View Greater Manchester SCB Procedures
View Greater Manchester SCB Procedures View Greater Manchester SCB Procedures

6.1.8 Fostering Services Statement of Purpose

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter was added to the manual in August 2012


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Aims and Objectives of the Service
  3. Management Structure and Staffing
  4. Panels
  5. Provision of Fostering Services
  6. Bolton Shared Care
  7. Training and Development of Carers
  8. Promoting Equality and Diversity
  9. Promoting Contact
  10. Children's Guide/involvement of LAC
  11. Safeguarding
  12. Other Relevant Services
  13. Complaints
  14. Performance, Information and Monitoring
  15. Inspection and Registration of the Fostering Service

    Appendix 1: Management Structure and Staffing for Bolton's Fostering Service


1. Introduction

This Statement has been produced in accordance with the Care Standards Act 2000, the Fostering Service Regulations 2011 and the National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services 2011.


2. Aims and Objectives of the Service

2.1 General

Core fostering services are provided by a central Fostering Team. This team receives, assesses, commissions, co-ordinates, supports and reviews foster care placements for Children Looked After. The team also assesses supports and reviews family and friends carers. Short-break care for disabled children is organised through the Bolton Shared Care Service.

2.2 Aims

The aim of the service is to safeguard, support and promote the best interests of children, young people and their families through the provision of fostering services, which ensure stable, secure, safe and effective care for all children.

2.3 Objectives

  • To ensure that children are securely attached to carers capable of providing safe and effective care for the duration of placements;
  • To provide a range of placements for children looked after, to meet their assessed needs;
  • To ensure, as far as possible, that all children with an assessed need for a family placement are placed in such provision, ideally within the local area;
  • To recruit sufficient foster carers to provide the range of placements, including specialist placements, such as for older children or those with special needs or from minority ethnic groups;
  • To ensure that children looked after in foster care gain maximum life chance benefits from educational opportunities, health care and social care;
  • To train foster carers and encourage them to develop their skills so as to constantly raise the quality of the service;
  • To offer continuing support to foster carers, including out of office hours;
  • To offer appropriate supervision to foster carers and placements;
  • To encourage carers to establish links, to network and work together, to learn from and offer support to each other;
  • To actively involve foster carers in planning and developing services;
  • To consult with Looked After Children / young people on the service provided;
  • To provide a short-break service to allow more and better family support to help disabled children and their families live ordinary lives;
  • To ensure through regulatory powers and duties that children are protected from harm and poor care standards;
  • To promote diversity and equality within the service;
  • To promote contact with a child's family and others that are important to the child;
  • To work to standards and regulations as laid down by the Department for Education and to comply with national and local health and safety guidance;
  • To seek to maximise looked after children's outcomes in all areas of their development.


3. Management Structure and Staffing

3.1

The Fostering Team is a central specialist team. There is a smaller team for family/friends carers and also one for carers of disabled children (short/long term and short breaks) 'Shared Care'.

Qualified Social Workers from agencies are recruited to avoid gaps in service delivery when vacancies/sickness occurs.

The team is part of the Children's Resources section of Children's Services. This section includes Adoption Services, Children's Residential Care and 'Bridges' which provides a range of services for disabled children. These services are managed by the Head of Service (Children's Resources). The service is responsible to the Assistant Director (Staying Safe) who is managed by the Director of Children's Services.

The staffing of the team has increased significantly over the last 8 years as the service has expanded and grown.

The Head of Service has a degree and a Diploma in Applied Social Studies and the Certificate of Qualification in social work. He has 38 years experience of social care, 23 years as a Manager and 8 years in his current post.

For the mainstream Fostering Team, 2 Managers share 1.5 posts. A further 0.5 Manager's post manages the Family and Friends service and another Team Manager has responsibility for the Shared Care Team.

The 2 Team Managers of the mainstream team have degrees and the Social Work Qualification and NVQ level 4 Managers Award. They have lengthy experience in social care and a combined total of 16 years in their current posts. The Family/Friends Team is managed by a Team Manager (0.5 post). She has 9 years post qualification experience, the Social Work Qualification and the PQ Child Care Award and 2 years' experience in her current post. She is currently studying for the Level 5 Leadership in Health and Social Care (Children and Young People). The team has a Senior Practitioner who has considerable experience of social care, holds Social Work Qualification and the PQ Child Care Award.

The mainstream Fostering Team has 7 full time equivalent qualified Social Workers. The Family/Friends Team has 5 full time equivalent Social Workers. Some members of the teams are part time. All Social Workers hold the professional qualification for Social Work.

There is considerable experience within the team. One of the team is a NVQ Assessor and there are 2 qualified Practice Teachers. 8 social workers have PQ1, 2 have the PQ Child Award and 3 are currently studying for this.

The team also has 3 support workers (two part time) who do not hold the Social Work qualification, but have good and varied experience of supporting carers of looked after children. Two have NVQ level 3 in Child Care. Two of these workers have experience as foster carers.
3.2

Bolton Shared Care is managed by a Team Manager. She has four full time equivalent Social Workers and two Resource Workers in the Shared Care Team.

She is also responsible for family support and a broad range of services for disabled children called 'Bridges'.

The Team Manager has a degree and the qualification in Social Work and a management qualification in Health and Social Care and 19 years experience with Bridges.

The four social workers all hold the professional qualification in Social Work and have varied levels of experience. The two resource workers whilst not requiring the social worker professional qualification both have degrees and a combined total of 11 years experience in the service.

All staff with a professional qualification in Social Work are required to be registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council.

Appendix 1: Management Structure and Staffing for Bolton's Fostering Service shows the management structure and staffing.


4. Panels

4.1

Assessments of the Department's mainstream carers are carried out using evidenced based assessments and are subject to the approval of the Fostering Panel. Assessments of family/friends carers are also subject to approval of the Fostering Panel. Matching decisions for children under 10 to long-term foster placements are considered at this Panel. The Panel also monitors the first annual reviews of all carers. The Panel makes recommendations to the Agency Decision-Maker, the Assistant Director (Staying Safe).This Panel also provides advice and guidance with regard to complex issues.

The make-up of the Panel includes a Council Member, a medical advisor, independent members, a foster carer from another borough and professionals from other agencies including the 'Action for Children' Children's Rights Officer. The Panel also includes a Team Manager, Fostering. The Panel can seek legal advice when necessary.

The Fostering Panel has an independent chair who has considerable and varied child care experience. She is a qualified social worker and a former Assistant Director of Children's Services.

Management and performance information including the Annual Report we shared with this panel.
4.2

Annual reviews of foster carers are carried out by a Fostering Review Panel, which has representation from a Team Manager from District social work teams and an Independent Reviewing Officer, plus a Team Manager in the Fostering Team. The Review Panel also considers applications by foster carers to change their status. This could be to become Enhanced carers, but also to become long term rather than short term carers for individual young people over 10 years already in placement.

The Review Panel is chaired by the Head of Service, Children's Resources.
4.3 Reviews of short break foster carers are carried out by a Shared Care Review Panel consisting of the Head of Service, Children's Resources, Team Manager (Bolton Shared Care), a member of the PCT, a parent representative and an independent member. All first reviews of short break carers are forwarded to the Fostering Panel.
4.4 As the nature of the task changes, the role and function of these Panels are reviewed and amended as appropriate. This is an ongoing process. They also monitor situations where foster carers have had to be exempted due to taking more than three placements.


5. Provision of Fostering Services

5.1 Placements are provided by foster carers who are recommended for approval by the Fostering Panel and agreed by the Agency Decision Maker. Standards of care are ensured by supervising social workers and children's social workers, using training, personal development, group and individual support and supervisory visits. A pro-forma for visits has been developed to ensure the necessary areas are covered and communication is maintained about expectations and developments. Carers are reviewed annually. Within this whole process emphasis is placed on Health and Safety using a checklist for potential hazards, and Safe Caring practice. All children placed have risk assessments.
5.2 A programme of recruitment is used to target the advertising and marketing work involved to ensure recruitment of carers. The Service is still benefiting from successful campaigns which utilised the "Bolton Family" theme for the whole Borough. Participation in Regional 'You can Foster' recruitment drives is also undertaken.
5.3 Prospective carers are expected to complete preparation training using the Fostering Network's 'Skills to Foster' training pack.
5.4 Applicants are assessed by social workers from the Fostering Team. When necessary, a wider pool of qualified social workers assist with these assessments to ensure there is no delay. Where carers' home language is not English, but is one of the local community languages spoken in Bolton, the Department has staff who can carry out assessments in these languages. The standard Bolton has adopted is that these assessments will be completed within six months of the preparation groups, unless the applicants' own circumstances, such as illness, require postponement.
5.5

Fostering Network evidence based assessments are completed for potential mainstream and enhanced carers. They are also required to produce a portfolio.

For potential Family and Friends Carers, a viability form is used for new assessments. For immediate placements the target is to present to Panel within 16 weeks and in exceptional circumstances 24 weeks.

Family and Friends carers looking after children are assessed using a (specific child) assessment.

All assessments are open and shared with applicants who are expected to attend Panel. The Panel makes a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker who makes the final decision regarding approval.
5.6 Reviews are carried out by a separate Fostering Review Panel, which includes independent representation. This Panel reports to the Fostering Panel. The Review Panel also determines the age range and gender of children to be placed, considers changes in number of children placed and exemptions. Carers are expected to attend their Review. Children's wishes, feelings and views on placements are fully considered through feedback questionnaires completed by children's social workers.
5.7 Procedures are in place to deal with de-registration, allowing carers a right to make representation about any recommendation to de-register them and attend any Panel convened to consider the recommendation with a right of appeal or referral to the Independent Review Mechanism. They have free access to an independent advice and mediation worker.
5.8

All foster carers (mainstream and family/friends) are paid a maintenance allowance for each child. The allowances are the recommended National Minimum allowances.

Mainstream carers are paid a fee in addition to the maintenance allowances. They are assessed using the competencies framework and are required to participate fully in preparation groups, core training and other training identified as part of their development. They are also required to complete the Childrens Workforce Development workbook for mainstream carers. The fees are different for under 11's and over 11's carers.

Enhanced carers who look after challenging teenagers and children with disability with a high level of personal care needs are paid a higher fee in recognition of the skills/knowledge required. It is expected that there will only be one child in placement unless another child can be carefully matched. At least one carer is expected not to work to undertake the fostering task.

Additional payments are made to all carers (including family/friends) for LAC for Christmas, festivals, birthdays and holidays. A schedule of allowances / payments is available to foster carers.

There is also a range of discretionary payments that can be paid based on assessment of individual children's and carers' needs.

Family/friends carers can apply to become mainstream carers. This would require a different assessment (as not child-specific) based on competencies and to the same standards as mainstream carers. They are also required to attend preparation groups and to complete ongoing training and development opportunities. The assessment would then need to be presented to the Fostering Panel and recommendations agreed by the Agency Decision Maker.

Enhanced carers have a detailed job description/expectations document which details the type of placements they will take and the high expectations in terms of personal circumstances, training and development.
5.9

The Fostering Service provides a central duty service to all social workers so that one phone call is all that is required to access services and arrange an appropriate placement as needed. This service operates during office hours and seeks to make the most appropriate placements.

The Emergency Duty Team are provided with a list of foster carers able to take emergency placements out of office hours.
5.10 A free-phone helpline number is available through "Access Bolton" available to people interested in becoming carers.
5.11 All Fostering Team Social Workers undertake assessment of potential carers, support and supervise foster carers, undertake reviews of carers. Five full time equivalent social workers work specifically with family/friends carers.
5.12 There are 7 support groups. Three support groups separated into three age bandings, meet regularly to support carers. There is also a support group for family/friend carers. There is a support group for children of foster carers and a group specifically for Asian carers. There is also a support group for male carers.
5.13 The Fostering Team has two (fte) Support Workers who provide practical and emotional support to all carers as required.
5.14 All carers have access to members of the Fostering Service outside office hours via a Careline number.
5.15 Carers also have a "buddy" (an experienced foster carer) who contacts them on a regular basis to offer support and makes more regular contact with new carers or carers experiencing difficulties in placement.
5.16 There is a fostering handbook, which outlines services, support to and expectations of foster carers, available to all carers.
5.17 There is a separate handbook/manual specifically designed for family/friends carers providing essential information.
5.18 A forum for foster carers has been set up to encourage dialogue between foster carers, senior officers and elected members.
5.19 There is also a regular drop-in session where carers can raise any concerns/ideas.
5.20 Foster carers have been members of two Scrutiny Panels, in relation to Fostering Services and also Corporate Parenting.
5.21 Bolton has significant ethnic minority groups from the Indian sub-continent and the Fostering Team has developed a group of Asian foster carers who are able to offer a range of placements to match children's ethnic, language and cultural needs. There are sufficient places available to allow the Department to offer these services to neighbouring authorities. The arrangements for commissioning and financing these services are agreed regionally.


6. Bolton Shared Care

6.1 Bolton Shared Care aims to provide a flexible short break care service to disabled children and their families in Bolton. To be eligible for support from the scheme a child may have a physical, intellectual or sensory impairment and need significantly more care and support than a typical child of his/her age as evidenced by receipt of DLA at the middle or higher rate. The service works with children and young people up to the age of 19.
6.2 Support is offered through carers who have been vetted and approved as Short break Foster Carers, Sitters and Befrienders who offer children care on a planned basis over a number of months or years.
6.3 Short break foster carers may be couples or single people, with or without children of their own who have been approved by Bolton's Fostering Panel. The time they offer an individual child may vary from a few hours to four weeks at any one stay, up to a maximum of 120 overnight stays a year.
6.4 Short break foster carers are recruited and supported to offer children a positive experience of being cared for away from home. The ethos of the scheme is to enable children to enjoy their time with carers, not add to them being disabled. The cultural, religious and racial background of the child is taken into account when looking for a match, as is the suitability of the home environment of the potential Link Family.
6.5 The ultimate choice of Short Break Foster Carer rests with the child's family. They will not be persuaded to use someone whom they regard as unsuitable or unable to meet their child's needs. The child's view will always be sought in whatever way possible, and be of the utmost importance in deciding the suitability of a placement.
6.6 After a successful introductory period it is expected that the child's family will make their own day to day arrangements for short break care within an agreed framework, which the child's social worker will record as part of a care plan.
6.7 Each Link Family is reviewed annually to ensure their continuing suitability for the task.
6.8 Bolton Shared Care also provides the supervising social worker for a small number of full-time placements for disabled children where it has been agreed that the service can offer the most appropriate support.
6.9 Communication and co-ordination between the Fostering Team and Bolton Shared Care is achieved through joint training opportunities for foster carers, including short break foster carers, joint training opportunities for staff, liaison between supervising social workers on specific issues and where foster carers offer a service to both teams, and quarterly meetings between the managers. There is a shared recording system via the Liquid Logic programme.


7. Training and Development of Carers

7.1 Foster carers are expected to participate in relevant training and learning opportunities. These will be organised in such a way (e.g. evenings, weekends, crèche availability) to facilitate attendance.
7.2 New potential carers will have received six sessions involving preparation/assessment materials as part of the pre-approval stage.
7.3

Once approved, carers will require essential training/development. During the first 2 years following approval all carers will be expected to undertake the following core skills courses:-

  • Care planning and carers' role;
  • Attachment/identity;
  • Managing behaviour;
  • Caring for a child who has been sexually abused and safe caring;
  • Educational needs of LAC;
  • Health needs of LAC;
  • First aid.
7.4 There are also a number of other relevant training courses available.  Each year the Fostering Team will identify relevant training / development opportunities with carers and complete a Personal Development Plan. More specialised training courses are available including 'Fostering Changes'. Carers are also encouraged to attend multi-disciplinary training including access to Safeguarding training.
7.5 Mainstream and enhanced carers can receive a training and development payment decided at their annual review. This depends on evidence that they have undertaken training and personal development as required and show evidence of this learning in their role as carers and in their Personal Development Plan which is considered as part of their annual review.
7.6 All carers are required to complete the CWDC Workbook. There is a specific workbook designed for family/friends carers.


8. Promoting Equality and Diversity

8.1 The Fostering Service aims to ensure that children and young people live in an environment which promotes equality, valuing and respecting their individuality and diversity. This applies to their needs in terms of gender, religion, ethnic origin, culture disability and sexuality.
8.2 The Fostering Service places children with carers of matching social and cultural heritage wherever possible. Where it is not immediately possible efforts continue to identify an appropriate placement as soon as possible, unless there are reasons why a child should remain in a transcultural placement.
8.3

The Fostering Service has a significant number of Asian Carers and other carers from minority ethnic groups. One of the Social Workers in the service is appointed to specifically to work with this group of carers.

The team also has a very good representation from different ethnic groups.

Training is organised for Asian Carers in their own language. There is also a support group for the carers.

Bolton Shared Care has an Asian Resource Worker who specifically works with Asian children and their families and offers Cultural Awareness training to the service.
8.4 The Fostering Service provides services for children with complex health needs, including equipment and adaptations, which enables them to access a wide range of activities as possible to maximise their potential.
8.5 The Fostering Service provides specific training for carers and staff which promote their ability to enhance a child's confidence and identity and their feeling of self worth.


9. Promoting Contact

9.1 The Fostering Service will fully consider the contact needs of a child/young person in determining contact arrangements.
9.2 The Fostering Service will ensure there is full support available to Foster Carers (contact team, escorts, and financial support) to facilitate contact arrangements.


10. Children's Guide/involvement of LAC

10.1 All foster carers will have information available to children/young people in relation to their circumstances and rights, including how to complain. It is important that children/young people are encouraged to read/refer to this guidance and to know their rights.
10.2 Bolton Children's Services has a partnership with Action for Children which makes available a Children's Rights and Advocacy Service. This service's telephone number is 01204 362002. If children/young people require an advocate, external support or want guidance on their rights, this service is available to them.
10.3 A Children's Guide is available for all LAC and foster carers who are encouraged to promote children using these materials. This guide was prepared by a group of L.A.C supported by the Children's Rights Service.
10.4 The Council has a Corporate Parenting Executive which meets regularly. There is a Voice 4 U group which advocates for LAC.
10.5 A panel of looked after young people are involved in the recruitment of staff to the Fostering Team.


11. Safeguarding

11.1 The Fostering Service works within the Councils Safeguarding procedures "The Framework for Action".
11.2 Allegations of abuse against Foster Carers are investigated in accordance with these procedures.
11.3 The Department has a Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) who takes a lead in ensuring allegations of professional abuse are fully investigated.


12. Other Relevant Services

12.1 Bolton aims to create improvement across the five outcome areas and works in partnership with many other agencies as necessary, including voluntary agencies such as the Lads and Girls Club to achieve this. A specialist mentoring scheme for all LAC is available through this agency.
12.2 Each child or young person looked after has a Personal Education Plan that is reviewed with the Care Plan. The Department has a specialist team for LAC which includes Education Liaison Officers, Learning Mentors, an Educational Psychologist. The team also has a LAC Nurse who helps ensure that there are clear health plans for all LAC.
12.3 LAC have access to personal education allowances to assist with their education. This is accessed through a Resource Management Panel, which meets on a regular basis. Laptops, extra tuition, funding for extra-curricular activities are supported through this funding and also pupil premiums.
12.4 The Department has an Emotional Health Worker dedicated to the needs of looked after children based with the Fostering Team. She offers consultation to carers and direct work. When needed, CAMHS can be accessed via this service rather than through other routes to ensure a speedy response. CAMHS can be accessed otherwise through normal referral procedures to ensure services are offered to children.
12.5 Carers have been supported in completing the Strengths and Difficulties questionnaires to help ensure appropriate referrals to CAMHS.
12.6 The Youth Offending Team offers support to carers and children who may be at risk of offending and also children whose behaviour could lead to placement or school breakdown because of aggressive or violent behaviour. This service centres on the principle of restorative justice.
12.7 Bolton also has a young people's health centre "The Parallel" a young people's substance misuse service "360", which offer more specialised support to LAC if necessary and a small 'Exit' team which supports young people at risk of sexual exploitation.
12.8

The Authority has a Corporate Parenting Officer to drive the Corporate Parenting Agenda across Departments. This has led to improvements in service across a wide area, including:-

  • Free access to leisure centres for carers and children;
  • Initiatives from the library service;
  • The provision of ICT to foster homes and the resources to train and support carers;
  • The development of work placements and apprenticeships for school leavers.


13. Complaints

13.1 Children/young people have information through the Children's Guide which provides clear guidance on their right to complain.
13.2 Children/young people have the right to see an independent advocate (through Action for Children) to support them in making a complaint.
13.3 Allegations in relation to the care provided by foster carers are investigated in accordance with safeguarding procedures in relation to professional abuse.
13.4 An independent mediation worker has been commissioned (together with other LA's) and is available to support carers when allegations have been made.
13.5 The Department has a full and comprehensive complaints procedure compliant with the Children Act (1989) and Complaints Procedure Directions (1990).
13.6 Complaints may be made by any member of the public dissatisfied with the service they receive. The objectives of the Department's procedures are to give service users the opportunity to be heard, offered reconciliation and have their complaint dealt with in a more formal way.
13.7

The stages of the Procedure are:-

  • Informally to provide reconciliation as soon as staff and managers are aware of dissatisfaction;
  • Stage 1 to have the complaint dealt with by the relevant manager;
  • Stage 2, if Stage 1 does not resolve the issue, an independent person may be appointed to review the complaint and action taken, investigate the complaint and make recommendations to the Department;
  • Stage 3, if Stage 2 does not provide resolution, for the complaint to be heard before a Panel independently chaired with other members from the Authority and with Councillor representation. The Panel makes its recommendations to the Director.
13.8 Complainants may take their case to the Ombudsman if they continue to be aggrieved, and are so informed.
13.9 All complaints from Stage 1 to 3 are overseen and the process managed by the Customer Relations Section of the Department.
13.10

Complaints may be made to the managers of the Fostering Service or the Customer Relations Officer at:-

BMBC Children's Services Department
Paderborn House
Bolton
Tel: 01204 332007
13.11

Complainants also of course have the right to make their complaint direct to their local councillor. Their contact details can be obtained from:-

Members' Secretariat
Town Hall
Bolton
BL1 1RU
Tel: 01204 331098


14. Performance, Information and Monitoring

14.1 There is regular (quarterly) monitoring of performance in relation to looked after children.
14.2 This information is cascaded to staff and fully considered at management forums.
14.3 An Annual Report is also completed.
14.4 Monitoring of the quality of work is achieved through supervision, file audits, reviews the work undertaken by panels and management forums.


15. Inspection and Registration of the Fostering Service

15.1

This is carried out by:-

OFSTED (Social Care)
Piccadilly Gate
Store Street
Manchester
M1 2WD
Tel: 0300 123 1231
Email: enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk


Appendix 1: Management Structure and Staffing for Bolton's Fostering Service

Click here to view Appendix 1: Management Structure and Staffing for Bolton's Fostering Service

End