Statement of Purpose

The Statement of Purpose describes how the Fostering Placements and Permanence service (FPP) 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).

Brighton and Hove City Council Fostering Service Statement of Purpose 2023-24

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

1. Introduction

Brighton and Hove City Council is committed to providing a high-quality fostering service to its children in care. The Statement of Purpose, as required by Fostering Services Regulations 2011 (regulation 3 & 4) and Standard 16 describes the aims and objectives of the fostering service and how it 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, complaints procedures and the details of the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted).

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 aims of Brighton and Hove City Council FPP Service are to:

    · Provide a range of good quality care placements and support services to children in care which offer a safe, secure, and loving environment which supports them to flourish and reach their potential

    · Meet National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services and comply with all relevant legislative and regulatory frameworks (FCH)

    · Ensure that the needs of the diverse community of children, families and carers in Brighton and Hove are promoted

3. Objectives

The objectives of BHCC FPP service are to:

  • Provide high quality foster homes, which meet children’s individual needs and enable them to enjoy family life, offer opportunities to develop their interests, engage in education, develop, and reach their potential whilst maintaining links to their family, friends, and community.
  • Listen to children and young people and take their wishes and feelings into account and actively encourage them to be part of decision-making about their care.
  • Provide assessment and support services to families who are caring for children from within their family network on a kinship fostering basis.
  • Provide high quality attachment and trauma informed supervision, support, and training to foster carers to enable them to offer therapeutic parenting to our children in care.
  • Ensure that each child is valued individually, and Foster Carers are able to support each child’s care plan.
  • Ensure foster homes either reflect or positively support the child’s racial, cultural and religious background and children’s identity and self-worth are promoted and supported.
  • Promote anti-racist practice across the service, ensure staff, foster carers and externally commissioned care providers understand and are actively working to our anti-racist pledge.
  • Ensure siblings are placed together wherever appropriate and possible.
  • Provide a range of fostering schemes to meet the needs of children and young people who might not otherwise be able to be fostered (i.e. Intensive Fostering Placements, Fostering Plus+, Supported Lodgings, and Parent and Child Fostering).
  • Ensure foster carers promote children’s physical and emotional health supported by Children in Care’s nurses.
  • Support and prioritise placement stability, to ensure all children are offered a secure and settled care experience.
  • Secure stability and permanence for children in care via adoption, SGO, long term kinship foster care, or long-term fostering.
  • Ensure children’s contact (family time) with their parents, siblings and wider family is valued and facilitated.
  • Ensure foster carers are supported to offer the opportunity for young people to ‘Stay Put’ with them once they turn 18.

Disabled children and children with complex needs have their individual needs met via a specialist disability service offering full time foster homes and short breaks with carers who receive specialist training and support

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 Children in Care, 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 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 FPP service works to the following legislation, regulations, and guidance:

· 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

Key Regulations and Guidance:

o The Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations 2016

o The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013

o National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services 2011

o The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011

o Revised Children Act 1989 Statutory Guidance for Fostering Services 2011 Volume 4, and Guidance on Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Volume 2

o The Care Planning Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010

o The Children Leaving Care Regulations 2010

o 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. Ofsted contact details can be found in the section ‘Complaints and Allegations.’

BHCC has pledged to become an Anti-Racist Council. FPP supports this commitment and works to ensure that services are consistent with this pledge, offering anti-racist training and support to staff and carers and ensuring that commissioned care services understand this pledge and work to it when providing care to children in the care of BHCC.

Brighton and Hove's Fostering Service has agreed a Foster Carers' Charter and a Pledge to all Children in Care.

6. Management Structure and Staffing Structure

FPP Service is managed by Head of Service, Karen Devine. The registered manager of the Fostering Service is Clare Smith. She has been a qualified social worker for 30 years holding a CQSW and master’s in social work from the University of Sussex. 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 a manager in the service since 2002.

The Fostering Placements and Permanence Service comprises 7 Social Work Pods:

· Children’s Placement & Commissioning Pod

· Fostering Recruitment Pod

· 3 Carer Support and Supervision Pods

· 2 Kinship Care Pods

· Business Support Pod

Pod 1 (Commissioning Pod) – Pod Manager Shelley Gurr (1 FTE)

4 Commissioners: 2 FTE, 0.8 FTE, 0.4 FTE

5 Commissioning Resource Officers: 4 FTE, 0.6 FTE

1 Business Support Officer 1.0 FTE

Pod 2 (Recruitment Pod) – Pod Manager Catherine Seiderer (1 FTE)

3 Senior Social Workers: 1 FTE, 0.8 FTE, 0.5 FTE

2 Social Workers: 2 x 0.8 FTE

2 Fostering Support Officers: 1 FTE, 0.6 FTE

Pod 3 Support and Supervision Pod Pod Manager & Agency Adviser Clare Smith (0.9 FTE)

2 Senior Social Workers: 1 FTE, 0.5 FTE

2 Social Workers: 1 FTE, 0.6 FTE

5 Fostering Support Officers: 2 FTE, 2 x 0.8 FTE, 0.6 FTE

Pod 4 Support and Supervision Pod – Pod Manager John Donnelly (1 FTE)

2 Senior Social Workers: 1 FTE, 0.8 FTE

4 Social Workers: 2 FTE, 0.8 FTE, 0.6 FTE

2 Fostering Support Officers: 0.8 FTE, 0.6 FTE

Pod 5 Support and Supervision Pod Pod Manager Joanne Morrell (1 FTE)

2 Senior Social Workers: 1 FTE, 0.6 FTE

5 Social Workers: 1 FTE, 0.8 FTE, 3 x 0.6 FTE

1 Fostering Support Officer: 0.7 FTE

Kinship Pod 1 Pod Manager Karnjit Kandola (0.97 FTE)

3 Senior Social Workers: 0.8 FTE, 2 x 0.7 FTE

3 Social Workers: 1 FTE, 0.8 FTE, 0.6 FTE

Kinship Pod 2 – Pod Manager Lucy George (0.86 FTE)

1 Advanced Practitioner: 1 FTE

2 Senior Social Workers: 0.8 FTE, 2 x 0.8 FTE

2 Social Workers: 1 FTE, 0.8 FTE.

2 Kinship Care Support Officers: 0.8 FTE, 0.5 FTE

Business Support Team – Office Manager Vera Abbott (0.81 FTE)

Information Officer: 0.81 FTE

Business Support Officers: 4.41 FTE

Panel Administrators: 1.65 FTE

7. Services Provided

FPP provides a range of services consistent with the regulations, guidance and National Minimum Standards detailed above:

· Recruitment, assessment, and training of Foster Carers for children in care aged 0-18yrs

· Assessment, supervision, support, and training of Kinship foster carers for children in care

· Supervision, support, and training of foster carers to meet the needs of our children in care

· Matching and placement of children with BHCC foster carers

· Commissioning of foster care and residential care placements from independent care providers for our children in care

8. Range of Placements Offered

Mainstream Foster Placements – foster placements for sole children or sibling groups aged 0 -18 years of age.

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

Respite Placements – foster 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 placements alongside respite placements.

Parent and Baby Placements – foster carers who offer a placement to a baby and their parent/s to provide a safe and supported environment for the child to be cared for by their parent/s. Some parents under 18yrs may themselves be looked after children.

Emergency Foster Placements - foster carers who offer an emergency placement at short notice for 1 - 3 nights until an appropriate placement is identified or the child returns home. These carers can accept children needing placements outside of 9-5 working hours. Placements are made via the of hours Emergency Duty Service

Intensive Foster Placements – foster carers who offer placements requiring a high level of support to achieve permanence and placement stability for children and young people with complex needs.

Fostering Plus+ Placements – foster carers who offer time limited placements with a wraparound support package for children and young people with highly complex needs stepping down from residential care or at risk of stepping up to residential care.

Staying Put – care arrangements for young people staying with their foster carers post 18 years of age.

Supported Lodgings Placements – supported lodgings carers who offer placements for young people aged 17 – 21 in preparation for independence.

Kinship Foster Placements – extended family and friends are assessed as kinship foster carers to take on the care of specific children and young people in care. Many kinship foster carers go on to become Special Guardians for the child/young person, some remain long term kinship foster carers for the child/young person.

9. Recruitment, Preparation and Assessment of Foster Carers

Fostering recruitment is a key priority for FPP. The Service has a dedicated Recruitment and Assessment team working to a detailed Recruitment Strategy which aims to increase the number and range of foster carers available to meet the diverse needs of our children in care. The Strategy is reviewed quarterly to ensure it is producing sufficient enquiries and applications to maintain good placement sufficiency for our children.

Foster carers are recruited within a 20-mile radius of the city to ensure that children and young people placed with carers can maintain links with their families, schools, and communities. Applicants are welcomed from all members of the community.

The Fostering Service uses clear brand imaging in its advertising on posters, fliers, and adverts across all social media platforms. Drop-ins, community events, information articles in the local press, bus advertising and information sessions are all utilised. Existing foster carers, and care experienced young people are actively involved in recruitment activities. Carers are encouraged to spread the word to generate interest in fostering for BHCC, personal recommendations are financially incentivised.

BHCC Press Office supports Fostering Recruitment by highlighting fostering related news stories and generating newsworthy content which can be picked up by local radio and television.

The internet generates most interest and enquiries via FPP’s website:

The recruitment process aims to provide the information people need in a timely way to support a smooth journey through the process from enquiry to assessment to ensure that applicants understand the qualities we are looking for in carers and feel ready to engage in the assessment process to become a foster carer.

Recruitment Process

Initial Contact

Potential foster carers request a Fostering Information pack which will be sent to them within 48 hours. Callers can speak directly with a member of the Fostering Service. Calls will be returned within 48 hours if we are not immediately able to speak with a caller.

Information Sessions

These are held monthly via an online session and are facilitated by members of the Fostering Service, approved foster carers and care experienced young people. There is an opportunity for individual consultation.

Initial Home Visit

This is an 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 service runs preparation groups regularly throughout the year (4 - 6 per year). The groups take place over 4 days covering a wide range of topics designed to help prepare carers for the task of fostering. Groups are facilitated by 2 members of staff, a foster carer and a care experienced young person.

Feedback is provided and if it is decided that the applicants are suitable, and they wish to progress to the assessment stage we will invite them to complete an application form to formally be assessed as foster carers.

Assessment Stage

The fostering assessment is undertaken by a qualified and experienced social worker. There is a clear process which the assessing social worker will detail for applicants at the beginning of the assessment to ensure there is a shared understanding of what is required. Applicants are informed that the assessment will use the ‘CoramBAAF Form F’ assessment tool and are provided with the CoramBAAF Assessment Guide. They are provided with details of the Independent Review Mechanism and details of BHCC’s Complaint process should they wish to make representation about the process followed, at any time.

The assessment process is designed to determine the applicants’ ability to safely meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people that may have experienced abuse and trauma and as such is essentially a risk assessment. It is evidence based and informed by the information gained about the applicants by the assessing social worker over several sessions and by supporting evidence from referees and from other checks to verify key information.

The assessment is in 2 stages. Part 1 focusses on providing information to enable the statutory checks and references to be undertaken:

· Enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check on all household members 18 years and over

· Child Protection Checks

· Personal references - 6 personal references, including 1 family member.

· Employer reference

· Previous employer reference where work entailed working with children

· School or health visitor reference for applicants who have children at home

· Interview with ex-partners with whom applicant has previously shared parenting/ childcare

· Medical for each applicant

Part 2 is the full assessment of applicants’ suitability to foster. The assessment generally takes place in the applicants home and will explore:

· Family Background and childhood

· Adult life (employment & relationships)

· Personality & current relationship

· Household members & lifestyle

· Support Network

· Assessment of capacity to care for children

· Ability to work effectively with professionals and birth family

· Understanding identity and diversity

· Motivation to foster & anticipated impact of fostering

· Understanding safe caring

· Preparation, training, and future development needs

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

The assessing social worker completes a written report which is shared with the applicants (excluding the references). Applicants have an 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 for recommendation as to suitability to foster.

10. Kinship Carers

An initial viability assessment is undertaken by the child’s social worker as to whether the prospective kinship carers are suitable to be fully assessed to care for the child they relate to.

The full assessment as kinship foster carer is completed by a social worker in the Kinship care team and covers the following areas:

· Family background and childhood

· Education and employment

· Health

· Adult relationships

· Household

· Ability to meet child’s needs

· Accommodation, support network and lifestyle

· Financial assessment

· Family relationships and contact

· Capacity to work in partnership with professionals

Assessment reports are shared with the prospective kinship foster carers and the report is presented to Fostering Panel. Kinship carers are assessed against the specific needs of the child they relate to rather than any child in care.

11. Fostering Panel

BHCC Fostering Panel is a jointly constituted Panel with Barnardo's Link Plus. Panel is constituted in accordance with the provisions of the Fostering Regulations 2011. Suitability assessments for foster carers and kinship foster carers are presented to Fostering Panel for a recommendation as to suitability to foster. The Agency Decision Maker must take the Panel recommendation into account when arriving at their decision as regards suitability.

Panel members come from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience and bring professional and/or personal experience of fostering and children in care to the role. Members are added to a central list from which each Panel will draw to ensure quoracy. Panel members are provided with an Induction programme prior to taking up role and are subject to annual appraisal. The Panel is chaired by a suitably qualified and experienced independent chairperson. Currently Elaine Dibben independent social work consultant and trainer occupies this role. A Fostering Agency Adviser provides support to each Panel, currently this role is occupied by Clare Smith, Fostering Pod Manager. Panel has access to legal advice as required. Panel meets virtually 2-4 weekly. The operation of Panel is supported by two panel administrators.

Kinship Foster Carers are presented to Panel for full approval in the same way as unrelated foster carers. Kinship Foster Carers can be approved under Regulation 24 of the Care Planning, Placement and Care Review (England) 2010 Regulations for a 16-week period following the completion of an Initial Viability Assessment which allows children in care to be placed with them pending full assessment. Where the assessment has not been completed within the 16-week period a request can be made to consider extending the temporary approval for a further 8 weeks under Regulation 25 of the Care Planning, Placement and Care Review Regulations.

Foster carers' First Annual Reviews are presented to Panel. Subsequent reviews are presented if there are issues of concern or if circumstances have changed significantly from the point of approval. Termination of approvals are presented to Panel as are significant changes to the terms of approval.

Agency Decision Maker decisions following Panel recommendations are notified orally to prospective carers/carers within 2 working days of the decision and in writing within 5 working days. Carers/prospective carers have 28 days to appeal to the Agency if they disagree with the decision and can request to have their case referred to the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) to be heard. The Agency Decision Maker will consider the recommendation of the IRM when arriving at the final suitability decision.

12. Matching and Placement of Children

12.1 Children's Placement Team

All placement referrals are sent to the Children’s Placement Team. CPT is responsible for securing placements for children in care including 16 + placements where a provision has not been offered via the Supported Accommodation Panel (SAP). CPT use existing frameworks of accredited providers and occasionally off list providers. They also search for placements for care leavers (18+).

A Commissioner is allocated to all external providers where children or young people are placed. Commissioning Resource Officers are allocated to 16 plus providers and young people in Staying Put placements with Independent Fostering Agencies.

Placements may be made with BHCC foster carers or supported lodgings carers. These placements are then supervised and supported by the Fostering Pods. Where placements are made with Independent Fostering Agencies (IFA) or Independent Residential Children's Homes, Supported Accommodation or crisis/Unregistered provision, CPT commissioners will work with providers to secure a good standard of care is offered and best value for money is achieved.

12.2 In-House Fostering Placements Matching Process

CPT share all fostering referrals with the in-house placements duty worker who will search for a suitable match foster placement which will best meet the child/ren’s needs. Referrals may be for planned or emergency same day placements. The duty placements worker has knowledge of BHCC foster carers and works with supervising social workers and managers to identify suitable carers. Where 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. We are committed to meeting the needs of all our children and young people, and where possible we will look to place our Black and global majority children with carers that reflect their cultural and ethnic heritage, or can support their ethnic, cultural, and religious needs. All BHCC foster carers are aware of and working to BHCC’s Anti-racist pledge.

The Fostering Service has regular Children Awaiting Placement meetings to consider the children who are waiting for foster placements and identify possible matching options. They also run regular Carers with Vacancies meetings with foster carers to discuss possible referrals of children.

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.

As part of the assessment process a matching profile is completed which details the carers preferred matching criteria. All carers have a Foster Carer Profile which provides basic details and photographs of the fostering family and their home. This is shared with the child as part of the preparation to move process.

12.3 Long Term Matching Process

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. A Permanence Matching Report is completed jointly between the child’s social worker and the supervising social worker, evidencing how the carers can meet the child’s needs throughout their minority. The Agency Decision Maker for long-term fostering matches is the Assistant Director for Children’s Safeguarding & Care.

13. Foster Carer Supervision

We value our Foster Carers highly and offer quality, child focussed, trauma and attachment informed supervision, support, and training. Foster carers who feel valued, supported, and respected are likely to continue to foster for BHCC and recommend fostering to others.

Supervising Social Workers visit their carers a minimum of monthly when a child is in placement, to support and supervise the carers, monitor the standards of care provided, assist the carer to understand the child’s needs, and identify any training needs the carer may have. Issues discussed during supervision visits and decisions reached are recorded and shared with the foster carer(s) and child’s social worker. Supervising social workers undertake at least one unannounced visit to carers per year.

Foster Carers are given full information about each child, to support their understanding of, and ability to meet, their individual care needs.

There is a comprehensive training offer (in-person and virtual) for foster carers and a requirement to complete a series of mandatory training. There is also a wide range of support groups available to carers, and a buddying scheme (see training section below)

More frequent and intense supervision and support is provided for foster carers offering Intensive Placement, and Fostering Plus+ scheme placements, with monthly Network meetings, therapeutic interventions, and therapeutic parenting consultation and support.

Foster Carers are an essential part of the multi-disciplinary team around the child, and placements work best when the team around the child/placement works effectively together. BHCC is committed to working in partnership with carers in an open, fair, and respectful way, recognising and celebrating the difference they make to the lives of our children in care.

Brighton and Hove Foster Carer Association (BHFCA) provides useful feedback on the carer experience. Quarterly meetings are held between BHFCA and FPP Management Group to share information and feedback and factor the carer voice into training and service developments.

All Foster Carers are aware of BHCC’s complaints procedure and offered support and guidance in using this when needed. All Foster Carers have membership of the Fostering Network to offer additional support and independent advice.

14. Foster Carer Annual Reviews

Supervising social workers undertake an annual review of their foster carers. 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 is an opportunity to look at the work carers have undertaken during the year and 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. Managers generally chair first Annual Reviews.

In preparation for the review meeting feedback is sought from 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 sign their Fostering Agreement form annually at the review.

Safe Caring Plan and Personal Development Plan are also reviewed at this time and the foster carer profile is updated if necessary.

15. 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 and this is updated annually. This is available online in the Foster Carers Handbook. Carers are regularly contacted about upcoming training events:

There are 7 mandatory courses for carers to be completed in the first two years of fostering:

1. Positive Interventions

2. Safeguarding Children

3. Safe Caring - Complaints & Allegations

4. Paediatric First Aid

5. Attachment

6. Meeting the needs of Black and Global Majority Children

7. Introduction to Contact

In addition to the mandatory courses, foster carers also have access to other training courses provided to staff within the Brighton and Hove City Council Families and Children and Learning (FCL) This provides an opportunity for foster carers to train with other professionals and learn about their respective roles and responsibilities.

Kinship Foster carers can access all training courses available to unrelated foster carers. The kinship care team also provide bespoke training for all kinship carers and have access to training run by Touchbase funded by the Virtual School, which has a focus on attachment needs in education for the children.

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 (PDP) 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.

To help training to be accessible there is a mix of on-line and in-person training. Weekend and evening training is also available.

Carers are supported to complete the training and Support Development Standards workbook by their Supervising Social Worker in their first year of fostering. In addition, the Fostering Service provides support sessions related to each standard.

One Pod Manager 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. A Fostering Support Officer also works to pull together training programme and encourage take up of training courses.

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

Foster carers are also supported to participate in delivering training themselves to other carers and appropriate professionals.

In addition to the training programme, the Children in Care Psychology (CIC) Service run an annual therapeutic parenting programme (TPG), aimed at carers caring for children on a long-term basis who have complex needs.

16. Support Services Available 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 City Council 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 Fostering Support Officer.  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, Kinship Care Team and Children’s SW Pods. 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 Children in Care. There is also a fee element which relates to the need to recruit and retain an experienced pool of foster carers. Carers are expected to attend the mandatory training courses and complete the Training and Development Standards before moving to the next fee level. Kinship Foster carers are required to attend the mandatory Training in order to receive the fee element 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 and on the website.

· 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

· 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.

· Each newly approved fostering household has a fostering buddy (an experienced foster carer) allocated to them to help with their induction into the fostering role. The Kinship Care team are developing a buddy scheme for kinship foster carers.

· The Fostering Service facilitate a range of peer 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:

o Training and Development Standards Support Group (Standards 1- 6)

o A support group for new carers

o A group for parent and baby carers

o A therapeutic support group exploring fostering therapeutic issues facilitated by Child Psychologists (TPG)

o Support Group for carers of UASC

o Cultural Support Group for carers of global majority children placed transracially

o Wellbeing support group

o Supported Lodgings Support Group

o Carers of teenage children support group

o Activity group for carers' sons and daughters

o Support group for carers of siblings

· The Kinship Care Team provide specialist support groups for Kinship Carers to meet their specific needs. These provide a space for carers to support each other and share experiences. The groups are:

o Kinship Carers peer support group

o Kinship Carers group for carers of black and global majority children

o Remote Kinship Carers support group is in development

· The Fostering Service recognises that some children have highly complex needs which carers require more specialist support and advice to understand and meet. The service has secured the following specialist support:

o Child in Care Psychologists therapeutic parenting consultation to the network around the child supporting understanding of attachment and developmental trauma

o Therapeutic Fostering Consultant

o Children in Care Nurses offer training and advice to carers

· Brighton and Hove Foster Care Association offers support to foster carers and their families

· Respite care is available to support placement stability

· Foster carers can find it stressful to be subject to a complaint or allegation. There are various routes of support for foster carers in these circumstances:

o Support from their supervising social worker who will keep them informed of the progress of the complaint or allegation

o Fostering Independent Support Service (FISS-Foster Talk) can provide independent support and advice to carers subject to a serious complaint or allegation

o BHFCA advice and support

o Fostering Network's Fosterline

· Fostering Support Officers provide a range of support services to children in care, foster carers, and foster carers own children. This includes practical support such as transport or childcare at short notice, individual support to foster carers, and direct work with children to help stabilise placements

· School Holiday Activity Programmes

· Fostering Support Officers distribute Listen Up cards to Children in Care so they can access local sports facilities

· Fostering Support Officers are part of the wraparound support package to carers offering Intensive Foster Placements and Fostering Plus+ Placements

17. Monitoring and Evaluating the Service

Brighton and Hove City Council has several systems in place for monitoring and evaluating the service provided:

· Supervising social workers, foster carers and managers receive regular supervision to maintain the high standards expected of carers and workers

· All reports are read and signed off by managers, their signature represents a check on the quality of the information provided

· Annual Unannounced visits are made to all carers

· Robust monitoring of timescales from initial enquiry to approval

· Monthly review of number and quality of enquiries

· Six-monthly review of Fostering Recruitment Strategy

· Foster carers are invited to provide feedback on their experience at Fostering Panel

· Fostering Panel quality assures, and grades reports presented to it. This is feedback to Fostering Managers and Agency Decision Maker

· Agency Decision Maker provides feedback to Agency Advisor to share with managers and staff on the quality of reports presented

· Fostering Panel sees all first annual reviews of foster carers

· Fostering Panel Annual Report provides an account and review of the work of the fostering service over the year

· When approval is terminated carers can 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

· Foster Carer records are audited quarterly by managers (off-line) and moderated by Head of Service

· Carers, children, birth parents and staff are consulted regularly about their views of the service

· Annual Report of the work of Fostering Placements & Permanence service is presented to Corporate Parenting Board chaired by elected members

· Fostering Service is subject to inspection by Ofsted

18. Complaint and Allegations

18.1 Complaint by Foster Carers

Users of the Fostering Services, including children, birth families, prospective and approved carers, are given information about the complaint’s procedure, advised how to access the procedure, and encouraged to invoke it if unhappy with services provided.

Foster carers are advised about the circumstances in which they may have recourse to the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM) if they disagree 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 to contact the Customer Services Manager to seek support with the process.

Information about the complaints process can be found by going to the City Council website: Complaints can also be emailed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Where possible complaints are resolved informally and speedily by FPP managers. 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 the complainant remains dissatisfied after Stage 1 they can request the complaint moves to a 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 an opportunity to investigate the complaint first.

FPP service reports on complaints in the annual report which is presented to Corporate Parenting Board.

FPP management team regularly discuss issues arising from complaints, standards of care, or allegations against carers to ensure any lessons learnt can be disseminated and changes in practice made.

18.2 Complaint and Allegations about Foster Carers

The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), as outlined in Working Together 2010, ensures that allegations against people working with children are progressed in a timely and appropriate way.

The LADO is notified whenever it is alleged that a person who works with a child, including Foster Carers and members of their household, has:

- Behaved in a way that has harmed or may have harmed a child; or possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or

- Behaved towards a child(ren) in a way that indicates she/his unsuitable to work with children

The investigation of any allegation is carried out in line with advice from LADO. Serious allegations if upheld following an investigation are presented to Foster Panel with a recommendation to proceed or not with on-going fostering approval.

FPP aims to be open in their communications with Foster Carers unless this impacts on the welfare of the child.

Foster Carers can seek independent support from Fostering Independent Support Service (FISS) FosterTalk during an investigation.

18.3 Standards of Care Investigations

If the Fostering Service has concerns about standards of care a carer is providing for a child, the service will raise the issue with the carer directly unless the concern is such that a consultation with the LADO is indicated initially to clarify the most appropriate response. All causes for concern will form part of the Standards of Care Investigation and the outcome and recommendations will be discussed, recorded, and shared with the carer. The SOC procedure is available in the Foster Carers Handbook.

19. 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 City Council has also made this available as an e-book.

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

20. 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.

BHCC has a Children in Care Council which provides feedback to FPP service and Corporate Parenting Board on issues effecting children in care and the quality of care provided by foster carers.

BHCC has an Advocacy Service for children in care where independent advocates provide feedback and highlight issues of concern for individual children in respect to their care arrangements.

Where children make complaints or allegations, the starting point is always that they are believed, and their complaints will be fully investigated.

21. Involving Foster Carers in the Fostering Service

FPP service believes it is important to involve foster carers in the development of the service by providing them with opportunities to provide feedback and engage in the development service provision, policies and procedures.

22. 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

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

23. Fostering, Placements and Permanence Service Contact Details

Fostering, Placements and Permanence Service

Portslade Hub
Mile Oak Road
BN41 2PG

Tel: 01273 295444

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

References and Links

Brighton and Hove Foster Carers' Handbook 2017:

Brighton and Hove Fostering website 2023:


Like this site?

Like us on Facebook!



Text Size