carer, the children of the household, children or young people in placement, each social worker who has placed a child or young person in the home since the last review, the Independent Reviewing Officer, the birth parent and an overview written by the Fostering Social Worker. The results of any required statutory checks are included in the document. Besides commenting on the progress of the carer over the year, the report should include an action plan for the following twelve months stating actions to utilise and develop strengths, to remedy weaknesses, or to develop a new skill. The report should identify the training and support needs of the carer, and make a recommendation regarding their continued approval, stating the numbers and ages of children for whom he or she is to be re-approved. The Health and Safety checklist and Safe Caring Policy are also reviewed regularly The carer is given the opportunity to read the review report and to contribute further written comments if he or she wishes. The first annual review is always presented to the Fostering Panel. Subsequent reviews are subject to off-line management scrutiny as a quality assurance exercise and will involve the Head of Service where significant dispute or difficulty is evident. The Panel will be involved as the norm where termination of carer approval is being considered. The Panel should also consider a review that follows the investigation of a complaint or serious allegation against a carer, or any significant incident which may impact on the carers ability to undertake the fostering task. Carers are invited to attend Fostering Panel for their first annual household review. Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

22 The Household Review is also the vehicle to report and recommend progression through the payment for skills scheme 9. Role of the Fostering Panel This is a county-wide Panel which is held 18 times per year The functions of the Panel are: To consider all applications for approval and recommend whether a person is suitable to act as a Foster Carer. To recommend whether any person remains suitable to act as a Foster carer and whether or not his/her terms of approval remain appropriate To recommend approval details To consider the first annual review of approval and recommend if approval should continue To consider requests for exempted placements which have been in place for 2 weeks, and are likely to be required for a further period of time To consider the matching applications for the placements of children age 11 and above, who need to be placed on a permanent/long term basis with foster carers Quality Assurance i.e. adherence to statutory requirements All recommendations made by the Panel are sent to the Agency Decision Maker for a final decision. Confirmation of the decision and any other matters noted are then sent in writing to the applicants/carers. Should the decision by the Agency Decision Maker be to not approve then the applicants/carers have 28 days to send a written representation about the decision. The Agency Decision Maker will then refer the matter back to Panel for further consideration. Other responsibilities include monitoring the quality of assessments and the range and type of carers required to meet the needs of children; giving consideration to, and advising on, current policies, procedures, practice and research and providing information to senior management; offering advice and guidance on issues that effect carers and their registrations. The Panels function is reviewed annually. There has been some major changes to the remit of Panel in that the Panel now considers all types of general fostering applications, Child Permanency Reports for children to be permanently fostered and permanent matches between children and foster carers as well as all Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

23 types of assessments in relation to Family and Friend carers. New fostering applicants and Foster Carers undertaking their first Household Review are invited to attend the Panel if they wish to do so. Young People who are being presented as a long-term fostering match have the opportunity to attend panel. Foster Carers who have been subject to complaints or allegations are also invited to attend Panel when their case reports are presented, with an advocate if they wish. In addition the Panel has regular Panel Business Meetings, which provide an opportunity for the Panel to meet and discuss policy and practice issues outside of the usual casework-focused Panel meetings. All Panel members attend at least two training days per annum, which are provided for the Panel, and they are also encouraged to attend relevant training opportunities provided by Children s Services, and external agencies. The Fostering Advisor liaises with the Panel Business Support Officer to produce two reports per annum about the work undertaken by the Panel. One is a six-month collation of the statistics, and the other is a full Annual Report, containing all the relevant data, and feedback from the questionnaires, which are sent out to all applicants, carers and social workers that have attended the Panel. Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

24 10. PROVISION OF OTHER SERVICES FOR CHILDREN PLACED BY THE FOSTERING SERVICE Education of Children in Public Care (ECPC) This team was set up to ensure that the education of children who are looked after is not neglected and works with schools, carers and social workers to develop and implement education plans for children and young people. Foster carers can seek advice directly from ECPC about a particular child s education Specialist Nurse for Children in Care The role of the Specialist Nurse is to promote the health of children and young people who are looked after, ensure that children receive regular health assessments, provide advice and consultation to social workers and foster carers about medical matters and access to services. All foster carers have links to identified Health Visitors in the practice local to where the foster carers live. The Specialist Nurse is also currently a member of the County Fostering Panel. Clinical Psychologist The Family Placement Service benefits from the provision of a clinical psychologist whose role and remit includes direct and indirect advice and support to carers, consultancy to staff within the fostering service and a specialist contribution to the fostering service training programme. Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

25 11. PROCESS FOR REVIEWING THE STATEMENT OF PURPOSE The Statement of Purpose will be reviewed as needed in line with the Placement Service Business Plans and revisions will be made to reflect any changes in service structure or provision. The information contained in this Statement of Purpose can be provided in different formats, for example, large print, Braille, audiotape or disk. The information can also be translated into other languages. Please contact your Fostering Social Worker to request this. By telephone: By Statement of Purpose: Fostering Service; Updated November

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