Statement of Purpose

The Statement of Purpose describes how the fostering service ensures best outcomes for children in foster care and their families. It includes details of the staffing and organisational structure of the service, management arrangements, monitoring and evaluation of services and complaints procedures and the details of the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted).

Fostering Service Statement of Purpose 2016/2017

1. Introduction
2. Aims
3. Objectives
4. Values
5. Legal framework - Legislation, Regulations, Guidance
6. Management Structure
7. Staffing
8. Services Provided
9. Range of Placements Offered
10. Recruitment, Preparation and Assessment of Foster Carers
11. Connected persons - Family and Friends Carers
12. Fostering Panel and Adoption and Permanence Panel
13. Matching and Placement of Children
14. Foster Carer Supervision
15. Foster Carer Annual Reviews
16. Training for Foster Carers
17. Support Services to Foster Carers
18. Monitoring and Evaluating the Service
19. Complaints and Allegations
20. Children's Guide
21. Listening to Children and Young People
22. Involving Foster Carers in the Fostering Service
23. Ofsted
References and Links
Appendix: Staff roles qualifications and experience

1. Introduction

Brighton and Hove City Council is committed to providing a high quality fostering service. The statement of purpose, as required by National Minimum Standard (NMS) 16, will detail the aims and objectives of the service, quality assurance mechanisms, and the range of services provided to children, prospective foster carers and foster carers and birth families.

The Statement of Purpose describes how the fostering service ensures best outcomes for children in foster care and their families. It includes details of the staffing and organisational structure of the service, management arrangements, monitoring and evaluation of services and complaints procedures and the details of the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted). It should be read in conjunction with the Adoption Service Statement of Purpose, as the Fostering Service is an integral part of the Fostering and Adoption Service in Brighton and Hove.

The principles within the statement of purpose apply to placements made with other fostering agencies. These placements will receive the same high quality professional and management attention.

Wherever (FCH) appears in the text it indicates that further information on the topic can be found in the Brighton and Hove Foster Carers' Handbook (FCH) online, details of which are at end of this Statement of Purpose

2. Aims

The main aims of Brighton and Hove Council Fostering Service are to

  • Provide a good and sufficient range of quality services which promote and achieve best outcomes for children who need a fostering placement outside the families into which they were born
  • Provide assessment and support services to those families who have children placed with them on a Fostering basis within their family and friends network, and to liaise with fieldwork colleagues on the assessment of those children
  • Meet National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services and comply with all relevant legislative and regulatory frameworks (FCH)
  • To ensure that the needs of the diverse community of children, families and carers in Brighton and Hove are taken account of,

3. Objectives

Our objective is to provide high quality family placements for children, which meet their needs and promote their development. We achieve our objective by recruiting, assessing and supporting foster carers who are able to provide a range of well matched and well supported family placements which provide children with the opportunity to;

  • Be Healthy
  • Stay Safe
  • Enjoy and Achieve
  • Make a Positive Contribution
  • Achieve Economic Well Being

4. Values

The values of the Brighton and Hove Fostering Service are in line with those embedded in the National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services

  • The child's welfare, safety and needs are at the centre of their care.
  • Children should have an enjoyable childhood, benefiting from excellent parenting and education, enjoying a wide range of opportunities to develop their talents and skills leading to a successful adult life.
  • Children are entitled to grow up in a loving environment that can meet their developmental needs.
  • Every child should have his or her wishes and feelings listened to and taken into account.
  • Each child should be valued as an individual and given personalised support in line with their individual needs and background in order to develop their identity, self confidence and self-worth.
  • The particular needs of disabled children and children with complex needs will be fully recognised and taken into account
  • The significance of contact for looked after children, and of maintaining relationships with birth parents and the wider family, including siblings, half-siblings and grandparents, is recognised, as is the foster carer's role in this.
  • Children in foster care deserve to be treated as a good parent would treat their own children and to have the opportunity for as full an experience of family life and childhood as possible, without unnecessary restrictions.
  • The central importance of the child's relationship with their foster carer should be acknowledged and foster carers should be recognised as core members of the team working with the child.
  • Foster carers have a right to full information about the child.
  • It is essential that foster carers receive relevant support services and development opportunities in order to provide the best care for children.
  • Genuine partnership between all those involved in fostering children is essential for the NMS to deliver the best outcomes for children; this includes the Government, local government, other statutory agencies, fostering service providers and foster carers.

5. Legal framework - Legislation, Regulations, Guidance

The Government's vision for children's services was set out in the Every Child Matters paper. In particular, Brighton and Hove were to be judged on their positive contribution to the outcomes detailed our Objectives above.

This formed the basis for the Children Act 2004 and provided a framework for inspecting services. The Children and Families  Act 2014 has also brought a range of new provisions into law. New regulations and guidance came into force in April 2011 and June 2013 in the context of existing law:

  • Children Act 1989
  • Children Leaving Care Act 2000
  • Care Standards Act 2000
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002
  • Children Act 2004
  • Children and Young Person's Act 2008
  • Children and Families Act 2014

  The key new Regulations and Guidance are as follows:

  • The Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations 2016
  • The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013
  • National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services 2011
  • The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011
  • Revised Children Act 1989 Statutory Guidance for Fostering Services 2011 Volume 4, and Guidance on Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Volume 2
  • The Care Planning Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010
  • The Children Leaving Care Regulations 2010
  • Sufficiency Statutory Guidance 2010

 

These form the basis of the regulatory framework for the provision of fostering services, and provide the framework of standards used by Ofsted to inspect Local Authority fostering services. They set out the minimum requirements to which fostering services are expected to adhere. Ofsted has responsibility for the regulation and inspection of Children's Social Care Services in England. Contact details can be found in the section Complaints and Allegations

Brighton and Hove's Fostering Service operates within the framework of Equal Opportunities and Equalities Legislation and Brighton and Hove's Diversity and Equal Opportunities Policy.

Brighton and Hove's Fostering Service has agreed a Foster Carers' Charter and a Pledge to all looked after children.

6. Management Structure - awaiting revision at 01 September 2017

7. Staffing - awaiting revision at 01 September 2017

The registered manager of the Service is Clare Smith. She has been a qualified social worker for 21 years holding a CQSW and Masters in Social Work from Sussex University. She holds a Level 5 Certificate in Leadership and Management from Chichester University. She has worked in a variety of social care settings and joined the Fostering Service in 2000 and has been manager of the service since 2002.

The Fostering Service is made up of:

  • The Fostering Team
  • The Fostering Support Team
  • Administration Team

The Fostering Team (and Fostering Support Team) consists of:

  • Fostering Team Manager 1.0 FTE
  • Practice Managers 4.0 FTE
  • Senior Social Worker 1 FTE
  • Supervising Social Workers 11.1 FTE
  • Social Work Resource Officers 6.2 FTE
  • Recruitment and Publicity Officer 0.7 FTE

Admin Team consists of:

  • Office Manager 0.7 FTE
  • Information Officer 0.8 FTE
  • Team Administrators 4.2 FTE

(The admin team provides administrative support to both the Fostering Service and Adoption and Permanence Service)

The Family and Friends Team is situated within the management structure of the Adoption and Permanence Service. The registered manager is Karen Devine

The Family and Friends Team consists of:

  • Team Manager (Adoption and Permanence Team Manager) 1 FTE
  • Practice Manager 1.29 FTE
  • Supervising Social Worker 4.3 FTE
  • Social Work Resource Officer 1 FTE
  • Fostering panel adviser 0.4 and fostering panel administrator 0.6

Relevant Staff qualifications and experience see Appendix

 

8. Services Provided

The Fostering Service approves foster carers to looked after children aged 0 - 18 years of age.

The Fostering Service offers a wide range of suitable placements to meet the variety of needs of children and young people.

The Fostering Service recruits, prepares, assesses, supervises, supports and trains foster carers in order for them to help looked after children achieve the best possible outcomes.

The Fostering Service provides a duty service to social workers requiring foster placements.

9. Range of Placements Offered

Mainstream Foster Placements - Offer placements for 1 - 3 children and young people aged 0 -18th birthday whose care plan is either to return to their birth family or to move to a permanent placement such as adoption.

Permanent or Long Term Foster Placements - Carers who make a commitment to care for child/ren and young people until they are ready to live independently.

Respite Placements - Carers who offer a short stay to children to give their carers or parents' a break for a few days or during holiday times. Some carers offer other types of placement alongside respite placements.

Parent and Baby Placements - Carers offer a placement to a baby and their parent in order for the parent to be able to care for his/her child in a safe and supported environment. Some of these parents may be looked after themselves if under the age of 18.

Emergency Placements - Approved foster carers who offer an emergency placement at short notice. This is for 1 - 3 nights until a longer term placement is identified or the child returns home. These carers on occasions accept children needing placements out of normal working hours and are contacted by the Emergency Duty Service.

Intensive Foster Placements - These are placements requiring a high level of support in order to achieve placement stability for the children and young people.

Family and Friends Placements - These carers are approved to look after specific children and young people connected to them in some way such as via family relationships or friends. Many of these carers move on to take out Special Guardianship Orders on the child or young person where appropriate and following a thorough assessment.

10. Recruitment, Preparation and Assessment of Foster Carers

Recruitment

Fostering recruitment is a key priority for the Fostering Service. The Service has a dedicated recruitment team in recognition of this to concentrate solely on recruiting foster carers. Significant new initiatives are currently under way (April 2017) to increase our stock of in-house foster carers.

Brighton and Hove's Fostering Service has a Recruitment Strategy which is reviewed and updated annually to reflect current needs and gaps in provision

The aim of the strategy is to provide a choice of placements to meet the individual needs of every child. A key objective is to provide placement stability through meeting the child's needs and recruiting carers who have the skills and abilities to help looked after children achieve the best possible outcomes. It is recognised that this is a value for money strategy.

Applicants are welcomed from all members of the community, regardless of relationship status, employment situation, class, gender, sexuality, culture, ethnicity or religion.

Foster carers are recruited within a 20 mile radius of Brighton and Hove to ensure that children and young people can maintain links with their families, schools and communities.

The Fostering Service uses a number of different tools to recruit foster carers, including advertising, drop in events, attending community events, information articles in the local press, information sessions and personal recommendation which includes an incentive scheme. The real life experiences of approved foster carers and children and young people in care are used wherever possible.

There is a clear brand image displayed in posters and adverts.

The Fostering Service has good links with the Brighton and Hove City Council Press Office to help promote the service within Brighton and Hove.

An increasing amount of interest in fostering comes via the internet.  www.fosteringinbrightonandhove.org.ukwww.fosteringinbrightonandhove.org.uk .

There is a thorough recruitment process aimed to reduce delay, ensure a smooth journey through the process for applicants, to ensure applicants are given sufficient information to make informed decisions and that applicants who have the appropriate skills and abilities are taken forward to be assessed.

Recruitment Process

Initial Contact

Potential foster carers request a Fostering Information pack which will be sent to them within 48 hours. They will also be able to speak to a member of the Fostering Service. Calls will be returned within 48 hours if not able to be passed directly to a member of the Fostering Service.

Information Sessions

These are held regularly every 6-8 weeks in different locations across the city. These are facilitated by members of the Fostering Service and approved foster carers. There is a presentation and opportunity for individual consultation.

Initial Home Visit

At this visit there is opportunity to discuss the applicant's circumstances in more depth, meet with the family and ensure that the home conditions are suitable to foster. Applicants need to have a spare bedroom and sufficient space for play and homework.

Preparation Group

The Fostering Service runs regular preparation groups regularly throughout the year (4 - 6 per year). The groups take place over 4 days covering wide number of areas to help prepare carers for fostering. Saturday groups are available to applicants facilitated by the neighbouring authority. These groups are facilitated by 2 members of staff a foster carers and a looked after child speaks to applicants about their experience of being in foster care.

The preparation groups cover a wide range of topics to help inform and prepare foster carers for the task of fostering.

Feedback is provided and if it is decided that the applicant(s) is/are suitable then they will move forward to the assessment stage and if have not done so already will complete an application form and return to the Fostering Service.

Assessment Stage

Since 2013 a 2 stage assessment process has been introduced by statute. Part one deals with collecting the checks and references required, and part 2 covers the main assessment. Full details can be found in the 2013 Regulations referred to above.

The assessment is undertaken by a qualified and experienced social worker. There is a clear assessment process which is designed to produce thorough and comprehensive assessments with minimum delay and to ensure applicants are fully prepared for the fostering task.

The assessment report highlights the applicant's strengths, limitations and any areas for additional support to inform future matching and placement considerations.

The assessment process is also a complex risk assessment in relation to the carer's ability to meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people that may have experienced abuse and trauma.

The assessment is evidence based and informed by the information gained about the applicants by the assessing social worker over a number of sessions and by evidence from referees and from other checks to verify key information.

At the commencement of the assessment, the assessing social worker and their manager arrange to visit the applicants to outline the details of the assessment. Applicants are informed of the Independent Review Mechanism are provided and details of the council's complaint process. Applicants are given the BAAF Assessment Guide.

The Fostering Service uses the BAAF (Form F) as the assessment tool.

All carers are subject to a number of statutory checks and references.

  • Enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check on all members of the household over the age of 16
  • Child Protection Checks
  • Personal references - 6 personal references of which a minimum of 3 will be interviewed in person. One of these will be a family member.
  • In addition the assessment also includes:
  • A child observation
  • Interviews with adult children and children living in the household
  • Foster carers are required to undertake a full medical examination.
  • A work reference from present or previous employer
  • School or health visitor reference for applicants who have children at home
  • A home health and safety check
  • Develop a Family Safe caring policy
  • Interviews with ex-partners where there has been previous child care .
  • Complete a dog owners questionnaire

Full guidance on checks and references is set out in the document  'Practice Guidance - checks and references'.

The assessment generally takes place in the applicant(s) home and takes the form of interviews.. There are a number of other tools and techniques which can assist with the assessment e.g. case discussion, witness statements, visiting other carers, discussions of relevant topics.

During the course of the assessment the assessor and the applicants will discuss the terms of the foster carer's approval; numbers of children and age range depending on the carer's skills and abilities, circumstances and preferences.

The assessing social worker completes a written report which is shared with the applicants (excluding the references). Applicants have opportunity to check for accuracy and add comments.

The line manager completes a second opinion report providing information on how the applicants experienced the assessment, clarifying any issues that arose during the assessment and looking at any future matching considerations.

The completed assessment report is submitted to the Fostering Panel

11. Connected persons - Family and Friends Carers

These carers go through a similar assessment process to stranger foster carers, including attendance at the Fostering Panel, but allowances are made during the assessment process as required in Regulations and Guidance. The assessment is carried out in relation to specific children, so the children's needs are always assessed thoroughly to ensure that the carers have the skills to meet the assessed needs of those specific children. The matching and placement of children observes the same principles as for stranger fostering, including when the child has been placed under Regulation 24 with a temporarily-approved foster carer. This ensures that the needs of the child remain paramount

A specialist team carries out the work of assessing and supporting family and friends carers.

12. Fostering Panel and Adoption and Permanence Panel

Most Brighton and Hove foster carers are approved by the Fostering Panel, which is constituted to meet the provisions of the Fostering Regulations. (Some family and friends foster carers, and prospective long-term foster carers, are approved at the Adoption and Permanence Panel, which is also constituted to comply with the Regulations governing Fostering Panels). The Panel is chaired by a suitably qualified and experienced independent chairperson. Both Panels have the services of agency advisers who do not have operational management responsibility within the service and who play a vital organising and quality assurance role.

The Fostering Panel is a jointly constituted Panel with Barnardo's Link Plus and normally meets every four weeks. The Adoption & Permanence Panel currently (September 2017) meets every three weeks. The Adoption & Permanence Panel also considers the approval of concurrency carers and foster to adopt carers and the matches of children under the age of 9 with permanent carers. As indicated above, both Panels now consider the assessment of prospective family and friends foster carers.

There is provision under Regulation 24 to make a placement with a temporarily approved family and friends foster carer for up to sixteen weeks, for a child who is looked after, without going to Fostering Panel beforehand, but these placements must be assessed and presented to Fostering Panel within timescales stipulated in Regulations.

Foster carers' First Annual Reviews are considered by Fostering Panel. Subsequent reviews will also be considered at Panel if there are any serious concerns and/or if termination of approval is being considered. Agency Decision Maker decisions, based on the Panel recommendations, will be notified orally (2 working days) and in writing (5 working days) within regulatory timescales to carers/prospective carers, who will have 28 days either to appeal to the Agency if they disagree with the decision, or if their approval is being varied, or alternatively prospective or existing carers can refer their case to the Independent Review Mechanism (I.R.M.) for a new hearing. New Panel members are provided with induction and annual appraisals are undertaken with all Panel members.

13. Matching and Placement of Children

The Placements Service provides a daily duty service to social work staff needing an emergency or task focused placement for a child. This service is overseen by a Team Manager and staffed by members of the Agency Placements Team and Fostering Service. Full information is taken about the placement needs of the child and consideration is given to all appropriate in-house placements. As far as possible children will be placed locally to enable them to sustain appropriate contact with family and friends and minimise any disruption to their school and leisure pursuits. The policy in relation to the needs of BME children in care highlights the need to find a placement that reflects the child's ethnic, cultural and religious background if at all possible.

When an appropriate in-house provision is not available the Placements Team will seek a placement with a local independent fostering provider. Children and Families have undertaken a tendering process to establish framework agreements with preferred and accredited providers. This process helps to ensure quality standards in foster care provided by Independent Fostering Agencies [IFAs] for children in care with Brighton and Hove. It also serves to streamline and improve partnership working with other agencies and more cost-effective use of IFAs when in-house placements are unavailable. The contractual arrangements with the independent fostering and residential sector are overseen by the Agency Placements Manager.

Brighton and Hove has a contract with Barnardo's to provide a respite link scheme and some long term fostering provision for children with disabilities. The teams collaborate as appropriate to ensure foster carers providing placements for children with disabilities are well supported and have access to appropriate specialist services.

The Fostering Service runs a weekly Children Awaiting Placement meeting to consider all the children who are waiting for foster placements and identify possible matching options.

As part of the matching process the Fostering Service ensures that the foster carer is given sufficient information about the child both written and verbal. Further information is given by the placing social worker informing the foster carer directly.

The Fostering Service is piloting a Foster Carer Profile information sheet to give to children and young people, with information about the household they will be moving to.

Foster carers who are caring for children who require a permanent or long term placement will always be considered as potential permanent carers for that child if that is their wish and it meets the needs of the child. Specific procedures for the re-assessment of short term carers offering permanency have been drawn up and agreed with Adoption & Permanence Panel.

14. Foster Carer Supervision

The service recognises that supervision and support for carers is vital. It is important that the carer's work is recognised as providing the major component in meeting the needs of Looked After Children in Brighton and Hove.

Carer satisfaction and retention is essential for a healthy fostering service.

All carers (including family and friends carers) have an identified Supervising Social Worker. The Supervising Social Workers visit carers regularly to monitor the standards of care provided, assist the carer to play their part in the child's care plan and identify any training needs.

Supervising Social Workers are responsible for ensuring that the care offered to children in foster care meets the required standards.

It is recognised that the Supervising Social Worker is a key support to foster carers and they aim to build supportive relationships with the foster carers to enable them in their role as carers.

The Supervising Social Worker visits and telephones the carer regularly whilst the child is in placement. Visits to the foster carers take place at a minimum of bi-monthly but the majority of visiting arrangements are on a monthly basis. It is recognised that new carers may need a higher level of contact in the initial stages of fostering and also those carers looking after several children or with complex care scenarios or challenging behaviours. These visits can be increased as assessed need determines. Areas discussed during these visits and decisions reached are recorded and shared with the foster carer(s) and social worker.

As part of the monitoring of the work of foster carers, there will be at least an annual unannounced visit by the Supervising Social Worker to the foster carer's home.

15. Foster Carer Annual Reviews

Foster carers are reviewed at least annually. This is a formal meeting and considers their status as foster carers and on-going suitability to foster. It considers the terms of their continued approval. It also gives opportunity to look at the work they have undertaken during the year and is an opportunity to reflect on achievements and learning. Any training needs are considered and recommendations made for the future.

Generally the fostering review meeting takes place in the foster carers' home with their supervising social worker. If there have been specific issues that have arisen during the preceding year it may be appropriate for the supervising social worker's line manager to chair this meeting or for an Independent Reviewing Officer to chair the meeting.

In preparation for the review meeting feedback is sought from the foster carer(s), children who are or have been in placement in the preceding year and their parents if appropriate, the placing social worker(s), the views of foster carers own children and Independent Reviewing Officers. The supervising social worker will meet with foster carers' own children to seek their views wherever possible.

Foster Carers' first annual review is taken back to the Fostering Panel as are Annual Reviews related to significant changes for the foster carers or where there have been standards of care issues or serious concerns.

16. Training for Foster Carers

The importance of training for foster carers, to enhance their skills and knowledge and provide opportunity for further development is recognised by the Fostering Service. A comprehensive foster carer training programme has been developed. This is available online in the Foster Carers Handbook http://www.brightonandhovefosteringhandbook.org.uk/Support-and-training/training-diary.html

There are 5 mandatory courses for carers to be completed in the first two years of fostering:

  1. Positive Interventions
  2. Working Together in Child Protection
  3. Safe Caring - complaints & allegations
  4. Paediatric First Aid
  5. Attachment

In addition to the mandatory courses, foster carers are required to complete a range of essential courses within the first 2 years of fostering, depending on the type of fostering they are doing and/or the age of children being cared for. They can also have access to other training courses provided to staff within Brighton and Hove City Council. Foster carers receive regular updates of courses that might be of interest to them. New courses are developed where a new need is identified.

Each carer has an annual personal development plan developed to identify training needs. These are completed at the Foster Carers' Annual Review. Supervising social workers regularly discuss foster carers' training needs on their monthly visits.

Where possible the times of training have been arranged to take place within school hours to make it easier for carers to attend. Foster carers with pre school age children can apply to the Fostering Team for a contribution towards the costs of arranging childcare to enable them to attend training.

Carers are supported to complete the CWDC Training and Support Development Standards workbook by their Supervising Social Worker. In addition the Fostering Service provides support sessions related to each standard. Training courses provided have been linked to the CWDC TSD standards

A Practice Manager in the Fostering Service works closely with a member of the council's Learning and Development Team to develop the training programme and ensure full information is sent to carers about forthcoming training events. They also meet regularly with the Foster Carer Training Working Party which is made up of foster carers undertaking a variety of fostering tasks and other staff from the different teams within the Fostering Service to receive feedback, identify needs and further develop the foster carer training programme.

Training will need to be delivered in a variety of ways and formats to allow for maximum participation. There is a growing number of e-learning courses available in this programme to provide additional training opportunities to carers who have practical difficulties in attending training in person.

In addition Brighton and Hove has developed partnerships with East Sussex and West Sussex to enable carers to attend their courses, and vice versa, to enable access.

Carers are encouraged to undertake post approval training. Foster carers can apply to undertake the QCF Level 3 (previously NVQ) for the Children and Young People's Workforce

Foster carers will also be supported to deliver training themselves to other carers and appropriate professionals.

17. Support Services to Foster Carers

The Fostering Service believes that the support of foster carers is essential in helping foster carers provide care for children and young people. Brighton and Hove has developed a comprehensive support package. This consists of

  • An individual supervising social worker who is the foster carers' first contact and offer advice and support. If the supervising social worker is not available the foster carer can speak with their line manager or alternatively with a worker on the Fostering Duty Desk. The positive working relationship between the foster carer and their supervising social worker is at the heart of the fostering service in Brighton and Hove.
  • The supervising social worker will consider the needs of the whole family. She/he will visit at least once a month when there are children in placement and will also contact the carer regularly as well as accompanying the carer to significant meetings concerning the child in care.
  • 24 hour support. Fostering On-Call Service staffed my members of the Fostering Service. This is a telephone advice line that carers can call in an emergency for advice such as if a child is missing. The On-Call Service operates from 5pm until 8 am the next morning and weekends and bank holidays. Carers can also contact the Social Services Emergency Duty Service out of hours.
  • A foster allowance to cover all costs of caring for looked after children. There is also a fee element which relates to the need to recruit and retain an experienced pool of foster carers. The payment structure therefore reflects the increasing professionalisation of foster care and our need to have a robust recruitment strategy within a very competitive environment. The details of the payment scheme are published in the Brighton and Hove Foster Carers' Handbook
  • Membership of Fostering Network. This national charity works to promote and improve the service provided for children in foster care and to be the voice of foster carers. Benefits of membership include: legal insurance, regular information on fostering and specialist publications and training and an advice line
  • New foster carers are provided with an Induction Pack containing useful documents and information about fostering, other services available to them and other teams within the council
  • Induction mornings for new carers are held 2 times per year to introduce new foster carers to key personnel both within the Fostering Service and other services for children and young people in care.
  • The Fostering Service recognises that new carers may need higher levels of support and contact when they commence fostering and supervising social workers will both visit and contact new foster carers more frequently. They will also accompany foster carers to key meetings.
  • The Fostering Service facilitate a range of support groups where carers can come together on a regular basis to offer support to each other, to hear expert speakers and organise training and social events. Currently running are:
    • CWDC Training and Development Standards Support Group (Standards 1- 6)
    • A monthly support group to foster carers
    • A group for parent and baby carers
    • A group for carers exploring fostering therapeutic issues
    • Activity group for carers' sons and daughter
    • The Intensive Foster Placement Support & Development Group
    • Family and Friends Carers support group
  • In addition gay and lesbian foster carers can attend the gay and lesbian support group for adopters and foster carers supported by the Fostering and Adoption Service.
  • The Fostering Service recognises that some children can be very complex and that carers can benefit from access to specialist support and advice and has developed contracts and arrangements with
    • A freelance child psychotherapist who can offer consultation sessions with foster carers.
    • A therapeutic fostering consultant
    • The Fostering Service works closely with the Nurse Consultant and the LAC Health Team. The team deliver training to carers as well as being able to be contacted directly for advice.
    • The Educational Psychologist for Looked After Children provides both consultation and training for carers on specific education issues.
    • The Recruitment and Publicity Officer for BME carers is able to provide advice to carers caring for black children to meet their identity needs.
  • The support role of the Brighton and Hove Foster Care Association (BHFCA) has grown over recent years and offers a number of support services to foster carers and their families:
    • buddy scheme for newly approved carers.
    • Social activities e.g. coffee mornings or picnics
    • Support if a foster carer subject or a complaint or allegation
    • Liaison and consultation with the Fostering Service on issues and policies affecting foster carers
    • A website and regular newsletter providing updates to carers
  • Respite care may be helpful for carers to enable them to continue to care for children and ensure the stability of placements. This could be for emergencies or to sustain a placement.
  • It can be very stressful for carers to be subject to a complaint or allegation. There are a number of different routes of support open to foster carers.
    • Support from their support from their supervising social worker who should keep them informed of the progress of the complaint or allegation
    • Independent Fostering Support provides independent support and advice to carers subject to a serious complaint or allegation. Foster carers can take out an individual contract or the Fostering Service can arrange for support to be provided.
    • Members of the BHFCA can provide advice and support.
    • Foster carers can contact the Fostering Network's Fosterline.
    • If a child needs to be removed from the foster home at short notice whilst an investigation takes place there is a payment schedule in place until the situation is resolved.
  • The Fostering Support Team has a key role in providing a range of enhanced support services to children in care, carers and their own children. They will work closely with carers to ensure that children in placement are given the maximum opportunity to reach their potential and build sustainable stable relationships with their carers. They provide an activity programme during school holiday times giving carers a break as well as providing fun activities for children in care. They work directly with children (generally after school) to help improve placement stability.

    The Fostering Support Team distributes Brighton and Hove Albion home match tickets to foster families and the Listen Up cards to Children in Care so they can access local sports facilities.

    The Intensive Foster Placement Scheme provides an enhanced support package to carers looking after more challenging children to help improve placement stability

18. Monitoring and Evaluating the Service

Brighton and Hove has a number of systems in place for monitoring and evaluating the service as follows:

  • Supervising social workers, foster carers and managers receive regular supervision in order to maintain the high standards expected of carers and workers
  • On all reports read and signed by managers, their signature represents a check on the quality of the information provided.
  • Annual unannounced visits are made to all carers.
  • Tracking systems are in place to monitor timescales from initial enquiry to approval.
  • Feedback forms are provided to all enquirers in their information packs, at the information session, and after their preparation training groups.
  • Monthly and six monthly evaluations of fostering enquiries inform the development of our recruitment & enquiry strategy and process.
  • Foster carers have an opportunity to attend Fostering Panel and to return an evaluation form to provide feedback on their experience.
  • Quality assurance of reports is carried out by the Fostering Panel Chair
  • The Fostering Panel receives written reports from most Standards of Care Meetings in order to consider common themes or trends arising from issues that have arisen, in order to learn lessons and inform future practice.
  • The Fostering Panel reviews all first annual reviews of foster carers
  • The Annual Report provides an account and review of fostering panel work
  • When approval is terminated carers have the opportunity to complete an evaluation form which is sent to the Panel Chair. They may also request a meeting to provide feedback about their experience of being a carer
  • File audits of carer files and staff supervision files are carried out by the Team Manager for Fostering.
  • Carers, children, birth parents and staff are consulted regularly about their views of the service.
  • Regular reports provided to executive side of council
  • In addition the Fostering Service is subject to regular inspection by Ofsted.

19. Complaints and Allegations

Users of the Fostering Services, including children, birth families, prospective and approved carers, are provided with copies of the complaints procedure, advised how to access the procedure and encouraged to invoke it if unhappy with services provided. Foster carers are also advised about the circumstances in which they may have recourse to the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) if they are in disagreement with a decision being proposed by the Agency Decision Maker (ADM). Service users are advised that independent sources of support are available to help them make a complaint and advocate on their behalf if they feel unconfident making a complaint by themselves. Service users are advised that the Customer Services Manager who oversees the complaints procedure can be contacted at:

Brighton & Hove City Council

Hove Town Hall, Norton Road, Hove, BN3 3BQ

Or by writing to Standards & Complaints, Freepost SEA2560, Brighton

BN1 1ZW

The Freephone number is 0500 291229

Information about the complaints process can be found by going to the City Council website: www.brighton-hove.gov.ukwww.brighton-hove.gov.uk or the Fostering & Adoption Service website:

http://www.fosteringinbrightonandhove.org.uk/http://www.fosteringinbrightonandhove.org.uk/

Complaints can also be emailed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Most complaints are resolved informally and speedily by the local manager and records are kept of all complaints, compliments and representations made to the Service. There are clear procedures in place for responding to complaints. Formal Stage 1 complaints are acknowledged within 2 working days and should be responded to within 10 working days, and ideally resolved by the supervising social worker or their immediate line manager. If someone is still unhappy after the complaint has been dealt with at Stage 1 they can ask for Stage 2 investigation. The Standards and Complaints team will aim to conclude all Stage 2 investigations within 20 working days. Complainants can request a Stage 3 investigation and hearing if still dissatisfied. Members of the public can complain directly to the local Ombudsman at any time, however the Ombudsman will usually want the Council to have chance to investigate the complaint first.

Complaints leaflets are available to carers and families. Children and Families produces separate complaints leaflets for children and young people and information about how to complain is also included in the Children's Guides to Fostering (FCH).

The Service reports annually on complaints within the Fostering Agency Report that goes to the Council. Corporate records of complaints, compliments and representation are reported on regularly.

The Management teams within the Fostering and Adoption Service regularly discuss any issues arising from complaints, standards of care, or allegations against carers to ensure any lessons learnt can be disseminated and changes in practice made.

20. Children's Guide

Subject to the child's age and understanding, the fostering service ensures the child receives the Children's Guide to Fostering at the point of placement and that the foster carer explains the contents of the Children's Guide in a way that is accessible. Foster carers are supplied with these guides to give to children coming into care.

The Children's Guide includes a summary of what the fostering service sets out to do for children, how they can find out their rights, how a child can contact their Independent Reviewing Officer, or the Children's Rights Director, or Ofsted if they wish to raise a concern

Brighton and Hove has also made this available as an e-book

For younger children Brighton and Hove uses the BAAF 'Dennis Duckling' book as a pictorial guide to help explain fostering.

21. Listening to Children and Young People

Children's views are taken into account in decision making and reviews, where they are of an age and understanding to be able to contribute.

Brighton and Hove are developing Children in Care Councils. The Children in Council for children aged 7 - 10 years is run by the Fostering Support Team and works closely with the council for older children, providing opportunity for children to give their views about their experience of foster care.

Where children make complaints or allegations, the starting point will be that they are telling the truth, and all similar matters will always be fully investigated.

22. Involving Foster Carers in the Fostering Service

The Fostering Service believes it is important to involve foster carers in the development of the fostering service by providing them with opportunities for feedback and consulting with them about developments with the Fostering Service. The Team Manager meets regularly with the BHFCA and provides quarterly surgeries for foster carers to come and discuss issues of concern to them. Foster carers are able to meet with more senior managers and elected members within the council.

23. Ofsted

The Fostering Service will be inspected by Ofsted in accordance with the Fostering Service (England) Regulations 2011 and the Fostering Services National Minimum Standards 2011. Inspection reports are public documents and a copy of the most recent report is available via the website http://www.fosteringinbrightonandhove.gov.uk/http://www.fosteringinbrightonandhove.gov.uk/

The local Ofsted office responsible for inspecting Fostering Services provided by Brighton and Hove City Council can be contacted at:

Ofsted South Region
Freshford House
Radcliffe Way
Bristol
BS1 6NL

www.ofsted.gov.ukwww.ofsted.gov.uk


References and Links

Brighton and Hove Foster Carers' Handbook 2017

http://www.brightonandhovefosteringhandbook.org.uk/

Brighton and Hove Fostering website 2017 http://www.fosteringinbrightonandhove.org.uk/http://www.fosteringinbrightonandhove.org.uk/

Brighton and Hove Joint Fostering Panel Constitution and Terms of Reference 2017

Brighton and Hove Operational Instructions (with links to Pan-Sussex Safeguarding Procedures for foster carers) 2017 (TriX)

Brighton and Hove Business Continuity Plan 2017


Appendix: Staff roles qualifications and experience (fostering)

RoleNameRelevant QualificationsExperience

Fostering Team

Team Manager Clare Smith CQSW/Masters in Social Work
Practice Teachers Award
Level 5 Cert in Leadership and Management
20 years experience in statutory children’s social work including long term and duty social work. 12 years experience in Fostering Services and 10 years fostering management experience
Practice Manager John Donnelly B Sc Sociology, CQSW, Certificate in Management Studies Children and families SW 1987-1994
Fostering Supervising SW 1995-1999
Fostering Practice Manager 1999-present
Practice Manager  Emma  Fincham-Siley    
Practice Manager  Cathy  Seiderer    
Recruitment & Publicity Officer Virginia Collison Certificate in Community Development 27 years experience community work, Manager MOSAIC Black and Mixed Parentage Group
Social Worker Rachel Cross    
Fostering Officer        
Social Worker        
Social Worker        
Social Worker        
Social worker        
Social Worker (mat leave) Sally Pulham Diploma in Social Work 11 years social work experience
Social Worker Sue Satterthwaite Diploma in Social Work, Mental health Award 19 years social work experience in both children’s and adult services.
Social Worker        
Social Worker Anna Shaw MA in social work (qualified in 2008).
PQ1 Consolidation and Understanding Children
4 years Supervising Social Worker
3 years unqualified social worker
SWRO (temp) Kim Shuttleworth BA Support Worker – Vulnerable adults (2 years). Support worker in the Fostering Service for 4 years
Social Worker        
Social Worker Petra Sumner BA (Hons) 1990
MSW /CQSW 1994
Social Worker - fieldwork 1995-2003
Supervising Social Worker -Fostering Team since 2003
Social Worker        
Social Worker Vacancy      

FST

Practice Manager        
Social Worker Joe Buss National and Maternal Child Welfare Diploma (Qualified Nursery Nurse) ,
BSC (Hons),
Masters in Social Work
5 years as a social worker in Fieldwork/Child Protection, 7 Years as a supervising social worker
Senior Social Worker Colin Currie Bsc Social Pyschology, MA Criminology, DipSW, PQ1, Specialist Award 15 years experience working in the Fostering Service
SWRO Patricia David    
Social Worker (mat leave)        
SWRO Alan Grinyer    
SWRO Nick Martin Graduate cert in Therapeutic Care of Children and Young People, Diploma in Humanistic Counselling 15 years experience working with looked after children
SWRO/ Admin Debbie Pannell    
SWRO Dave Sutherland    

Family & Friends

Head of Service Karen Devine Diploma in Applied Social Studies and CQSW 1991, Level 5 Certificate in Leadership and Management 23 years experience in child protection and child care social work. 9 years as manager of the Adoption and Permanence Service
Pod Manager  Annie  Fraser  CQSW, Msc Social policy and Social Work Studies  29 years social work experience in a variety of settings. 8 years working with Family and Friends
Pod Manager Ann Horne Masters in Social Work 8 years social work experience in duty and children’s hospital social work team. 4 years experience in the Family and Friends Team
SWRO Sarah Flagg BA Social Work 6.5 years working in teams such as Children in Need and pre birth assessment team including 4.5 years in the Fostering Service.
Social Worker        
Senior Social Worker        
Social Worker        
Social Worker        
Senior Social Worker Sue Mckernan Dip SW 1993 Employed in Children’s Services since December 1979
4 years Residential Childcare Officer , 6 years Nursery Officer/Family Centre Worker, 2 years Deputy Manager Family Centre, 1 year Social Worker in Children’s Team, 2 years Social Worker in Family Centre, 7 years Family Centre Manager, 8 years Senior Social Worker, Family and Friends Team
Social Worker        
SWRO Melanie Rowland   11 years experience working in social care settings. 7 years experience in the Family and Friends Team

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