Each individual will have different understanding, awareness, experience and attitude about racism. However, as foster carers it is important to be able to recognise racism and also to be able to distinguish between different forms of racism. This is vital if foster carers are to effectively challenge racism for the benefit and protection of all the children who they might care for.Personal Racism
A belief, attitude or feeling that people of another race are less equal or inferior.
A feeling of superiority based on race.Organisational Racism
A system that is structured and functions to the detriment of ethnic minorities.
A system that excludes people through their employment of people from ethnic minority groups.
An organisation that fails to actively ensure that all people are fully and equally represented, including promotion and development.Prejudice
A belief or preconceived idea about issues such as individuals, cultures and agencies.
An idea that is usually based on non-factual evidence and influenced by negative images.Direct Racism
Direct Racism is usually extremely obvious; insulting or abusive name calling or labels, clear exclusions from services or events, humiliation, fear and threats.Indirect Racism
This is usually very subtle and sometimes difficult to detect. It is often incorporated into systems and organisations although individuals are indirectly racist in their actions, ideas and thoughts, sometimes people do not realise just how indirectly racist they are.
Fostering Agencies record information about foster carers, which will include a copy of their approval report and all relevant checks and references and foster care reviews.
There will also be a record of all the children placed with the foster carers. If the foster carers wish to see their records they should discuss this with their fostering social worker.
All children looked after by Social Services will have a complete set of records, which will be kept up to, date by the child’s social worker. When a child is placed with a foster carer, the carer should receive a copy of the ‘planning document’ from the child’s social worker.
As the placement progresses the foster carer will receive copies of reviews they have attended regarding the child. Copies of all these documents should be kept as part of the child’s records.Record Keeping
All foster carers should keep a daily record on the child or children placed with them. This does not have to be comprehensive; a diary of short notes is most often sufficient.It is important to keep a record of any significant events and behaviour for a number of reasons:
- Recording the behaviour of a child (including the dates of any particular incidents) of both positive and negative behaviour, could help to identify a behaviour pattern.
- A diary can help to monitor a child’s progress during a placement. A diary of events and incidents can help a foster carer to remember at a later date, things that otherwise might be disputed, for example, an accident to the child, failure to attend a contact visit, medication given and why and so on.
- An accurate diary can assist decision making at Child Care Reviews, Planning Meetings, Case conferences and court proceedings.
- A diary of incidents can support a foster carer’s application for additional help. A diary can reduce the risk to the foster carer and their family of a complaint or allegation made against them, particularly if the complaint is made a long time after the event.
The general rule for foster carers is to write it down and then it cannot be forgotten.
Foster carers play an important role in the recruitment of other foster carers.
Foster carers take part in recruitment campaigns and are involved in preparation groups for the Agencies they provide care for.
It is important for a child’s identity and possible reunification with his or her birth family that a child’s religious practices and beliefs are represented during a period of separation from their birth family. Foster carers cannot change a child’s religion.
Foster carers must encourage and support the child placed with them to practice his or her religion.
There are different formal reviews in which foster carers may be involved such as; the foster carer’s annual reviews, the child’s review and a disruption review/placement assessment.Annual Foster Care Review (AFCR)
All approved foster carers should have their approval reviewed annually. The main purpose of the review is to assess whether the carers and their household remain suitable to foster. Reviews should also be completed every time there is a major change in the foster carer’s circumstances.
The review should take into account the views of the foster carers, which can be submitted in writing before the review takes place. The contents of the review will be recorded and the foster carers will be notified in writing of the outcome and any decisions taken.The child’s review
The Children Act 1989 places a duty on local authorities to draw up plans, in writing, for each child they accommodate or look after. The child’s review is part of a continuing planning process, it is an opportunity to examine plans and decisions and assess the progress made and sets goals for future action.
The review should seek a wide range of views, and careful consideration is given to all aspects of the child’s welfare, health and education needs, and so on.
The first review should take place within four weeks of the commencement of the placement. It should be followed by a second review within three months. Thereafter reviews should take place at six monthly intervals. This is a minimal requirement however a review may be held whenever it is considered necessary.
The review is most often held in the foster carer’s home, which is most likely to provide a relaxed atmosphere, particularly the child.Disruption review
The principal aim of a disruption review/meeting is to collect information about the particular placement when it is at crisis point and the placement is likely to be disrupted. The primary aim is to secure the immediate and long term welfare of the child.
It is essential that all the individuals involved with the placement and the decision making process are present at the review. All the participants are expected to share information and express their feelings about the placement in order to learn from the experience.
If a placement breaks down before a disruption review/meeting is completed, the review should be held within three weeks of the child leaving the foster home.
Safe Care Policy
The purpose of a safe care family policy is to ensure that everyone who lives in the fostering household and those who visit knows what the family rules are. The aim is to offer protection to foster carers, their children, any child placed and any other adults in the household.
Children are naturally inquisitive and foster carers have to strike a balance between encouraging a child’s need to explore, and preventing them from hurting themselves. Foster carers should check the width between railings, banisters and balconies, fit window locks or safety catches that stop windows opening more than four inches.
In the event of a fire in the home, just a few seconds warning can make all the difference. Foster carers are generally required to fit smoke alarms on each floor in their homes. The alarms should be checked on a weekly basis. Carers should be prepared and have a fire escape plan should the worst ever happen.
Garden ponds and paddling pools can also be a hazard for children, foster carers are advised to empty out paddling pools when not in use and ponds should be covered or fenced off. Foster carers must keep household and garden chemicals, medicines, alcohol and even cosmetics in a place where children cannot reach them, ideally in a locked cupboard.
Low glass doors and windows should be fitted with safety glass or replaced with hardboard. Keep tools and knives out of reach; prevent fingers being trapped by using door guards, and use protectors on the corners of sharp furniture.
When travelling by car the correct child seat should be used. Never use a rear facing seat in the front passenger seat if an air bag is fitted. Help children in and out of a car on to the pavement.
Deliberate self-harm is a term used when someone injures or harms themselves on purpose. Common examples include `overdosing' (self-poisoning), hitting, cutting or burning, pulling hair or picking skin, or self-strangulation. It can also include taking illegal drugs and excessive amounts of alcohol. Self-harm is always a sign of something being seriously wrong.Why do young people harm themselves?
Self-injury is a way of dealing with very difficult feelings that build up inside. People say different things about why they do it:
- Some say that they have been feeling desperate about a problem and don't know where to turn for help. They feel trapped and helpless and self-injury helps them to feel more in control.
- Some people talk of feelings of anger or tension that get bottled up inside, until they feel like exploding. Self-injury helps to relieve the tension that they feel.
- Feelings of guilt or shame may also become unbearable. Self-harm is a form of punishment.
Some people try to cope with very upsetting experiences, such as trauma or abuse, they say that they feel detached from the world and their bodies, and that self-injury is a way of feeling more connected and alive.
If a young person a foster carer is caring for thinks they are lesbian/gay, or they are not sure of their sexuality, then they need to talk to somebody who understands, without feeling pressurised.
Most importantly they need to have the support, acceptance and understanding of the foster carers who are caring for them.
Fostering social workers will advise foster carers and new applicants of the dangers of smoking and more particularly on the specific dangers of passive smoking to babies and children. Although smoking may not prevent applicants being approved, they may be considered unsafe to look after children under 5 years.
Social Worker Visits
When a child is placed with foster carers, the child’s social worker should discuss the frequency and timing of future visits. These should be convenient for the foster carer and their family, and which will enable the social worker to see the child both alone and with the rest of the foster family. Foster Care Regulations require that on each visit, so far as is reasonably practicable, the child should be seen alone.
The child’s social worker should visit the child within the first week of the placement, then at intervals of not more than six weeks during the first year and then at intervals of three months. However, any foster carer or child should feel able to request a visit from the social worker whenever they feel it is needed.
Foster carers should keep the social worker informed about the child’s day-to-day progress. If there are any changes in a child’s placement being considered they should be discussed with the foster carers.
Space in the home
There is no specific legislation regarding the minimum space required in foster homes. Fostering Services Regulations 2002 require that the applicant is suitable to act as a foster carer and that their household is suitable for any child in respect of which approval may be given. This includes details of the applicant’s accommodation.
The National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services requires that the foster home can comfortably accommodate all who live there and that foster carers provide an environment in which education and learning are valued.
Special guardianship is a legal option intended to provide permanence for children for whom adoption is not appropriate.
A special guardianship order (SGO) gives the special guardian parental responsibility for the child. Unlike adoption, under a SGO the parents remain the child's parents and retain parental responsibility, though their ability to exercise their parental responsibility is extremely limited.A special guardianship order will:
- Give the carer clear responsibility for all aspects of caring for the child or young person, and for taking decisions to do with their upbringing
- Provide a firm foundation on which to build a lifelong permanent relationship between the carer and the child or young person
- Preserve the basic legal link between the child or young person and their birth family
- Be accompanied by proper access to a full range of support services including, where appropriate, financial support
Supervision for Foster Carers is a formal arrangement for meetings between foster carers and their allocated Social Worker from the fostering service. It is part of Fostering Agency’s commitment to meet the Government National Standards in Foster Care.Supervision should be seen as a supportive and two way process to:
- help foster carers cope with the stresses their work may involve;
- support foster carers and their families by providing advice and consultation from Supervisors and other specialist sources;
- ensure foster carers understand how they contribute to the Fostering Agency’s services to children;
- provide foster carers the right monitoring and feedback on their work;
- ensure foster carers have opportunities to develop through appropriate training;
- monitor foster carer’s work in line with the Fostering Agency’s policies and procedures.
All Fostering Agencies have regular foster care support groups that foster carers can attend. The support groups give an opportunity for the foster carers to get together informally with other foster carers and Agency Fostering staff. Some support groups invite guest speakers to discuss childcare issue and other topics related to fostering.
Fostering Agencies expect that it is the responsibility of all foster carers to supervise children’s access to screen images. There are generally no legal rules or specific Agency guidelines about what is acceptable on the screen. This is partly because standards of what is acceptable change with time, and partly because children react differently to stories and images they see depending on their age and maturity.
Foster carers are generally expected to follow the television ‘watershed’ and to look for warnings that a programme may cause upset or distress, taking into account the experiences and history of the child who is placed.
All Fostering Agencies provide a relevant training programme for foster carers. Some offer the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Caring for Children and Young People Level III.All Fostering Agencies provide a programme of workshops and events throughout the year that covers areas such as:
- Child protection awareness
- Managing children’s behaviour
- Life work
- Drugs and Young People
- Child development
- Anti-Discriminatory Practice
- Safe care
Foster carers are advised to consider safe care when transporting children alone in a car, in particular if the child is known to have been abused. If the foster carer has to travel alone with a child then the child should sit in the back of the car.
Working in Partnership
In line with the Children Act 1989, partnership. Working effectively in the best interests of children requires close collaboration and co-operation between all involved parties:
- Children, their parents and extended families
- Foster carers and their families
- Family placement officers and managers
- Children’s social workers and managers
- Other internal professionals for example; Independent Reviewing Officers, Children’s Rights Service, Legal Section, Family Support Workers
- External professionals such as teachers, youth workers, health workers and voluntary sector workers who support children and carers.
The Handbook refers to general concepts and principles in fostering which may vary with changing legislation.
Fostering Providers may differ in how they interpret and implement such concepts and principles.