The Fostering Service - Statement of Purpose 2020-2021
The following Statement of Purpose sets out the broad aims and objectives of the service, the management/staff structures, services provided, the principles and standards of care that are expected and the procedures for recruiting, approving, training, supporting and reviewing foster carers.
Following the outbreak and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, adjustments to service delivery has been made to ensure we continue to provide the best service to all children and families whilst not placing the families or staff at any additional risk.
1. Aims and objectives
1.1 The aims and objectives of the fostering team fit with a number of local and national aims and objectives along with their supporting documentation.
- fostering services National Minimum Standards 2011 (Care Standards Act 2000)
- fostering services Regulations 2011
- Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010 and statutory guidance
The fostering team actively contributes towards improving its own performance against national standards and assisting the department in achieving the highest possible performance indicators.
1.2 Aims: There are eight specific aims for the fostering service to achieve.
Aim 1: Recruit foster carers who can offer a range of placements providing for the assessed needs of looked-after children and young people in the service.
- To run foster carer recruitment campaigns approving carers from a range of backgrounds to meet the diverse needs of Looked After Children in the boroughs.
- To offer a timely and courteous response to prospective foster carers enquiries, assessing suitable candidates.
- To offer prospective carers a preparation group based on the Skills to Foster model.
- To complete assessments in a comprehensive and timely manner.
- To complete assessments within six months’ but no more than eight months’ at a maximum.
- To complete Connected Persons (Regulations 24) assessments within 24 weeks.
- To involve approved foster carers in all stages of the recruitment process rewarding them suitably for any work they undertake.
Aim 2: Support foster carers in the work they do with young people, providing appropriate care and ensuring that young people’s emotional, physical, health and education needs are met.
- To provide an annual training programme for foster carers.
- To provide at least monthly support groups for foster carers and connected persons foster carers by offering a range of times and locations to suit different foster carer’s needs.
- To pay a fee to foster carers for the tasks they undertake and to provide appropriate financial allowances enabling foster carers to care for children without assuming financial burden on them.
- To provide suitable and coordinated support services to all carers in addition to visits from their supervising social worker and the child’s social worker.
- To provide foster carers and connected persons foster carers with the support they need to think about their own social and economical well being, ensuring that they continue to develop themselves.
Aim 3: Treat all those involved with the fostering task with respect, promote equality and pay due consideration to individual needs. To promote equality and reduce discrimination on grounds of ethnicity, religion, culture, language, gender, disability and sexual orientation.
- To recruit foster carers who reflect the background and needs of children requiring placement through targeted recruitment activity.
- To offer training to all carers and staff that will improve skills, knowledge, awareness and good working methods promoting anti-discriminatory practice.
- To arrange for interpreters and translation of material when this is necessary and reasonable.
Aim 4: Supervise foster carers and connected persons foster carers to ensure they offer appropriate and safe foster care for Looked After Children.
- To visit carers as required but at least every six weekly and to maintain at no less then monthly contact with them.
- To complete supervision pro forma for each visit which, details outcomes and actions from the meeting an agreed copy of which is provided for the foster carer.
- To complete all annual reviews on time for foster carers and connected persons foster carers.
- To undertake annual inspections of foster homes’ including a health and safety check and to undertake at least one unannounced visit per year with carers.
- To develop with foster carers a Safer Caring Agreement within each foster home and foster placement.
- To ensure appropriate checks are regularly updated within timescales on all carers and individuals attached to the home.
Aim 5: Consult with service users, providers, professionals and other agencies to highlight service development needs and to implement these where possible and appropriate.
- To have a regular consultation meeting with carers and other parts of the service including more senior managers and other agencies to gather the views of carers.
- To record the meetings and implement agreed actions within set timescales incorporating suggestions into service plans when necessary.
- To use annual review of carers’, to gather information from foster carers and connected persons foster carers, Looked After Children, their parents and others with whom the fostering service works in partnership to improve the training, support and supervision of carers and to highlight ways in which the service can be developed.
- To consult with and encourage the participation of Looked After Children in service development through a variety of means including the Corporate Parenting Panel, developing a Children in Care Council, and carer’s annual review consultation forms.
Aim 6: Retain foster carers and develop a competent, experienced and appropriate trained and qualified placements resource.
- To provide induction training to newly approved foster carers including Connected Persons foster carers.
- To offer a comprehensive training programme that links to national standards and enable carers to complete the training development standards for foster carers and connected persons foster carers.
- To provide accurate and up-to-date information to carers about a child or young person’s history and current needs ensuring that carers are provided with all relevant family information.
- To develop supports and services that takes account of the foster carer and their family’s needs.
- To organise social events for and with carers to show appreciation for the commitment they make in caring for children and young people.
Aim 7: Work in partnership with foster carers and connected persons foster carers, children and young people and their families and with other professionals and agencies.
- To provide an effective and efficient placement service so that requests for placement can be made easily, are assessed and processed effectively and efficiently, with children being provided with the most appropriate placement for their needs.
- To provide full and appropriate information to foster carers regarding placements, and the planning for children including written care plans and LAC materials.
- To deal with all complaints and allegations in a way that fits with the councils and legislative requirements.
- To give full weight and credibility to carers’ views when determining plans and outcomes for children.
Aim 8: Ensure that the fostering team is run in an effective and efficient way with qualified staff so that children are suitably safeguarded and benefit from their time in foster care.
- Recruit staff with the appropriate qualifications, skills knowledge and experience for their posts, ensuring that all appropriate checks and references are undertaken.
- To offer staff appropriate training, supervision and development opportunities so that they are able to carry out their duties in an appropriate way.
- To provide a service that meets legislative requirements as well as local and national policy and procedural guidelines, while seeking to improve its service delivery.
Sally Pillay is the head of service:
145 King Street
The fostering service comprises:
Head of Service
Referral, recruitment and assessment team
- 1 Principal Social Worker in the Fostering Recruitment
- 1 Full Time Social Worker
- 1 Part Time Social Worker
- 2 Social Care Assistants
- 1 Training Officer
- 1 Recruitment Officer
Team manager of Connected Persons, Permanence and Post Order Support Team
- 4 Principal Social Workers
- 10 Full Time Social Workers
- 1 Part Time Social Workers
- 2 Social Care Assistant
- 1 Panel Coordinator
- 1.5 Business Support Officer
Team manager of Duty and Supervision and Supervision of Foster Carers Team
- 4 Principal Social Workers in the Fostering Team
- 15 Full Time Supervising Social Workers
- 4 Part Time Supervising Social Workers
- 1 Business Support Officer
- 2 Placement Officers (one full time and one part time)
3. Services provided for children and foster carers
The fostering service provides a range of services to children and carers. These include a duty and placement service, the recruitment and assessment of foster carers, as well as support and supervision to placements. These services are provided by social workers specialising in these areas of service provision.
3.1 Duty Service including Placement of Children.
The fostering service operates a duty service overseen by a suitably-qualified duty manager.
The duty and placements service is responsible for the following:
a. Receiving requests for foster placement for children and young persons aged 0-17 years.
b. Arrangement of fostering placements with In-house foster carers
c. General enquiries from the public, other agencies and professionals and other social workers regarding foster care services.
d. Cover for supervising social workers who may be absent from the office or on leave.
3.2 Recruitment and assessment of foster carers is currently undertaken by a separate team which is part of the fostering service.
3.2.1 The staff in the Referral Recruitment and Assessment Team undertakes all fostering recruitment activities including specialist carers, respite foster carers and those offering short or intermediate care. Specialist advice and consultation is sought when needed.
With assistance and input from the recruitment officer, tasks include:
1. Design of advertising and recruitment materials
2. Liaison with specialist advisers and agencies on recruitment matters
3. Coordination of advertising and recruitment campaigns
4. Responses to enquiries including dissemination of information packs
5. Initial visits to prospective carers (some held virtually due to risks surrounding COVID 19)
6. Running pre-approval ‘Skills to Foster’ preparation courses (some held virtually due to risks surrounding COVID 19)
7. Assessment of prospective foster carers and presentation of reports to fostering Panel. A virtual panel has been set up to ensure this is facilitated with all panel members present and prevent delay for cases being presented for approval.
8. Setting up newly approved carers with equipment required for fostering
3.2.2 The team may also undertake assessments for long-term fostering of new enquirers. It is preferable if these applicants are also able to manage short-term placements until a permanent placement can be made or where a current fee paid foster carer is to move to become a long-term foster carer for a particular child placed with them.
3.3 Support and supervision of foster carers.
3.3.1 The fostering service currently supports and supervises all respite, short-term intermediate and long-term foster placements. Connected Persons who are foster carers will be supported and supervised within the Connected Persons team.
For more details of support provided see section 4.
3.3.2 Supervisory visits take place when required, but with a maximum period between visits of six weeks. Contact with foster carers is maintained on at least every four to six weeks. During the lockdown visits are conducted virtually with weekly calls to carers.
3.4 Training of foster carers.
3.4.1 Prospective foster carers are initially prepared for fostering through attendance at Skills to Foster courses and the assessment process.
3.4.2 Following approval, an induction and other training courses are offered on a regular basis. Training is provided around core areas as highlighted by the National Minimum Standards. Foster carer’s views regarding training are sought during supervisory visits, the annual review and in training programme reviews.
3.4.3 Newly-approved foster carers are linked to a peer mentor for the first 6 month after approval for extra support.
3.4.4 An annual training programme is planned on the basis of assessed need within the carer group. (some held virtually due to risks surrounding COVID 19)
3.4.5 Foster carers must complete the Training Support and Development Standards for foster care and all new foster carers are expected to complete the required workbook within twelve months of approval. Regular workshops are held to support the foster carers in achieving this.
3.5 Systemic Therapeutic courses are also available to a limited number of carers per year.
4. Family and friends carers (Connected Persons)
4.1 These carers are always known to the child or their family and are only approved for these specific children. Many family and friends carers will have children placed with them in an emergency following the decision that the children cannot safely remain at home and will need to become Looked After following an assessment.
When this happens, social workers have a duty to consider whether children can be placed with their relatives or friends of the family. Some children then remain with these carers if they are unable to return home or may move onto other carers or adoption.
4.2 The Family Justice Review introduced the requirement that care proceedings must be completed within 26 weeks so that early permanence can be achieved for Looked After Children. The Connected Persons & Post Order Support team will provide a dedicated service to undertake all Family and Friends Assessments within the fostering service.
4.3 All family and friends carers are required to have the same statutory checks and meet the required national minimum standards to be approved as foster carers. They attend Connected Persons induction training prior to their approval or shortly after having a child placed with them.
4.5 Following their approval, family and friends carers are allocated a supervising social worker from the Connected Persons team who is responsible for the carer’s supervision, support and discussion of individual training needs following their approval at panel as Connected Persons foster carers.
4.6 Family and Friends carers will be supported in considering Special Guardianship. The Post Order team has developed arrangements for Special Guardianship support for those family and friends carers who become Special Guardians.
5. Procedure and policy
5.1 The fostering service is responsible for developing guidance, policy and procedures relevant to the fostering service.
Supervision and support to foster carers:
All foster carers have been assigned supervising social worker who is responsible to provide regular supervision session every four to six weeks. During these visits discussion is held about progress of the child/children in placement including physical, emotional, educational and cultural needs. This meeting also provides the opportunity to discuss issues such as a foster carer’s skills and training needs, health and safety issues and communication with professionals.
6. Placements provided
6.1 The fostering team provides a number of placement types:
1) Short-term placements: These may be offered for any period from an overnight stay until a child moves to a permanent home after a number of years.
2) Respite placements: A number of carers are approved to take short-term respite placements only. These may be one-off placements or form part of a care package that enables children to remain with their usual carers for the long term.
3) Long-term foster placements: Where a child will remain with a foster carer until they are 18 years old or ready to move into independent living.
4) Interagency placements: Occasionally; when other local authorities are searching for a foster placement, a carer with a vacancy may be matched with that child. That local authority retains responsibility for the child whilst fostering service retains the registration and support of the foster carer. An interagency agreement is signed and an additional fee is paid for the placement.
5) Connected Persons placements: A number of foster carers are approved specifically for a named child whom they are related to or who is a family friend.
6) Short breaks and Family support: Family Support care is a form of foster care that makes provision for carers to support children and families stay together by providing respite care when families are in crisis. Family Support Carers provide occasional temporary time limited care in their own homes for children and young people up to 18 years old. They provide;
- Placements that are planned and time limited with specific goals.
- Day-care, overnight stays and crisis emergency stays.
- A local tailor-made support service for each child or young person and their family via a referral with very clear criteria to ensure that the system is used appropriately.
7) Parent and child placements: A few carers provide placements to parents and children. Parents are sometimes over the age of 18 years old. Often these parents are being assessed on their parenting skills while they are in the foster placement. The foster carer may need to assist in the assessment, keep good written records, and work in partnership with the social workers involved in the assessment. These carers are given additional support and training to manage these often complex placements.
7. Outcomes for children and young people
The outcomes for children and young people that underlie the fostering services work to improve the lives of Looked After Children through:
- Helping children to be healthy
- Protecting children from harm or neglect and helping them to stay safe
- Helping children to achieve and enjoy what they do
- Helping children to make a positive contribution
- Achieving economic well-being
These outcomes and principles are also outlined in the pledge to Looked After Children (LAC) and the foster carer charter.
7.1 Helping children to be healthy.
7.1.1 Foster carers are given information about a child’s health and are clear what responsibility has been delegated to them in making health related decisions from the placement planning meeting. This includes information about the administration of medication.
7.1.2 Foster carers are provided with health awareness training. This includes training on first aid, health and safety, sex and relationships, drug and alcohol awareness, and meeting the emotional needs of children.
7.1.3 Foster carers receive an annual health and safety check and supervising social workers continuously monitoring health and safety issues.
7.1.4 Foster carers promote an active and healthy lifestyle by providing healthy food and snack options and encourage children to engage in physical activities.
7.1.5 The fostering service will work in close partnership with the health team for LAC to ensure that there is partnership working to improve the health outcomes of children placed with foster carers. This includes regular meetings with the team and managers, putting together specialised training for carers including fostering changes and Health courses.
7.2 Protecting children from harm or neglect and helping them to stay safe.
7.2.1 Every foster placement will have a safer caring agreement which is agreed at the placement planning meeting.
7.2.2 Foster carers will report missing children and follow expectations as laid out in the Missing Children Procedure. If a child goes missing the foster carer actively tries to locate and encourage the child to come home or talk to their social worker.
7.2.3 Foster carers will be supported to help talk to children and monitor their use of the internet and mobile phones to ensure they are safeguarded against bullying and abuse.
7.2.4 Foster carers help children learn how to protect themselves from abuse and provide a safe and secure home.
7.2.5 Foster carers are trained in child protection, safer caring, risk management, record keeping and understanding abuse and neglect.
7.2.6 Foster carers make appropriate risk assessments in some areas that they have been delegated authority and encouraging children take appropriate risks. For example Foster carers should determine if a child can stay overnight at a friend’s house by getting to know the child’s friends and their parents or carers.
7.2.7 The fostering service (and the services arranged or provided by it) will seek to promote and safeguard the welfare of Looked After Children and other children affected by fostering placements as its paramount concern.
7.3 Helping children to achieve and enjoy what they do.
7.3.1 Foster carers support children and young people to achieve academically. Foster carers take children to and from school until they are old enough to travel by themselves. Foster carers attend parents’ meetings and maintain regular contact with the school. Foster carers participate in the Pupil Education Plan meeting and advocate on behalf of the child where appropriate.
7.3.2 Foster carers ensure that they are supporting children’s education at home by helping with homework, reading to children and playing an active role in the child’s education.
7.3.3 Foster carers support children to engage in a variety of leisure activities that support the child to develop confidence and interests.
7.3.4 Foster carers are provided with training on education and IT skills.
7.3.5 The fostering service will work closely with the virtual school and activities officer to ensure that children are able to enjoy and achieve. This includes regular meetings with the team and managers, running service and putting together specialised training for carers.
7.4 Foster carer helping children to make a positive contribution for future.
7.4.1 Maintaining links for a child with their family, friends and other social and community groups is important. All reasonable steps will be taken to ensure that these links are maintained and developed when that is in the child’s best interest. Foster carers should support children with contact arrangement and where safe to do so foster carers should take children to contact or facilitate contact within the home.
7.4.2 The majority of children will benefit from placement within a loving and caring family setting. The fostering service seeks to provide this through the foster carers it approves. Children should receive a child friendly foster carers’ profile before they are placed, where possible. Children should also receive a Child’s Guide to Fostering when they are first placed. Children should be made to feel part of the family and not made to feel different than foster carer’s own children.
7.4.3 Children’s wishes and feelings should be taken into account and they should know how to make a complaint.
7.4.4 Placements should take into account children’s ethnicity, religion, language, culture and dietary requirements. Where a need cannot be met directly for example, where child’s ethnicity is not matched, compensating actions will be taken to ensure that a child will develop a positive view of themselves, their family and cultural background.
7.5 Achieving economic well-being.
7.5.1 Foster carers should save for children regularly and help teach children the importance of saving. Foster carers should open a bank account for children where possible and help to support them to learn budgeting skills.
7.5.2 Foster carers should help prepare children for independent living. This includes helping young people develop practical skills such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, washing and take responsibility for personal healthcare.
7.5.3 Foster carers expected to participate in the Pathway Planning Process so that plan for children is clear and realistic.
7.5.4 Training is provided on preparing young people for independence.
8. Procedures for recruiting, approving, training, supporting and reviewing carers
The foster carers recruitment strategy sets out the plans and targets for foster carer recruitment, the annual budget and how this will be spent and who will undertake the tasks.
Foster carers are assessed and presented to the Adoption and Fostering panel for a recommendation. Following this the Agency Decision maker confirms approvals after recommendations are made.
Training is offered to all foster carers. Initially this is through the preparation course, skills to foster, which prospective carers are expected to undertake during or soon after their assessment has been completed. An annual training programme is offered on a range of topics that seek to ensure the training and development standards for foster carers are met.
8.3.1 The training programme is compatible with the National Minimum Standards for fostering services. For more detail see the foster carer’s training programme.
8.3.2 All new foster carers will be expected to complete the required training and development standard workbook within 12 months of being approved to show how they meet the standards and all existing foster carers should have already completed the workbook.
8.4 Support and Supervision of foster carers.
As well as the support and supervision offered by Social Workers from the fostering team. Each foster carer has assigned supervising social workers who supervises and also regularly liaise with other professionals’ i.e Children's Services, health, Virtual School in every four to six weeks. In addition there are further supports available to foster carers:
A) Fee Payment Scheme: Foster carers are paid a taxable fee for the direct tasks they perform and a separate allowance for expenses in relation to the costs of caring for children.
B) Equipment and other provisions: A set-up grant is available at the point of approval for basic items needed such as beds/bedding and wardrobes.
C) Training and support groups: Carers are provided with an annual training programme where they are able to identify trainings of interest together with their supervising social worker. They will also have access to AC Education Online training. Both of these will continue to develop the skills and knowledge of the carers. Support groups will be held two to three times per month where carers can discuss any placements, learning needs and so on. This will assist the department in identifying future trainings and provide the carers a space to learn from one another and obtain support through other carers.
D) Looked After Children’s Support and Review Team specialist services: This team offers a comprehensive multi-agency approach to services for Looked After Children, foster carers and social Workers.
E) Membership of Fostering Network: All foster carers have an annual subscription to Fostering Network paid for by the department. This offers regular mailings, information and helpline on matters relating to foster care and is accessible directly and independently by foster carers.
F) Annual trips and celebrations to show the department’s appreciation of Foster carers.
Activities and events include:
- Long service awards annually
- Foster carers celebration event annually
- Celebratory events for LAC annually
G) Peer Mentoring: The fostering team will aim to link newly-approved carers to a more experienced foster carer within the first year of approval.
H) Duty Support: The fostering team runs a duty service from Monday to Friday between 9 am to 5 pm. The work covered by the duty system is as follows: referrals for foster placements, arrangements for in-house foster placement, and cover for supervising Social Worker who may be on leave and engaged in other commitments. The duty worker can be contacted via dedicated telephone numbers: 02087532304 and 02087532321.
I) Emergency Duty Support: There is an Emergency Duty Team (EDT) which can provide support to foster carers in the evenings and weekends (outside of business hours) to offer support and identify placements where needed. This team is supported by the fostering service and can provide support and advice for when when children that go missing or where there is an emergency.
The Fostering Independent Reviewing Officer chairs all annual reviews of foster carers. This creates independence from the fostering service line management structure. These reviews are being held virtually during the lockdown period.
8.5.1 At least annually, there is a standardised review process involving foster carers/connected person foster carers and their families, parents and others with parental responsibility, children and young people, supervising social worker and locality social workers as well as others who might have an interest in the foster placement. The annual review considers the foster carer’s performance during the year, training undertaken, working relationships, finance matters, placements made and their outcomes. They are also able to give their views on placements, how the department and other agencies or professionals have worked with them. Consultation forms are sent out to children who have been placed, foster carers and their children, social workers and independent reviewing officers so that their views too can be included in the review.
8.5.2 The review is usually held within the foster carers’ home with the foster carers, the supervising social Worker and the fostering independent reviewing officer present. Occasionally, others may attend the review including the fostering team manager or principal social worker or someone to act as a support or advocate for the foster carer.
8.5.3 The annual review of foster carers document sets out the procedures and guidance for annual reviews and is available from the Council’s intranet site and foster carers are given a copy of the document.
9.1 All local authorities are required to have a Complaints Procedures under the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 and where children are involved, under the Children Act 1989. There is a central complaints service that manages and monitors complaints for the three Local Authorities. The following is a brief summary.
9.2 At the first stage the complainant should contact the complaints officer to explain the nature of the complaint. If a Court is considering the matter, it cannot be dealt with under the complaints procedure. The complaints officer will refer the matter to the appropriate team manager for investigation (if this has not already been done). The team or service manager will reply to the complainant.
9.3 If the complainant is not satisfied with this response, s/he should be helped or advised as appropriate to make a written representation to the complaints officer asking for a further investigation. There are several ways of dealing with this, but the most usual is for the head of service to appoint an investigating officer (IO) who may either be an officer with no direct line management responsibility for the matter or an independent person. In the case of a complaint under the Children Act 1989, the complaints officer will ask the advocacy officer to appoint an independent person to take part in the investigation and to look after the interests of the child.
9.4 Both the investigating officer and the independent person will write separate reports of the investigation. Normally the reports are sent to the complainant. The reports will be submitted to the senior officer who is the adjudicating officer, usually the director. This officer will reply to the complaint giving his or her decision based on the reports. The procedures require that this reply must be sent to the complainant within 28 days of the complaint having been received.
9.5 If the complainant is not satisfied with the response from the adjudicating officer s/he may request, in writing, that a review panel be appointed. The panel usually consists of an independent chairperson, and two elected members of the council, one minority and one majority party member. Immediately following the hearing, the panel will record their recommendation in writing and send it to the complainant, the executive director of the department, the initial independent person and the investigating officer. The executive director will decide what action to take, and will advise the complainant of this.
9.6 This exhausts the council’s own complaints procedure, but in cases of alleged maladministration a complainant may raise the matter with the Local Government Ombudsman (who will not take it up until after the Council’s procedures have ended). These procedures do not limit a complainant’s normal legal remedies.
9.7 The Customer Care and Complaints Officer’s contact details are:
Kensington Town Hall
London W8 7NX
020 8753 3634
Additionally, in appropriate circumstances, complainants may wish to draw matters to the attention of OFSTED:
Ofsted National Business Unit
0300 123 1231
Contact details for teams in fostering and adoption service
Handles enquiries and support for prospective foster carers.
0800 169 3497
Duty, Supervision & Support
Provides a point of contact for borough-based Social Workers who want to place a child with a foster carer. Handles enquiries and support for foster carers.
020 8753 2304/020 8753 2321
Connected Persons & Post Order Support
Provides a point of contact for borough-based Social Workers in K&C, WCC & H&F who want to place a child with a member of their extended family.
020 8753 5820 (CP) 0208 753 2332 (PO)