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1.13 Standards of Care

RELATED GUIDANCE

Promoting the health and Well-being of Looked After Children

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in June 2015 and the link to the above guidance added.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Investigating Concerns for Standards of Care
  3. Serious Causes for Concern - Child Protection
  4. Standards of Care Meeting
  5. Foster Care Review


1. Introduction

Northumberland Fostering Service is committed to providing the highest standards of care for looked after children we look after. Children and young people have the right to feel safe, to be treated with respect, and to be a valued, and receive a quality of care consistent at least with the National Minimum Standards 2011.

Ensuring the maintenance of good quality care will be central to the Supervising Social Workers role in working to support the Foster Carer.

The Family Placement Manager will ensure that processes for ensuring a safe quality environment are maintained and address minor issues through regular supervision of Supervising Workers and monitoring the service.


2. Investigating Concerns for Standards of Care

Poor standards of care will be investigated under the management of the Family Placement Manager or Assistant Manager.

Complaints received from or about a young person’s care should be recorded using the Complaints form and logged and resolved using the complaints procedure and shared by the Manager with Client Relations. This may include minor complaints that should be quickly and informally resolved.

If a Supervising Social Worker or the child/young person’s Social Worker receives information from another party or notes themselves a serious concern regarding a foster carer’s performance in meeting standards of care, this should be recorded on a Foster Care Notification and sent to the Family Placement Manager within one working day.

The Family Placement Manager will decide whether the matter should be investigated as a Standards of Care matter or as a safeguarding issue or complaint. They must ensure that the Serious Occurrence is recorded and logged, with details of the concern and an eventual outcome. (To be passed to administration team for logging and saving on the S:Drive.)

It is important that any subsequent discussion about the cause of concern is couched in respect of standards/competences which are not being met so that there can be an objective measure of the concern.

Where the Fostering Manager confirms that the concern should be dealt with under these Standards of Care Procedure, the Supervising Social Worker must arrange to visit the foster carer within 5 working days of receiving the information to discuss the cause for concern.

In discussion with the Foster Carer the Supervising Social Worker will make the Foster Carer aware of the relevant National Minimum Standard 2011 and the relevant training standard.

The Supervising Social Worker will recommend how the issues will be addressed, and propose timescales for completion of the action to bring standard of practice to the required level.

The Supervising Social Worker will record the visit and include in the record any actions and recommendations. This record will be signed by both parties. 

The Supervising Social Worker will send a copy of the record of this visit to the Foster Carers within 5 working days.

If the Foster Carer does not agree to the proposed remedial action at the end of the meeting, a Standards of Care meeting will be convened which has access to this record.


3. Serious Causes for Concern - Child Protection

Where there are concerns that the standards of care may reach the threshold of ‘significant harm’ in relation to the emotional, sexual and physical health of the child the Allegations Against Foster Carers Procedures and Northumberland Safeguarding Children Procedures should be applied.


4. Standards of Care Meeting

These meetings are in place to ensure any serious and / or repeated concerns expressed by Looked After Children, Social Workers and others in relation to the care offered by Foster Carers are fully explored and a record is maintained.

This meeting will be arranged where one of the following occurs:

  • The Family Placement Manager decides that any single concern is of sufficient concern to warrant a meeting;
  • Three concerns about a Foster Carers care or practice in any 1 year period (where appropriate and in discussion with others the Fostering Service Manager may decide concerns raised do not merit a Standard of Care meeting). Where this occurs a record including the reasons for this decision will be recorded on the foster carer’s file;

Note: all issues regarding standards of care are currently addressed with the Foster Carer by their Supervising - Social Worker (or another member of the Family Placement Service as directed by the Family Placement Manager, without delay.

  • Another Foster Carer uses the Family Placement Service Whistleblowing Procedure and the Family Placement Manager decides a meeting with greater attendance is required to fully address the concerns raised;
  • A LSCB Strategy Meeting has determined that the threshold of significant harm is not met, however concerns about the care offered or Foster Carers willingness to work with the Agency still remain.

Process

The Foster Manager or Senior Supervising Social Worker will write to the Foster Carer to inform them of the chronology of complaints, the date/venue and invitation list for the meeting. 

The Supervising Social will deliver the letter/chronology within 5 working days. The Supervising Social Worker will explain the content of the letter to the Foster Carer.

The invitation list to include Foster Carer, Family Placement Manager or Assistant Manager, current Child’s Social Worker(s) and Manager and if appropriate previous Social Worker, Fostering Manager, District Team Manager. 

The Family Placement Manager or Assistant Manager will chair the meeting and minutes will be taken by a member of the Family Placement Service Administrative staff. 

Purpose

  • To enable a full and open discussion on the identified concerns and identify a way forward. The potential outcomes to consider may be: additional training and/or closer supervision of the Foster Carers practice to support development. The Foster Care Review could be brought forward. Whether or not this happens the next annual Foster Care Review Chairperson shall have access to the Minutes of the Standards of Care Meeting.

The Supervising Social Worker will ensure the detail of the recorded cause for concern/s within the Standard of Care meeting are detailed within their report (FCR3) for the next Foster Care Review.

Meeting

  • Reason for Meeting;
  • Any previous concerns in relation to the Foster Carer;
  • Sharing Information;
  • Work already undertaken to resolve the issue;
  • Agreed actions, date and by whom;
  • Decision about whether the Foster Care Review to be brought forward and the Agency’s recommendation as to the Foster Carers continued approval.

A copy of the minutes will be kept in the Carers Record.


5. Foster Care Review

Where it is decided a Foster Care Review is required, the review must consider if the carers approval remains suitable to foster or whether their terms of approval should be changed.

If the foster carer does not wish to engage in a foster carer review, the matter can be taken directly to the Fostering Panel.

If the matter is referred to the Fostering Panel, Foster Carers will have access to independent support.

If a proposal to de-register has been made by the Agency Decision Maker, the foster carers may make representations within 28 days to the Agency Decision Maker.

Any Notification Form should be recorded on the Foster Carers file and the Chronology, with an outcome clearly stated.

End