Fostering Statement of Purpose


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Different Types of Family Placements
  3. Our Foster Care Recruitment Policy
  4. Our Foster Placement Policy
  5. Permanence Policy
  6. Transferring Foster Carers
  7. Our Aims and Objectives
  8. Services and Facilities We Offer to Children and Carers
  9. Support Services for Foster Carers
  10. Review of Approval
  11. Personal Development Plan and Training Plan
  12. Protecting Children, Supporting Carers
  13. Complaints
  14. Fostering Service Staffing


1. Introduction

The Islington Fostering Service offers a range of family placements, working with foster carers, social workers and others to give children and young people the best possible care and help them to go on to lead successful happy adult lives. The Fostering service offers supervision, support and training to every carer to help them achieve the best outcomes for each individual child and young person, within their placement plan and care plan. Islington foster carers rated the service as a ‘great place to foster’ in 2017.


2. Different Types of Family Placements

Foster carers look after children, planning closely with children, social workers and others for the child’s future, which may mean return home to their family, adoption or long term fostering. It is not always clear how long the child will need a foster placement at the start. For older young people, the plan may be moving onto independent living, while studying or working.

2.1 Permanent and long term foster care is offered to children unable to return to their birth families and in need of long term care. More responsibility will be delegated so that the foster carers can make day to day decisions affecting the child, in keeping with the child’s Placement Plan. However foster carers will be encouraged to consider Adoption or Special Guardianship as this offers more security for the child, when this is best for a child, depending on the child’s needs.
2.2 Family and Friends Foster care is when family or friends care for a child who is officially looked after by the Council. We believe that it is usually better for children when Friends and Family foster carers become Special Guardians as this enables carers to make all the decisions for children, supported by a Special Guardianship support plan. Our specialist Family Plus Team offers guidance on this.
2.3 Respite or support foster care, offers placements to children for specific short periods to support the child or young person to continue to live at home. Some foster children may benefit from a shared care arrangement to support their usual foster placement or for holidays from residential care.
2.4 Family Based Short Breaks offer regular weekend breaks for children with severe and complex needs or life threatening conditions. These foster carers will receive specialist training to enable them to offer new experiences to disabled children to have fun and to enable their parents to have a break.
2.5 Supportive Lodgings offers young people aged 16-21 years old a stepping stone to independence and an opportunity to learn the skills to look after themselves such as budgeting and cooking, with a friendly Supportive Lodgings carer who will encourage their studying or working. Supportive lodgings are not subject to the Fostering Regulations.
2.6 Staying Put arrangements are when a young person remains in the home where they were fostered, at the age of 18 until they leave up to the age of 21. Staying Put arrangements are not subject to the Fostering Regulations but carers will still receive some guidance and will be offered training and support groups. It is important that foster carers still have a review if they wish to continue to foster children in the future.
2.7 Parent and child arrangements are offered to young people and their baby to help them to become good parents, where the young parent is a child in need, or they are a looked after child themselves. The Fostering service may also offer a placement to other adults with young children, if the adult has serious difficulties or where the baby is a looked after child subject to a legal order. If the placement is for assessment of the parent’s parenting skills, this will be made clear in the written plan between the parent, the foster carer and the social worker. In each of these situations, the individual written Placement Plan will differ to meet the individual special requirements of the child or children. In each arrangement, the Fostering Service will make it clear to the foster carer whether this is a looked after arrangement or a Section 17 arrangement to prevent the child becoming Looked After.
2.8 Other specialist family placement schemes
 

12 week assessment scheme for Parent and child placements
This intensive specialist scheme offers fixed term placements for parents and children while the Courts are considering whether parents and children should remain together. This scheme is jointly managed through the 6 borough consortium scheme.

  2.8.1 Specialist fostering
    Specialist fostering offers young people an alternative to residential care with high levels of support to young people and their foster carers. The foster carers are trained and supported to care for young people with the most challenging behaviour, bringing previous experience of working with or caring for these young people.
  2.8.2 Remand fostering
    All carers may choose to foster young people on remand from the Courts.


3. Our Foster Care Recruitment Policy

We are looking for people from all backgrounds and all ages to offer good homes to our children and young people. Islington carers may be in council or private property, single, married or living together, straight or gay. They are of all backgrounds and religions, with children at home, adult children or not parents at all. What matters to us is that you really want to help a child or young person, are keen to learn and you can offer a safe home. We particularly want to hear from people living locally within 8 miles of Islington, however for people offering a home to a teenager, there is more flexibility as some young people will benefit from placements outside their home area or for other children who would benefit from specialist care. (For further information please see the Islington Fostering Service Recruitment Strategy).


4. Our Foster Placement Policy

We believe that most children and young people need local placements to reduce the disruption to their lives when they are already upset at having to leave their families. Local placements reduce disruption to school life, learning and friendships and family contact. We match children with carers who are trained and skilled to meet their needs. Ethnicity, culture and religion are some of the needs which will be considered when a placement is provided for a child or young person, but are not the only matching considerations.


5. Permanence Policy

Foster carers are encouraged to consider Long Term Fostering, Adoption or Special Guardianship for their foster children. Special Adoption support or Special Guardianship support plans take account of the special circumstances of foster carers who make these arrangements.


6. Transferring Foster Carers

Agency foster carers are welcome to transfer to Islington's supervision to receive a better integrated support service for Islington children. Islington Fostering service will support carers to make the transfer as easy as possible.


7. Our Aims and Objectives

7.1 We want to offer our children the best chance to do well in life, to be happy and to feel safe, to learn to keep themselves healthy, to develop their hobbies and interests, to achieve their best at school and to be well prepared for adult life We want children to be fully involved in the plans made for their lives.
7.2 We want to offer children and young people placements close to their school to avoid disrupting their education and to make it as easy as possible to keep in touch with family and friends.
7.3 We want children and young people to experience stable childhoods with as little moving as possible. We aim to help children, young people and foster carers when there are any difficulties to ensure that children's placements are successful and that children and young people experience placement stability. We encourage foster carers to make arrangements within their own family and friends if they need a break from caring, under delegated authority. Any moves should be for positive reasons and well planned to meet children’s needs.
7.4 We listen to the views and wishes of all children. Foster children are asked for their views at their own review and for the foster carer’s review. The Children’s Active Involvement Service (CAIS) ensures that the wishes and views of children looked after children are heard at all levels in the council. It participates in foster carer preparation training and staff interviewing and is a member of the Islington Corporate Parents Board. We also listen to the views of the sons and daughters of foster carers.
7.5 We want children and young people to stay healthy. A special children’s health team offers special help and treatment for children and young people and offers advice to foster carers and staff to meet children’s individual health needs. In particular it also advises on developmental issues, immunisations, healthy lifestyles and teenage experimentation. All children should see the dentist regularly and have regular medical checks.
7.6 We are committed to equality of opportunity for all children, taking account of every child’s individual needs including their religious, cultural and ethnic identity. Foster carers are recruited from the whole community and are prepared to meet the needs of a range of Islington children. Foster carers are trained and supported to ensure that children can keep themselves safe and to become happy and confident adults. Our foster carers support our young people when they face discrimination.
7.7 Islington Fostering Service aims to improve the lives of disabled children who use its services, ensuring that disabled children get the right to family life and good experiences which all children deserve.
7.8 We aim to prepare young people well for adult life, working closely with the Independent Futures Leaving Care Service. Foster carers and Supportive Lodgings carers use the Get Ready for Adult Life toolkit with young people. A handbook is given to care leavers so they know what services will be available to them. All young people will be guided to studying, working and career opportunities including extra support at University.
7.9 We value our partnerships with our carers and our policies are available on our Electronic Foster Carers Handbook. Fostering managers meet regularly with Islington Foster Care association to take feedback about how the service is operating. Members of the Islington Foster Care Association attend the Corporate Parents Board. There is more information about Islington fostering service on Facebook and on Twitter as well as the Council website and the Consortium websites.
7.10 The North London Fostering Consortium brings together Barnet, Camden, Haringey, Enfield, Hackney and Islington to improve and share some services across the area. Islington foster carers who choose to offer foster care placements to other Consortium partner boroughs will be paid Islington’s allowances and will be supervised by their Islington supervising social worker. Islington foster carers may also attend training in Consortium boroughs if this is more convenient. Additionally, the Consortium provides 28 training days per year for foster carers, adopters, special guardians and staff.


8. Services and Facilities We Offer to Children and Carers

8.1 We offer a range of services to help children and young people to feel good about themselves following difficult experiences in the past. A clinical Psychologist in the Fostering team offers foster carers support to help children and young people. The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service is available to all foster children.
8.2 Islington Virtual School helps children to get the most help and support to meet their individual learning needs, to fully participate in school life and to get the best qualifications that they can. We do not allow children or young people to be taken out of school for holidays, as this affects their learning and we expect them to attend school every day.
8.3 The Contact Service ensures that children and young people will have the right contact arrangements with family, friends or important individuals in the child’s life. Foster carers get involved in bringing children to the contact centre for supervised contact or they facilitate contact with parents in other ways, at other venues or at the foster home if this is right for children and for the foster carer.
8.4 The Adolescent Multi-Agency Support Service (AMASS) offers an intensive service to young people where young people are struggling with serious behavioural difficulties. The Fostering team will support existing foster carers. A team of specialist workers will provide a service to help individual young people with core support offered by fostering social work staff.
8.5 Permanence planning and adoption for young children under the age of 14 is undertaken by Islington Adoption Service, working together with the Fostering team, foster carers and social workers to prepare young children for permanent families, either adoption, special guardianship or permanent fostering depending on what the court has decided.
8.6 Outreach or sessional workers may help foster carers where placements are under pressure because of behavioural problems or foster carers are under pressure for other reasons. This service will be offered if the foster carers support carer is not available or if the child has particular needs to be met. The Fostering service will provide sessional workers or other foster carers will offer positive activities for children and extra support.
8.7 Support with re-housing may be offered to Islington tenants who have been fostering successfully for at least one year if the carer gives a written undertaking to foster more children or to make more space for children already placed, or to enable foster carers to adopt a child. This may include re-housing adult children to make more space for foster children.


9. Support Services for Foster Carers

9.1

Financial Arrangements

Islington Fostering Service pays an allowance to foster carers at a level of maintenance which matches the government minimum fostering allowance for London for every age band. The finance policy is circulated yearly to all approved foster carers.
9.2

Supervision and Support

All Islington foster carers will have an allocated supervising social worker who will offer regular supervision in keeping with the Fostering Regulations. The supervising social worker will normally visit the foster home at monthly intervals, or more frequently in the first six months. Supervising social workers will also visit when needed or as requested by the foster carer. Supervising social workers should send a copy of the record of supervision to the foster carer within 7 days of the visit. We are required to undertake an unannounced visit once per year but there is an expectation of more frequent unannounced visits particularly for newer placements or where there is any complexity.

9.3 A 24 hour service is offered to all Islington foster carers all night and all weekend to provide advice and assistance in emergency from a supervising social worker and manager.
9.4

Support Groups

The Fostering service provides and facilitates specialist support groups to help carers develop their skills together and help each other:

  • New carers induction group;
  • For foster carers of babies;
  • For foster carers of adolescents – evening group;
  • For foster carers of children aged 3-11;
  • For male foster carers – evening group;
  • For Family and friends carers;
  • Training and development standards Portfolio groups/workshops;
  • Supportive lodgings carers group;
  • Short breaks carers group, held in evenings and weekends;
  • Consortium parent and child scheme;
  • Specialist fostering group with the team Clinical Psychologist.
9.5 The Fostering service will continue to meet the annual cost of subscribing to the foster carers’ organisation, the Fostering Network, for all Islington approved foster carers. This enables carers to use all the advice and support services provided by the Fostering Network including Legal Protection Insurance.
9.6 Islington Fostering Service encourages carers to contact Fosterline (0800 040 7675) for independent advice about any fostering matter, or Fostering Network's Members advice line (0207 620 6400) for in depth advice about any matter involving foster care.


10. Review of Approval

All foster carers must have an Annual Household Review to remain approved, within 12 months of the last review. A review of a foster carers’ approval must also take place following a significant change in the carer’s household, a significant break from fostering by the foster carer, or at the request of the foster carer, after a serious complaint or allegation about the foster carer household. Foster carers approval terms may be changed after a review, if they give agreement in writing to this change. Where foster carers do not agree, they have 28 days notice to agree or appeal about this change to the Agency Decision Maker or the Independent Review Mechanism.


11. Personal Development Plan and Training Plan

All foster carers will have a Personal Development Plan embedded in to their review, which takes account of their training needs to continue to develop their skills in meeting children’s needs. Islington offers a full training and support group service. Foster carers and Short Breaks carers must complete their Training and Induction standards portfolio within 1 year or 18 months of approval for Family and Friends foster carers.

For foster carers who prefer, there is agreed access to Consortium partner foster carer training.


12. Protecting Children, Supporting Carers

Islington Fostering Service has a duty to ensure that any concern about the safety or protection of a child is properly investigated and will work within the London Child Protection Procedures. Islington Fostering Service will inform the Local Authority Designated Officer of any serious concerns or allegations.

Foster carers will be treated fairly and honestly and will be informed in writing as soon as possible making it clear whether there are Standard of Care or Child Protection concerns.

Written information about the process and timescales and ongoing support will be provided by their supervising social worker. Foster carers can contact Fosterline for immediate advice or Fostering Network’s members advice line. In the event of any serious matter, foster carers will be offered independent mediation, support and advocacy, which will normally be provided through the Consortium partnership scheme. Foster carers will be informed about all decisions as soon as possible. The Fostering Service will confirm the financial arrangements in writing. Islington council funds Legal Protection Insurance for all approved foster carers who are approved under the Fostering Regulations.


13. Complaints

All Islington foster carers have the right to complain about Islington Fostering Service. Islington foster carers and staff have access to the complaint procedures, which sets out the procedures and timescales they can expect. Wherever possible concerns or representations should be made to Supervising Social Workers, Deputy-Fostering Manager or the Fostering Team Manager to allow an opportunity to resolve the complaint as quickly as possible and in an informal way.

If a complaint is on behalf of a child or young person, it will be dealt with under the statutory Children Act 1998 Complaints Procedure. Stage 1 informal resolution: foster carers can meet with the relevant Manager to discuss concerns and what foster carers would wish to happen. The outcome of such complaints will be confirmed in writing by the Manager. If the matter is not resolved or is considered the foster carer to be so serious that they wish to make a formal complaint they will be advised of their right to begin a formal complaints process via the Complaints Officer. Stage 2 formal complaints: an independent investigating officer and independent person will be appointed by the complaints officer. It is the responsibility of the investigating officer to investigate the complaint. At the end of the investigation the investigating officer will produce a report within 25 working days (or 65 working days as an outside maximum) of the logging of the formal complaint. The independent person also produces a report. A senior Manager will be appointed to review the reports and adjudicate the complaint. All reports will be sent to complainant.

Complaints made by a foster carer on their own behalf are dealt with under the Council’s Corporate Complaints Procedure. A Manager within the Fostering Service will respond to the complaint at stage 1 within 21 days. If the foster carer is dissatisfied with the initial response, they can ask the Corporate Customer Care Department to investigate the complaint under what is known as the ‘Chief Executive’s Stage’.


14. Fostering Service Staffing

Islington Fostering Service employs suitably qualified and experienced social work staff and administrative staff. The registered manager is the Service Manager for Adoption, Fostering and Contact. Specialist teams offer the following services:

  • Fostering and supportive lodgings, supervision and support team;
  • Fostering Recruitment, Assessment and short breaks for disabled children;
  • Family plus team for Family and Friends Foster carers and Special Guardians;
  • Adoption and permanence team;
  • Contact service for Looked after children.

Fostering staff will be involved in the review, planning and development of the service and receive appropriate training, supervision and appraisal. All social work staff have had an appraisal in the past year. Fostering social workers will continue to be provided with the specialist training which reflects the ethos of the service.

For further information please see the Islington Foster Carer’s Handbook or Islington Council’s fostering website.

For further information about the specialist Consortium schemes please see the Fostering North London website.