This chapter was reviewed locally in April 2020.
The aim of the supervisory visits is to support foster carers in providing high quality, safe and effective care to children/young people looked after by Ealing.
Supervising social workers are responsible for monitoring the placement of the child/young person with the foster carer/s and to support the foster carer/s in their role by regular visits to the foster home. At the start of the supervisory relationship a supervision contract is to be agreed and signed by both parties and a copy placed on the carer's file.
Supervisory visits should be planned in advance. In general carers in their first year of approval should be visited no less than 4 weekly and long term carers every 6 weeks. However, there may be times when more frequent visits are required. A pro forma for supervisory visits must be completed on each visit and a copy given to the carer, and a copy kept on the carer's file.
As part of some visits, it is expected that the supervising social worker will make time to meet the child/young person in placement and to obtain feedback from the young person on the quality of care, levels of satisfaction with the placement. It is not expected to replace the statutory visits that should be carried out by the child's allocated social worker who has case responsibility. A separate time must be set aside to meet with sons and daughters during supervisory visits on some visits.
There should be at least one separate unannounced visit throughout the year, which is to include a Health and Safety check.
Where there has been no placement, then the foster carer/s should be visited regularly to maintain a relationship with the service and provide support between placements.
Supervisory visits should be focused, with an agenda, and should always include details of how the carer/s is undertaking the fostering task. Foster carers should always be given an opportunity to express their concern about difficulties with the task and the supervising social worker should deal with these appropriately. Supervising social workers must strike a balance between supporting and advising carers and not being collusive. The task is to assist and enable the development of carers and to help them to have the ability to generate solutions over time which must form part of an assessment.
Supervisory visits should always be recorded on file on the pro forma forms. All telephone contact should be recorded in case notes. All foster carer's files must be kept up to date and in order. Files should evidence work undertaken in a structured and sympathetic and accessible way. Work must be seen to be pro-active with clear objectives and monitoring of outcomes.
Supervising social workers can and do visit weekly if there is a crisis or a new placement demands it. Supervising social workers should ensure that foster carers have knowledge of the emergency duty out of hours service.
Supervising social workers also attend childcare planning and review meetings and should sign any reports by foster carers for such meetings.
Supervising social workers are responsible for dealing with any concerns raised or difficulties experienced from within the department or from outside persons or agencies regarding standards of care provided by the foster carer/s for a child/young person. These should be recorded in the critical incident forms.
Supervising social workers are responsible for ensuring that the placement agreement for children placed is made within the expected time scale i.e. before placement or within five working days.
Supervising social workers are responsible for ensuring financial arrangements and payments to carers e.g. Fostering Allowance. Supervising Social Workers should also be available to explain and advise re. financial issues and sorting out any problems within the departmental structure.
As part of the Supervisory visits it is expected that supervising social workers will audit accounts/inspect equipment in relation to the fostering allowance to ensure that the monies are being spent for the purpose intended, e.g. holiday, clothing etc.
Supervising social workers are responsible for advising foster carers of departmental policy as it affects them and their role and to ensure this is updated as required.
Supervising social workers are responsible for advising carers and ensuring they have knowledge of departmental procedures including Child Protection Procedures.
Supervising social workers are responsible for the professional development of the foster carers; keeping them informed of training courses and assisting carers complete their required training. Attendance of foster carers on courses should be monitored and recorded. Any concerns about lack of attendance or unmet training needs should be discussed with the carer and line manager.
Supervising social workers are responsible for ensuring that the objectives of the placement are understood by the foster carer/s and implemented or modified as necessary.
Supervising social workers should keep in regular contact with the child's Social Worker and liaise over the placement. It is good practice to arrange joint visits at regular intervals to the placement to discuss progress and any issues. The Supervising social worker should seek to promote good positive communication and liaison with the child's social worker in the best interests of the child/young person. Most concerns should be addressed at this level. However, major concerns about a child's welfare should be referred to line managers.
Supervising social workers should liaise, where appropriate, with other members of the Department and other agencies on behalf of the foster carer/s as part of good practice and always to promote the welfare of the child.
Supervising social workers are responsible for identifying, and ensuring that any specialist help/support/training is available to the foster carer/s whether it is practical assistance or consultation. Concerns about training needs should be discussed and agreed with carers, line manager and the Training team. Where the needs cannot be met from within the service, consideration should be given to outside sources.
Supervising social workers are responsible for ensuring that a Connect team manager and/or area social workers and managers, are informed immediately of any issues or concerns relating to the foster carer/s. Concerns should usually be discussed with carers and action agreed to address them, except where this would pose a risk to the child.
Supervising social workers should ensure that the foster carer/s are aware of office cover system, both within the area teams and within the Connect Services.
Supervising social/support worker are responsible for the running of support groups for foster carers and takes responsibility for practical arrangements e.g. booking rooms, arranging dates informing carers etc.
Supervising social workers are responsible for ensuring that foster carer/s Annual Reviews are undertaken in line with the regulations. Annual Reviews are undertaken by an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). Annual reviews should include reports from carers, children looked after, parents/family members and other relevant professionals. Carers should always have the opportunity to contribute to the Annual Review and to have advance notice/reading of reports. They should be invited to attend the Fostering Panel for the first annual review. All subsequent reviews will be passed to the Head of Service for Fostering and Connect. Separate procedures on Foster Care Reviews should be followed.
Following approval at panel or by a Head of Service, the supervising social worker will obtain a new Foster Carer Agreement from the team administrator and take it to the foster carer. The supervising social worker is responsible for ensuring that this is signed by the carer and filed in the appropriate section of the carer's file.
6. Statutory Checks
DBS checks on the carers and any adult member over the age of 18 years living in the household (and other relevant identified people) must be updated every three years.
It is the supervising social worker's responsibility to ensure checks are completed and are not out of date. The Team Manager must be consulted with if there are any difficulties in completing these checks within regulatory requirements.
An initial medical takes place as part of the assessment and approval process.
Further medicals are only required if an issue with a carer/s health arises or the supervising social worker is concerned. A team manager should make the decision on this.
In the event of any serious concerns about the foster carer's health, a review of the foster carer's approval should be carried out immediately.