Allocation of Fostering Social Workers
1. Allocation of newly approved Foster Carers
All newly approved foster carers will be allocated to a Senior Practitioner or experienced fostering social worker who is identified within the Support Team as the lead worker for new foster carers. They will remain allocated to the designated lead worker for a period of one year, and they will be responsible for presenting the first Annual Review to the fostering panel. Foster carers will be made aware of this policy during the process of recruitment so they are aware their support worker will change following their first annual review. Following this, the foster carer will be allocated a new fostering social worker within the support team.
The designated worker for new carers will attend the Fostering Panel for the foster carers approval, having read the assessment and recommendation completed by the Assessment Team and to enable them to start the process of introduction to the family, alongside being able to action any recommendations from panel regarding the matching of children.
New foster carers will be allocated an experienced foster carer as their mentor at the assessment stage, to support them through the initial process and during their first year as a foster carer. Mentors will be allocated by the Assessment Teams to ensure this support is in place and based on research completed with the Fostering Network, on mentors being part of the package of support that enhances the retention of foster carers.
New foster carers will attend the New Carers Induction to Kent County Council, facilitated by the Head of Fostering and the local support team manager. New carers will also have a dedicated support group, that they attend for their first year which will focus on supporting them to complete their Training Standards Development Portfolio. (TSD) Each area support team will follow a rolling programme of sessions for new foster carers via the new carers support group.
2. Allocation of Fostering Social Workers for Experienced Carers and following One Year Approval
All foster carers will have an allocated fostering social worker who is responsible for supervision visits, unannounced visits (minimum of one per year) completion of placement plan arrangements for all children or young people within the fostering household and ensuring carers are provided with confirmation of delegated authority. The allocated fostering social worker has a duty to ensure the safeguarding of children within the household including the completion of Safe Care Plans specific to each child who is looked after. They will ensure that both birth children of foster carers and children in care are regularly seen as part of their supervision visits and their wishes and feelings taken into account. Fostering social workers will ensure all foster carers have an up-to-date profile including photographs that can be used for the matching of children and shared with them, to prepare them for any move.
Fostering Social Workers will be allocated to a foster carer for a period not exceeding 3 years (36 months). At the point of a Fostering Social Worker being allocated for 2 years and 10 months (34 months), the team manager will identify a new allocated social worker to allow for a handover period and joint visit to be undertaken. This will ensure the professional relationship between social worker and foster carer, maintains a clear focus on safeguarding children and professional curiosity within the fostering household.
3. Allocation of Fostering Social Workers - Specialist Services (Foster Carers for Disabled Children)
The specialist fostering team supporting carers of children with a disability, is a county team covering a large geographical area and with a smaller number of social workers than the local area teams. All foster carers will have an allocated fostering social worker who has the same responsibilities as within the support teams (see above) but they will be patched to work in a specific area of Kent where possible, to make best use of their time and avoid unnecessary travel costs.
Due to the complex needs of the children within the fostering household, it would be detrimental to change the fostering social worker after one year or after 3 years, as for the majority of the children within the specialist provision this change would cause unnecessary stress particularly for those children with autism. fostering social workers within this service, work closely with the children and foster carers, often learning additional communication systems such as Makaton to be able to engage with the child during their supervision visits and to obtain feedback for reviews. Introducing new workers coming into the child’s home can impact upon placement stability and based on this there needs to be a different approach to achieving safeguarding and professional curiosity. The specialist team will not follow the same model for allocation but every foster carer for disabled children, will receive an additional unannounced visit from a different member of the team, as a minimum of once per year. The Fostering Review Team will also provide an independent insight into the fostering household through the foster carers annual review.