Risk Assessments and Foster Carers

This chapter was added to the manual in July 2014.

Children and young people who need to be placed in foster care may have experienced a number of events in their lives which may impact on the level and type of care they require to keep them and others safe.

Foster carers play a central role in providing a safe and supportive family environment where children can be cared for within a caring environment and their development promoted.

When social workers complete a Placement Referral form this will include a risk assessment. The risk assessment will inform the matching process and ensure that any risks posed are known and can be managed by foster carers. The risk assessment should distinguish between fact and opinion. The context and frequency of risk should be recorded and how these are managed in different environments.

Foster carers should complete an individualised Safe Care Plan for each child/young person in their care and this should be regularly reviewed in supervision. The Safe Care Plan should include agreed measures that can be put in place to manage and reduce risk.

Foster carers should have the information available to them to consider the match and how they can provide safe and high quality care for the child/young person. This should include information from previous assessments, a current assessment and identify any risks to be managed.

The child/young person should also be involved depending on their age and level of understanding and their attitude to risks identified.

Risks may come from a variety of sources and may be external factors to the immediate placement (family/environment, peer relationships, sexual exploitation etc.). The risk assessment should be child focussed and identify how the child/young person can be supported in their development.

The level of risk may change over time and the regular review of risk should take place noting how risk has been successfully managed. Foster carers will make an active contribution to the risk assessment based on their experience of caring for the child/young person.

While it is important to consider risks that may have been previously identified, caution should be taken in labelling children/young people and the level of current risk should be continuously assessed.

Changes in risk should be considered as part of on-going work with the child/young person; in foster carer supervision; as part of risk management meetings; and as part of Child in Care reviews.

The Placement Plan should consider the risks and how these will be managed for both planned and unplanned placements.

Support to the placement should be provided to prevent the breakdown of placements and Stability Core Groups utilised if there are concerns.

If a child/young person moves to another foster placement the risk assessment should follow them and be updated as appropriate.