Children and Families

Working in partnership with Brighton and Hove Children and Families


The Government’s Department for Education has ensured that every local authority develops a framework for assessing, planning and reviewing its services to individual children.

The elements which are most likely to involve foster carers are assessing; planning; accommodating the child in their home; and reviewing the child’s Care Plan.

The child’s social worker should provide you with core assessments and information about the child's individual circumstances and placement plans.

Planning meetings

All placements, whether planned, emergency or respite care placements, must be subject to placement planning meetings. The meeting can be before the child moves to you, or at the start of a placement. The Placement Plan should be prepared before the child is placed. If this is not reasonably practical, the Placement Plan must be prepared within five working days of the start of the placement. The following people should attend the meeting:

  • the child whenever appropriate. They should be encouraged as much as possible to express their views
  • the child’s birth parents and other significant members of the wider family and child’s social network
  • the child’s social worker
  • yourself as foster carer for the child
  • your supervising social worker who will complete the Placement Plan
  • other people may be invited such as teachers, doctors or other professionals if they have a relevant contribution to make.

The plan for the child will include:

  • what the child/young person’s needs are in terms of health, education, religion, language, friends and carers. How and by whom these needs will be met
  • where the child/young person will be living
  • the child’s current legal status
  • details of why the child/young person is looked after by the local authority
  • arrangements for the child/young person to maintain contact with birth parents, relatives, friends and other significant persons, whether contact should be supervised, and where it should take place
  • who is responsible for carrying out these plans.

The agreed plan and decisions will be written down and must be signed by all those attending the meeting. Each person attending will be given a copy, including the child/young person if they are old enough to understand the plan.

A further meeting will be arranged within four weeks to review how the plan is progressing.

Visits by the child’s social worker

All children and young people who are looked after by Brighton and Hove must have a social worker. Their job is to keep regular contact with the child, their family and other significant people to ensure that plans concerning the child are carried out.

The Children Act 1989 requires that:

  • social workers visit within the first week of any placement
  • again at not less than six-weekly intervals in the first year of placement
  • at not less than three monthly intervals after that or when requested by the child or the person with whom the child is placed which normally will be you.

Social workers should arrange to see the child alone in the placement or outside of the home. As the child’s carer you should not feel uncomfortable about this as it is a legal requirement and is in the interests of the child, The possible subsequent advice from the social worker could assist your care of the child and support your work. Where you or any worker has concerns about the way a placement is progressing, they may initiate a Placement Stability Meeting to discuss what additional support may ne needed to stabilise a placement.

Review of the child or young person in placement

Regular reviews are carried out to check the plans and decision making about placements and will be arranged as circumstances require. A review must be carried out within the first month of placement. After a further three months if the child is still in placement a plan for permanence should be agreed at the looked after children review, followed by reviews at six monthly intervals.

The child or young person should be encouraged to attend the meeting or submit their views in writing or through you as their carer, their social worker or a friend.

Birth parents, social workers and sometimes a teacher or health professional, who are concerned with the child’s welfare, may attend the review. Your role as the child’s foster carer is crucial in the review process and it is vital that you attend and contribute.

The purpose of the review is to:

  • seek and take into account the views of the child/young person, parents, foster carers and any other person involved with the child
  • review the child’s welfare and progress, including their health, physical, emotional, educational and social development
  • consider whether fostering and this particular placement are the most suitable for the child, and redefine the tasks that each participant will be undertaking
  • ensure that the child’s needs arising from their cultural background, racial origin and religious persuasions are being met as far as possible
  • to consider the future needs of the child and plan accordingly.

For more detailed information on your important role in looked after child reviews please ssearch in 'reviews'

Planned endings of placements

The aim should be to achieve a planned ending with careful preparation and transition, whether the child or young person is returning to their birth family, moving to another placement in care, an adoptive placement or on to independent living.

As a foster carer you have an important role to play in preparing and reassuring the child or young person, assisting in gradual introductions and helping the next carers to understand the child’s habits, routines and needs.

Planning and preparation for leaving care should begin in good time if the young person is moving on to independence from a foster placement. (Please also search 'preparation for adult living'). The duty to provide support after leaving care lies with the local authority, not yourself as their foster carer. However in some situations you and your family may be willing to continue a befriending role to a young person who has left care and your home. A number of our experienced carers have remained in informal contact with children and young people who they have previously fostered as a result of positive bonds built up over many years, but there is no expectation that you should do so and the choice is the young person’s and yours.

Unplanned endings of placements

Unplanned endings may happen where either a crisis leads the local authority to remove the child immediately, or you ask the child to be removed, or the child insists on leaving. Where the child is being accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 – that is after a parent has asked for their child to be looked after, a parent may insist on removing their child but this would not be so when a child is placed under a court order. When a parent insists on the removal of their ‘accommodated’ child you should inform the child’s social worker immediately so that appropriate decisions can be made concerning the child.

Brighton and Hove may not allow a child to remain in a foster placement if it considers it is not in the child’s best interest to continue to stay with you; such situations should be rare. Ideally a child should not be removed without a planning meeting unless s/he is deemed to be ‘at risk’.

In situations where you are beginning to feel that the placement should not continue, you should not feel a failure nor be reluctant to contact your supervising social worker or the child’s social worker before reaching breaking point. The earlier all concerned are aware of the situation, the sooner appropriate assistance can be provided. The priority, if possible, should be to avoid the child leaving in an emergency.

The child and you will be helped by staff when a placement breaks down, and reassurance given. When a placement disrupts it is rarely the fault of a particular person or agency and normally has many causes.

Disruption meetings

If a long-term or permanent fostering placement has broken down and the child has moved to another placement a disruption meeting will be held. When a series of short term placements have broken down and a disruption pattern appears to be developing for a particular child, a disruption meeting may also be held. When a short term placement ends suddenly, a disruption meeting is not normally held, however the possible reasons for the disruption will be discussed with you by the child’s social worker and your supervising social worker, and any lessons learnt should influence future planning for the child. A disruption meeting is held to help everyone involved identify factors which led to the breakdown, to learn and recover from the experience and to plan for the future. An independent reviewing officer normally chairs the disruption meeting.

Foster carer files

Brighton and Hove City Council are required to keep files on foster carers safe, secure and confidential. Files are maintained by your supervising social worker and should include:

  • an assessment report signed by you, the social worker who completed the assessment and their manager
  • a copy of the letter of approval giving details of the ages, gender, numbers of children to be cared for and the type of fostering to be undertaken
  • a signed and dated copy of the foster care agreement form
  • a record of each placement made of a looked after child with you
  • a copy of annual review reports signed by you, your supervising social worker and their manager
  • the outcome of any complaint or concern raised against you or by you
  • a record of commendations and compliments received about positive caring work carried out by you
  • a record of contact between you and your supervising social worker
  • a record of the termination of approval, where applicable
  • a record of training attended.

Our policy is that all foster carer's files and records must be kept for at least forty years from the date when you cease to foster, whether it is because of retirement, change of circumstance or other reasons.

Access to a foster carer’s file is restricted to those who are properly authorised and need access because of their professional duties. You have the right of access to records held on you and to have a copy of your assessment report. Such requests should be made in writing and go through the 'subject access requests' process - use the search function to find out more about 'access to records'. Third party inforrmation will have been removed. You do not have the right to see references taken up during assessment (unless the referee gives their permission).

Recent records are kept by the Fostering Service based at Moulsecoomb Hub South, Hodshrove Lane, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 4SE, unless you are a supported lodgings carer and your records are kept at the 16 Plus Support Team at Lavender Street Office, Brighton.




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