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3.11.2 Fostering Service Duty

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Islington Council is committed to providing a high quality family placements service and to commissioning external placements where in house providers cannot meet the need.

This chapter constitutes the operational framework for Islington's placements Duty Service.

This policy and procedure covers the service provision to children, birth families, foster carers and social workers as they relate to the Fostering duty service.

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Fostering Statement of Purpose

Assessment, Approval and Review of Foster Carers Procedure

Financial Support in Caring for Children Procedure


Contents

1. Position Statement and Guiding Principles
2. Ofsted and Service Standards for a Fostering Duty Service
3. Introduction to the National Minimum Standards
4. Roles and Responsibilities
5. The Organisation of the Fostering Duty Service
6. Placements
7. Pre-Admission and Placement Planning
8. Arrangements for Foster Care Placements through the Fostering and Placements Service
9. Variations and Exemptions
10. Requests from other Local Authorities for Placements
11. Request for Placement - Young People over the age of 18 Years
12. Placement Plan Meetings
13. Placement Plan Meetings (Parent and Baby Placements)
14. Placement Stability - Support Services to Foster Care Placements
15. Pre-Disruption Meetings
16. The Use of Shared Care within Proposed or Existing Placements
17. Support for Foster Carer
18. Friends and Family Placements
19. Family and Friends Foster Care
20. Family and Friends Care: Legal Framework
21. Family and Friends Foster Care: Guidance for the Fostering Duty Social Worker
22. Medical Consent and Medical Emergencies
  22.1 Legal Overview
  22.2 Children aged 16 or 17
  22.3 Children aged 15 Years and Under
  22.4 Birth Parents
  22.5 Consent by the Department
  22.6 Accommodated Children: Examinations and Treatment
  22.7 Emergency Protection Order or Interim Care Order
  22.8 Full Care Order
  22.9 Child Assessment Order
  22.10 Interim Supervision Order
  22.11 Full Supervision Order
  22.12 Foster Carers: Medical Care and Medical Emergencies
23. Out of Hours Support to Foster Carers and other Emergencies
  23.1 Out of Hours Support
  23.2 Emergency Duty Team (EDT)
  23.3 London Child Protection Procedures
  23.4 Missing Children
  23.5 Unplanned Removal of a Child
  23.6 Death of a Child Looked After


1. Position Statement and Guiding Principles

Islington Council believes that children are entitled to grow up as part of a loving family, which can meet their needs. Islington Council will make every reasonable effort to enable and support a child's birth family to provide a safe home for the child.

Where children need to be placed on a temporary basis away from their birth parents Islington Council is committed to placing them within their extended family or friendship network and supporting this arrangement where appropriate.

If it is not possible for a child to be placed within their extended family then Islington Council will always seek as a first option a placement with foster carers.

Islington Fostering Service adheres to the department's Achieving Placement Stability Policy. Priority will be given to the location of the placement, which should be within the borough of neighbouring boundaries to allow the child to maintain their education arrangements and to ensure that contact can be maintained with birth family members and significant other people in the child's life. Therefore Islington Council will always try to place children and young people with one of Islington's approved foster carers. Only when there is no in-house foster carer available within the timescales required by the child and/or who would be able to meet the needs will a carer be sought from one of the council's preferred providers (independent fostering agencies) and if this not feasible one of PAN London approved independent fostering agencies.

If the permanence plan for a child is permanent or long term fostering, consideration will always be given to the child remaining in their current fostering placement if the placement meets the needs of that child and with paramouncy given to the wishes and feelings of the child and carers.

Islington Council is committed to providing an innovative multi agency and multi systemic approach to the delivery of a service, which seeks to improve the lives of the children and young people in its care. Foster carers will be provided with training and support to enhance their skills and abilities in caring for children and young people within a framework of partnership working.

Islington Fostering Service will provide a diverse and wide range of safe, caring, stable and nurturing local family placements to meet the needs of Islington's children looked after. This will include short term and task focused carers, adolescent and long term foster carers.

Islington's Council's Fostering Duty Service will operate in accordance with the following principles:

  • A child's welfare is the paramount consideration. The needs and wishes, welfare and safety of the child are at the centre of the Islington Fostering Service.
  • Every effort will be made to support our foster carers to provide a stable home for a child through the provision of support services, which will take into account the individual needs of the children and adults within the family.
  • Achieving stability in foster care placements for children will be a paramount consideration from the day that a child is placed. The placements Duty Service will work collaboratively with the childcare teams to minimise placement disruption for children looked after and maximise their opportunity to achieve a permanent and stable family life.
  • Maximum support will be offered to foster carers to help them meet the needs of children and young people especially those with complex needs and challenging behaviour.
  • Every effort will be made to place children and young people locally to enable them to sustain appropriate contact with family and friends and minimise any disruption to their school and leisure pursuits.
  • Children and young people who are looked after must have the opportunity to develop a positive identity and high self-esteem and to preserve their contact and ties with their birth family where this is in their best interests.
  • The Fostering Service will recognise and value diversity by building on the strengths of children and young people from all cultures, ethnic and religious backgrounds in ways that meet their needs and help them achieve their potential. Foster carers will be recruited from a diverse and broad range of the local community and assessed in relation to their ability to meet the needs of a diverse range of children and young people. Foster carers will be trained and supported to help children and young people value their heritage and help them to counteract the negative aspects of discrimination to the external environment.
  • Wherever possible children will be placed within a family of their own ethnic, cultural and religious background with common language. Islington will take into account and plan for ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender and disability needs of children and young people in the process of matching them with their carers. However, matching by the carers of child's race, ethnicity, home language, religion or sexuality is only one component of an assessment. Their carer not matching the child's circumstances can not in itself discount this as a positive placement. Any identified limitation in matching will be supported through additional services and the support of the network of carers.
  • The views and wishes of the child will be sought by a range of age appropriate means including review of arrangement meetings, supervising social work and childcare social worker visits, children looked after consultative documents and annual reviews for fosters carers. CAIS, children's active involvement service, will play a key role in promoting the wishes and views of children looked after and enabling their voices to be heard.
  • Children, families, social workers and foster carers who use our Fostering Duty Service will be consulted about processes and decisions that will affect them.
  • We will seek feedback from children, families, social workers and foster carers who come into contact with our services as a way of ensuring our services are of a high quality and we will take remedial action where this is required as a result of feedback received.
  • Our service users will be informed about how they can make appeals or representations about our assessment or decision-making processes and how to make use of our formal complaints procedure if they wish to do so. All children and young people looked after receive a copy of the Children's Guide which ensures that they know how to raise any concerns or complaints and that they receive prompt feedback on any concerns or complaints raised.


2. Ofsted and Service Standards for a Fostering Duty Service

Part III of the Care Standards Act 2000, gives Ofsted the duty to inspect the discharge by local authorities of their functions within their fostering services. The fostering duty service is a key component of the Fostering Service.

This means that all functions of the fostering duty service will be included in their inspection.

These Fostering Duty procedures will be made available to the Ofsted when they come to inspect the Fostering Service.


3. Introduction to the National Minimum Standards

The National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services provide Ofsted with a comprehensive framework against which to inspect Local Authorities and Independent Fostering Agencies.

The key processes involved in the fostering duty service are:

  • Responding to requests for foster care placements
  • Seeking appropriate in-house provision to enable children to placed locally
  • Arranging the most suitable match for children and young people
  • Providing support to foster carers to minimise the risk of placement breakdown or termination
  • Setting up Placement Agreement meetings
  • Providing out-of-hours support to Islington approved foster carers.


4. Roles and Responsibilities

The registered manager is responsible for the delivery of Islington's Fostering Service. The delivery of the Fostering Duty Service is delegated to a duty senior on a weekly basis.

Social workers and a duty senior from the Under and Over 11 Supervision and Support Teams within the Fostering Service will act as the duty social worker on a weekly basis as determined by the duty rota.

For the week that they are on duty, the duty deputy team manager and the duty social worker will provide out-of-hours cover on a 24 hour basis for the Fostering Duty Service. This will include cover.

Islington will pay an allowance for this out-of-hours cover. One day's time off in-lieu will be given for each day of a public/bank holiday where deputy team managers and duty social workers provide cover out-of-hours cover.

The duty social worker will prioritise all duty tasks and arrive punctually at 9am, unless there is a specific management agreement otherwise. S/he will schedule all meetings and appointments in accordance with the requirements of the duty service. Where this is impossible and a clash occurs, it will be the responsibility of the duty social worker to arrange duty cover and to plan this well in advance with the duty deputy team manager.

Occasionally, the duty social worker might be asked to attend a meeting or undertake a visit to a foster carer's home with little warning. In these circumstances, the duty social worker may approach the duty deputy team manager or another social worker to provide cover.


5. The Organisation of the Fostering Duty Service

The objective of the placements duty Service is:

  • to enable the placement of children and young people into Islington fostering placements wherever possible
  • to arrange the most suitable match for the child or young person
  • to provide support to placements in order to minimise disruption
  • to respond to emergency situations affecting children or carers
  • to provide out of hours guidance to in house foster carers
  • to commission external placements when the in house service cannot provide a foster placement.

Placements duty ensures the smooth running of the service. It acts as a first port of call to those who are seeking and advice and support in connection with fostering placements. It responds to emergency and planned work to ensure that resources are fully used to best meet the needs of children looked after.

The duty week will commence at Wednesday midday and will end on the following Wednesday.

The duty social worker will be available to answer the telephone at 9.00 - 5pm but will remain to complete any urgent tasks.

The out-of-hours fostering service will commence at 5.00 pm. It will be the responsibility of the duty social worker to resolve any outstanding matters at this time and to make contingency arrangements where this is needed to enable a child or young person to be placed even if this runs after 5.00 pm.

The duty social worker will provide a 24 hour support service to foster carers to offer reassurance and advice with the back up of the duty deputy team manager and the social worker emergency duty service. The duty social worker will also receive calls if there are no suitable carers on the EDT list cannot accept a child and/or may be unable to offer a placement. The duty senior will be available for advice and support - as required. The duty social worker will ensure that they carry the duty mobile telephone at all times and will take responsibility for ensuring that this is charged.

When any work is undertaken out-of- hours, the duty social worker and the duty senior will record this in the "Out-of-Hours Log".

The duty handover will take place every WEDNESDAY

  • current duty social worker;
  • current duty deputy team manager;
  • incoming duty social worker
  • incoming duty deputy team manager.
  • Placements procurement officer
  • Outreach team member.

On the rare occasions that it is not possible to achieve the above timescale, the deputy team manager will ensure that the current duty social worker will have a completion time in place that day to handover information to the incoming duty social worker.

Prior to the handover meeting the duty social worker will ensure that all case notes are up to date in the agreed format.

The duty social worker will ensure that the following are all updated before the handover meeting:

  • the handover record
  • the EDT list
  • the vacancy list.

Where this cannot be achieved, they must be completed as soon as possible to ensure a smooth handover.

The duty social worker will ensure that the vacancy list provides details of all foster carers who are able to offer placements to children and young people. S/he will ensure that the following information is included:

  • name of carer(s)
  • contact numbers
  • ethnicity
  • area
  • household composition
  • placement
  • approval
  • hold/availability
  • vacancy
  • working commitments and hours
  • holidays booked for the coming year and whether the child/young person can accompany them
  • other commitments.

The business service officer will e-mail the vacancy list to:

  • incoming duty social worker;
  • incoming duty team manager;
  • Fostering Team Manager;
  • Incoming Children's Placement procurement officer
  • Operations manager children's placements.

The duty social worker will close all files that are in a position to be closed, marking clearly on the file the outcome of the referral. This will then be signed off the duty deputy team manager.

On THURSDAY the duty social worker will contact the foster carers on the EDT list to find out:

  • their availability over the next week
  • their availability to accept and keep a child for the duration of a care plan to minimise placement changes.

Note: this must always be checked when new placements are made with foster carers during the day.

Note: EDT will contact the Duty senior if there are no carers available

On FRIDAY the duty social worker will update the EDT list as necessary and will e-mail it to:

  • Linkline;
  • Business support officer - so payments can be set up for the following week.

The duty social worker will read and summarise files for requests on foster carers applying to other local authorities/IFAs. Agencies will normally be invited to the office to read the fostering file if there is one.

The duty social worker will ensure that the board of carers is kept up to date in relation to:

  • vacancies;
  • holds;
  • children leaving.

Supervising social workers will keep the cards up to date and will inform the Team Support Officer when a child is leaving.


6. Placements

In recognition of every child's right to family life, Islington will ensure that children requiring care are placed within their own family network, if possible, without recourse to the Children Looked After process. If this is required, Islington will view this as a temporary measure. It is therefore unlikely that a child living within the extended family and with kinship care will remain looked after. Children looked after who are placed within Friends and family foster carers in an emergency will be placed under Regulation 38 of the Fostering Services Regulations 2002- reg. 24/25 of the new regulations after April 2011. Social workers will discuss all such placements with the Family plus manager or deputy team manager who will advise on the best course of action. The placement cannot continue beyond 6 weeks unless the relative or friend has been presented for approval as a Friends and Family foster carer and approved by the Agency decision maker.

If a placement with the child's extended family is not possible, Islington will seek to locate a suitable in-house foster placement local to the child's school and support network. Residential care is not considered a permanency option and will require authorisation by the Director of Child Protection.

All external placement searches will be undertaken by the Placements Business and contracts team.

All children will have a completed assessment of need and risk assessment prior to a placement being sought.

Only when there is no in-house foster carer available either within the time scales required by the child and/or who would be able to meet the needs of the child, will a carer be sought from one of the council's preferred fostering providers and if this not feasible then from one of the PAN London approved independent fostering agencies. Such a search can only be authorised by the relevant Operations manager.

In the event of placement breakdown for children and young people who are looked after, practitioners and managers need to be clear that Islington places a high priority on minimising disruption. Islington has a number of resources to support placements that are at risk of disruption and every effort must be made to prevent placements ending in an unplanned way before seeking a new placement.

Any request for a change of placement must be authorised by the Operations Manager for Children Looked After and for a prospective second move, by the Head of service.


7. Pre-Admission and Placement Planning

It is a requirement in Islington that a child's Placement Information Record (PIR) is immediately commenced following agreement by either a duty LACC or BLA Panel for the child to become looked after. A placement search is requested and commenced immediately using the BLA request form and a completed Risk Assessment. Also see: Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure -Section 7, Becoming Looked After.

Possible placement options should be visited by the allocated social worker for the child/young person and where possible older children and, if appropriate, their parent are involved in the placement selection. Once a placement is selected a Placement Plan Meeting should be scheduled to occur before the child moves. Should this not be possible the meeting should be organised within 72 hours of placement commencing and held within 5 working days.


8. Arrangements for Foster Care Placements through the Fostering and Placements Service

All referrals for foster care placements will be made to the Fostering Duty Service. Full information is taken about the placement needs of the child. Carer vacancies will be discussed so that children and young people can be matched to those carers that are available and suitable at the time.

Islington Foster carers understand that a child will remain in their care for as long as required, unless the arrangement is clearly agreed as an emergency for a limited period, given the difficulty in locating local placements. This also applies to carers providing emergency out of hours care unless there are specific matching considerations that would make the placement unsuitable.

When a referral is received the duty social worker will open the Integrated Children's System (ICS) to locate:

  • the PIR
  • the request form for a child/young person to be looked after.

The request form should contain a completed Risk Assessment. The Risk Assessment will contain information that is essential to finding an appropriate placement for the child or young person and therefore the placement finding process cannot be completed without this.

Other documents from the ICS Forms section of the CLA section of the record will provide a useful basis for discussion with the child or young person's social worker about the child's needs. The case notes, which can be accessed electronically, will provide further information.

The duty social worker will then speak with the child or young person's social worker (or their deputy team manager) who is making the request for a placement.

It will be the responsibility of the duty social worker to obtain adequate information about the needs of the child or young person needing placement. Good quality information is essential to the matching process and results in better outcomes for the child. In matching children with carers it is important to take into account the child's care plan and recent written assessments of the child and their family and the carer.

The duty social worker will be proactive in seeking information about child's school in order to ensure that there will be continuity for the child's attendance. The LACPt and Virtual school must be consulted about any placement .

The duty worker will also be proactive in seeking information about the proposed contact arrangements for the child or young person in order to ensure that s/he is able to maintain and develop family contacts and friendships as set out in her/his Care Plan.

Note: Contact should not take place until the child's social worker has carried out a risk assessment and made arrangements for any supervision that is required.

The duty worker will ensure that information is obtained, as far is possible, about the health needs of the child. If full details of the health needs are not available before placement, a high priority must be given to ensuring that the information is obtained and passed to the foster carer once the placement is made.

  • Matching by the carers of child's race, ethnicity, home language, religion or sexuality does not constitute an assessment. Such matching is a component of an assessment. Their carer not matching the child's circumstances can not in itself discount this as a possible placement; the Fostering Service places priority on ensuring that children and young people, and their families are provided with foster care services which value diversity and promote equality.

If the duty social worker is concerned that available in-house placements are unsuitable, s/he will refer the matter to the duty senior who will consider all the alternatives and any support arrangements which will enable an in-house carer to meet the child or young person's needs.

When it is apparent that a foster carer can look after a child or young person but will need practical support with school transport or contact arrangements.

Children looked after will not normally share a bedroom unless they are young siblings. If bedroom sharing being considered there should be a risk assessment recorded in relation to the children:

  • In all circumstances each child must have her/his own bed
  • The accommodation must reflect the child/young person's assessed need for privacy and space or for any specific need resulting from disability.
  • Any bedroom must allow space for a suitable sized bed, reasonable clothing and personal effects/toys etc. Study space is also desirable but not essential in the bedroom providing necessary quiet space is available for study/home work.
  • Bunk beds may be used but these must meet BS/Kite Mark Standards. Top bunks should not be used for children under 6 years of age.
  • If a child has a disability, the bedroom should be able to accommodate any specialist equipment that might be needed by the child.

It is good practice to inform the social worker(s) of other children in the foster home that the Fostering Service intends to place a further child in that household or as soon as possible. Any concerns raised will be recorded on the carer(s)' file and will be shared with the duty senior this will be passed to the Team Manager.

The duty social worker will send an up to date profile of the proposed carer to the child's social worker Requests to read the foster carer(s)' Form F will be referred to the team manager; however, this is not normally appropriate for a short term placement unless this is a new carer. It is not the policy of the Fostering Team to send out copies of the Form F.

It is essential that the duty social worker informs the foster carer of the following information - as far as is known:

  • why the child is in foster care
  • the basis for the placement
  • its intended duration and purpose
  • the child's legal status.

The risk assessment and referral paperwork should be given to the foster carer.

It is a legal requirement for the social worker to take the referral and risk assessment information to the placement with the child. If this has not been done, the duty social worker should send the document to the carer.

If there is no suitable in house carer, duty worker will refer the matter to the Operations manager for children's placements to consider an external placement.

A Placement Plan Meeting should be scheduled before the child moves, or within 72 hours of placement commencing and held within 5 working days. The foster carers supervising social worker or fostering duty social worker will be responsible for organising the Placement Plan Meeting.


9. Variations and Exemptions

If a foster carer can meet the needs of a child or young person but requires a variation of their terms of approval in order to accept the placement, this should be applied for by the fostering duty social worker to the Operations manager children's placements.

Any request for a variation must be completed and signed before the placement goes ahead.

The usual foster limit for a foster carer is to care for 3 children unless they are all part of the same sibling group. Any request by the duty service worker to exceed this number must be approved by the Operations Manager and referred to the relevant manager of the local authority where the carer lives. Requests for exemptions must be completed and signed before the placement goes ahead.

Any agreed variations or exemptions must be taken to the Fostering Panel after 6 weeks if the child or young person is still in the placement.


10. Requests from other Local Authorities for Placements

A request by another local authority to place a young child with Islington foster carers will be considered by the deputy duty team manager.

North London fostering consortium referrals will be considered favourably - Barnet, Enfield, Camden, Haringey - within the memorandum of understanding.


11. Requests for Placement - Young People over the age of 18 Years

In exceptional circumstances, it may be in the best interests of a young person over the age of 18 years to be placed with foster carers.

Any request to place a child over the age of 18 years with foster carers must be referred by the duty social worker to the Team Manager and can only be agreed by the Operational Manager for Placements.

Parent and baby placements will be considered by the in house fostering service.


12. Placement Plan Meetings

Individual safe caring policy for each placement.

The fostering supervising social worker will undertake this assessment to ensure that children and the family can be kept safe.

Islington regards the Placement Plan Meeting as crucial to placement outcomes and care planning for children. It is in this forum, agreements will be secured as to how the placement will contribute to meeting the child's needs and the support required to implement the child's care plan is identified and arranged.

It is a requirement that once a placement is selected a Placement Plan Meeting is scheduled to occur before the child moves. Should this not be possible the meeting should be organised within 72 hours of placement commencing and held within 5 working days.

Placement Agreement Meetings are critical in ensuring the placement meets the child's needs form the start, therefore requests for meetings to be rescheduled to a later date will need to be subject to agreement by a social worker's line manager - in most instances the Deputy Team Manager.

For IFA and residential placements, this meeting will be chaired by the child's social worker with advice from the Partnerships manager business placements and contracts team. The Individual child agreement and framework contract will be used to set out the cost of the placement and support provided within the contract.

In the case of in-house foster placements the meeting will be chaired and the outcome recorded by the foster carer's supervising social worker.

Meetings will be attended by:

  • the child
  • his/her parent(s)
  • foster carer(s)
  • child's social worker.
For a baby placement, the relevant Looked after child health advisor will be contacted.
  • The baby's routine
  • Arrangements for meeting the baby's health care needs/follow up appointments
  • Arrangements for contact
  • Arrangements for meeting any of the child's needs that cannot be met in the placement
  • Provision to the foster carer with completed ICS forms and a copy of any court order and if not when this will be achieved
  • Arrangements for providing the foster carer with basic information where this is not currently available to the foster carer in the above form.
For children and young people over 2years old the Placement Plan Meeting will cover:
  • The child or young person's routine
  • Household routine
  • Day-to-day decisions on the child or young person's care
  • Confirmation of the household safe caring guidelines
  • Pocket money
  • Other financial arrangements
  • Arrangements for meeting the child's health care needs
  • Arrangements for meeting the child's education
  • The child's needs arising from their race, culture, religion and identity
  • Arrangements for contact
  • Arrangements for allowing the child to stay away from the placement and for friends visiting
  • Arrangements for the child to continue and develop hobbies and leisure activities
  • Arrangements for meeting any of the child's needs that cannot be met in the placement
  • Provision to the foster carer with completed ICS forms and a copy of any court order and if not when this will be achieved
  • Arrangements for providing the foster carer with basic information where this is not currently available to the foster carer in the above form
  • Procedures to be followed if the child/young person goes missing from placement.


13. Placement Plan Meetings (Parent and Baby Placements)

It is Islington's policy that detailed planning in the arrangements for parent and baby/child fostering placements are essential.

In order to recognise the importance of setting expectations for the foster carer no parent and baby placement will proceed until a placement plan has been convened and all parties are happy that the requirements of the agenda have been met.

The meeting will confirm the purpose of the proposed placement - either to teach parenting skills, undertake assessment or both. If the baby is not looked after, it will set out the Child in Need Plan for the baby.

Foster carers will not be expected to undertake assessments alone if the plan is to initiate care proceedings.

The Placement plan Meeting will seek to spell out in detail the balance of caring for a young vulnerable parent(s) and the welfare and safety of the baby In all instances the safety and welfare of the infant will be the priority.

The placement meeting will cover:
  • The baby's routine and who will be doing what
  • Care's household routine
  • Day-to-day decisions for the baby's care
  • Confirmation of the household safe caring guidelines
  • Financial arrangements for the baby, if the child is not looked after the parent should be helped to claim benefits
  • Financial arrangements for the mother/parent- adult parents should be helped to claim personal benefits
  • Arrangements for meeting the baby's health care needs
  • Arrangements for contact - baby's father and others
  • Arrangements for allowing the mother and baby to stay away from the placement
  • Arrangements for meeting any of the child's needs that cannot be met in the placement
  • Provision to the foster carer with completed ICS forms and a copy of any court orders and if not when this will be achieved
  • If this information is not available to foster carer in above forms - arrangements for providing foster carer with basic information regarding child and mother (e.g. date of birth, any medical issues, diet, religion, culture etc).
  • Procedures to be followed if parent leaves from placement.

A date must be set to review the plan within 6 weeks.


14. Placement Stability - Support Services to Foster Care Placements

Islington recognises the importance of placement stability to the welfare of the child and their prospects for a healthy transition into adulthood. Therefore Islington will seek to ensure the number if changes of carers is minimised.

It is important that factors which may impact on placement stability are identified as soon as possible or brought to the attention of the allocated social worker. These can then be addressed in the child's current care plan. These factors can include:

  • the child's previous placement history
  • age of entry into care
  • education arrangements
  • the child's mental health needs
  • challenging behaviour
  • any periods of being missing; and
  • offending behaviour.

Islington children at high risk of placement disruption by their allocated social worker will have a "stability plan". Key elements of the plan will be discussed at the placement plan meeting and will be included in the child's Placement Information Record. The plan will be monitored through the statutory visits to the child and through the supervision of the allocated social worker.

Every effort will be made to support foster carers to provide a stable home for a child through the provision of support services which will take into account the individual needs of the children and adults within the family.

Support services will always be considered when:
  • it is apparent from the outset of a placement that the foster carer will require additional support to meet the needs of the child or young person
  • it is apparent that a placement is under stress and may be at risk of ending in an unplanned way
  • it seems that a placement has broken down but provision of support services might ensure the continuation of the placement to ensure a planned move to a suitable placement.

The type of support services that are appropriate and available are likely to reflect the age and needs of the child and young person.


15. Pre-Disruption Meetings

Islington expects that all members of the Team Around the Child will be proactive when the placement is under stress and to convene a "pre-disruption meeting".

The pre-disruption meeting seeks to bring all the relevant parties together and ensure all efforts are taken to address and resolve issues which are adversely impacting on the placement being able to meet the child's needs and/or the implementation of the current plan.

The meeting will seek the views and understanding from the key people involved regarding the reasons for the current difficulties:

  • acquire any learning from these parties that will helpfully inform placement planning and future care planning for the child/young person
  • assess the potential for resolution of the current placement difficulties
  • identify what supports could be offered to the child/young person and/or carer to address the difficulties with a view to achieving a better placement experience, or a planned ending to the placement.

The conclusions/decisions of the pre-disruption meeting will address the following questions:

  • If there is agreement that the placement is about to/has ended?
  • What is the short-term plan whilst the new placement is found?
  • If the placement is to continue what are the newly agreed placement conditions?
  • What are the agreed resources for the support of the child/young person and carers in the immediate/long term - as appropriate?
  • Can the placement hold in the short-term? If so what is the strategy for the management of conflict between the young person and the carers?
  • If not, what are the specific requirements for the new placement, short disruption?
  • Time scales for achieving actions arising out of decisions and names of those responsible.
The meeting will consider:
  • the use of placement supports including shared care
  • use of Multi agency, AMASS or CAMHS involvement
  • use of the Fostering Outreach service
  • revisiting of the placement agreement meeting and current contact arrangements
  • viability of the current care plan and permanency objectives and consideration of any changes that may be required.

Outcomes from the meeting will be forwarded to the child's Independent Reviewing Officer who may require that the child's Looked After Review is brought forward.

The meetings can either be chaired by the allocated social worker's line manager/team manager or any independent chair (social worker) obtained via the Looked After Children's Planning Team. These meetings require participation of the foster carer, their supervising social worker, and line manager. The chair will ensure the child and their parents are supported to attend and participate in the discussion.


16. The Use of Shared Care within Proposed or Existing Placements

Islington recognises the role shared carer can play in the delivery of a Care Plan for a child with complex needs. However, this should be with the same named carer and agreed at the initial Placement Agreement Meeting or with the Team Around the Child.

Shared carer should not be more than 7 consecutive days in duration with the expectation the child will be returning to the main placement. Such breaks will be recorded by the social worker as placement moves but using on of the temporary codes.

Shared Care Arrangements

Islington recognises that care can be shared between two settings on a regular basis. In such instances this will be recorded as a continuous episode of care and will be coded to the placement at which the child spends more time. It is also expected carers from both settings will attend placement agreement meetings and be involved in the looked after review process.

Foster Carers' Holidays

Islington expects that carers take children in their care on holidays with them but never during the school term. Sometimes carers will need a break without the children in their care, if the placement is very challenging or there are pressing family commitments abroad. Back up carers will provide care in emergencies or should a foster carer take a holiday alone. In such scenarios back up carers who can move into the foster carer(s)' home would be preferred. Islington's expectation is that foster carers' holidays which require the child to be placed elsewhere are longer than 14 days and no more than two holidays every financial year.

Changes to Fostering Household

Implementation of Care Plans for a Child Looked After requires a clear understanding of the strengths and potential areas of difficulty within the proposed placement. Islington therefore expects the allocated social worker to be involved in the discussions of any proposed/anticipated changes to the household. Formal agreement will be sought for any new placements from the Child's social work team.

Emergencies

In the event of an emergency that requires the carer to leave the child in the care of another foster carer, Islington would expect to be advised of this matter at the earliest opportunity. Should the nominated support carer not be available to care for the children in their placement then Islington would expect the children to move to.

the support carer's household or to another approved foster carer known to the child/ren. It is expected that the children will be returned to the care of the foster carer within two weeks. In all instances Islington would expect minimum disruption to the child's routine.


17. Support for Foster Carers

Islington aims to provide each young person Looked After of secondary school age with a package of services and professional support to meet their individual, emotional, educational and behavioural needs.

The primary aim of the Fostering Service is to promote more positive, normalised and age-appropriate behaviour of young people looked after who may present with a range of emotional and behaviour difficulties by:

  • assisting young people to develop and maintain quality attachments and relationships with parent and/or carers through increasing the use of local foster carers and ensuring the provision of individualised support packages for young people and their foster carers;
  • developing and promoting positive/supportive relationships between carers and young people through which we can promote placement stability and improve outcomes;
  • empowering carers by actively seeking and respecting their views, so that they feel valued and supported and are able to make decisions concerning the young person;
  • * working closely with carers as a means of changing the young person's behaviour through close supervision of young people at home, in school, and within the community;
  • assisting carers in setting rules and boundaries for young people that are clear, consistent and predictable;
  • offering carers extra support through trained workers who can provide a high standard of care and support for young people; visualising care plans for young people based on their changing needs and achievements; contributing to the improvement of educational outcomes of children looked after;
  • minimising placement disruption by identifying support needs early and providing advance planning for potential crisis e.g. through arranging respite care.

Where required input from a Clinical Psychologist is available to foster carers and the network. A clinical psychologist is based two days per week within the Fostering Service. S/he assists foster carers with the behaviour and behaviour management of young people in placement. In keeping with the team's ethos, the role of the psychologist is to empower the carer and to develop their skills in looking after young people with challenging behaviour in order to minimise placement disruption.

AMASS is a dedicated multi-agency team including behaviour support workers, outreach workers, psychologist, psychiatrist, senior social worker, substance misuse worker and advisory teachers. It offers specialist interventions to carers to improve the outcomes for vulnerable young people where universal and single agency targeted services have failed to achieve sustainable change.

AMASS offers a service to foster carers caring for young people of over 10 years old.

AMASS aims to facilitate carer empowerment in various ways. The foster carer is the change agent. A core assumption is that more effective carer authority will enable the young person to develop skills to cope with complexities within family, peer, school and the community systems. The ICON intervention is present/future focused and goal orientated using a behavioural approach and uses a process that tries to understand the problem behaviour within a systemic context.

A request should be made to the service where there is a need to stabilise a foster placement or a return home is possible and AMASS is identified as an appropriate resource.

The Fostering Outreach service provides a range of support services enabling young people to remain in local foster placements and to improve outcomes such as:

  • Works with young people to contribute to a shared understanding of their behaviour and needs provide a service 6 days per week within the Islington Adolescent Fostering Service
  • assist foster carers in providing innovative and flexible methods of dealing with difficulties with a view to assisting the young person to respect boundaries and to seek resolution rather than disruption
  • Offers additional support to young people placed with single foster carers where placements are vulnerable
  • Undertakes 1-1 work with young people to address behavioural issues and to enable building of skills, talents and hobbies, making best use of community resources
  • Offers additional independent living skills to vulnerable young people.

The supervising social worker or young persons social worker will make discuss the young persons needs with the co coordinator of the service. It will be critical to avoid delay in setting up support to the placement.

Supporting Placements for Younger Children

When a child is Looked After, changes of placement are the most damaging experiences that will happen to them. Changes - especially unplanned ones - can undermine the stability in a child's life. Such stability is essential if a child is to thrive, have good outcomes and be happy.

It is Islington's policy that changes of placement must be kept to an absolute minimum. Therefore, Islington is committed to supporting in-house foster carers through the use of creative and flexible strategies in order to ensure placement stability and minimise the chances of placement disruption.

In order to minimise placement disruption for children, it is important to identify the need for support early and where possible to have advance planning for potential crises e.g. through arranging supports to the foster carer.

For children under 11 years of age, in-house foster carers can receive assistance from other foster carers or from sessional workers who can be employed.

This extra support can be made available:

  • on a planned basis;

or

  • to provide immediate assistance in an emergency situation where there is a likelihood of placement disruption or breakdown;

and/or

  • to support sibling placements.


18. Friends and Family Placements

When children who are the subject of Interim or full Care Orders under the provisions of the Children Act 1989 are placed with members of their family or family friends it is necessary to approve these carers as foster carers.

Section 23 (6) of the Children Act 1989 places a duty on local authorities to make arrangements to enable a Looked After child to live with a relative or friends of the family, unless this would not be reasonably practical or consistent with the child's welfare.


19. Family and Friends Foster Care

The following principles are the basis of Islington Council's approach to the use of kinship or family network care.

Remaining within the family or friendship network helps promote a child or young person's sense of security and identity and keeps them in touch with familiar people and places.

The lowest possible appropriate level of statutory intervention should be used to secure the child or young person's welfare. Children should not necessarily become Looked After to benefit from care by family and friends. Informal family network care, Private Fostering, Child Arrangements Order, Special Guardianship or adoption, may be better alternatives for the child. If the child is not looked after, preventative payments may be made to help carers with legal fees, setting up bedrooms or regular payments.


20. Family and Friends Foster Care: Legal Framework

The activities of both foster carers and the fostering services are governed by the Fostering Services National Minimum Standards and the Fostering Services Regulations.

Regulation 38 (2) of the Fostering Services 2002 allows local authorities to place a child for a period of six weeks with someone who is not an existing foster carer, providing that:

  • an immediate placement is needed; and
  • the person is a relative or friend of the child; and
  • person enters into a written agreement with the local authority.

It requires that the relative or friend should be interviewed, the home inspected and information obtained about other members of the household.

The local authority must be satisfied that the placement is in the child's best interests and should make a written agreement covering the details in Regulation 38 (3) (a-e), being:

  • to care for the child as if they were a member of that person's family
  • to permit any person authorised by the local authority to visit the child at any time
  • where regulation 36 applies, to allow the child to be removed at any time by the local authority
  • to ensure that any information which that person may acquire relating to the child, their family or any other person, which has been given to them in confidence in connection with the placement, is kept confidential and is not disclosed except to, or with the agreement of, the local authority; and
  • to allow contact with the child in accordance with the terms of any court order relating to contact or any arrangements made or agreed by the local authority.

During the six weeks of an immediate placement, the child must be visited at least weekly.


21. Friends and Family Foster Care: Guidance for the Fostering Duty Social Worker

In an emergency a child can be placed with relatives or friends under Regulation 38 of the Fostering Services Regulations 2002 providing that:

  • the placement has to be made in an emergency
  • there are exceptional and unforeseen circumstances
  • the child/young person needs to be accommodated or is subject to a Care Order/Interim Care Order.

Placements made under Regulation 38, are not approved foster carers and are paid 50% of the allowance until the matter is presented to the Fostering panel for approval. Approved Friends and family foster carers are entitled to the same level of support as mainstream and permanency carers. Islington pays a Maintenance rate for all carers, which will be financially assessed if the carers become special guardians or adopters, when they will be also entitled to child benefit and child tax credit.

All cases where children and young people are placed with relatives and friends must be referred to the Family plus team who will advise on the best course of action.

All children placed under Regulation 38 will children Looked After by the London Borough of Islington and all duties and responsibilities pertaining to children looked after will need to be followed.

Note: for children placed Regulation 38 the child's social worker must visit the child in the placement at least once each week during the first 6 weeks of the placement and thereafter at intervals of no more than 6 weeks during the first year of placement.


22. Medical Consent and Medical Emergencies

22.1 Legal Overview

The Children Act 1989 does not as such require parents or persons holding parental responsibility to either involve children in the decision making process or to take their views into account. However, the exercise of Parental Responsibility is limited when children are sufficiently mature and have the capacity to make decisions about their own future.

This is as a consequence of the 1985 decision in Gillick v Wisbeach Health authority in which the House of Lords decided that a child under 16 could consent to medical treatment if he or she could understand what was involved in such treatment and was capable of expressing his or her views and wishes. This has come to be known as 'Gillick competence' Whilst the House of Lords did not identify a specific age at which children were to be deemed to be sufficiently mature to have their views considered, it follows from Gillick that the older the child, the greater weight that will be attached to their views.

This approach is consistent with the certain provisions of the 1989 United Convention of the Rights of the Child which the UK ratified in 1991 - Article 5 which requires that children's rights be exercised in accordance with their evolving capacities and Article 12 which requires that in all decisions affecting due weight should be attached to their views.

A 16 year old has the right to consent to or refuse to consent to medical, surgical or dental treatment is the child is deemed Gillick Competent, including contraceptive advice or treatment. A young person can give consent provided the person providing treatment is of the view that s/he understands the nature and consequences of the treatment.

Children under 18 may also refuse medical treatment but under the wardship jurisdiction a court can order medical treatment, including termination of a pregnancy or sterilisation, if it is deemed necessary in the child's best interests. This power is most commonly used in cases where a young person refuses life saving medical treatment due as a consequence of an eating disorder or mental illness.

The European Court of Human Rights has decided that compulsory medical treatment for the purposes of preventing death or serious injury does not amount to inhuman or degrading treatment contrary to Article 3.

22.2 Children Aged 16 or 17

Once young people reach the age of 16, they are presumed in law to be competent to give consent for themselves for their own surgical, medical or dental treatment, and for any associated procedures, such as investigations, anaesthesia or nursing care. See Section 22.1, Legal Overview. This means that in many respects they should be treated as adults - for example if a signature on a consent form is necessary, they can sign for themselves.

However, it is still good practice to encourage competent children to involve their families in decision making. Where a competent child does ask for their confidence to be kept, it must be respected unless disclosure can be justified on the grounds of 'public interest' e.g. that there is reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm.

Efforts should be made to persuade the young person to involve their family, unless it is believed that it is not in their best interest to do so. If a decision is taken to disclose, the justification should noted in the child's records.

22.3 Children Aged 15 Years and Under

Unlike 16 or 17 year olds, children and young people under 16 are not automatically presumed to be legally competent to make decisions about their healthcare.

However, the courts have stated that under 16s will be competent to five valid consent to a particular intervention if they have 'sufficient understanding and intelligence to enable him or her to understand fully what is proposed' i.e. 'Gillick Competent'.

Therefore, there is no specific age when a child becomes competent to consent to treatment; it depends both on the child and on the serious and complexity of the treatment being proposed.

'Competence' is not a simple attribute that a child either possesses or does not possess: much will depend on the relationship and trust between doctors, other health professionals and the children and their family or carer.

Children can be helped to develop competence by being involved from an early age in decisions about their care.

If a child under 16 is competent to consent for himself or herself to a particular intervention, it is still good practice to involve the family in decision making unless the child specifically requests that this should not happen and cannot be persuaded otherwise.

As with older children, a request for confidentiality must be respected unless the child is suffering or likely Significant Harm without disclosure.

22.4 Birth Parents

Within the context of the above guidance on children's rights to give or withhold consent, the consent of birth parents (and other holders of parental responsibility) should be obtained for both routine and emergency assessment and treatment. This should be recorded on the Personal Information Record (PIR) as should the extent to which consent has been delegated by either the parent or the placing authority to the carer.

Where a birth parent withholds consent and there is a concern that the child's health, welfare or development may suffer as a result, the child's social worker may need to seek legal advice, with a view to obtaining a court order.

22.5 Consent by the Department

Where the Department's consent to examination or treatment is required the Head of Looked After Children's Service provides consent. This includes situations where the procedure involves surgery, general anaesthesia, is otherwise intrusive or is major as well as more routine issues.  

22.6 Accommodated Children: Examinations and Treatment

The local authority does not have Parental Responsibility and cannot consent to either examination or treatment unless this power has been delegated by the parent or in an emergency. The parents should be encouraged to delegate authority to the Department for routine treatment and minor procedures.

When a child needs treatment and the parent(s) refuse(s) consent, the Department should consider obtaining an appropriate order, which may a Section 8 Specific Issues Order, an Emergency Protection Order or Child Assessment Order.

Although treatment in the absence of consent is a trespass to the person and hence an offence, the Department may do what is reasonable in all the circumstances for the purpose of safe-guarding or promoting the child's welfare. This includes giving consent to the child's medical treatment in the event of an accident or emergency.

22.7 Emergency Protection Order or Interim Care Order

The Court can make directions that medical or psychiatric examinations or other assessments take place or alternatively that such examinations/assessments do not take place. Within these parameters the local authority has Parental Responsibility and can consent to examination.

Parents should be consulted where possible, but the local authority may determine the extent to which they can exercise their rights to object where it is satisfied this is necessary to safeguard or promote the child's welfare.

A Court cannot make directions regarding treatment. The local authority has Parental Responsibility and can consent to treatment.

Parents should be consulted where possible, but the local authority may determine the extent to which they can exercise rights to object where it is satisfied this is necessary to safeguard or promote the child's welfare.

22.8 Full Care Order

The powers are the same as for an Interim Care Order, except that the Court has no power to make directions regarding what must or must not be done by way of examination.

If a child in care was thought to be in need of treatment which the child was refusing, then the appropriate course would be to apply for leave to make the child a Ward of Court and refer the decision to the High Court.

22.9 Child Assessment Order

Examination can only take place so far as this has been ordered by the Court.

The local authority does not have Parental Responsibility and cannot consent to any examinations unless a parent delegates this power or in an emergency.

22.10 Interim Supervision Order

The Court can make directions that medical or psychiatric examinations or other assessments take place or alternatively do not take place.

The local authority does not have Parental Responsibility and can only consent to examinations where this power has been delegated by the parent or in an emergency. The Court cannot give directions that the local authority can consent to medical examinations.

The Court cannot make directions regarding treatment. The local authority does not have Parental Responsibility and can only consent to examinations where this power has been delegated by a parent. If the parent refuses consent, the local authority should seek a Specific Issues Order.

If a child of sufficient understanding refuses consent, the local authority should consider applying for leave to ward the child.

22.11 Full Supervision Order

The Court may direct medical or psychiatric examinations and may also direct that the supervised child submit to any such examination directed by the supervisor.

In the absence of any such requirement from the Court, the local authority only has power to consent if this has been delegated by the parent. The local authority does not have Parental Responsibility.

The Court can only order treatment directly and cannot delegate this to the local authority. In the absence of delegation by the parent the local authority has no power to consent.

22.12 Foster Carers: Medical Care and Medical Emergencies

In accordance with Standard 12.2 of the National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services no placement should be made which prevents a child from continuing to receive the specialist health care services they need.

Before a placement begins, the foster carer must be provided with as full a description as possible of the health needs of a child or young person and given clear procedures governing consent for the child to receive medical treatment. If full details of the health needs are not available before placement, a high priority will be given to ensuring that the information is obtained and passed to the foster carer once the placement is made - see Section 12, Placement Agreement Meetings.

In accordance with Standard 12.4 of the National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services, foster carers will be provided with a written health record for each child placed in their care. This will be updated during the placement and will move with the child or young person if the placement changes. Depending on age and understanding, the child or young person will have access to the health record kept by the Fostering Service.

The supervising social worker or in their absence the duty fostering social worker must make sure that the foster carers understand the implications of any medical condition the child has and the treatment programme which must be followed. This will also be discussed at the Placement Agreement Meeting - See Section, Placement Agreement Meetings.

Where the a placement has been made with carers from another agency, the child's social worker must provide the information set out to the agency and the agency must pass it on the foster carer.

Foster carers should seek medical advice more quickly than they might for their own children both because they will not know this child's personal and family history as well as they know their own and because they are publicly accountable for decisions they make in respect of a foster child's health.

Foster carers should not exercise the same degree of discretion parents have in respect of not seeking advice to see if the child recovers of their own accord, discontinuing treatment if they think a child is better or pursuing unorthodox or home remedies.

If a foster child is unwell the foster carer should consult the G.P. with whom the child is registered. If this is not possible e.g. for reasons of geography, the foster carer's own G.P. can also treat the child as a visitor to their home or as a temporary patient.

If a foster child is involved in an accident or needs emergency medical treatment or self-harms (e.g. overdose, hanging, etc) or is displaying psychotic behaviour, the foster carer should call their G.P. or get the child to hospital as soon as possible.

The foster carer must report the accident/incident to the child's social worker or team manager and to their supervising social worker or the Fostering Duty Social Worker. If this occurs out-of-hours they must report the matter to the Emergency Duty Team and the Fostering Duty Social Worker. In the case of any life-threatening situation or medical/psychiatric emergency the foster carer must prioritise the safety of the child or young person to ensure that they receive urgent medical attention; this may include taking them to the hospital accident and emergency department immediately - as required. If a child's life is at risk, or they have a serious illness/injury a doctor can treat them without parental or departmental permission as they have a duty to act in the best interest of their patient. In such circumstances the foster carer must inform the child's social worker or out-of-hours the EDT as a matter of urgency.

All accidents experienced by foster children must be fully recorded as soon after the accident as possible.

The foster carer must complete a report and forward this to their supervising social worker within one working day of the accident. The supervising social worker must ensure that a copy of the form is forwarded to the child's social worker the same day.

When a foster carer informs the Fostering Duty Social Worker that a child or young person has been involved in an accident or needs emergency medical treatment or has made a self-harm attempt (e.g. overdose, hanging) the Fostering Duty Social Worker must inform the Fostering Duty Deputy Team Manager immediately. Depending on the situation, the Fostering Duty Deputy Team Manager will inform the Fostering Team Manager who will make the decision about which members of the Children's Social Care management should be advised of the matter. This procedure must also be followed where such notification is received out-of-hours.


23. Out of Hours Support to Foster Carers and Other Emergencies

23.1 Out of Hours Support

Islington Fostering Service provides a 24-hour weekly "on-call" service for foster carers. This supplements the service provided by the Emergency Duty Team. Islington Fostering Service's out of hour's service is the first port of call for carers needing advice or support.

The support line is for the exclusive use of Islington foster carers once they are approved.

The support line is staffed by the Fostering Duty Social Worker (via the mobile telephone) who has Foster carers should telephone the support line when:

  • a child in care their care goes missing or is not back at a pre-arranged time
  • if a child becomes seriously ill, has an accident or needs hospital treatment
  • if a child is involved in an incident where the police have been or are likely to be called
  • if the foster carer wants to discuss difficult behaviour or a child has made allegations about another adult, member of the foster carer's own family household.

Foster carers can also ring if they want to discuss less serious issues that are particularly worrying them about a child or young person in their care.

Foster carers should be able to have a full discussion with the Fostering Duty Social Worker. At the end of the call the social worker will decide what should happen next in consultation with the foster carer.

It may be that if the call was for a discussion or advice only there will be no need for further action.

In cases where there is no immediate concern or risk, the Fostering Duty Social Worker will pass on any concerns about a child's or young person's behaviour to their allocated social worker on the morning of the next working day.

If the call was of a more serious nature, then the Fostering Duty Social Worker may need to involve the Emergency Duty Team - See Section 23.2, Emergency Duty Team who will be able to contact the relevant managers on call or take other actions as necessary.

The Fostering Duty Social Worker will make a record of all calls to the support line. This recording should include:

  • date and time
  • a record of the conversation - including who said what to whom
  • advice given and/or decisions
  • action taken
  • future plans - what other work needs to be done and what was agreed with the foster carer.

The Fostering Duty Social Worker will ensure that this record is typed up on the morning of the next working day. Copies should be distributed as follows:

  • child/young person's social worker
  • Fostering Duty Deputy Team Manager
  • Supervising social worker
  • Carer's file.

23.2 Emergency Duty Team (EDT)

Islington's Emergency Duty Team (EDT) provides a social work service from 5.00 p.m. to 9.00 a.m. 7 nights per week and also 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Saturday/Sunday, bank and public holidays.

EDT provides an emergency service for adults and children believed to be at risk of significant harm and for whom delay until the next working day may be detrimental to their welfare and safety.

Out-of-hours, the EDT is the service responsible for the child or young person. They should be contacted when a decision or advice is required concerning the safety or welfare of a child or young person and this cannot safely be left until the next working day.

In those situations where the Duty Fostering Social Worker has contacted the EDT, s/he must make a written record of the call. This recording should include:

  • Date and time;
  • A record of the conversation - including who said what to whom;
  • Any advice and/or decisions;
  • Action taken;
  • Future plans - what other work needs to be done and what was agreed with the EDT social worker.

The Fostering Duty Social Worker will ensure that this record is typed up on the morning of the next working day. Copies should be distributed as follows:

  • Child/young person's social worker;
  • Fostering Duty Deputy Team Manager;
  • Supervising social worker;
  • Carer's file.

If there are no foster carers available, the EDT will contact the Duty social worker or duty senior.

23.3 London Child Protection Procedures

The Fostering Service places a high priority on protecting each child or young person from all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and deprivation.

If at any time there are suspicions or allegations of abuse/neglect against or by a child looked after in foster care, the local authority will have a duty to undertake a section 47 enquiry in accordance with the London Child Protection Procedures.

23.4 Missing Children

If foster carers are aware that a child/young person is absent from their home, the carer should advise their supervising social worker or in their absence the Fostering Duty Social Worker as well as the child's social worker or team manager or duty social worker. Out-of-hours the carer should advise the Fostering Duty Social Worker and the EDT.

In accordance with the London Child Protection Procedures: Safeguarding Children Missing from Care and Home, the foster carer should report a child or young person who is missing (as opposed to an unauthorised absence) to the Police and inform the child's social worker or out-of-hours the EDT.

If the young person is believed to be at risk of significant harm the London Child Protection Procedures must be followed.

23.5 Unplanned Removal of a Child

Where any child is removed from a foster carer without the consent of the local authority, the child's social worker or team manager or duty social worker must be notified without delay.

When the removal occurs outside of office hours the Emergency Duty social must be notified without delay.

If this matter is reported to the Fostering Duty Social Worker, s/he must also inform the Fostering Team Manager immediately in addition to following these procedures.

23.6 Death of a Child Looked After

Where a child who is looked after dies, the child's social worker must be informed without delay and the Assistant Director advised immediately. The Assistant Director will make any decisions about how to notify relatives and any others who will need to know.

Where the death occurs out of hours, the emergency duty social worker must be informed who will arrange to notify the senior manager on duty without delay.

A report will be required into the circumstances of the death and the files may be secured for the purposes of any investigation that may be required.

If this matter is reported to the Fostering Duty Social Worker, s/he must also inform the Fostering Team Manager immediately in addition to following these procedures.

End