APPENDIX 1 STATEMENT OF PURPOSE SOUTHEND ON SEA FOSTERING AGENCY JANUARY 2004 1. Introduction The Fostering Service Regulations and National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services (2002), requires each Fostering Agency to have a Statement of Purpose that sets out the aims and objectives of the service. This is the Statement of Purpose for Southend on Sea Fostering Agency. Southend on Sea Fostering Agency is registered with The Commission for Social Care Inspection South Essex Area Office at; Kingswood House Baxter Avenue Southend on Sea Essex SS2 6BG Tel No 01702 236010 Fax No 01702 236056
2. Status and Constitution Southend on Sea Fostering Service is conducted by Southend on Sea Borough Council and as such is a “Local Authority Fostering Service” (as recognised within the Fostering Service Regulations 2002). The location of the service is as follows: Family Finders 283 London Road Westcliff on Sea Southend Essex SS0 7BJ Tel No 01702 354366 Fax No 01702 437217
3. Management Structure and Staffing The service is managed within Children and Young People‟s Services, a division of The Department of Social Care. The Assistant Director in this division is Mrs Meera Spillett. Operational management responsibility within the division is divided between three Managers. The Children‟s Services Manager is responsible for fieldwork services. The Children‟s Resources Manager manages resource
programs including Fostercare and the Children‟s Quality Manager manages Quality Assurance.
Staffing The Fostering Team staff establishment is outlined below: 1 x Team Manager (who also has responsibility for managing the adoption service) 1 x Senior Practitioner 1 x Duty Officer 7 x Foster Carer Support Workers 1 x Fostering Administrator. All social work staff carry a caseload of carers and provide support and supervision. They undertake initial visits from people who have made enquiries and complete Form F assessments in relation to people who have decided that they want to participate in a comprehensive assessment with a view to becoming foster carers. Social Workers also provide training on the “Choose to Foster Course” and other modules of training for approved carers. They continually identify the training needs of carers and encourage their ongoing development. All staff are involved in publicity and recruitment campaigns. The Team Manager and all fostering Link workers are qualified Social Workers holding the Diploma in Social Work or an equivalent qualification.
Team Manager- Mr Ian Marsh (full time) The Team Manager is responsible for the management of this service and also Southend on Sea‟s Adoption Agency. Mr Marsh qualified as social worker in 1985 (C.S.S.) and has subsequently studied for a Diploma in Management Studies 1991 –93. He intends to undertake further studies. Mr Marsh has over 10 years experience working in and managing children‟s homes across Essex and in other London Boroughs. He has worked as a Youth Worker and in a Youth Justice Team. Mr Marsh has worked in management positions in a Youth Justice Team; a generic fieldwork team and a specialist child care team. He has been involved in adoption and fostering at various levels throughout his social work career.
Immediately prior to working in Family Finders he managed the Fostering and Adoption service in South Essex and his duties included the chairing of Fostering and Adoption Panels.
Senior Practitioner – Mr Stephen Jordan (full time) The Senior Practitioner acts as the deputy in the absence of the Team Manager. He also has particular responsibilities in day to day management of some services including Private Fostering and Long Term Fostering. Stephen is responsible for managing the Duty Service and the participation of the agency in the National Foster Care Fortnight. He is responsible for direct supervision of some staff. Stephen qualified with a BA Hons in Applied Social Studies and CQSW from Bradford University in 1988. He initially worked for 5 years in a generic patch based team in Wakefield. He took a year out to complete an MSc. in Social Research Methods at Surrey University before coming to work at Southend in the Child assessment team. Stephen worked for some time at the Maldon Family centre before joining the Family Finders Team February 1999 as a fostering link worker. Stephen was promoted to the post of Senior Practitioner in November 2003. Social worker – Ms Sue Benson (Part time 20 hrs per week) Sue manages a caseload of approved foster carers, undertakes initial visits, Form F assessments and participates in recruitment and publicity events. Sue gained a BA (hons) in Sociology/Theology from Hull University in 1992 and then worked as a Youth Worker for a year. Sue returned to Hull University obtaining an MA in Social Work with DipSW in 1995. Sue took a social work position with the Continuing care team at the Castle Point local office in September 1995 and remained there until September 2000 when she joined Family Finders. Social Worker – Ms Heather Brown (Full Time) Heather manages a caseload of approved foster carers, undertakes initial visits, Form F assessments and participates in recruitment and publicity events. Heather qualified as a Social Worker in 2002, having worked for worked at Whitefriars (A children‟s home in Southend) where she had been appointed as Head of Care and Unit Manager. Prior to her appointment with Family
Finders, Sue had completed work experience placements at Queensway Activity Centre and Army Welfare Service Chelsea Barracks. Social Work Assistant (Duty Officer) Ms Ann Caine (full time) Ann has primary responsibility for providing a duty service, receiving placement requests and identifying possible carers. Ann runs a support group for carers and provides telephone support. Prior to commencing work in child care Ann enjoyed a career in the city, she had a number of administrative posts and worked as a trader. In April 1985 Ann took a post as a kindergarten assistant at the Jigsaw School in Brunei. Ann gained her NNEB diploma in June 1995 and took a position at the Marigold Family Centre in Southend as a Nursery Officer/Assistant Social Worker. She has subsequently undertaken the following training; Health and Hygiene, First Aid, Portage, Advanced NNEB (CACHE) Advanced Diploma in Child Care and Education. Ann joined Family Finders in September 1999.
Social Worker Ms Barbara Evans (full time) Barbara manages a caseload of approved foster carers, undertakes initial visits, Form F assessments and participates in recruitment and publicity events. Barbara worked for Essex Youth Service as a Youth Worker for 15 years. She worked as an Unqualified Social Worker at Southend, 1989 – 2000. Barbara obtained her qualification, (Dip S/W) in July 2000 and joined the Family Finders Team in the same month.
Social Worker Ms Liana Gowen (full time) Liana manages a caseload of approved foster carers, undertakes initial visits, Form F assessments and participates in recruitment and publicity events. In addition she has lead responsibility for co-ordinating training for foster carers. Liana qualified in 1992 obtaining a B.A. in Social Work from Stellen Bosch University. In 1993 – 1997 Liana worked at a Salvation Army Treatment Centre for people with drug and alcohol related problems. She worked for a year as a Residential Social Worker at a children‟s home in Basingstoke before joining Family Finders in April 1998.
SOCIAL WORKER- Ms Norma Graham (full time) Norma manages a caseload of approved foster carers, undertakes initial visits, Form F assessments and supports the team in recruitment and publicity events. In addition Norma undertakes some adoption work.
Norma holds the Certificate in Social Care in The Care and Management of people with HIV/Aids. Norma also obtained a Certificate in Person Centered Counseling Skills, the Diploma in Therapeutic Counseling, the Diploma in Professional Studies, the Certificate in Person Centered Art Therapy and the Diploma in Social Work. Norma has also achieved the Post Qualifying Award in Childcare, Part 1. Norma worked for 8 years with adults who had physical and/ or sensory impairment. She also worked for 6 years with children and families where a family member suffered from HIV/Aids before joining Family Finders in 2001. SOCIAL WORKER – Ms Lorri Young (agency worker 30 hrs per week) Lorri specialises in recruiting and providing support to carers for children with disabilities. Lori joined Family Finders in 1999, having qualified as a social worker (C.Q.S.W.) in 1984. Since obtaining her qualification Lorri has continued to work with children and families services. She has a broad range of skills having worked in child care fieldwork teams for Essex and Tower Hamlets were she undertook family assessments of children in need, child protection and court work. Lorri has also worked in specialist adolescent and residential teams and at a family centre involved in direct work with children and work to improve parenting skills.
4. SERVICES PROVIDED The purpose of this service is to provide foster care for children and young people who are being looked after by Southend on Sea Borough Council. The primary aim of this service is to ensure that those children who cannot be brought up within their family of origin are able to maximise their potential development, educationally, physically, emotionally and psychologically, within a safe, secure and supportive family setting. On any given day Southend on Sea Borough Council is accommodating over 250 children. The Family Finders Team aims to recruit sufficient carers with a good range of skills to meet the varied needs of those children. Most children benefit from a placement that is local so that they can be closer to their families and support networks. Children also need to be placed with carers of the same ethnic and cultural background.
The agency offers placements with carers who have been carefully selected and trained to meet National Standards. Comprehensive support and training is provided. The following types of placements are offered: Long term (permanent) Duration: Until adulthood Purpose: Permanent, substitute care for children who cannot live with their families and require permanency. Longer Term (task centred) Duration: Two to five years Purpose: Provide substitute care where a lengthy piece of work is required, or in the case of a teenager to provide a stable secure placement until they reach adulthood. Short term Duration: Up to two years Purpose: Provide substitute care while plans are formulated or a specific piece of work is carried out, e.g. assessment of parents Parent and child Duration: Up to two years (occasionally longer) Purpose: Support parent(s), protect baby, and assess parenting skills Respite Care Duration: 1-28 days; may be one off, or a planned series of placements, not exceeding 110 nights per year. Remand Duration: Up to a year (very occasionally longer) Purpose: Provide a placement when the Court remands a young person to local authority accommodation. Emergency Duration: Up to 28 days Purpose: Emergency substitute care at very short notice Preparation for Independence Duration: Up to three years Purpose: Provide care and support young person preparing to live independently. Bail Support placements Duration: For duration of bail Purpose: To support YOT in maintaining stability for young people on bail.
A Family Finders based duty service is operated between 0900 – 1730 Monday to Friday. The duty officer will try to organise placements for children referred by the child care social workers. Each foster carer is allocated a named supervising social worker who will visit them on a monthly basis (at a minimum) unless otherwise agreed with the carer. The agency also provides a 24 hour on call system through the Out of Hours service, staffed by qualified social workers. Southend on Sea Fostering Team offers a therapeutic service for young people through the Southend Child and Family Consultation Service or in the case of carers living outside the boundaries of Southend on Sea a local Child and Family Consultation services will be engaged. Specialist education support is available through the agency‟s Education Welfare officer for Looked After Children, Ms Jenny Barry. Specialist Health support is available through the agency‟s Lead nurse for Looked After Children. Foster carers are offered respite as required and specified in the Care Plan for each child. The fostering service provide foster carers with the necessary equipment required for fostering each child such as bedroom furniture, bed linen and towels etc. The fostering service has access to a small fleet of "people carrier vehicles" which can be made available to foster carers who are caring for a number of children.
5. AIMS, OBJECTIVES, PRINCIPLES AND STANDARDS OF CARE Southend Fostering Team have adopted the following mission statement: “The Council believes that children and young people who cannot be cared for within their own family, whether that be for a short period of time or a long period of time, are often best served by being cared for within another family. The Council has sought to develop a fostering service that can meet the physiological, psychological, emotional, racial, cultural and religious needs of the children it looks after.” The agency‟s primary aim is to provide safe, high quality family care for children looked after by Southend on Sea Borough Council. Subsidiary aims are detailed in bold below and supported by further objectives to help achieve those aims.
A) To Recruit, Train, Support and Supervise Foster Carers Advertising, publicity launches etc. Initial visits to applicants Safeguard checks on applicants Running Fostering preparation courses, “ Choose to Foster.” BAAF Form F assessments of Foster Carers and Kinship Carers Presentation of Foster Carers to Foster Panel Post Approval training i.e. NVQ Level 3, Valuing Diversity Supporting carers during the assessment process and post approval Monitoring and improving standards of care Undertaking Annual Fostering Household Reviews Providing equipment and furniture required for the purposes of fostering Supporting carers at children‟s reviews, in the preparation of reports etc Supervising carers to ensure good standards of care practice are developed and maintained. Long Service Awards Ceremony Annual summer trip for all foster carers and children
B) To Work in Partnership with the Foster Carers and the Association of Foster Carers & Adoptive Parents (AFCAPS) within Southend-on-Sea to Improve the Quality of Foster Care Quarterly meetings are held with the Assistant Director and Children‟s Resources Manager to ensure that strategic and operational matters are discussed and resolved between the Department and Foster Carers. The Department provides a grant to AFCAPS.
C) To Evaluate the ability of Carers to Care for Looked After Children Where concerns are noted or investigations are commenced following allegations against foster carers, the team will ensure that these are investigated and that the foster carers are supported through the process. It is a requirement that any carer subject of a formal S.47 inquiry, major complaint or critical incident is reviewed via an annual household review which is presented to the Fostering Panel. To undertake annual household reviews that take into account the views of service users.
D) To Provide an In-House Placement Service for Looked After Children A duty officer is available during office hours to take referrals from child care workers and match children with in-house foster placements. Details of carers willing to take emergency placement is provided to the emergency duty team.
E) To Promote a Positive Image of Fostering for foster carers, the children of foster carers and children and young people placed with foster carers Competitions Social events i.e. Long Service Awards for Foster Carers Media coverage
F) To create an environment of continuous improvement and innovation in everything we do. · 6. FOSTER CARERS Southend on Sea Fostering Service is aiming to recruit 160 carers that will reflect the ethnic and religious backgrounds of the Looked After children. We are particularly seeking carers from ethnic minority backgrounds, carers who can offer a home to large sibling groups, carers for children with a disability and carers willing to take teenagers. The agency currently has 107 carers spread across the 6 categories detailed below, all foster carers, no matter which category are expected to deliver the National Minimum Standards. Category 1 (Supported Lodgings) These are Southend approved foster carers who take older and more independent young people, whom require encouragement and support towards achieving an independent lifestyle. A supported lodgings carer will receive the boarding out allowance of £138.04 per week (2003 rates). To consult with carers and their representatives about the service and how to improve it. To consult with service users and their representatives about the service and how to improve it. To consult with staff and their representatives about the service and how to improve it. To consult with partner agencies about the service and how to improve it. To undertake an annual review of the service.
Category 2 (Kinship Carers) These are Southend approved foster carers that have been approved for a specific child or children that were previously known to them i.e. family friends or relatives. Category 2 carers will receive 66.6% of the “boarding out allowance.” Category 3 (General Foster Carers) These are carers that have been approved as carers for any looked after child in Southend on Sea that fits into their status of approval. They receive the “boarding out allowance” for each child, which ranges from £ 77.07 to £138.04 per week (2003 rates) depending on the age of the child, but do not receive an enhanced payment. Category 4 (Short break and respite carers) These are people who do not wish to commit themselves full-time to fostering but want to put something back into their local community by offering something to Families in need. They can offer the odd day or weekends support to a family. This service is invaluable to many families who have a child with a disability. These carers receive the daily pro rata “boarding out allowance” for each child, which ranges from £ 77.07 to £138.04 per week (2003 rates) depending on the age of the child, and are not in receipt of an enhanced payment Category 5 Careers (Enhanced Carers) Category 5 carers are people who wish to make a career in fostering. To qualify as a category 5 carer they must, in addition to the minimum standards expected of all foster carers, meet with the following standards: Be a Southend approved foster carer for 2 or more children To have successfully completed the training on valuing diversity. Be free from other work commitments. In certain extenuating circumstances the Resources Service Manager can grant exemption, this must be achieved in writing ahead of undertaking the work. Attend and successfully complete mandatory training courses. Be prepared to take new placements. Support recruitment initiatives. Support children in reviews and other statutory or departmental meetings. Support and promote planned placement endings Attend all the child care reviews and other statutory child care meetings Support children in placement and attend appointments with Health, Education, C.F.C.S. family contact etc.
Category 6 Carers (Enhanced carers) All Foster Carers who have successfully completed the NVQ level 3 training and meet the criteria for category 5 Carers and maintain the NVQ level 3 qualification will qualify for this category. A rolling programme of training is provided for foster carers, including courses on Valuing Diversity, managing difficult behaviour; the effects of separation and loss; first aid; substance misuse; life story work; Court work and all carers are encouraged to undertake NVQ level three training.
7. PROCEDURES FOR THE RECRUITMENT, APPROVAL, TRAINING SUPPORT AND REVIEW OF FOSTER CARERS. Southend on Sea fostering Team has undertaken to ensure that it‟s practices comply with The National Minimum Standards and Fostering Service Regulations, 2002. Southend on Sea fostering Team has adopted the principle, set out in the 1989 Children Act, that the welfare of the child is paramount. This principle is applied to the agency‟s decision making, planning and daily work. All social work tasks, including the assessment and support of foster carers, are carried out by qualified and experienced social workers. All enquiries to the agency by people expressing an interest in becoming a foster carer are responded to promptly. We aim to have formally acknowledged the enquiry within two working days by sending an acknowledgement letter and some information leaflets. This will be further supported by a home visit within 10 working days. Applicants are then invited to attend a Choose to Foster course, which is held every 3 months. Subject to satisfactory safeguard checks, a decision made by the Assistant Director, Children‟s Services, the applicants are immediately allocated for assessment, using the nationally recognised Form F format. The target dates for presentation to the fostering panel is 6 months from the date the Form F assessment begins. Applicants are invited to read their assessment reports. They have 28 days in which to read the report and make comments should they wish to do so. They are invited to attend the fostering panel when their application is being considered. The fostering panel recommendation is then considered by the Assistant Director Children‟s Services, who makes the final decision. Southend on Sea fostering Team have full membership of BAAF and Fostering Network and all carers have membership to Fostering Network where they can gain additional support and advice.
8 QUALITY ASSURANCE AND STRATEGIC PLANNING The team maintains statistical records and analyses these to help make judgements in relation to the quality of the services provided and the extent to which they meet current needs. Statistics are also used to provide the information needed for strategic planning. The service has developed a Placement Strategy, drafted in line with DoH. „Planning & Providing Good Quality Placements for Children Care‟ Information is kept and monitored on disruption rates, number of referrals of children / young people by age, ethnicity, religion, culture, gender and disability, number of enquiries to approval, number of carers by age, ethnicity, religion, culture, gender and disability. Number of Annual Foster Home Reviews conducted to time scales is monitored and reviewed.
9 PRIVATE FOSTERING The Fostering Service is responsible for the provision of information for the public in relation to Private Fostering within the local community. The Service is also responsible for the maintenance of a register of people privately fostering and the children placed with them. The service is also responsible for the monitoring of standards in private foster homes.
10 FOSTERING PANEL The Council has a Fostering Panel that is independently chaired by Mr Alan Johnstone. The panel is compliant with the Fostering Regulations 2002.
11. CUSTOMER SERVICES The Council employs a Customer Services Officer, (MsJenny Fowers). Complaints, general comments or compliments about the service from children, young people or their relatives or other professionals, can be lodged with the Customer Services Officer. She will arrange for complaints to be investigated by an appropriate person or a compliment to be acknowledged. Comments on the fostering service can also be made to the National Carer Standards Commission at: Kingswood House Baxter Avenue Southend on Sea Essex SS2 6BG Tel No 01702 236010 Fax No 01702 236056
Complaints recorded as received between 1/1/03 and 31/12/03 Reference number SS/00345 Date rec‟d 25/9/03 Respons e date 8/10/03 Nature of concern Concern about welfare of nieces and nephews in foster placements Outcome Complaint investigated but not substantiated.
Complaint from same complainant who was dissatisfied with assessment as potential carers, carried out by Fostering Service .( Did not recommend approval)
Directions Hearing due and therefore advised the Court to be the appropriate place to challenge this assessment. Court in agreement that children not be placed with the applicant. Complaint unsubstantiated Referral had been received from another source and was considered to be appropriate
Complaint from same person. Allegation that member of the Fostering Team made an inappropriate referral to First Contact Team in relation to a Child Protection matter involving complainant‟s own daughter
SS/00373 12/12/03 19/12/03 Letter from letter to solicitor on solicitors behalf of requestin clientsSS/0 g more 0345 and detail SS/00357
Concerns as expressed in SS/00345 (complaints above) plus issues surrounding contact
Court ruled in favour of Social Services Care Plan