Supervising Social Worker – Responsibilities
Although this section refers to the responsibilities of supervising social workers it applies equally to senior practitioners.
The child in placement
The supervising social worker’s first responsibility will always be to promote the best interests of the child in placement even though they do not have case responsibility for that child. Any significant concerns about the quality of care they are receiving must be communicated promptly to the supervising social worker’s line manager.
Supervision and support of foster carers
The supervising social worker will provide supervision and support to designated foster carers in order that together they may promote the foster child’s best interests in accordance with the child’s care plan, fostering regulations and GLF’s policies and procedures.
Both social worker and foster carer need to understand that they share responsibility for the quality of care received by foster children.
Liaison with placing local authorities and GLF
The supervising social worker has particular responsibility for ensuring that all relevant matters are communicated to the child’s social worker and to their own supervisor.
In order to ensure that the above responsibilities are complied with supervising social workers will make sure that the following things happen:
Supervision of carers
Supervision should take place at least once every eight weeks using the GLF supervision pro-forma as a basis for discussion. In two parent families both carers should be present and every effort made to meet without the presence of children. Supervising social workers should make a contract with their carers with regard to supervision.
Supervising social workers are responsible for ensuring that their foster carers are informed of and fully comply with all GLF policies and guidance.
All contacts with foster carers, children, representatives of the placing authority and other relevant people should be recorded by supervising social workers. All contacts should be recorded in accordance with GLF’s pro-formas. Recording will be read and countersigned by the manager.
Supervision with foster carers should be recorded as such. Issues of concern and commendation should be recorded and action to be taken identified. These issues should be followed up at subsequent supervision sessions and summarised in the carer’s review. Recording of carer’s supervision should routinely be shared with foster carers.
The purpose of other visits should be made clear in the recording e.g. visit to meet with children or the whole family or to discuss a forthcoming case conference or LAC review.
The people present at each visit should be recorded and any particular checks made e.g. the children’s bedrooms or wardrobe etc should be noted.
Foster carer’s recording
Supervising social workers are responsible for ensuring that foster carers keep a written record of their placements in the agreed format.
Frequency of visiting
Foster families should be visited at least once in four weeks and more frequently if the family, the placing authority, the supervising social worker or their supervisor consider it necessary.
Foster families should be visited at least once a year on an unannounced basis. Supervising social workers should remind families that this is a requirement of the fostering regulations. Unannounced visits should be clearly recorded as such in the case notes and listed on the front sheet of the carer’s annual review.
Contact with children
Supervising social workers should establish a relationship with foster children and foster families’ own children. Foster children should be seen and spoken to at least once every eight weeks. Foster families own children should be seen and spoken to at least once in twelve weeks.
Supervising social workers should whenever appropriate spend time with foster children away from the family home.
The main purpose of establishing such relationships is to facilitate the child’s ability to comment on their experience of fostering and in respect of foster children their wishes and feelings as to their care plan and associated matters.
Supervising social workers should discuss with their supervisor whether or not their direct number should be given to foster children and if not, what arrangements are to be made for the child to contact them.
Telephone contact and availability to foster carers
Foster carers should be given the work telephone number of their supervising social worker and discussion should take place about mutually convenient times for telephone contact to take place.
Supervising social workers should make themselves as available to foster carers as possible. Foster Carers will have the mobile phone number of their supervising social worker as well as their work base landline number.
Alternatively, and by agreement land lines can be diverted to a colleague’s landline or mobile phone or to the main office number. This should be done whenever a social worker is on leave or sick or unavailable for telephone contact for periods exceeding half a day.
New or newly allocated carers
Social workers should at their first supervision session go through the GLF Foster Care Agreement with carers who are new to them, to check that they understand the basic expectations. They should satisfy themselves that carers understand their responsibilities in respect of health and safety and confidentiality at the first opportunity. They should also go through any individual GLF and local authority placement agreements which exist.
New or newly allocated carers should be visited more frequently than the four-weekly minimum for established carers. Weekly visiting is likely to be appropriate for inexperienced new carers, but the frequency should be agreed between the social worker, the foster carer and the social worker’s supervisor.
Newly approved foster carers should have an allocated supervising social worker before children are placed with them for the first time. Social workers should prioritise visiting them very soon after their approval (ideally within a few days) so that they can discuss the foster care agreement without the distraction of newly placed foster children.
Supervising social workers should make every effort to ensure that a placement planning meeting takes place either before the placement starts or in the first two weeks of the placement. They should attend and if this is impossible they should ensure that their supervisor knows of the difficulty. Local authority LAC forms and GLF placement agreement forms should be completed at this meeting.
Supervising social workers should within two weeks of the commencement of a placement talk to the foster child particularly about complaints and whenever appropriate give them a copy of GLF’s Children’s Complaints procedure.
Attendance at placement planning meetings, case conferences and LAC reviews.
Supervising social workers should attend and contribute to all local authority meetings in respect of children placed with their foster carers. Any difficulty in meeting this expectation should be communicated to the social worker’s supervisor so that alternative arrangements can be made for someone from the agency to attend.
Preparation of foster care review material
Foster carer’s annual reviews are the cornerstone of the supervising social worker’s work with foster carers. They should be viewed as an on-going process and thought about whenever anything of any significance happens in the fostering household.
GLF reviews new carers when they have been fostering for six months and at annual intervals thereafter. Should serious concerns arise, or major changes take place in the family’s circumstances an earlier review should take place.
Supervising social workers should throughout placements identify appropriate people to comment on the carer’s work when the review is due. Carers too should be encouraged to identify such people.
Allegations / complaints / incidents
Supervising social workers are responsible for drawing any allegations, complaints or incidents to their supervisor’s attention or one of the directors at the first opportunity. They should complete an allegation or incident form and send it to the office immediately. They should also record it in the usual way.
Supervising social workers on permanent contracts are expected to attend training as agreed with their manager.