- Terms of Approval,
- Preparing to welcome,
- Placement Agreements,
- Supervising Social Worker Role,
- Child’s Social Worker role,
- Statutory visits,
- National Standards,
- Annual Review,
- Allegations and Complaints
You might like to keep a daily diary, but this is a diary that needs especially to focus on the child/ren in your care. Because they might want to see your recordings one day, be mindful of how you phrase actions and reactions and bear in mind other LACs confidential information. This sounds complicated, but you will soon get in the swing of things. It's so important to keep safe these childhood memories for the children and young people in your care. One of my lovely girls remembers saying to me to go “put my legs up”, she meant to go “put my feet up” and relax, but it tickles her no end when I send her Birthday Cards each year reminding her to do just that! Your daily recordings should be dated, include details of the day, signed and kept in a safe place until 1) just prior to your next Supervision meeting with your Supervising Social Worker, when you should forward them via secure email or 2) print them off ready for her or him to take away. When, no more than 2 weeks later, you get a copy of your Supervision Record for that day, make certain that it includes a reference to you having provided them.
One other noticeable difference for SCE Families is ‘Supervision’. National Minimum Fostering Standards (NMS) 21 states. ‘Each approved foster carer is supervised by a named, appropriately qualified social worker who has meetings with the foster carer, including at least one unannounced visit a year. Meetings have a clear purpose and provide the opportunity to supervise the foster carer’s work, ensure the foster carer is meeting the child’s needs, taking into account the child’s wishes and feelings, and offer support and a framework to assess the carer’s performance and develop their competencies and skills. The frequency of meetings for short break foster carers should be proportionate to the amount of care provided. Foster carers’ files include records of supervisory meetings. Kinship Carers, Special Guardians and Prospective Adoptees may be subject to a hybrid version of the above, but the overall intention is to protect children and support their Carers. In an ideal world, this is how Society should be arranged! However, depending on the ‘placement’ (eg, care-plan, length of time placed, relationships etc) it can feel awkward to sit down with a Social Worker and describe how the past few weeks have been). Whatsmore, she/he will be writing notes about how well you have met the other NMS’.
Again, having a Review each year to assess how well you and the child/ren in your care have managed seems unnatural. But, it can be a real positive opportunity to stop and think. Think about you, your partner (if applicable), your birth children, and other children looked after, again if applicable. I used also to think about my wider family, my work, my plans, the dog, my neighbours, finances and anything else that was affected by my fostering. Its worth taking the time to order your thoughts as a family and really contribute to the discussion. This is what the NMS 24.6 says ‘All staff have their performance individually and formally appraised at least annually and, where they are working with children, this appraisal takes into account any views of children the service is providing for’. As alluded to in the Standard, your Review should ask the children in your care to comment on how well you have looked after them and this question should apply at least equally to your birth children. It takes great skill on the behalf of the Reviewing Officer (a senior Manager not connected with your Supervising Social Worker) to take all comments into account and acknowledge them; NMS 20.6) says that; The reviews of each carers approval include an appraisal of performance against clear and consistent standards set by the agency, and consideration of training and development needs, which are documented in the review report. The foster carer’s personal development plan is reviewed and the effectiveness of training and development received is evaluated. Reviews take into account the views of each child currently placed with the foster carer.
I can’t stress enough how important these areas are, that you take responsibility for achieving them, how they link to Standard 20 (Learning and Development) and how vital they are in presenting your case when/if an allegation is made against you. NMS Standard 30 is specific to Family and Friends (Kinship) Carers however it concludes “where family and friends are approved as foster carers the other standards apply as they do for other foster carers”. Where Corporate Members sign up for listing and sign the APAC promise, they are also signing agreement to these Standards on Support and Supervision.
As an approved Foster Carer you have a one in four chance of having an allegation or complaint made against you. Allegations can range from (least serious) e.g swearing in front of a child/young person or parent to (most serious) harming /putting a child at risk of harm, a child/young person in your care. Depending on the level of seriousness, children/young people may be removed from your care with little or no notice.
This is hugely distressing to both the child/young person and the fostering household. We hope that by having APAC advice, training, guidance ‘arm around your shoulder’ this possibility will be reduced, but there is no guarantee. Despite best practice, Foster Carers (including pre-adoption, kinship, Special Guardians and shared carers) are working on behalf of a public service and as such are subject to scrutiny from each and every angle. Because of this, the National Minimum Standards in Foster Care (Standard 22) says; Outcome: Allegations and suspicions of harm are handled in a way that provides effective protection and support for children and the person making the allegation, and at the same time supports the person who is the subject of the allegation (page 44).
We previously talked about a Daily Diary and signed Supervision notes, when an allegation is made against a fostering household, this written, regularly discussed and agreed record of events becomes vital. With the help of Assurance: Parents and Carers you will be able to put together a report that shows your side of the story. Central Office, Debra Gibbs, through your local coordinator will prepare a draft report showing how year on year, your daily diary, discussed and signed off in regular Supervision meetings have informed your Annual Reviews and considers your practice against National Standards. This report, which once agreed by you, will be presented to your Fostering Service at either Household Review or Panel stage so that you are independently represented.
In addition to this, you will have access to our unique Insurance Policy APCInsure