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7.1.11 Payment for Skills: Task, Criteria and Fees

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This document sets out the fostering task, fee, requirements of carers, and skills criteria for each of the tiers within the scheme. The first section gives general information about the eligibility requirements.

It should be noted that no carer will be able to progress to any level beyond 'Approved Carer' until they have satisfactorily completed the ISCW Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers. It is requirement of new carers that they should have evidenced compliance with the Standards within one year of approval.

RELATED CHAPTER

Foster Care "Payment for Skills" Scheme Procedure


Contents

1. Eligibility Criteria
  1.1 Fostering Experience
  1.2 Qualifications
  1.3 Training
  1.4 Written Records
2. Tier 1 - Approved Carers
3. Tier 2 - Core Carers
4. Tier 3 - Qualified Carers
5. Tier 4 - Advanced Carers
6. Core Skills Audit Form: Guidance
7. Qualified Carers Form: Guidance
8. Advanced Carers Form: Guidance
  Appendix 1: Advanced Carers Form
  Appendix 2: Qualified Carers Form
  Appendix 3: Qualified/Advanced Carer Review Form
  Appendix 4: Core Skills Audit Form


1. Eligibility Criteria

At each tier of the scheme, there are eligibility criteria or requirements of carers that are a gateway to the more detailed assessment of skills and competencies expected at this level.

The eligibility requirements in relation to experience, qualifications, attendance at training and support groups can be met by any of the registered foster carers within a household. The focus of the assessment of skills will be more concerned with the main carer, but should cover the skills and competencies within the whole fostering household

1.1 Fostering Experience

Eligibility for the Core/Qualified/Advanced tiers within the scheme is dependent on direct child-care experience (excluding carer’s own children). Usually this will have been gained through previous fostering, either for Swindon Borough Council or another agency or authority. This means that new carers, who have previous fostering experience and meet the other eligibility requirements, could commence their fostering career with Swindon at a fee paid tier. Exceptionally, other equivalent experience in child care (e.g. in residential care) may satisfy this requirement.

1.2 Qualifications

Eligibility to Qualified and Advanced Carer status requires a relevant qualification. This is defined as the Qualification and Credit Framework Level 3 Diploma for Children and Young People. The requirement will also be met by the possession of a recognised qualification in teaching, social work, residential care, nursery nursing, youth work or paediatric medicine/nursing. Directly-comparable qualifications in these other disciplines are difficult to identify, but generally to meet the criteria, any such qualification must be at a post-graduate, certificate or diploma level. It will be for the carer to evidence that the qualification has direct relevance and applicability to the general task of caring for any foster child.

In some circumstances, however, specialist qualifications or skills that are directly related to the specific needs of a particular child may be eligible for the qualified or advanced fee to be paid in respect of that child. For example, a carer who holds a qualification, or is skilled in the use of sign language, may receive a fee if they have placed a child who is deaf or hearing-impaired and needs to use sign language to communicate. Similarly, carers trained or qualified to care for a disabled child who has specific physical care needs (e.g. tube-fed) may be eligible for a fee for that child.

1.3 Training

Core Carers will be expected to complete the Core Carer Development Programme within two years of being approved. This consists of ten courses/workshops:

  1. Attachment;
  2. Valuing Diversity;
  3. Child Protection;
  4. Sexual Abuse;
  5. Managing Behaviour;
  6. First Aid;
  7. Recording;
  8. Safe Handling and Health;
  9. Education; and
  10. Child Development.

1.4 Written Records

Swindon Borough Council has a record-keeping policy relating to foster carers. Carers at all levels are expected to keep written records in accordance with this policy. Training on record-keeping comprises one of the core training elements.


2. Tier 1 - Approved Carers

2.1 Summary
2.2 Fostering Task
2.3 Fee
2.4 Requirements of Approved Carers
2.5 Skills

2.1 Summary

Approved Carers are newly approved carers, who are within the first year of their approval. From nine months, providing that they have had a placement, and have completed the ISCW Standards, they will usually move to Core Carer status, following a recommendation by Fostering Panel.

Approved Carers also comprise Family and Friends carers, i.e. carers who are specifically approved to care for a child or young person who is a relative or ‘friend’. Where the criteria are met in relation to other tiers, Family and Friends Carers are eligible to be considered in the same way as other foster carers.

2.2 Fostering Task

  1. Approved Carers provide a placement to a specific child/young person who is a relative or friend of the foster family or, where this is not the case, they provide placements to children/young people following careful matching and preparation;
  2. Carers provide an environment that is safe, caring and promotes healthy emotional, physical and sexual development of children/young people placed;
  3. Carers contribute towards the development and implementation of the child/young person’s care plan;
  4. Carers are expected to meet National Standards in relation to their fostering role;
  5. Carers are expected to develop effective working relationships with parents.

2.3 Fee

Approved Carers are not paid a fee in addition to fostering allowances.

2.4 Requirements of Approved Carers

  • Approved Carers attend training or support groups agreed with their supervising social worker as being relevant to their development needs;
  • Carers maintain written records on the child/young person placed in line with Swindon’s record keeping policy.

2.5 Skills

All Approved Carers (i.e. both Family and Friends Carers and newly-approved carers) are supported to develop the skills appropriate to the basic fostering task. They are expected within one year to be able to show evidence of compliance with National Standards.

Approved Carers who are not Family and Friends Carers are expected to have embarked upon the core training programme as set out in the foster carer training brochure.


3. Tier 2 - Core Carers

3.1 Summary
3.2 Fostering Task
3.3 Fee
3.4 Requirements of Core Carers
3.5 Skills
3.6 Caring for Children
3.7 Providing a Safe and Caring Environment
3.8 Working as Part of the Team
3.9 Own Development
3.10 Review

3.1 Summary

Core Carers are carers who have been approved for at least nine months and who do not yet meet the criteria, or do not wish to apply, for Qualified/Advanced status. This group comprises the majority of carers. The skills of Core Carers are central to the fostering task. Core Carers are expected to take an active role in the development of their skills through attending training and support groups. Their development is supported through the supervision and annual review process.

3.2 Fostering Task

  1. To provide placements for children and young people who generally are not previously known to the carers;
  2. Placements may be requested at short notice which could include in emergencies or out of normal working hours (unless agreed otherwise), but where possible will be planned in advance;
  3. Foster carers contribute towards the development and implementation of the child/young person’s care plan. The aim may be for a return home, a move to another foster placement, a permanent placement, or to independent living;
  4. Core Carers help children maintain links with their family, through supporting contact in line with the care plan;
  5. Core Carers provide an environment that is safe, caring, and promotes healthy emotional, physical and sexual development of children/young people placed;
  6. Core Carers work towards planned placement endings which recognize the needs of children/young people to move on positively;
  7. Core Carers are expected to develop sound working relationships with parents;
  8. Carers are expected to meet National Standards in relation to their fostering role.

3.3 Fee

Core Carers will receive a fee of £21 per week (pro rata) per child/young person in placement, in addition to fostering allowances.

3.4 Requirements of Core Carers

  • Core Carers have completed the relevant Preparing to Foster Training;
  • Core Carers have completed the TSD Standards for Foster Carers;
  • Carers complete the Core Carer Training and Development Programme within 2 years of becoming a foster carer;
  • In addition carers complete any training specified at the point of approval or subsequently jointly identified through supervision or annual review (with attendance evidenced in their individual training portfolio);
  • Core Carers attend a minimum of 4 support groups or FCA meetings per year;
  • Carers maintain written records on children/young people placed, in line with Swindon’s record keeping policy;
  • Carers receive a positive annual review that reflects their continuing development as foster carers.

3.5 Skills

Core Carers are expected and supported to develop the skills and competencies set out below.

3.6 Caring for Children

3.6.1 Provide a good standard of care to other people’s children, promoting good educational achievement, health, emotional, physical and sexual well-being:

  • Ensure child’s physical needs are fully met;
  • Provide an environment that is welcoming and communicate warmth, genuineness and caring;
  • Take account of and respond to children’s immediate individual needs and preferences (e.g. routines, light left on at night etc);
  • Ensure that child attends school unless they are unwell;
  • Communicate with school to promote education and resolve difficulties (e.g. attend parent’s evenings, contribute to the child’s Personal Education Plan);
  • Provide a home environment conducive to learning and actively support homework;
  • Support child’s participation in school activities and help them to pursue talents, interests and hobbies, providing them with opportunities to achieve;
  • Help children develop social skills;
  • Seek medical advice appropriately, keep records of health issues and advise relevant professionals;
  • Ensure children receive routine heath care including dental care;
  • Implement health treatment at home with guidance from appropriate specialist (e.g. physiotherapy exercises);
  • Encourage healthy eating, respecting religious and cultural requirements and child’s specific dietary needs;
  • Provide information to children to help them take appropriate responsibility for their own health and hygiene (cleaning teeth, cope with periods, shaving);
  • Provide basic sex education and information in a positive and sensitive way appropriate to age, understanding and circumstances of child.

3.6.2 Ability to work closely with a child’s family and important others:

  • Have an understanding of why children become looked after and that the primary goal is for them to return home;
  • Recognise the need to work in partnership with parents and able to put personal feelings aside and work with child’s family and friends in non-judgemental manner;
  • Aware of and support parents’ rights to be involved and to make decisions for their children;
  • Appreciate the significance of contact with family and friends and work positively with this in accordance with the Care Plan (phone, letters, visits etc) including supervision of contact where appropriate;
  • Appreciate the feelings and behaviour contact may provoke in children and respond sensitively, including advising social worker so that this can be taken account of in the planning process.

3.6.3 Ability to set appropriate boundaries and to manage children’s behaviour within these, without the use of physical or inappropriate punishment:

  • Reward and promote positive behaviour;
  • Set appropriate and consistent boundaries without the use of physical punishment, shouting or emotional rejection;
  • Develop understanding about why a child is behaving a certain way and have a range of ways of managing behaviour;
  • Help a child understand cause and effects of behaviour;
  • Handle conflict and disagreement in a positive way.

3.6.4 Knowledge of normal child development and ability to listen to and communicate with children appropriate to their age and understanding

  • Knowledge of ‘normal’ child/adolescent development and how a carer can promote this;
  • Have some understanding of how a child’s experiences, e.g. of neglect or abuse, of loss and separation, may affect physical and emotional development;
  • Recognise physical or emotional development that is unusual and inform relevant professionals;
  • Able to help children to communicate about their experiences and feelings, using different methods appropriate to their age and understanding;
  • Develop a home environment where a child knows they are respected and listened to.

3.7 Providing a Safe and Caring Environment

3.7.1 Ability to ensure that the children are cared for in a home safe from harm or abuse:

  • Provide a warm, healthy, safe and nurturing home;
  • Maintain agreed Health and Safety standards and maintain the home to a good standard of hygiene and repair;
  • Work hard to develop and sustain a positive relationship with the child, giving child time and individual attention;
  • Allow the child some privacy;
  • Keep child safe from all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and deprivation;
  • Understand and comply with Swindon policies and procedures concerning child protection, including informing professionals promptly if concerns arise about a child’s safety;
  • Develop a family safe care policy and communicate ‘house rules’ in an appropriate manner;
  • Use information received about a child to protect that child and other children for whom the carer has responsibility and themselves;
  • Protect own children from bullying or peer abuse by fostered children.

3.7.2 Ability to help children keep themselves safe from harm or abuse and to know how to seek help if their safety is threatened:

  • Awareness of skills and knowledge children need to keep themselves safe and help child to develop those skills (e.g. in what circumstances and how to make a 999 call, to tell if someone touches them inappropriately);
  • Help young people to adopt safe practices associated with alcohol, drugs and personal relationships;
  • Ensure child knows about Swindon’s anti-bullying policy;
  • Help child understand that they are not responsible for abuse they may have experienced.

3.8 Working as Part of the Team

3.8.1 Ability to work with other professional people and contribute to the department’s planning for the child:

  • Basic understanding of children’s services - who to contact, for what and when;
  • Attend and contribute to all reviews and planning meetings for a child - providing written reports where requested;
  • Share information appropriately with other professionals, being able to distinguish between fact and opinion;
  • Understand role in the Care (or other ) Plan and carry out tasks as specified;
  • Alert Family Placement Team early if there is a risk of disruption or early ending of a placement;
  • Give necessary information to help new carers if child moves to another placement.

3.8.2 Ability to communicate effectively:

  • Able to communicate effectively with the child;
  • Able to communicate effectively with family and friends of the child;
  • Express own views clearly in more formal settings, e.g. meetings and reviews, working in the child’s interest.

3.8.3 Able to keep information confidential:

  • Keep information confidential and share only with appropriate professionals/individuals - seek advice when unsure;
  • Develop written recording skills;
  • Store all records and confidential information securely.

3.8.4 Ability to promote equality, diversity and rights of individuals and groups within society:

  • Aware of and try to respond to child’s individual needs/preference;
  • Actively try to promote and build a child’s self -esteem and to take pride in their identity;
  • Able to reflect and consider own attitudes and values and how they affect caring for a foster child; to modify language and behaviour if necessary;
  • Have some understanding of discrimination and how this impacts and challenge this appropriately;
  • Assist in identifying the racial, ethnic, religious and cultural needs of a foster child within the placement and seek to meet these needs (e.g. promoting contact with people with similar identity, celebrating festivals);
  • Aware of child’s rights to be involved in making decisions about themselves and actively support this, for example, helping child to express their views at reviews;
  • Provide a range of toys, books, activities which reflect Britain as a multi cultural society and do not stereotype or reinforce negative images;
  • Enable and support children to make a complaint if they wish to.

3.9 Own Development

3.9.1 Ability to appreciate how personal experiences have affected themselves and their families and the impact that fostering is likely to have on them all:

  • Some insight into how carer’s own experiences have effected them;
  • Have an awareness of how own children are affected by fostering and meet their needs for individual attention, involvement in decisions, appropriate information etc;
  • Discuss any difficulties with the FPO and keep them informed of any changes in personal circumstances;
  • Develop safe caring practices to protect all the children in the household and reduce the risk of allegations;
  • Support own family to understand and work towards positive endings.

3.9.2 Ability to sustain good network of support:

  • Participate fully in regular supervision with FPO;
  • Seek support from the FPO, Social Worker, other foster carers and other professionals when necessary;
  • Regularly attend support groups;
  • Awareness of the role of the Swindon Foster Care Association;
  • Can identify and use own support mechanisms (e.g. practical, spiritual).

3.9.3 Ability to use training opportunities and to improve skills:

  • Willingness to work with FPO to identify own learning needs, gaps in knowledge, need to develop skills;
  • Attend and participate in training sessions offered;
  • Seek out other opportunities for self-development (e.g. learning from books, videos, contact with other carers);
  • Can identify situations or skills that have improved following training, advice or support;
  • Create a training portfolio

3.10 Review

The annual review will provide an opportunity for carers, together with their supervising social worker, to identify any particular strengths but also any areas for further development or requiring particular attention. Where carers have not completed the core training programme within two years of approval, a recommendation will be made as to whether Core Carer status should be removed.


4. Tier 3 - Qualified Carers

4.1 Summary
4.2 Fostering Task
4.3 Fee
4.4 Requirements of Qualified Carers
4.5 Skills
4.6 Caring for Children
4.7 Providing a Safe and Caring Environment
4.8 Working as Part of the Team
4.9 Own Development
4.10 Review

4.1 Summary

Qualified Carers are experienced and skilled foster carers who provide placements to children/young people who present a range of challenges. Placements may be requested at short notice and information may be limited. Alternatively, placements may involve working over a long period with children/young people who have major issues and present significantly testing behaviour. Qualified Carers need to be able to demonstrate sound skills and underpinning knowledge that will enable them to, for example, contribute to multi agency or court assessments, actively work to improve relationships between children/young people and parents, and enable children/young people to express, manage and cope with their emotions.

4.2 Fostering Task

  1. To provide placements for children/young people who are likely to present significant challenges arising from their own needs or from their family circumstances;
  2. Placements may be required at short notice and/or in emergencies, including out of hours. Information about the child/young person to be placed may be limited;
  3. Children/young people may be placed on a temporary or permanent basis;
  4. Qualified Carers take an active role in developing and implementing the child/young person’s care plan. This may involve contributing to the child/young person’s assessment and/or working closely with others to carry out individual treatment or therapeutic programmes;
  5. Carers may be required to facilitate and supervise contact in line with the care plan;
  6. Carers may be involved in taking an active and central role to ‘move a child/young person on’, for example, a return home, to adopters or to independent living;
  7. Qualified Carers may be involved in providing highly skilled care to a child/young person with significant needs on a long term basis;
  8. Qualified Carers contribute to the work of the fostering service, for example, through mentoring, training and recruitment activities;
  9. Foster carers are expected to meet National Standards in relation to their fostering role.

4.3 Fee

Qualified Carers will receive a fee of £50 per week (pro rata) per child/young person in placement, in addition to fostering allowances.

4.4 Requirements of Qualified Carers

  • Qualified Carers have a minimum of two years experience of fostering or equivalent experience of working with vulnerable children. For Home and Away Carers this will have involved working with disabled children;
  • Qualified Carers have completed the Core Carer Training and Development Programme;
  • Carers receive a positive annual review that reflects their continuing development as foster carers;
  • Qualified Carers have achieved a recognized and relevant qualification in child care. This could include the QCF Level 3 Diploma for Children and Young People or a recognised qualification in teaching, social work, residential care, nursery nursing, youth work or paediatric medicine;
  • Carers complete any training jointly identified through supervision or annual review (with attendance evidenced in their individual training portfolio) and demonstrate an active role in their learning and development;
  • Carers attend a minimum of 4 support groups or FCA meetings per year;
  • Carers maintain written records on children/young people placed, in line with Swindon’s record keeping policy;
  • Qualified Carers give a minimum of 14 days notice of their intention to end a placement;
  • Qualified Carers are able and willing to contribute to the work of the Family Placement Team e.g. recruitment activity, helping to run training and support groups;
  • Qualified Carers are able and willing to act as mentors to less experienced carers.

4.5 Skills

Qualified Carers are able to demonstrate a sound basis of Core Carer skills. In addition, they are able to demonstrate a broad range of skills at Qualified Carer level. Examples of the competencies (skills, knowledge, attitude and experience) expected at this level are set out below.

4.6 Caring for Children

4.6.1 Provide a good standard of care to other people’s children, promoting good educational achievement, health, emotional, physical and sexual well-being:

  • Care for child with learning difficulties including those with education statements an/or in special education;
  • Deal with school resistance/truancy and exclusions, and consequences for the child;
  • Contribute to education programmes working closely with other professionals;
  • Able to work closely with others to carry out individual therapeutic programmes;
  • Provide specific opportunities for child/young person to progress any developmental delay or medical condition, in consultation with other professionals (e.g. through types of play, language, physiotherapy).

4.6.2 Ability to work closely with a child’s family and important others:

  • Demonstrate skills in engaging with and involving parents and significant others in the day to day life of a child;
  • Actively work to improve relationships between children and their families, e.g. parenting skills teaching, active involvement and supervision of contact;
  • Able to assess interaction between children, parents, siblings or others and to record assessments of family relationships;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of relevant legislation and guidance in relation to the role of parents and significant others in a child’s life;
  • Ability to work constructively with parents to return a child home, and also where the plan is not for the child to return home;
  • Ability to work positively and constructively with adopters/ other carers to help a child move on well.

4.6.3 Ability to set appropriate boundaries and to manage children’s behaviour within these, without the use of physical or inappropriate punishment:

  • Enable a child to express, manage and cope with their emotions appropriate to age;
  • Handle a child’s negative reactions and behaviour, including attention-seeking, irritating or withdrawn behaviour and refusal to cooperate;
  • Work with child to understand appropriate social behaviour and enable them to work towards it;
  • Work with other professionals to implement behaviour programmes.

4.6.4 Knowledge of normal child development and ability to listen to and communicate with children appropriate to their age and understanding:

  • Sound knowledge of child/adolescent development;
  • Able to observe and assess child, clearly recording development;
  • Develop skills in communicating with children with communication difficulties;
  • Demonstrate skills in enabling a child to express any trauma/stress they may be experiencing, including loss and bereavement;
  • Demonstrate ability to enable child to understand Care and other Plans.

4.7 Providing a Safe and Caring Environment

4.7.1 Ability to ensure that the children are cared for in a home safe from harm or abuse:

  • Good knowledge of child protection and safe care;
  • Have a consistent commitment to children where there have been difficulties in the placement and maintain a positive attitude to the child;
  • Prepare children to move and promote positive endings, including acknowledging the child’s sense of loss at leaving the foster family.

4.7.2 Ability to help children keep themselves safe from harm or abuse and to know how to seek help if their safety is threatened:

  • Develop skills in working with children/young people involved in substance misuse or self-harming behaviour.

4.8 Working as Part of the Team

4.8.1 Ability to work with other professional people and contribute to the department’s planning for the child:

  • Good understanding of roles of professionals involved with children/young people;
  • Able to sustain good relationships with professionals ad promote best interests of the child/young person, including advocating where appropriate;
  • Able to contribute to multi agency assessments including providing written reports;
  • Can discuss and work to resolve differences in relationships with other professionals, including accepting differences of opinion about a child’s best interests;
  • Able to carry out plans, and manage own feelings and those of family, even when they disagree with plans for children (e.g. for rehabilitation, adoption);
  • Contribute to life story work with children to help them know their history.

4.8.2 Ability to communicate effectively:

  • Good written recording skills;
  • Ability to prepare reports for formal meetings.

4.8.3 Able to keep information confidential:

  • Good understanding of issues relating to confidentiality and information sharing;
  • Able to support child/young person to develop effective strategies for sharing or withholding personal information.

4.8.4 Ability to promote equality, diversity and rights of individuals and groups within society:

  • Ability to challenge others effectively to ensure that foster care practice is anti-discriminatory and respectful to all children/young people and their families;
  • Demonstrate skills in enabling a child/young person to contribute to ‘formal’ meetings/reviews etc, either verbally or by other means;
  • Undertake specific tasks/activities to build a child’s self-esteem, in conjunction with other agencies.

4.9 Own Development

4.9.1 Ability to appreciate how personal experiences have affected themselves and their families and the impact that fostering is likely to have on them all:

  • Can demonstrate insight into how own personal experiences can assist in or hinder meeting the needs of children placed;
  • Able to support own family through difficult periods during a placement;
  • Can support own family to understand and work to end a placement well.

4.9.2 Ability to sustain good network of support:

  • Provide support/mentoring to other foster carers, including assisting with running Preparation and/or Support Groups;
  • Contribute to the training of other foster carers;
  • Assist the authority in devising and implementing foster care recruitment campaigns.

4.9.3 Ability to use training opportunities and to improve skills:

  • Ability to evaluate own experiences, attitudes and skills, as well as own learning needs and ways to meet these;
  • Assists in training others through sharing own experiences;
  • Continue to attend training and update oneself concerning legislation etc.

4.10 Review

The statutory annual review of carer's approval provides the opportunity to ensure that the expectations and requirements of Qualified Carer status continue to be met. Where carers who were awarded QC status under transitional arrangements, or in other exceptional circumstances, still do not meet the eligibility criteria in terms of training or qualifications, exceptional grounds will need to be shown for the current fee level to be maintained.


5. Tier 4 - Advanced Carers

5.1 Summary
5.2 Fostering Task
5.3 Fee
5.4 Requirements of Advanced Carers
5.5 Skills
5.6 Caring for Children
5.7 Providing a Safe and Caring Environment
5.8 Working as Part of the Team
5.9 Own Development
5.10 Review

5.1 Summary

Advanced Carers are foster carers who have proven experience of working with children and young people with complex needs. They are fully and intensively involved in working with other professionals to assess needs and implement treatment plans. Advanced Carers need to possess well-developed skills and knowledge related to the fostering task and to offer a level of availability over and above that required of foster carers at other tiers.

5.2 Fostering Task

  1. Advanced carers provide placements for children and young people, who are viewed as hardest to place and present complex needs. Placements may be a direct alternative to specialist out of borough placements;
  2. Placements are likely to be requested at short notice and/or in emergencies, which could include outside normal working hours. There may be limited information about the children/child young person prior to placement;
  3. Children/young people may be placed on a temporary or permanent basis;
  4. Advanced Carers are expected to take placements where requested, given due regard to issues of safety and availability;
  5. Carers will be fully and directly involved in undertaking assessment work and implementing therapeutic/treatment plans for children/young people;
  6. Carers may be involved in direct work with parents towards stated goals;
  7. Advanced Carers will provide a consistently high level of care that promotes positive outcomes for the child/young person;
  8. Advanced Carers will work closely with the Placement Support Service;
  9. Advanced Carers will contribute to the work of the fostering service, for example, through mentoring, training, recruitment activities, service reviews;
  10. Foster carers are expected to meet National Standards in relation to their fostering role.

5.3 Fee

Advanced Carers will receive a fee of £120 per week (pro rata) per child/young person in placement, in addition to fostering allowances. In order to make best use of our Advanced Carers, and to enhance our aim of reducing our reliance on Independent Fostering Providers, a ‘retainer’ at half the full fee level will be paid for up to 2 weeks following the end of each placement, whilst further appropriate placements at this level are pursued. The fee will be reclaimed where carers decline to accept any placement offered during that period.

5.4 Requirements of Advanced Carers

  • Advanced Carers have a minimum of 3 years experience of fostering or equivalent experience of working with vulnerable children. For Home and Away Carers this will have involved working with disabled children;
  • Advanced Carers have achieved a QCF Level 3 Diploma for Children and Young People or other equivalent child care or relevant professional qualification;
  • Advanced Carers have completed the Core Carer Development Programme;
  • In addition carers complete any training jointly identified through supervision or annual review (with attendance evidenced in their individual training portfolio) and demonstrate an active role in their own learning and development;
  • Carers attend a minimum of 4 support groups or FCA meetings per year;
  • Carers maintain written records on children/young people placed, in line with Swindon’s record keeping policy;
  • Advanced Carers give a minimum of 28 days' notice of their intention to end a placement;
  • Advanced Carers are able and willing to contribute to the work of the fostering service, for example, through involvement in mentoring, training, service reviews and service planning and development.

In addition, the likely needs of the children/young people placed require that:

  • In general, there will be no more than two children/young people placed with a foster family at any time (unless siblings) and often single placements will be required;
  • The main carer has no other employment commitments;
  • The main carer is expected not to have other child care commitments that may conflict with the fostering task, although some discretion is maintained according to individual circumstances.

5.5 Skills

Advanced Carers are able to demonstrate the skills required at both Core Carer and Qualified Carer level. In addition, they are expected to evidence a range of skills at Advanced Carer level. Examples of the competencies (skills, knowledge, attitudes and experience) expected at this level are set out below.

5.6 Caring for Children

5.6.1 Provide a good standard of care to other people’s children, promoting good educational achievement, health, emotional, physical and sexual well-being:

  • Able to implement specific education plans, with other professionals, to support children/young people with learning problems to reintegrate/succeed in education;
  • Ability to undertake complex and specialist work with child as part of a treatment plan to address mental or physical health or development needs.

5.6.2 Ability to work closely with a child’s family and important others:

  • Can undertake direct work with parents/carers towards stated goals;
  • Take an active role in managing situations of uncertainty for children/young people and their families;
  • Able to contribute substantially to multi agency assessments of family relationships;
  • Able to take an active role in complex contact situations;
  • Ability to set appropriate boundaries and to manage children’s behaviour within these, without the use of physical or inappropriate punishment;
  • Demonstrate sound knowledge of the causes of difficult behaviour;
  • Ability to provide a high degree of affection and empathy alongside the setting of clear and comprehensive behavioural expectations;
  • Able to use identified behaviour programmes;
  • Able to manage situations of conflict and to ‘step back’ when appropriate;
  • Demonstrate a positive attitude and behaviour, as well as consistent commitment, to child/young person even in times of difficulty;
  • Able to provide a high degree of supervision or adult physical presence when required;
  • Good awareness of and ability to manage the effect of difficult behaviour on own family;
  • Knowledge of normal child development and ability to listen to and communicate with children appropriate to their age and understanding;
  • Sound understanding of ‘attachment’ and the impact on a child’s development and behaviour;
  • Good communication skills, being able to model effective coping skills, problem solving and the management of emotion;
  • Flexibility to parent in ways that meet an individual child/young person’s needs and adapt strategies as needed.

5.7 Providing a Safe and Caring Environment

5.7.1 Ability to ensure that the children are cared for in a home safe from harm or abuse:

  • Able to work appropriately with a child/young person who has exhibited sexually abusive behaviour towards other children or adults;
  • Able to act as mentor/support to other foster carers in caring for a sexually abused child/young person.

5.7.2 Ability to help children keep themselves safe from harm or abuse and to know how to seek help if their safety is threatened:

  • Good understanding and skills in working with children/young people who are involved in substance abuse or self-harming behaviour.

5.8 Working as Part of the Team

5.8.1 Ability to work with other professional people and contribute to the department’s planning for the child:

  • Able to work with other professionals in intensive programmes with children/young people;
  • Demonstrate commitment to a multi agency and ‘whole team‘ approach;
  • Well developed ability to communicate and negotiate with other professionals including challenging where appropriate;
  • Able to contribute substantially to multi agency assessment, planning and review, including providing written reports of good standard;
  • Willing/able to contribute to service reviews/service planning (project groups etc).

5.8.2 Ability to communicate effectively:

  • Well developed communication skills (e.g. able to present to other carers, give credible evidence in court).

5.8.3 Able to keep information confidential:

  • Well developed strategies for working with issues of confidentiality and information sharing, including in supporting children and young people in this area.

5.8.4 Ability to promote equality, diversity and rights of individuals and groups within society:

  • Sound understanding of issues of equality, diversity and rights and able to promote these effectively in fostering role.

5.9 Own Development

5.9.1 Ability to appreciate how personal experiences have affected themselves and their families and the impact that fostering is likely to have on them all:

  • Well developed ability to reflect on own background and relationships to understand the impact on their current parenting;
  • Able to sustain a calm family atmosphere that remains positive in the face of a child/young person’s difficult and troubling behaviour (including when she/he is ‘out of control’);
  • Able to provide a high level of availability and focus on the child/young person.

5.9.2 Ability to sustain good network of support:

  • Well-developed strategies for obtaining support for self and family;
  • Willing/able to contribute to evaluating potential of prospective foster care applicants.

5.9.3 Ability to use training opportunities and to improve skills:

  • Ability to learn and put into practice concepts about relationships, parenting attitudes and skills that are integral to fostering children/young people with complex needs.

5.10 Review

The statutory annual review of carer's approval provides the opportunity to ensure that the expectations and requirements of Advanced Carer status continue to be met. Where carers who were awarded AC status under transitional arrangements, or in other exceptional circumstances, still do not meet the eligibility criteria in terms of training or qualifications, exceptional grounds will need to be shown for the current fee level to be maintained. Any carer who had not completed the TSD Standards by March 2011 ceased to be eligible for a fee payment at any level from that date.


6. Core Skills Audit Form: Guidance

See also Appendix 4: Core Skills Audit Form.

The Core Skills Audit forms a part of the application by a carer to be awarded Qualified or Advanced Carer Status. It is designed to provide the evidence that the carer has developed the skills and experience necessary to meet the essential competencies involved in being a foster carer, and therefore provides the baseline against which to measure the additional skills necessary to justify progression to a higher fee level.

The form should be completed jointly by the carer and their supervising social worker, and together with the relevant application form will be considered by the Foster Panel in making its recommendation.

The Audit may also be used as a tool by a social worker assessing existing foster carers wishing to transfer their approval to Swindon Borough Council, to assist in identifying further training / development needs and 'locating' the carer at the appropriate skills level within Swindon's Scheme.

Family and Friends Carers will not be required to complete an audit of their skills, but will have the option to do so if they wish, to provide an indication of development needs.

How to Complete the Form

At the beginning of the form, there are sections asking for factual information, to be completed by the foster carer, although they may require some factual information from the Family Placement Officer (FPO), e.g. dates of placements. The next section requires confirmation by the carer and/or the FPO that criteria are met (information about criteria can be found in this chapter Payment for Skills: Task, Criteria and Fees Procedure).

The main part of the form consists of a list of ‘competencies’. These are skills, knowledge, attitudes, experiences that are relevant to fostering, and are based on the National Standards. The competencies are structured into four areas:

  1. Caring for Children;
  2. Providing a Safe and Caring Environment;
  3. Working as Part of a Team;
  4. Own Development. 

There are three levels, defined as:

  1. Carers have not yet had an opportunity to gain experience in doing this or need to develop their skills and knowledge;
  2. Carers have experience of doing this and work to a good standard in this area;
  3. Carers have considerable experience and skill in this area.

Carers and their link Family Placement Officer should complete the form, assessing the carers’ skills against each competency as a, b or c. There is a column for the carer to record their self-assessment as well as a column for the Family Placement Officer to record their assessment. The process can be a meeting where the carer and Family Placement Officer work through the form together, or each could complete the form separately and then meet to discuss it.

Carers within a family do not have to complete a form each, they assess their joint skills - only one form per fostering family is completed.

At the end of each of the four sections, there is a space for comments or additional information by carers or the Family Placement Officer. It is not necessary to put anything but can be used to comment on development in this area. In addition there is a section for comments in relation to identified training or development needs.

It is expected that all carers will have a range of assessments at the different levels, a, b or c. All carers will have areas where they feel less confident, wish to develop their knowledge or have not yet had the opportunity to gain experience. It is recognised that they already provide a good service and offer commitment to fostering.

The audits will provide an indication of progress, strengths and development needs of individual carers. Collectively they will assist the department in providing a better service, for example, through identifying needs for future training courses.

Process for Assessment

The form is submitted to the Team Manager for comments and a recommendation in relation to whether an application for Qualified or Advanced status should proceed. Where there is a theme of significant differences between the carer’s self-assessment and the FPO assessment the Team Manager will wish to follow this up before commenting and making the decision.

The audit and team manager’s recommendation will be presented to the Fostering Panel together with the application form and review documentation. The Fostering Panel will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker.

Foster carers have a right of appeal against recommendations/decisions in relation to their status within the Payments for Skills Scheme. After taking into account the Fostering Panel’s recommendation, should the decision-maker be minded not to approve the application, the carer will be informed in writing. The carer will be invited to make representations within 28 days which will be considered at a subsequent Panel meeting. Following this, the decision-maker will make a decision, taking into account any recommendation by the Fostering Panel.


7. Qualified Carers Form: Guidance

See also Appendix 2: Qualified Carers Form.

This form provides information about a carer’s suitability for Qualified Carer status, and is concerned with the additional skills and competencies at this level.

This form should be accompanied by a recently completed Core Skills Audit form (completed within last 4 months). It is expected that a Qualified Carer has been assessed as having a good level of core skills in most areas i.e. mostly ‘b’s or ‘c’s. The assessment of core skills will form part of the assessment for Qualified Carer status.

This form sets out the eligibility requirements for Qualified Carers and examples of the competencies (skills, knowledge, attitude and experience) that are expected at this level. Carers are asked to provide information that illustrates that they have developed this level of skill. It is recognised that not all carers may have had the opportunity to gain skills and experience in all competencies, as this will have depended on their fostering experience. However, they will be expected to show a broad range of skills across all the areas, and to demonstrate the capacity to develop skills where they do not yet have experience in a particular competency.

Carers new to Swindon but with previous relevant experience and who meet the other criteria are able to complete the application as part of their initial assessment. Information from the previous agency would form a key part of the assessment.

How to Complete the Form

Carers do not need to complete a form each, they provide information about their joint skills - only one form per fostering family is completed.

Section 1 provides factual detail of the carer - most of the required information about placements, training etc is contained in the accompanying Appendix 4: Core Skills Audit Form.

In Section 2, carers and FPO are asked to confirm that the eligibility requirements for this tier are met (further information can be found in the document ‘Task, Criteria and Fees’). It is important that carers have understood the nature of the fostering task at Qualified Carer level, and are asked to ensure that they have read this (see below) prior to confirming in the form that they agree to undertake this work.

The main part of the form sets out examples of competencies expected at Qualified Carer level. The competencies are structured into four areas - Caring for Children; Providing a Safe and Caring Environment; Work as Part of a Team; Own Development. Within each of these areas are a number of sub-headings.

Unlike the Core Skills Audit Form, carers are not asked to assess themselves against each competency. Instead for each sub-heading, they are asked to provide information that illustrates their skills in this area. For example, Section 1.2 is about working closely with a child’s family and important others, and sets out a number of competencies in relation to this. Carers are asked therefore to provide information that demonstrates their skills in working with children’s families. They do not have to provide information about all of the examples of competencies listed, but the list provides an indication of the level of skill expected.

The majority of carers at this level will have achieved a QCF Level 3 Diploma for Children and Young People and the intention is not to replicate the evidential requirements or process of this. The style is more akin to a ‘personal statement’ in a job application where the objective is to explain what experience and skills you have that enable you to do the job. It is about the carer giving examples of their fostering work and achievements, illustrating their skills in each area.

Examples of information that could be included are:

  • Descriptions of work undertaken e.g. how the carer worked with other professionals to support a young person back into education, rebuild relationships with parents  - how their skills have made a difference to the outcomes for a child/young person;
  • Reference to modules from the QCF or other qualifications where skills and knowledge were evidenced in particular areas;
  • Feedback from social workers and other professionals and/or from fostered children and young people and/or their families and friends;
  • Descriptions of how the carer has worked with or supported other carers, and what they have said about the carer’s contribution;
  • Training events that the carer has led or assisted with, reflections on this and any feedback from participants or from co trainers;
  • Training or support groups attended and how this impacted on the carer’s practice;
  • The carer’s own reflections on their experiences and skills.

Where examples of work with children or young people are given, these should describe the work and how children/young people were helped to make progress, rather than describing the circumstances of the child/young person. Children/young people should be referred to by an initial only.

It is not required but if carers wish to provide supporting documentation, any documents should be clearly cross-referenced.

The role of the Family Placement Officer is to provide advice and assistance to the carer, for example, by helping to identify experiences that could be used to illustrate particular skills.

In addition, the Family Placement Officer will provide comment on the carer’s skills in relation to consideration of Qualified Carer status, in the section at the end of the form.

Process for Assessment

The form will be submitted to the Team Manager, along with the Core Skills Audit Form. The Team Manager will make a recommendation to the Fostering Panel. Carers will be invited to attend Fostering Panel where their application for Qualified status is being considered. The Panel will consider the application and make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker.

Foster carers have a right of appeal against recommendations/decisions in relation to their status within the Payments for Skills Scheme. After taking into account the Fostering Panel’s recommendation, should the decision-maker be minded not to approve their application for Qualified status, the carer will be informed in writing. The carer will be invited to make representations within 28 days which will be considered at a subsequent Panel meeting. Following this, the decision-maker will make a decision, taking into account any recommendation by the Fostering Panel.

Qualified Carers: Fostering Task

  1. To provide placements for children/young people who are likely to present significant challenges arising from their own needs or from their family circumstances;
  2. Placements may be required at short notice and/or in emergencies,  Including out of hours. Information about the child/young person to be placed may be limited;
  3. Children/young people may be placed on a temporary or permanent basis;
  4. Qualified Carers take an active role in developing and implementing the child/young person’s care plan. This may involve contributing to the child/young person’s assessment and/or working closely with others to carry out individual treatment or therapeutic programmes;
  5. Carers may be required to facilitate and supervise contact in line with the care plan;
  6. Carers may be involved in taking an active and central role to ‘move a child/young person on’, for example, a return home, to adopters or to independent living;
  7. Qualified Carers may be involved in providing highly skilled care to a child/young person with significant needs on a long term basis;
  8. Qualified Carers contribute to the work of the fostering service, for example, through mentoring, training and recruitment activities;
  9. Foster carers are expected to meet National Standards in relation to their fostering role.


8. Advanced Carers Form: Guidance

See also Appendix 1: Advanced Carers Form.

This form provides information about a carer’s suitability for Advanced Carer status, and is concerned with the additional skills and competencies at this level.

This form should be accompanied by a recently completed Core Skills Audit form (completed within last 4 months). It is expected that an Advanced Carer has been assessed as having a good level of core skills in most areas i.e. mostly ‘b’s or ‘c’s. The assessment of core skills will form part of the assessment for Advanced Carer status.

This form sets out the eligibility requirements for Advanced Carers and examples of the competencies (skills, knowledge, attitude and experience) that are expected at this level. Carers are asked to provide information that illustrates that they have developed this level of skill. It is recognised that not all carers may have had the opportunity to gain skills and experience in all competencies, as this will have depended on their fostering experience. However, they will be expected to show a broad range of skills across all the areas, and to demonstrate the capacity to develop skills where they do not yet have experience in a particular competency.

Carers new to Swindon but with previous relevant experience and who meet the other criteria are able to complete the application as part of their initial assessment. Information from the previous agency would form a key part of the assessment.

How to Complete the Form

Carers do not need to complete a form each, they provide information about their joint skills - only one form per fostering family is completed.

Section 1 provides factual detail of the carer - most of the required information about placements, training etc are contained in the accompanying Core Skills Audit Form.

In Section 2, carers and FPO are asked to confirm that the eligibility requirements for this tier are met further information can be found in the document ‘Task, Criteria and Fees’). It is important that carers have understood the nature of the fostering task at Advanced Carer level, and are asked to ensure that they have read this (see below) prior to confirming in the form that they agree to undertake this work.

The main part of the form sets out examples of competencies expected at Advanced Carer level. The competencies are structured into four areas - Caring for Children; Providing a Safe and Caring Environment; Work as Part of a Team; Own Development. Within each of these areas are a number of sub-headings.

Unlike the Core Skills Audit Form, carers are not asked to assess themselves against each competency. Instead for each sub-heading, they are asked to provide information that illustrates their skills in this area. For example, Section 1.2 is about working closely with a child’s family and important others, and sets out a number of competencies in relation to this. Carers are asked therefore to provide information that demonstrates their skills in working with children’s families. They do not have to provide information about all of the examples of competencies listed, but the list provides an indication of the level of skill expected.

Carers at this level will have achieved a QCF Level 3 Diploma for Children and Young People and the intention is not to replicate the evidential requirements or process of this. The style is more akin to a ‘personal statement’ in a job application where the objective is to explain what experience and skills you have that enable you to do the job. It is about the carer giving examples of their fostering work and achievements, illustrating and reflecting on their skills in each area.

Examples of information that could be included are:

  • Descriptions of work undertaken e.g. how the carer worked with other professionals to support a young person back into education, rebuild relationships with parents - how their skills have made a difference to the outcomes for a child/young person;
  • Reference to modules from the QCF or other qualifications where skills and knowledge were evidenced in particular areas;
  • Feedback from social workers and other professionals, and/or from fostered children and young people and/or their families and friends;
  • Descriptions of how the carer has worked with or supported other carers, and what they have said about the carer’s contribution;
  • Training events that the carer has led or assisted with, reflections on this and any feedback from participants or from co trainers;
  • Training or support groups attended and how this impacted on the carer’s practice;
  • The carer’s own reflections on their experiences and skills.

Where examples of work with children or young people are given, these should describe the work and how children/young people were helped to make progress, rather than describing the circumstances of the child/young person. Children/young people should be referred to by an initial only.

It is not required but if carers wish to provide supporting documentation, any documents should be clearly cross-referenced.

The role of the Family Placement Officer is to provide advice and assistance to the carer, for example, by helping to identify experiences that could be used to illustrate particular skills.

In addition, the Family Placement Officer will provide comment on the carer’s skills in relation to consideration of Advanced Carer status, in the section at the end of the form.

Process of Assessment

The form will be submitted to the Team Manager, along with the Core Skills Audit Form. The Team Manager will make a recommendation to the Fostering Panel. Carers will be invited to attend Fostering Panel where their application for Advanced status is being considered. The Panel will consider the application and make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker.

Foster carers have a right of appeal against recommendations/decisions in relation to their status within the Payments for Skills Scheme. After taking into account the Fostering Panel’s recommendation, should the decision-maker be minded not to approve their application for Advanced Carer status, the carer will be informed in writing. The carer will be invited to make representations within 28 days which will be considered at a subsequent Panel meeting. Following this, the decision-maker will make a decision, taking into account any recommendation by the Fostering Panel.

Advanced Carers: Fostering Task

  1. Advanced carers provide placements for children and young people, who are viewed as hardest to place and present complex needs. Placements may be a direct alternative to specialist out of borough placements;
  2. Placements are likely to be requested at short notice and/or in emergencies, which could include outside normal working hours. There may be limited information about the children/child young person prior to placement;
  3. Children/young people may be placed on a temporary or permanent basis;
  4. Advanced Carers are expected to take placements where requested, given due regard to issues of safety and availability;
  5. Carers will be fully and directly involved in undertaking assessment work and implementing therapeutic/treatment plans for children/young people;
  6. Carers may be involved in direct work with parents towards stated goals;
  7. Advanced Carers will provide a consistently high level of care that promotes positive outcomes for the child/young person;
  8. Advanced Carers will work closely with the Placement Support Service;
  9. Advanced Carers will contribute to the work of the fostering service, for example, through mentoring, training, recruitment activities, service reviews;
  10. Foster carers are expected to meet National Standards in relation to their fostering role.


Appendices

Appendix 1: Advanced Carers Form

Appendix 2: Qualified Carers Form

Appendix 3: Qualified/Advanced Carer Review Form

Appendix 4: Core Skills Audit Form

End