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Devon Fostering works in partnership with children and young people, their families and Carers to provide safe caring homes that value the differences in children and young people, and help them to achieve their full potential.
We aim to achieve this by providing:
- Safe, warm and caring family environments
- Comprehensive support for children, young people and Carers
- Encouragement for children and young people to meet their full potential and to mark and celebrate their success
- Personal and group support for Carers and their families
- A flexible service that respects individual needs, and values diversity
- Effective promotion, recruitment and training for Carers
- Measurable outcomes that achieve, or exceed, National Standards.
- A professional service that is accountable, financially viable, and maximises partnership opportunities
A more detailed document containing information about Devon's Fostering Service, its management structure, polices and procedures is available from the Fostering Group Manager.
The National Standards state that '... each Foster Carer is subject to, and participates in, a comprehensive assessment of her or his ability to carry out the fostering task and must be formally approved by the appropriate authority before a child is placed in his or her care'.
- Fostering Social Workers undertake the assessment process for mainstream carers, remand and family care workers in Devon. Kinship and specific placement assessments may be completed either by the district or the fostering team.
- Anyone applying to be a Foster Carer should receive clear information on the process of assessment, the criteria against which he or she will be assessed, and the appeal procedure should he or she wish to challenge a decision not to approve him or her as a Carer.
- Carers are recommended for approval by Devon's Foster Care Panels which Carers are invited to attend. A decision regarding approval is then made by the agency decision maker.
For further details of the assessment process, please contact your local fostering team.
- Preparation courses are provided to which all prospective Carers are invited and expected to attend.
- Post approval training is provided for Foster Carers to enable them to develop additional skills and competencies. A programme of courses is published and distributed to all Carers.
- When there are significant changes in approval, for example from temporary to permanent care, such matters should be referred to the Foster Care Panel for recommendation regarding re-approval.
- Where Carers decide to withdraw from fostering, for example due to retirement or changes in personal circumstances, this should be put in writing to their local Practice Manager. The letter will be presented to the Foster Care Panel along with a brief report from the Link Social Worker. A formal letter of closure of de-registration will be sent confirming that they are no longer Foster Carers.
- Where Social Services has reason to de-register Carers against their wishes, the Carers should be given full details as to why in the form of a report to the Foster Care Panel. Carers can provide their own report to the panel, and can attend the panel and bring someone to support them if they wish.
- Following the panel's recommendation to de-register a Carer, the agency decision maker will either endorse or overturn the recommendation and the Carers will receive a letter detailing the reason for the decision.
- If Carers are not satisfied with the outcome they have a right to appeal to the panel for a review of the decision. A further recommendation will then be made to the agency decision maker.
Foster Carers can be asked to undertake a variety of tasks to assist children and families. Examples of these are:
- Respite care - sometimes parents or other foster families need a break from the full time care of children.
- Holidays and weekend care for children at residential schools.
- Emergency care - sometimes crisis situations arise when children or young people need accommodation urgently. Emergency foster care can assist children and families, and allow further planning to take place to assess and meet the needs of children. Some Carers may wish to offer such placements and be available for contact by Devon's Emergency Duty Team, who may need to place children outside office hours.
- Youth Offender fostering - specialist placements for young people who have committed offences and may be remanded to care, or required to live at a specified address, by Youth Courts.
- Short-term or temporary care - where children are looked after for short defined periods, or prior to plans for either return home or permanency.
- Permanency / long term care - where children are unable to return home, but where their needs preclude adoption as a plan.
- Specialist Family Care Worker fostering - for children who present as particularly challenging and have profound relationship difficulties. Further details are available direct from the scheme, telephone number 01803 867 847.
- Some Foster Carers may be involved in helping children to move on to adoptive homes, or be interested in adoption themselves. Further information about adoption is available from the fostering teams.
- Any plan for permanent long term foster care or adoption will be made at a Permanency Planning Meeting. Foster Carers will be invited to these meetings, as they have valuable insight into the needs of children.
- Each Foster Carer / Carer Family should have an identified supervisory and support Fostering Social Worker independent of the children placed with them. Where possible, this will also be offered to specific or kinship carers.
- Carers should be able to discuss with their Social Worker matters which do not necessarily relate directly to the child in their care.
- Fostering Social Workers undertake annual reviews with Foster Carers and try to resolve situations of difficulty and conflict where these arise in relation to the Department.
- Foster care support groups are run locally, and it can be very helpful to Carers to meet other Carers for mutual support and to develop skills and experience.
- The ‘Fostering Network' seeks to promote good practice in foster care. Devon Fostering is a member of the Fostering Network, and recommends that local groups and individuals become affiliated.
- Each Foster Carer will receive one unannounced visit per year.
- When a Carer's link worker is unavailable, there will be support cover provided by the fostering team. This might be the placement co-ordinator or a duty Social Worker.
For details of your local support group please contact your Fostering Social Worker.
The Peer Guidance Scheme is now well-established, following a request from Foster Carers for more support from experienced colleagues.
Peer Guides are selected and appointed on the basis of experience, skills and commitment. Each locality has at least one Peer Guide who attends monthly supervision and training groups, where they receive regular updates on policies and procedures. They have local contact numbers both in Social Services and other Agencies, and can offer lots of helpful hints.
All Foster Carers will be given the names and phone numbers of their local Peer Guides. If you have anything you want to talk over, contact and confidentiality will be respected as long as this is consistent with the safety and welfare of the children in your care.
The National Standards state that '... a review is to be conducted with each Carer at least once a year'. This review must satisfy the authority of the continuing capacity of the Carer to carry out the fostering task; provide the Carer with an opportunity to give feedback; contribute to essential information on the quality and range of service provided by the authority; and inform recruitment, assessment and training strategies.
The review will normally take place in the Carer's home, and will comprise a report from the Supervising Social Worker, written comments from Social Workers responsible for any child placed in the foster home since the last review, views of the young people via their Care Manager, the Carer's children (either in writing or by discussion), and written comments from the Carers.
The review will be signed by the Carers, Fostering Social Worker, and Manager. It will provide an opportunity to discuss the Carer's skills and position in relation to Devon's Carer's Progression Scheme, and is the formal re-approval of the Carer. First reviews of newly-approved Carers will be presented to the Fostering Panel, as will subsequent reviews which identify significant changes - for example a change in approval range from temporary to permanent fostering.
Carers have the opportunity to develop their skills. By means of the annual appraisal with their link worker, they may progress through the Carers Progression Scheme which recognises the complexity of work undertaken.
Carers begin at a probationary stage, and may then progress over 3 years to Level 3. Progression will be dependent upon evidence of competency and will be backed by evidence such as specific tasks completed, records of observation, relevant experience, and a supporting statement.
Carers at a higher level will be seen as able to foster a child or children with more complex needs or more challenging behaviour. They may also play a significant role in recruitment, training, or representation within the Social Services Department.
There are increasing fees attached to the different levels of competency.
Carers' approval levels can go down as well as up, but an Action Plan can always be agreed with Carers who wish to remain at a particular level but have not reached required training, occupancy or contribution levels.