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CoventryChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Family Placement Service - Training Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers and Skills Progression Criteria

This chapter was added to the manual in March 2017.

Contents

  1. Legislative Framework
  2. The Fostering Service National Minimum Standards (2011)
  3. The Training Support and Development Standards for Foster Care
  4. Framework of Training and Development
  5. Information for Connected Persons Applicants
  6. Roles and Responsibilities in completing TSD Standards
  7. Carers Transferring from Other Agencies
  8. Certificate of Successful Completion: Deferments
  9. Arrangements for Skills Fee Progression
 

1. Legislative Framework

The Fostering Services National Minimum Standards and Fostering Services Regulations (2011), provide the regulatory framework for the supervision, training, support and development of foster carers.

2. The Fostering Service National Minimum Standards (2011)

The following National Minimum Standards apply:

Standard 20: Learning and development of foster carers

Foster carers receive the training and development they need to carry out their role effectively.

3. The Training Support and Development Standards for Foster Care

The TSD Standards provide a 'national minimum benchmark' that sets out what all foster carers should know; what they should understand and what they should be able to do within the first 12 months of approval (18 months for Connected Persons carers). They are designed to:

  • Ensure that all foster carers receive relevant induction, training and support, and continuing professional development;
  • Assist managers and supervisors in assessing the skills, knowledge and experience of foster carers and to identify their training and development needs.

The TSD Standards require foster carers to demonstrate their competence in 7 key areas that will enable them to provide quality care to children in care. The areas are as follows:

Standard 1 Understand the principles and values essential for fostering children and young people.
Standard 2 Understand your role as a Foster Carer.
Standard 3 Understand health and safety, and healthy care.
Standard 4 Know how to communicate effectively.
Standard 5 Understand the development of children and young people.
Standard 6 Safeguard children and young people (i.e. keep them safe from harm).
Standard 7 Develop yourself.

Connected Persons and Short Breaks Carers each have 6 standards, adapted to the work that they do.

The outcomes in the Standards should be met through planned learning during the pre-approval stage and in the first year's induction (18 months for Connected Persons carers) following approval as a foster carer. The Standards provide a structured approach to the training and assessment of foster carers, covering pre-approval training and the 12/18 months following their approval as foster carers.

They will help to ensure that foster carers are safe to take on the appropriate level of responsibility for the children and young people they look after. The Standards will assist supervising social workers in assessing the skills, knowledge and experience of foster carers, and in identifying their training and development needs.

4. Framework of Training and Development

It is intended that the completion of the TSD Standards by newly approved foster carers is part of a framework of induction, mandatory core training, and continuing professional development that will equip foster carers with the essential skills and knowledge to meet the needs of the children in their care. It is expected that carers will be able to evidence that they have met the induction requirements by achieving a Certificate of Successful Achievement on the completion of a portfolio of evidence of competency within the first 12 months of approval (18 months for Connected Persons carers).

Foster carers will be supported to complete the standards during the assessment stage and post approval by their respective social worker. Evidence can be identified from a range of sources such as training and development sessions, distance or web-based learning packages, direct observation of their practice, peer witnessing and reflective practice.

During the assessment process all applicants will be introduced to the TSD requirements during the preparation training (3 day programme – Skills to Foster) and will be supported by their assessing social worker to complete the relevant sections.

The assessing social worker will agree recommendations for the applicants' ongoing development as part of the assessment process.

Following approval, the supervising social worker will review the TSD workbook with the applicants and support them to complete the rest of the TSD workbook.

Ideally foster carers should be encouraged to submit individual workbooks. However, where foster carers would rather submit one workbook as a couple this is acceptable.

Where joint workbooks are submitted, both carers must evidence that they meet the TSD Standards. Some evidence may be joint but each foster carer should contribute to it and each should add an element of their individual understanding. In some cases, where the majority of the caring is done by one of the carers, some of the outcomes will not be relevant to the secondary carer. If this is the case, it is acceptable for the carer to write a comment in the evidence box which reflects this.

5. Information for Connected Persons Applicants

Information whilst Temporarily Approved and During Full Assessment: The allocated Social Worker will inform the applicants of the requirements to complete a TSD portfolio within 18 months of approval should they attain full approval and remain as foster carers for that period. Connected Persons applicants will be made aware that the 18 month time period starts from the date of the Temporary Approval.

Usually, connected persons carers would start building their portfolios following their approval; this is due to the comparatively condensed assessment period, though carers can start this before approval if they choose.

6. Roles and Responsibilities in completing TSD Standards

The role of both the Assessing and the Supervising Social Worker is to empower and enable foster carers to meet the standard required for their TSDs. The supervising social worker will assess whether the foster carer has met the competency requirements of the Standards.

It is the responsibility of the foster carer to demonstrate that they have met the required level in the TSD portfolio. A foster carer must provide reliable evidence that each competency has been met.

The fostering agency has a responsibility to provide foster carers with the appropriate tools and an appropriate and reasonable level of support to enable the carer to demonstrate their underpinning knowledge, skills and learning.

Fostering social workers/assessors should promote a variety of methods of assessment within each individual portfolio, such as: observation, work products (e.g. health and safety plans), reflective accounts, question and answer sessions, and witness testimonies.

The social workers/assessors have a duty to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that the evidence recorded by the foster carer is reliable; all their own work and complies with the confidentiality and data protection procedures of the service. All information contained within the portfolio should be made anonymous, in accordance with these procedures.

Once the supervising social worker is confident that the foster carer has achieved the standards, they should pass the workbooks to their Team Manager for Verification.

If the Team Manager agrees the standards have been met they will pass the workbooks to the Registered Manager who will review this and issue a Certificate of Successful Completion.

Where either the Team Manager or the Registered Manager feel additional work is required to meet the standards this will be fed back to the Supervising SW to address with the foster carer.

7. Carers Transferring from Other Agencies

Foster carers who transfer from other Fostering Agencies may have achieved the TSD standards whilst approved by that agency. Where that is the case, a copy of their certificate will be obtained during the assessment process and held on Coventry's records.

Where carers transferring from another agency have not previously achieved their TSD standards, they will be expected to do so as would any other new fostering applicant.

Foster carers transferring from another agency will be supported to become familiar with the policies and procedures of Coventry's Fostering Service through the induction process.

8. Certificate of Successful Completion: Deferments

Exceptionally there will be cases where a deferment of the timescale will be necessary to enable a foster carer to complete their portfolio of evidence.

When a deferment is required the social worker will review the circumstances with their Team Manager. A report providing a full account of the circumstances and time limited action plan should be forwarded to the Registered Manager.

Reasons for deferring the timescale for completion for a period of up to six month could be:

  • Exceptional and unexpected personal circumstances such as bereavement, ill health and personal crisis;
  • Foster carer's literacy/language skills;
  • Complex placement issues such as disruption or allegation;
  • Long periods of time without a placement.

The Registered Manager will review the proposals with the Team Manager / Social Worker and may agree a deferment of up to six months.

The supervising Social Worker will write to the foster carer to outline the terms of the deferment.

Deferments that exceed six months will be referred to the Fostering Panel. Panel will make recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker regarding the course of action to be followed from this point.

9. Arrangements for Skills Fee Progression

In order for foster carers to receive payment of the fostering fee at the Enhanced fostering fee (level 3) all of the following must be evidenced on an annual basis:

  • A minimum of two years active fostering;
  • Completion of TSD folder;
  • Completion of KEEP/Fostering Attachments course/Triple P;
  • Completion of core training;
  • Evidence of commitment to placement stability and moving children on positively;
  • 'Successful' fostering career demonstrating consistent meeting of children's needs - this could be a number of short term placements or a single long term placement - as demonstrated by meeting the child's needs, advocating well, engaging in meetings, LAC review, PEP etc., positive feedback from supervising social worker, child's social worker, IRO etc.

In addition to the above, foster carers must be able to evidence meeting at least three of the below:

  • Attendance at least 10 of the FCA meetings or support groups;
  • Helping to facilitate at least two recruitment events;
  • Attendance at least two of the service events – Foster Carer conference, FCA Big Day Out, recognition event, LAC Christmas party, Lord Mayor's mince pie event;
  • Participation in specific consultation sessions;
  • Engaging a child/young person in completing the life skills pack and / or life story work;
  • Offering regular, formal support to other foster carers; (the process to do this is being developed, in the interim the provision of regular, informal support will be sufficient);
  • At least 20 hours of evidenced development activity e.g. mandatory and non-mandatory training, e-learning, research.

For Foster carers who foster in a couple, the criteria can either be met by one of the foster carers or by both of the foster carers in combination.

If a Foster Carer is unable to evidence that they have met the above criteria then consideration will be given to them being paid at the Standard fostering fee (level two).

Evidence will be assessed annually as part of the Foster Carer Review process and recommendations will be made by the SSW and the team manager in consultation with the foster carer. Any changes to payments will be made from the date the service manager signs the review form.

Where it is deemed that insufficient evidence has been provided then a 4 month extension will be given in order for the foster carer to demonstrate they have met the criteria. The fostering service manager will be responsible for resolving any disagreements that result from this process and they will make the final decision.