Whistle Blowing

Everyone in GLF shares responsibility for ensuring that all our children are well cared for and that the organisation conducts its business in a professional manner at all times.

 

Everyone in GLF has a responsibility, in line with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, to disclose information which, in their reasonable belief tends to show that: a criminal offence has been committed; that a person has failed or is failing or is likely to fail to comply with relevant legal obligations; that a miscarriage of justice has occurred or that the health or safety of an individual has been endangered.

 

Complaints and grievance procedures exist for staff, carers and children and should be used whenever appropriate.

 

Child Protection procedures exist for serious concerns in respect of the care of children. They should be used if and when they are necessary.

 

From time to time people feel unable for different reasons to use conventional avenues of complaint. In these circumstances everyone involved in GLF must accept personal responsibility for drawing their concern to the attention of someone who will accept responsibility for dealing with the issue.

 

If supervising social workers and their managers are unresponsive or unapproachable any of the directors of GLF should be approached. Local authority staff and local authority complaints procedures should be considered.

 

Supervising Social Worker – Responsibilities

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.

 

Recording

 

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.

 

New placements

 

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.

 

Training

 

Supervising social workers on permanent contracts are expected to attend training as agreed with their manager.

 

 

Supervision of Foster Carers

GLF is accountable to local authorities for the quality of care received by foster children placed in our foster homes. This responsibility is shared between the directors, supervising social workers, foster care supervisors, their managers and foster carers. One of the main ways in which that accountability is shared and exercised is through supervision.

 

Senior practitioners and supervising social workers receive supervision from their line manager and foster carers have supervision with their supervising social workers.

 

Supervision is a two-way process when questions can be asked, ideas shared and decisions made. Decisions made in supervision should be implemented to the best ability of both parties. Work being done is monitored through supervision and feedback and advice given. Any issues of concern on either side should be raised and addressed.

 

Supervision is also about professional development and should identify training needs. Supervision should be recorded by the supervisor and that record shared with the other party.

 

GLF expects supervising social workers to meet with their foster carers at least once every eight weeks for supervision. In two parent households both adults should be present for supervision. Every effort should be made to meet at a time when there are no children present.

Special Guardianship

A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is an order appointing one or more individuals to be a child’s Special Guardian. It is an alternative option for permanence for those children for whom adoption is inappropriate but need a legal secure placement.  It provides for legal permanence but lacks a complete break with birth parents, e.g. for older children who do not want legal separation from their birth family, children cared for by extended family members, and where there are religious and cultural difficulties with adoption.

 

Sometimes foster carers might be approached by the local authority about becoming a Special Guardian for a child for whom they are caring- or might be caring- for long term. Supervising social workers can provide detailed information about what is involved for any carers who need it.

Social Workers’ Roles

Social Workers’ Roles

 

Foster carers will be visited by both the social worker of any child in placement and their GLF supervising social worker. Their roles are different but complementary.

 

The child’s social worker’s main focus will be on the child or children for whom they are responsible. They have a legal duty to satisfy themselves that their children are being well cared for and to ensure that the child’s Care Plan is being implemented.

 

The GLF social worker’s first responsibility is also to any foster children in placement. They share responsibility with the child’s social worker and foster carer for ensuring that children are well looked after. Their main focus will however be on the foster family and helping them to provide the best possible care.

 

The child’s social worker is required by law to visit the foster child within one week of placement and then at intervals of no less than six weeks during the first year of the child’s placement.

 

GLF social workers are required by the agency to visit their foster families at least once a month although in practice they may often visit more often. Some of these visits will be to attend meetings such as reviews or planning meetings, some of them will be to meet the whole family or individual members and others will be for supervision with the foster carers.

 

GLF expects supervising social workers to meet with foster children at least once every eight weeks and children of the foster family at least once in twelve weeks.

 

Supervising social workers and foster carers are expected to meet for supervision at least once every eight weeks.

 

Fostering Regulations require GLF supervising social workers to make at least one unannounced visit a year to all foster homes they supervise. Children’s social workers too may exercise their right to visit on an unannounced basis from time to time.

 

 

Safer Caring in Foster Homes

Safer Caring in Foster Homes

 

Safer caring means those things which foster families can do to keep everyone safe both from abuse and wrongful allegations of abuse.

 

Some things apply to all families. Other things need to be worked out on an individual basis. In GLF each foster family draws up a written Safer caring Policy with their SSW. This should be reviewed and revised at regular intervals and particularly when new children are being placed in the family home.

 

Foster carers own children and foster children need to know what the safe caring rules of the household are and agree to follow them.

 

Foster carers and supervising social workers must regularly review the foster family’s arrangements with regard to safe caring, keep a written record of the decisions they come to and make sure that these decisions are implemented in practice.

 

Safer Caring Rules for all Families

 

Foster children should not be left in the charge of people who have not been satisfactorily DBS checked. GLF must have a copy of this on their file.

 

Foster children should not stay away from their foster carers overnight without their social worker’s permission.

 

Foster carers should make a written record of any incident which might subsequently lead to an allegation.

 

Everyone’s bedroom should be a private place. Foster carers, their family and foster children should (other than in an emergency) knock on bedroom doors and wait to be invited in.

 

Foster children should not be allowed to get into foster carer’s beds or vice versa.

 

Foster families should not walk about the house in a state of undress.

 

Bathroom doors should be locked when the room is in use other than by very young children.

 

Foster carers should avoid the sort of physical contact with children which might be misinterpreted by them e.g. tickling games, pretend wrestling games.

 

Whenever a new foster child arrives the foster carers need to discuss between themselves and their supervising social worker the risks if any which this particular child might pose because of his or her age, behaviour, background etc and consider what if anything the family should do differently.

Reviews – Foster Carers’ Annual Reviews

All GLF foster carers undergo an assessment prior to their consideration by the GLF Fostering Panel.

This assessment is reviewed six months after they begin fostering so as to monitor both their progress and the agency’s ability to help them in the fostering task.

Subsequent reviews take place at no more than annual intervals.

Significant changes in the fostering household or any major occurrence which impacts on fostering may result in a review being arranged at an earlier date.

Review meetings take place in the foster home and in two parent households both carers must in normal circumstances be present. The meeting will be chaired by a Reviewing Officer and the carers supervising social worker will also attend.

The meeting will consider evidence obtained from a number of different sources.

Foster carers are asked to prepare for their review throughout the year.

When a child leaves their home, they should complete an individual placement assessment form and return it to GLF or their supervising social worker.

The child’s social worker, the child and if appropriate, their parents will also be asked to comment on the placement whenever possible.

About two months before their review is due foster carers should complete an Assessment of the Year’s Fostering form and send it to GLF or their supervising social worker.

Foster carers are encouraged to identify suitable people to comment on how they have looked after their foster children.

They should discuss who to ask with their supervising social worker in supervision. People like the child’s teacher, health visitor, members of their extended family are all likely to be able to comment helpfully.

Foster carers should try to collect evidence which can contribute to their review. Photographs of activities and outings shared, a written record by either the foster carer or child of memorable events would be good evidence for a review.

Although reviews are an opportunity for carers to show off all the good things they have achieved with and for their foster children they must also honestly assess those things they have found difficult. Evidence of these too will raise rather than diminish the carers in the agency’s eyes.

 

 

In addition to assessing the quality of direct care offered to foster children foster carers’ reviews will consider all other aspects of their involvement with fostering e.g. their attendance at training, their record keeping, their ability to work well with birth families and the professional network

 

Supervising social workers will prepare a summary report on the carers fostering since approval or last review.

 

The reviewing officer will also write a report which is subsequently sent to local authorities responsible for any child in placement and those who are looking to place children in the family home.

Reviews – foster children

All children who are ‘looked after’ (either accommodated or in care) by a local authority are subject to regular reviews.

 

  • The minimum frequency is fixed though they can take place more often if they need to.
  • A child’s review should take place within four weeks of any new placement.
  • The second review should take place within four months of the start of the placement.
  • Subsequent reviews should take place at six monthly intervals unless a decision is taken to hold one sooner.

 

The purpose of a child’s review is to monitor the implementation of the child’s care plan and to decide if the plan for the child is still the best one possible.

 

Reviews are usually though not always, held in the foster home.

 

Foster carers and supervising social workers must attend and contribute to the reviews of children for whom they are responsible.

 

Foster carers are sometimes given a Consultation Document to complete in writing before the review.

 

Foster carers should consider in supervision what they want to say at any forthcoming review and help the supervising social worker complete a placement summary report. This is an opportunity to think carefully about any issues of delegated authority that might need to be discussed at the review.

 

Children’s parents are invited to their child’s review unless a decision has been made by the local authority that they should not be invited.

 

Foster carers should inform their supervising social worker if they have any concerns about the parents’ attendance in the foster home so that another venue can be arranged if appropriate.

 

Children who can understand the meeting are invited to all or part of the review.

 

They too are sometimes a consultation document to complete in advance.

 

Foster carers should ensure that someone, either the child’s social worker, their supervising social worker or one of the foster carers makes sure that the child understands what will be discussed at their review and encourages them to think about what they want to say.

 

If it is anticipated that the child may find it difficult to say the things they want to say foster carers can get the child’s agreement in advance to saying things on their behalf.

 

Respite Care

GLF does not routinely organise paid respite for foster children.

 

Where in exceptional circumstances it is agreed by all parties that paid respite is required, to sustain the placement, GLF will negotiate with the local authority involved.

 

GLF does recognise however that carers, like parents, may need a break from their children from time to time and will do their best to facilitate alternative arrangements for the care of foster children whenever this is reasonably requested.

 

GLF encourages all carers to identify respite carers from members of their support network so as to normalize respite arrangements for the child so that their care is not disrupted.

 

Where carers are unable to use a member of their support network as respite carers for whatever reason, GLF will whenever possible identify other GLF foster carers to provide respite. Such arrangements will only be made when they are consistent with the needs of the child.

 

The fostering allowance will be paid to the respite foster carer in these circumstances.

 

In longer term placements the local authority may agree that children can stay overnight with close friends or family of the foster carer who are not approved foster carers and delegate authority to the foster carer to decide when such visits take place. If there are conditions attached to this delegation, such as reporting or recording the stays, these must be abided by.

Resignation

Resignation

 

Other than in emergency foster carers must give at least four weeks’ notice in writing of their intention to resign from the agency.

 

Resignations will be notified to the GLF Fostering Panel or to the Panel Chair within this four-week period.

 

Resignations should whenever possible be timed to coincide with the departure of all children in placement.

 

GLF will notify the carer’s home local authority that they have ceased to be GLF foster carers.

 

In accordance with data protection legislation GLF will share the information it holds on carers and ex-carers with other agencies such as local authorities or other fostering agencies as appropriate.