Presentation on theme: "The Heart of the Matter: supporting family contact for fostered children."— Presentation transcript:
The Heart of the Matter: supporting family contact for fostered children
Course objectives Building trust and confidence across teams and roles Consider the reasons why this area of practice is crucial to children’s experience of foster care. Examine issues round the sharing and balance of the professionals responsibilities regarding contact Benefit from some of the findings of the contact project and consider how some of the projects tools could improve practice.
Forms of contact Indirect v direct Face to face Social networking Email & Skype Phone calls Texting Letters/postcards ‘Letter box’
Legal snapshot The Human Rights Act 1998 – articles 6 and 8 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child- adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 20 th November 1989 The Children Act 1989 Sections 8 concerns contact orders Section 34 concerns Parental contact etc with children in care.
Legal Snapshot cont’d The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010: - regulation 8 and schedule 2 The Children Act 1989 Statutory Guidance Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2010): - Chapter 2 concerns care planning and includes a section on contact.
Legal snapshot cont’d The Children Act 1989 Statutory Guidance Volume 4:Fostering Services: chapter 3 contains a section on contact and it also refers to delegated authority on contact with family and friends The Children Act 1989 Statutory Guidance Volume 1: Court Orders - Chapter 3 contains a section on the effect of care orders.
Legal snapshot cont’d The revised National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services (2011): standard 7 refers to promoting and supporting contact. IRO Handbook: statutory guidance for independent reviewing officers and local authorities on their function in relation to case management and review of looked after children (2010)
Care Planning Regulations and Guidance 2010 Content of the care plan should include: Arrangements for contact with a brother or sister who is also looked after but not placed with the child Details of any court orders made under section 8 or section 34; and Arrangements for promoting and maintaining contact with a parent and anyone else with parental responsibility
Arrangements for contact 2.78 The interests of the majority of looked after children are best served by sustaining or creating links with their birth families…. Consideration of contact is an essential element in the planning process. Managing contact can place emotional and practical strains on all parties involved, which is why there should be clear understanding from the outset about arrangements for contact and what is expected of parents, the responsible authority and the child’s carers in connection with those arrangements.
Fostering Regulations and Guidance 2011  Foster carers (FCs) – core member of team FCs involvement in all aspects of the care plan Fostering service has a duty to promote contact Review of placement plan at every review FCs must be clear from the placement plan what delegated authority they have to make day to day decisions about contact.
National Minimum Standards 2011 Standard 9 – Promoting and supporting contact detail includes: Foster carers are given practical help to support contact, including financial Emergency restrictions on contact are only made to protect a child from significant risk When deciding to offer a placement, the fostering service works with the responsible authority in giving consideration to how it will be supported Foster carers understand what decisions about contact are delegated to them, in line with the child’s care plan, and make those decisions in the child’s best interest.
Is there a problem? Some findings from a survey of foster carers’ experience of contact by the Fostering Network in 2010
Summary of project findings 1 The findings suggest that these factors can result in: Lack of clarity about responsibilities Lack of preparation, training and support Lack of flexibility in contact arrangements Lack of counselling and support for parents (to help them participate and adjust to changes in their child whilst he or she is in foster care) Pressure felt by some young people to have contact even if they don’t want it
Summary of project findings 1 cont’d Assumptions being made by social workers about what should happen in contact and about the foster carer’s role in contact planning and support A lack of clarity about how the contact supports the overall care plan Risky arrangements with no strategies for managing them Concerns about the practical arrangements taking precedence over reflective discussion between social workers and foster carers about the meaning of the contact for each child.
Summary of project findings 2 Assumptions being made by social workers about what should happen in contact and about the foster carer’s role in contact planning and support A lack of clarity about how the contact supports the overall care plan Risky arrangements with no strategies for managing them Concerns about the practical arrangements taking precedence over reflective discussion between social workers and foster carers about the meaning of the contact for each child.
The project’s 5 principles of contact Principle 1: What children need is central to planning. Assessment should include ascertaining their views and wishes, a consideration of their needs in relation to their Care Plan, their identity, their need for reassurance and their safety. Principle 2: Practical arrangements need to support the aims of children maintaining and learning about family relationships and not become an end in themselves. Principle 3: Planning and supporting contact must take full account of the key role of foster carers and acknowledge the strengths and limitations of providing care within a family setting.
The project’s 5 principles of contact cont’d Principle 4: Planning must take full account of safeguarding considerations, be clear about whether the contact is supervised, or facilitated and about any reporting requirements. Principle 5: Planning contact requires that young people, foster carers, parents (and other family members where appropriate) have good quality information and support so that they can participate as fully as possible in the process.
Key messages Managing risk not avoiding risk Making sense of family relationships – the task of childhood Professional support is needed for professional practice
In our service…….. What is our service’s policy around contact? (Do we have a contact policy? Where is it? Who can describe it?) How do people know about it? (Induction/Training) Is it referred to in the Foster carers Handbook/how well is it covered? How well does it address the 5 project principles? How would it fare using the audit tool?
Placement plan How on a day to day basis Carrie will be cared for and Carrie’s welfare safeguarded and promoted by the appropriate person. Any arrangements made for contact between Carrie and any parent of Carrie and any person who is not Carrie’s parent but has parental responsibility, and between Carrie and any connected person. The obligation of the foster carer to comply with the terms of the foster care agreement.
Practical planning Use the placement plan to consult widely and plan formally Do not loose sight of emotional needs The importance of getting the venue right Wishes and feelings of the young person Agencies policy and practice Contact team-referral process Contact centre-referral process Training Supervision.
Impact – child Child’s age, developmental stage and behaviour Who the child is to have contact with Numbers of family members in the contact plan Where family members live Family members' attitude re care plan Issues of conduct and safety Frequency of contact.
Impact – foster home Venue Other children at home (whether or not looked after) Other friends and family around Skill level of foster carers Confidence of foster carers Training
Risk Does your agency have a risk assessment? Who completes it? Is it fit for purpose? Insurance?
Contact in a foster carers home Benefits to child Completed risk assessment Insurance Costs Foster carers children Other fostered children Review What if the parent doesn't arrive?
Action planning What do I need to do in relation to contact? What does my service need to do in relation to contact? What happens next? Who is responsible for taking this forward?
Thank you Name Title Phone Number Email www.fostering.net