CONWY COUNTY BOROUGH COUNCIL FOSTERING SERVICE STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

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1 CONWY COUNTY BOROUGH COUNCIL FOSTERING SERVICE STATEMENT OF PURPOSE 5 th January 2015

2 Statement of Purpose Introduction Conwy County Borough Council This statement of purpose has been developed in accordance with Standard 1 of the National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services and Regulation 3 (1) of the Fostering Services (Wales) Regulations These Regulations require Fostering Services to produce a statement of purpose which will be a useful source of information to Staff, Foster Carers, Children and Young People who are placed with Conwy County Borough Council Foster Carers, their parents, and colleagues from Partner Agencies. Aims Our aim is to provide a high quality service for Children and Young people who are Looked After by developing good working relationships with them, their families, Foster Carers and other stakeholders. This is based upon meeting individually identified needs and maximising their life chances. Objectives These objectives set out to: Locate Foster Placements within access of the area of origin of children and young people. Provide Foster Placements where each child will have stability, security, and a safe, caring environment. Ensure all children s physical and emotional health care needs are met and a positive healthy lifestyle is encouraged. Promote and encourage all educational opportunities. Promote and encourage contact with family members as appropriate. Ensure that the cultural needs of children are met; including racial, linguistic and cultural needs. Fully consider the gender and sexuality of children in Foster Placements in maintaining their identity. Fully consider any disability of children in Foster Placements in maintaining their identity and achieving their full potential. Provide a service that recognises diversity and seeks to meet needs within existing demographic and social settings. Ensure all Foster Carers and their families have appropriate training, support and guidance from a designated Supervising Social / Support Worker. Page 2 of 14

3 Encourage and promote work between all relevant Partners, Agencies, Children, Families and Foster Carers. Legal and Practice Guidance Conwy County Borough Council Fostering Service operates within the framework defined by: The Children Act 1989 The Children Act 2004 The Fostering Service (Wales) Regulations 2003 National Minimum Standards of Fostering Standards Department of Health Guidance Promoting the Health of Looked After Children (2002) Guidance on the Education of Children Looked After by Local Authorities (National Assembly of Wales, 2001) The Public Law Outline 2008 All Wales Child Protection Procedures 2008 In order for it to achieve its objectives: Every Carer will have an allocated Fostering Supervising Social Worker (this will be monitored by the Fostering Team Manager during regular supervision) Children s needs are identified and matched to the appropriate Foster Care Placement. Each Placement will be underpinned by a Placement Agreement. This will specify the day to day care of the Child, role of Parties and delegation of responsibility. Child Protection issues will be dealt with immediately and in line with the All Wales Child Protection Procedures. Every child will have an annual Personal Education Plan. Every Foster Carer will be provided with pre and post approval training. Fee paid Foster Carer will study for Advanced Skills in Foster Care Btec Level 3 or the The Diploma in Health and Social Care QCF Level 3 (Children and Young People). Staff and Carers will be expected to adhere to Health and Safety standards. Page 3 of 14

4 Staff and Carers will encourage, support and promote contact unless otherwise stated. Staff and Carers will ensure confidentiality of information relating to all relevant children. Qualified Social Workers will conduct all relevant assessments for potential carers. Once approved, Foster Carers will receive regular support and supervision in line with required standards and the internal supervision policy. Our Fostering staff will be appropriately qualified and supported (this will be monitored by Managers at the point of recruitment, during regular supervision sessions and via Personal Performance and Development plans). Management Structure The Fostering Service is part of the range of services within the Children, Families and Safeguarding section of the Authority s Social Services Department. The Looked After Children Section Manager is the Registered Manager for the Fostering Service. Staff On 1 st January 2015 the Fostering Service consisted of: Section Manager 1 Team Manager 1 Social Workers 6 Placement & Commissioning Officer 1 Vacant posts Recruitment Officer 1 Social Worker p/t 1 Staffing Qualifications The Section Manager and Team Manager have a professional qualification in Social Work, management and extensive experience in local authority work. All Social Workers have a Social Work qualification and are registered with the Care Council of Wales. They are expected to access post qualifying training and are encouraged to achieve the P.Q. Award in Social Work. All Staff that have access to children are required to have an enhanced disclosure by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and are subject to identity and employment checks in addition to personal references when appointed. DBS checks are updated every 3 years. Page 4 of 14

5 STAFFING STRUCTURE as of 1 st January 2015 Kate Devonport Head of Children, Family and Safeguarding Services Service Manager for Looked After Children Einir Hinson Section Manager Looked After Children Service Mark Devereux Team Manager for Permanency and Pathways Elin Lewis Jones Team Manager - Fostering Fostering Team Kevin Jarvis Lee Shuman Alison Maclean Juliska Grant Mandy Birnie Deborah Rees Team Members Einir Hinson Elin Lewis-Jones Kevin Jarvis Lee Shuman Jonathan Clapham Alison Maclean Section Manager Team Manager Social Worker Social Worker Social Worker Social Worker Page 5 of 14

6 Juliska Grant Mandy Birnie Debbie Rees Social Worker Social Worker (Short Breaks) Placement & Commissioning Officer Foster Carers On the 1 st January 2015 the Fostering Agency had 77 Foster Carers approved to look after children aged between birth and 18 years. Range of Placements Foster Care Placements Short term, Long term, Permanent and Respite Friend & Family Foster Care Placements Short Break Placements for Children with Disabilities Recruiting, Approving, Training, Supporting and Reviewing Carers Recruitment The Fostering Service seeks to recruit applicants, regardless of gender, sexuality, marital status, religion, disability, and culture or employment status. It is our objective to provide a diverse range of placements. The Recruitment Officer plays a crucial role in the promotion, recruitment and general activities in marketing. The post has been vacant since February 2014; it is envisaged this vacancy will be filled by April The Fostering Service will have a new recruitment campaign developed by the independent agency Practice Solutions Ltd. Application Process Applications are welcome from anyone over 21 years of age and each enquirer receives a personal response from the Service. Our aim is to send out an information pack within hours. Information packs are available in both Welsh and English; other languages will be made available upon request. Following a request for a home visit, our aim is for the Fostering Service Recruitment Officer to undertake a visit within two weeks. For people who, at this early stage, may have an interest in Short Breaks, a further visit will be undertaken by the Social Worker for Short Breaks. Assessment and Approval Safeguarding Checks Applicants will be expected to complete an application for an enhanced DBS. Checks with local, national and voluntary agencies are also undertaken. Specialist checks will be undertaken if the applicant has lived or worked overseas. Birth, marriage and divorce certificates will also be viewed in addition to any passports and / or driving licences in order to verify the applicant s identity. Page 6 of 14

7 Verification of the applicant s employment history is undertaken. At least two non-relative references per applicant are taken up. Additional references may be given by family members. Preparatory Training Applicants will be required to attend a preparatory training course. If couples apply both partners are expected to attend. Conwy County Borough Council use the recommended Skills to Foster training provided by the Fostering Network. Training groups take place 2-3 times per year, depending on the number of applicants. Training is held over three days. The basic subjects covered are as follows: What Do Foster Carers Do? Identity & Life chance Working Together Safe Caring Understanding Behaviour Transitions The training is facilitated by the Fostering Service Team Manager and a Fostering Social Worker, along with Conwy Foster Carers. Timescales for Assessment Every prospective Foster Carer is assessed using the assessment tool by the Fostering Network Competency Based Assessment for Foster Carers and in compliance with regulation 27 of The Fostering Services (Wales) Regulations The same assessment process is completed in relation to approvals for the Short Breaks Service for children with disabilities. A decision on whether or not someone is approved as a Foster Carer will be made within six months from the time the application is accepted unless there are exceptional circumstances. Every prospective Family and Friends Carers are assessed using the Connected Persons assessment tool developed regionally by the North Wales Fostering Service. Approval of Foster Carers Following the completion of the assessment, applicants have a copy of their assessment report to read and comment on. All applicants have their assessments forwarded to the Conwy Fostering Panel for recommendation on approval together with any terms and conditions in relation to that approval. Applicants are invited to attend the Fostering Panel meeting in person, along with the assessing Social Worker and Child Care Social Worker for Connected Persons Assessments. The recommendation of the Fostering Panel is shared verbally with the applicants on the day. Once recommended by the Fostering Panel, the final decision on approval Page 7 of 14

8 is considered by the Agency Decision Maker, with written communication to the applicants within 2 weeks of the application s presentation at Panel. Following their approval each Foster Carer is required to sign a Foster Carer Agreement prior to any placement of a child in their care, in accordance with Regulation 28 and Schedule 5 of the Fostering Services (Wales) Regulations The Fostering Panel The Panel is composed in accordance with the regulations and is chaired by an experienced Independent Chair who has only recently been appointed in January The Panel considers a range of matters: All new applicants who have completed a satisfactory assessment are presented to the Panel for consideration The first Annual Review for Foster Carers Requests for changes to the approval status of Foster Carers Permanency decisions De-registration of Carers, e.g. where Carers leave the Service as a result of a Review or Complaint Investigation Reviews following Part 4s, Complaints, or Placement Disruptions Resignations of all Foster Carers The Panel makes a recommendation to the Agency (Service) Decision Maker in respect of all matters that is considered. Decisions are made as soon as possible after the Panel meeting and communicated to applicants and Foster Carers in writing. There is a right of appeal against the decision and details of this will be provided in the letter. Approval Range(s) Foster Carers are generally approved to provide specific forms of care with terms and conditions imposed in relation to: Number of children to be looked after Gender and age range Periods of care to be provided, e.g. short or long term. These terms and conditions are agreed in the assessment process and reflect their strengths, own circumstances and those of their family and accommodation available. Approvals can be amended to reflect the Foster Carer s changing circumstances and experience. Foster Care Training Conwy Training Department delivers and prepares the Fostering Service training programme. Identification of training needs and planning of training courses is completed in consultation with the Fostering Service and Foster Carers. Foster Carers are expected to complete regular training in order to develop their practice. Courses on key topics are mandatory and other training requirements are described Page 8 of 14

9 in an individual Development Plan agreed between the Carer and Supervising Social Worker. Conwy Foster Carers who are Fee Paid Carers are expected to access further training via the Diploma in Health and Social Care, QCF Level 3 (Children and Young People) or Advanced Skills in Foster Care, BTEC Level 3 through on-line learning AC Education. Supervision and Support All Foster Carers will have a named Supervising Social Worker from the Fostering Service. It is the worker s responsibility to support and supervise the Carer. The Supervising Social Worker will visit the Carer regularly, alternating by way of support visits and supervisions visits. Visits will be undertaken at least once every six weeks, with at least one unannounced per year and an Annual Review. The Supervising Social Worker also has a responsibility for assisting in the Carer s career, establishing training needs and making future plans accordingly. In recognition that the fostering of children can sometimes be an isolating experience, the Conwy Fostering Service operates an active Foster Care support group called a Locality Group. Each Locality Group is chaired by an appointed Lead Carer. The aim of the Locality Groups is to provide the following opportunities for Carers: To meet other Foster Carers on an informal basis A chance to have a chat and catch up with each other A chance to share their experiences and skills Build up support networks such as babysitting, general support and emotional support Invite guest speakers To develop a two way communication between the Carers and the Agency. The Locality Groups meet approximately bi-monthly at various localities across the County. Emergency Support Foster Carers who require advice and / or support out of office hours can contact the Emergency Duty Team which provides an Emergency Only Service between 5.00 pm and 8.45 am from Monday to Friday. The Service is also available at weekends and on Public Holidays when local offices are closed where Service Users may be at significant risk and any delay would be detrimental. If the situation requires it, a package of care will be provided to meet the assessed need and to maintain the situation safely until the next working day. Foster Carer Reviews As set out in the Children Act (1989) and the Fostering Services (Wales) Regulations 2003, all Foster Carers must undergo an Annual Review. Page 9 of 14

10 The main aims are to: Establish the continuing capacity of the Carer to carry out the fostering task Address any changes to current approval Address development and training needs Provide the Foster Carer with an opportunity to give feedback The Review will include written reports from the Child Care Social Workers, the Supervising Social Worker, the Foster Carers, (if appropriate) the Child or Children in Placement and the Children of the Foster Carer, the Independent Reviewing Officer and any other professional involved with the child or children. The Review is an opportunity to reflect upon care, skills and practice of the previous twelve months and also to plan for the year ahead. Review reports are presented to the Fostering Panel when Carers complete their first year approval If any significant changes have occurred during the last year If there have been any allegations or significant concerns Any changes to approval status - disruption or permanency Good Practice Review, every three years Fostering Network Approved Foster Carers with Conwy County Borough Council are automatically enrolled as members of The Fostering Network. This is the UK's leading charity for everyone involved in fostering. Their work is focused on improving Foster Care and making a positive difference for children and young people in and leaving Foster Care. They do this by working with Foster Carers and the Fostering Services. The Fostering Network: Is a source of information for anyone needing reliable, up-to-date information or advice on fostering in the UK Provides practical support, publications and training for Foster Carers, Social Workers and other professionals, so they can give the best and broadest possible care to the children and young people they foster Develops policies and models of practice that define the gold standard of care young people should be able to expect and the value that should be placed on those who provide that care. Investigation into Allegations of Abuse by Foster Carers All allegations of abuse will be thoroughly investigated in an unbiased way. The All Wales Child Protection Procedures will be adhered to. Carers will be offered support through the process by their Supervising Social Worker or an independent support person if necessary or requested by the Foster Carer. Conwy Fostering Service commission independent advocacy support for Foster Carers from FISS (Foster Carers Independent Support Service) provided by FosterTalk. Page 10 of 14

11 Financial Support Foster Carers receive a fostering allowance for each child placed with them. It is based on the age of the child and paid fortnightly into the Foster Carer s bank account. The allowance takes account of the National Minimum Allowance as set by the Welsh Government. The scale of Fostering Allowance payments is circulated annually. This weekly allowance is supplemented by grants for Birthdays, Christmas and Holiday expenditure. Weekly Fostering Allowances April 2014 March 2015 Aged 0 4 years Aged 5 10 years Aged years Payment to Short Break Carers 6 hours hours hours The authority provides Foster Carers with essential items of equipment to enable the child / young person to make their home with the Carer. Fee paid Carers To encourage and support Carers in making fostering a career, Conwy Fostering Service have an enhanced payment system. This enables Foster Carers to be fulltime carers, enhance their skills and practice whilst attending numerous training events to advance their development. Discretionary Payments Payments that may be considered are: Foster Carers are covered by the Council s insurers and are reimbursed for any damages resulting from the actions of a Looked After Child / Young Person Foster Carers are reimbursed for other than routine travel. Under certain circumstances, the Fostering Service is able to make grants to existing Foster Carers who wish to adapt or extend their property in order to provide a permanent home for a child. Children with a disability Page 11 of 14

12 Those Foster Carers who provide a service for children with a disability either on a permanent or short-break basis will receive the necessary equipment, training and specialist support, from both the Fostering Service and allied agencies. Long Term Arrangements If a decision is taken that the Child / Young Person placed with a Foster Carer is unable to return to their birth family, permanent plans for their future will need to be made. It is possible for the current Foster Carer to be considered as the permanent Carer for the child / young person. However committing to a child / young person as their permanent Carer will have lifelong implications for the Carer, their family and the child / young person in question. We need to be sure it is the right decision for all concerned. Therefore if the plan for the child is adoption, the Foster Carer would have to be reassessed as a prospective Adoptive Parent. This involves attending adoption training, undergoing a further assessment, medical and statutory checks and assessment of adoption support needs. The assessment would be undertaken by the North Wales Adoption Service and presented to the Adoption Panel in the usual manner. Carers can also apply for a Special Guardianship Order. This order allows carers to obtain parental responsibility for the child. Conwy s Fostering Service undertakes the assessment. Foster Placement Agreements A Foster Placement Agreement is an agreement between the Foster Carer, the Local Authority and, if appropriate, the child / young person. It is completed for each child / young person prior to placement and outlines the expectations of the placement. Where a child / young person is placed immediately or in an emergency, the Foster Placement Agreement will be completed within five working days. Complaints and compliments Conwy County Borough Council aims for high standards. Children and Young People who are Looked After by the Local Authority or those receiving a service from Conwy Social Services have a right to comment, compliment or complain about the service they receive. Independent Review of Determinations Mechanism The Independent Review of Determination Mechanism (IRM) was introduced to Provide Foster Carers with an opportunity to challenge a recommendation in respect of their approval which they do not agree with. This could be a change in number or age range of children you are eligible to foster or a recommendation to deregister you as a Foster Carer. Page 12 of 14

13 What the IRM can do The IRM is a review process conducted by a Review Panel which is independent of Fostering Service providers. If the IRM pathway is chosen, the Review Panel will, where appropriate, review an applicant s suitability as a prospective Foster Carer(s) to foster a child, review any proposed changes to the terms of approval, make a fresh recommendation to the Agency on the Carers suitability to foster a child and the terms of the approval, including approval for a specific child. What the IRM doesn t do It does not make a decision about the case; this is done by the Fostering Agency provider. The reason is because the IRM is not a higher appeals authority. It does not consider the suitability of the Care Plan for a child, e.g. whether they should be fostered long-term. It does not handle complaints against the Fostering Service. Complaints should be dealt with through the Fostering Service Complaints Procedure. Independent Advocacy Service Conwy Children, Families and Safeguarding Services have established the use of an Independent Advocacy Service called the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS). These employ advocates who can support children / young people who are in foster care settings to offer support, guidance and necessary help if a complaint is being considered. The Development of Policies and Procedures Policies and procedures in respect of the Service have been developed to comply with legislation, regulations and guidance. They are also informed by research and best practice. Policy areas are continually reviewed and developed to take into account changing needs of Children, Young People, Carers and the Fostering Service. Processes for Monitoring Quality There are a number of ways in which the quality of the Fostering Service is monitored. These include The regular supervisory activities of the Workers And Managers Views or comments expressed through the Statutory Reviews of children in placement The work of the Fostering Panel Monitoring of placement disruptions, compliments and complaints Reports of Inspections by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales Issues raised by Carers through their Support Groups Page 13 of 14

14 The Fostering Service produces a Quality of Care Report on an annual basis The Service has agreed to produce quality fostering activity reports to the Head of Agency Care Standards and Social Service Inspectorate (Wales) This body is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government to inspect and monitor the Foster Care Services. Users of Services regulated by the Care Standards Inspectorate (Wales), which includes the Fostering Services, can complain directly to them. Confidentiality and Access to Records The Council has clear policies on recording, confidentiality and access to records, which comply with legislation and which enables Foster Carers and the children and young people in placement to have access to information written about them. Foster Carers, Staff and Panel Members are required to keep all information they have about the children / young people in placement confidential and any paperwork securely stored. The Service provides lockable cabinets for this purpose. Contact Details for Conwy Fostering Agency Conwy Fostering Agency Glan y Don Civic Centre Abergele Road, COLWYN BAY Conwy LL29 8AR Tel: Page 14 of 14

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