Foster Care Support Strategy

Sister having a piggyback from her brother

Working with one another

This strategy is underpinned by an active commitment to all those involved with fostered children working together. It is crucial that the child’s current or planned foster carer is a part of this team and their engagement is fully supported in order to achieve the best outcomes for the child.

The relationship between carers and children is paramount

The quality of the relationship between foster carer and child is the most critical factor to promoting the child’s outcomes. Therefore, the primary focus of the team working with the looked after child, will be on providing support for this relationship.  This will include support to maintain connection with previous foster carers where this is in the child’s best interests.

The priority is to listen and respond to children

As the reported experiences of children are key to any understanding of fostering, it is essential that the team listen to their views and hear what works best for them. It is also important that the team work together to provide a consistent, clear and honest message about the limitations of what can and what can’t be changed.

Understanding theory and developing skills is the key

High quality training and consultation with specialists provides foster carers with detailed understanding of dealing with challenging behaviours. Foster carers need confidence to understand a child’s development and the impact of trauma, separation and loss on children.

Delivery of permanence and placement stability is our goal

As set out in Coventry’s Permanence Strategy, all children need to have stable and permanent arrangements in their everyday lives to enable them to grow and develop into healthy adults. Where placement stability is at risk, support will be provided that is easy for the foster carers to access.

How the Service works

Foster carers have a named supervising social worker who can be easily contacted at time of crisis as well as access to “Fostering On Call” outside office hours. The named supervising social worker will provide additional assistance to enable foster carers to access help from health or education where needed. Where a decision or task has been agreed, foster carers will know the timescales for this. If tasks are not completed in a timely way, foster carers will be assisted to escalate this.

Training and development

Ongoing training and development

Ongoing training and development is crucial to developing and supporting foster carers. Coventry’s Fostering Service offers a range of training options including face to face, online training, long or short workshops, the Foster Carers Conference and support groups as well as more intensive courses such as The Foundations for Attachment. The Fostering Service consult regularly with foster carers about future training and development foster carers’ training catalogue is published online each April and updated regularly as changes are made.

Evaluation of foster carers’ training is regularly undertaken at the end of each course. Foster carers are invited to contribute their feedback on training provision through the CFCA or their Supervising Social Worker. In addition to foster carers’ training, foster carers are also able to access training alongside fostering and children’s social workers on a regular basis. All foster carers are supported to complete their Training, Support and Development (TSD) standards.

Foster carers will be advised within 5 working days should there be any changes to scheduled training that they have registered for.

Foster carers are supported to access childcare to attend training, where needed. Reasonable transport costs are reimbursed to access training. Where foster carers live at a distance from Coventry, we will discuss with them how to access local training and support access to this where appropriate.

Preparation training is made available to all prospective carers.  There is a specific preparation training available to connected persons foster carers and another available to those progressing into Special Guardianship.

Every foster carer, including Connected Persons foster carers has individual training needs which will be discussed with them. Supervision discussions will cover how these are best met.

Therapeutic support

The service is clear that all foster care placements should be inherently therapeutic. It is crucial that foster carers are supported to care for children who have experienced trauma. It is also crucial that therapeutic intervention includes them, as well as the child and enables them to have a better understanding of the child’s inner world. Therapeutic support will be accessible where needed.

The service works with the Integrated LAC CAMHS service to ensure that foster carers are able to access therapeutic support in relation to children and young people in their care.

The service has a background of understanding of 4 therapeutic models – Theraplay®, DDP, Social Pedagogy and Secure Base. The service uses these models to inform our practice.

Foster Carers also have access to therapeutic support via the Edge of Care service where there are difficulties in the household.

Delegation of Authority

The Delegation of Authority policy outlines how Delegated Authority to foster carers works in Coventry. The delegation of authority is based on the Fostering Network Support Tool which provides a detailed record of arrangements to foster carers.

Delegated Authority is discussed at the placement planning meeting and at every LAC Review.

Support from Health and Education is key for foster carers to meet the needs of the child or young person.

This support is provided through The Virtual School and a Designated Nurse.

The use of the Pupil Premium is discussed at the child’s Personal Education Planning meeting. Foster carers will be provided with information regarding the use of the Premium by the school and be supported to challenge its use if they are not satisfied the foster carer can request the Virtual School to get involved and they will support the child’s educational outcomes. Foster Carers have been invited to participate in The Virtual School’s governing body.

Children’s social workers are crucial to the child’s plan

The Fostering Service is committed to ensuring that all practitioners in children’s services are supported to work effectively with foster carers.  This support is provided in a number of ways including workshops led by foster carers and One Minute guides for practitioners.  Members of the service and foster carers are consistently involved in the induction of new staff members.  Foster Carers are regularly part of the recruitment of new fostering service staff members. The escalation policy details how foster carers can raise difficulties accessing support from children’s social workers and timescales for this.

Children’s social workers visit children in placement and discuss their progress with foster carers within statutory timescales.

Children’s social workers will alert both children and foster carers when they are on leave.

Managers of children’s social workers will ensure foster carers are advised should a children’s social worker be on sick leave for more than 3 days and make alternative arrangements to cover any concerns.

Changes of social workers

Where there is a change of social worker, a joint visit will take place with the incoming and outgoing social worker alongside the supervising social worker to establish good working relationships and prevent any drift and delay.

Placement endings

Where there is an unplanned placement ending, a disruption meeting should take place to ensure that learning from the placement is identified and applied.

This learning will consider the needs of the child, the development of the foster carer and the development of the service.

For all placement endings, Foster carers, their birth children and other key members of the household alongside looked after children, will be provided with  opportunities both in writing and verbally to provide feedback on ending of the placement. This will be used in the foster carers annual review.

Where it is in the child’s best interests, support will be available for former foster carers to keep in touch with children they previously fostered.

Supervision of Foster Carers

Every foster carer will have a named supervising social worker. The frequency of supervision visits will be agreed with them. As a standard, foster carers will have supervision visits at least once a month, however where a long term match has been agreed, the frequency of these visits will be discussed and reviewed. Supervision will be reflective and enable foster carers to share their thoughts and views and receive support. In addition to supervision visits, there will be at least one unannounced visit during the year.

The quality of supervision provided by the supervising social worker will be assessed by a practice observation of each team member once per year by their team manager.

In the absence or period of sickness of their named supervising social worker, the foster carer will have access to support from a duty worker from the Support Team within 3 weeks.

Fostering Service

Monday to Thursday: 8.30am – 5pm, Friday: 8.30am - 4.30pm (excluding bank holidays)

Address: Council House
Earl Street

Telephone: 024 7697 5489