Supervision and Support of Foster Carers


This procedure applies to all approved foster carers.


Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol England

Foster Carers Progression Scheme


This chapter was extensively revised in March 2023 there is new guidance with regard to training and other policies have been updated and linked to this chapter.

1. Introduction

All approved foster carers will have an allocated, suitably qualified supervising social worker. The allocated supervising social worker is responsible for supervising and supporting carers, ensuring that they have the necessary guidance, support and direction to maintain a quality service, including safe caring practices. This will include an understanding that they must work within the National Minimum Standards for Fostering and the agency's policies, procedures and guidance.

The supervising social worker must also ensure that the foster carers' training and development needs are identified, and that newly approved carers work towards completing the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers Workbook. They also have the responsibility to ensure foster carers are familiar and made aware of new policies and guidance.

The foster carer(s) should be fully aware of the Notification of Significant Events and the need to immediately report to their supervising social worker or Fostering Agency the following:

  • The Death of a Child;
  • A Serious illness or serious accident of a child placed with them;
  • The outbreak at the foster home of any infectious disease (which in the opinion of a general practitioner attending the home is sufficiently serious to be notified);
  • An allegation that a child placed with foster parents has committed a serious offence;
  • A child placed with them they have concerns about of being sexually exploited;
  • The Police calling to the foster carer's home as a result of a serious incident relating to a child placed there;
  • A child placed with the foster carer(s) who has gone missing;
  • Any serious concerns about the emotional or mental health of a child, such that a mental health assessment would be requested under the Mental Health Act 1983.

See also: Notification of Significant Events Procedure.

The child's allocated social worker should be contacted for specific advice or support in relation to the child and their Care Plan and Placement Plan.

2. Planned Supervision Visits

A programme of supervision visits should be set up and agreed between the foster carer and the supervising social worker from the time of the foster carer's approval, and endorsed by the supervising social worker's line manager.

Supervision is essentially a supportive and enabling two way process to:

  • Ensure the foster carers understand how they contribute to the local authority's services for children;
  • Enable foster carers to contribute effectively to the plans for the children for whom they are caring;
  • Provide appropriate monitoring and feedback on the foster carers' work to ensure the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers are fully met;
  • Complete personal development plans for each carer, which are linked to their training and their annual review;
  • Support foster carers by providing advice or making this available from elsewhere as appropriate;
  • Give foster carers an opportunity to raise any problems and make sure they are addressed appropriately;
  • Acknowledge the challenges and demands that the fostering tasks make on foster families and ensure appropriate support is available;
  • Recognise and address any difficulties the foster carers' own children may be experiencing arising from fostering; and
  • Assist foster carers to work in an anti discriminatory way that respects and promotes individual differences.

The agenda for each meeting should cover:

  1. Matters arising from the last supervision;
  2. Personal issues, e.g. effect of a placement on the foster carer's own family, changes in the carer's situation and circumstances etc.
  3. Child/ren in placement:
    1. Their health, cultural, educational, leisure and contact needs - and any support needs;
    2. Progress and work with respect towards each child's Care Plan;
    3. Any accidents, injuries and illnesses experienced by each child;
    4. Any complaints in relation to children placed with them and their outcomes;
    5. Any concerns around behaviour management in relation to children they are caring for;
    6. Any other significant events (see Section 1, Introduction);
    7. Any medication, medical treatment or first aid administered.
  4. Training/development issues for the foster carers and their family;
  5. Safe caring and health and safety issues;
  6. Foster carer's recording which is to be reviewed by the supervising social worker who should sign the foster carers' diary.

The supervision visits should be recorded on a pro forma Foster Carer Supervision Record, signed by the foster carer and the supervising social worker, and should include:

  • Any concerns expressed;
  • Any support needs expressed by the foster carers and how they will be met;
  • Any financial issues.

A record of all meetings should be kept on the foster carers' file and one copy given to the foster carers. See Appendix 3: Foster Carers Supervision Record Form.

The supervision records will inform the foster carer's review – see Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.

3. Frequency of Supervision

Supervisory visits will take place at least once every six weeks, unless otherwise agreed with the supervising social worker's line manager.

Additional visits may be made for the purposes of support (to the foster carer or any member of the foster family) with telephone contact at least every four weeks.

4. Unannounced Visits

Please refer to Unannounced Visits to Foster Carers.

There should also be unannounced visits at least once a year. The main purpose of the unannounced visit will be to look at the home environment that a child is living in.

The unannounced visits will be undertaken by the foster carer's supervising social worker who will need to check:

  1. Who is in the home;
  2. Who is looking after the child;
  3. If the carer is not at home, what arrangements have been made for the care of the child.

If the foster carers are not at home, the supervising social worker should leave a note for the foster carers to say that they have visited.

If the foster carers are not at home but the child is present and being looked after by someone else, the social worker should check the identity of that person but should not continue with the visit.

Unannounced visits should be recorded using the Unannounced Visit – Fostering Workers Record of Visit to Foster Carers Form.

There should not ordinarily be a regular programme of unannounced visits without particular reason – for example if a foster carer is being closely monitored. In such an event the reason for such will be explained to the foster carer.

5. Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker

Supervising social workers should ensure the following tasks are done: 

Post Approval

  1. Ensure that all new carers complete the Foster Carer Training, Support and Development Standards by their first annual review;
  2. Give Foster Carers' Handbook to new carer;
  3. Give Foster Carer Agreement to the carer: 2 copies to be signed and one returned and placed on the carer's file;
  4. Support carers with any specialist issues for disabled children for e.g. support in completing applications for Carer's Allowance, Disability Living Allowance etc.


  1. Complete risk assessments surrounding bedroom sharing (each child over 3 has their own bedroom or, where this is not possible, the sharing of the bedroom has been agreed by the placing authority), mixing with other children in home, etc. Discuss and check equipment (especially in the child's bedroom) and ensure it is appropriate to the age of the child in placement - see Bedroom Sharing Policy;
  2. Take part in discussions about potential placements;
  3. Take part in planning meetings regarding placements;
  4. Ensure that the child's social worker give the foster family full information about children about to be placed, including any abuse or neglect and the reason for the placement, the child's educational, medical, religious, racial, linguistic and cultural needs;
  5. Discuss issues relevant to contact with birth parents and other family members;
  6. Discuss how child's health needs are promoted and how children should be encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle;
  7. Assist carers in dealing with other relevant services such as health and education;
  8. Discuss appropriate training to provide appropriate care when caring for children with complex health needs;
  9. Assist carer with training needs for appropriate safer care practice, including skills to care for children who have been abused. For foster carers who offer placements to disabled children, this includes training specifically on issues affecting disabled children;
  10. Discuss financial issues with the carer: allowances, pocket money, leisure activities, toiletries and travelling etc. and the importance of complying with the terms of the Council's insurance policy for carers;
  11. Enquire about holiday plans the carers have made, and if the child is able to join them? If not the carer must inform the child's social worker so alternative arrangements can be made;
  12. Exchange contact numbers with all relevant members of the family, including out of hours support;
  13. That arrangements are made for the provision of specialist equipment for disabled children;
  14. Set date of first visit after the placement;
  15. Let the social worker for a child already in placement know when another child is placed;
  16. Provide carers with training and written policy on behaviour management.

During Placement

  1. Where necessary, check and follow up on all issues raised during the placement. Discuss any areas of concern with foster carers and ensure appropriate support/advice is addressed and in place at the time rather than waiting for reviews;
  2. Provide foster carers with breaks from caring as appropriate, which must meet the needs of placed children;
  3. Take part in any strategy meetings and section 47 enquiry relating to the foster family. Be involved in interviews/support as agreed;
  4. Ensure the supervising social worker and the foster carers receive invitations to child's looked after reviews and Child Protection Conferences, and attend when appropriate;
  5. Prepare for and attend Foster Carer Review Meetings (see Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure);
  6. Ensure training programme is updated and accessed by carers and their family and children;
  7. Visit regularly in accordance with the foster carer's needs, the child's Care Plan and as required (see also Section 3, Frequency of Supervision and Section 4, Unannounced Visits;
  8. Review the Safer Caring Plan and any changes in household circumstances;
  9. Assess and review any health and safety issues within the fostering household including the addition of any new pets and the environment in which they are kept;
  10. Make unannounced visits as required;
  11. Update Disclosure and Barring Service checks on members of the family every 3 years, including those reaching 18 years of age, and other persons who come to live at the home, who are over 18 years;
  12. Whilst there is no statutory time interval, as good practice medical information should also be updated at least every 3 years by writing to the foster carer's GP. In the event of any serious concerns about the foster carers health, a review of the foster carers approval should be carried out immediately;
  13. Record contact with carers;
  14. Provide reports for Panel as required under the relevant procedures;
  15. Where appropriate contribute to Court Reports as agreed with child's social worker;
  16. Discuss how the carers can support young people into adulthood;

At End of Placement

  1. Support the family as much as possible in what can be a very difficult time;
  2. Discuss fully with the carer and their family all the issues that have led to any unplanned end of a placement and identify any learning/training opportunities;
  3. Assist the foster carer to complete their end of placement report if required;
  4. Attend Disruption Meetings as required.

6. Tasks of Social Worker if Allegations are made Against the Carer

For the detailed procedure, see Allegations Against Foster Carers Procedure

Where allegations regarding childcare or child protection are made, the supervising social worker should:

  1. Support the family;
  2. Discuss fully, with the carer and their family, all the issues that have led to the allegation, as agreed at the Strategy Meeting;
  3. Make the carers aware of the process and of their rights during any investigation;
  4. Make the carer's aware of their own possible conflict of interests and inform them of where they can seek alternative support and advice from the Fostering Network or other independent sources.

Appendix 1: Carer Support


We are proud of the wide-ranging support services provided for and with local carers to enable carers to carry out the crucial task of fostering. This helps ensure that not only do carers continuing on fostering, but are able to develop in their roles. The following sections outline support services for carers.

See Induction of Foster Carers Policy and Guidance

Foster Carers will be invited to an induction meeting and will be provided with the following information;

  • A checklist which includes the following areas should be completed and put on the Foster Carers file by the Supervising Social Worker;
  • All Foster Carers should be given the Foster Carer Handbook;
  • Supervising Social Worker to discuss with the Foster Carer the expectation regarding keeping diary sheets, recording medication and completion of accident and incident forms;
  • Provide Foster Carers with copies of the expense claims forms and talk to them about how and when these should be completed;
  • Complete the Support and Supervision Contract, discuss with the Foster Carers the purpose of supervision, how this will be recorded and agree future supervision dates;
  • Ensure that the Foster Carers are aware of the Statement of Purpose and how they can access this;
  • Provide Foster Carers with a copy of the Children’s Guide;
  • Ensure that the Foster Carers have access to the current Foster Carer Training Plan;
  • Inform the Foster Carers that they will be given membership with Fostering Network and ensure that the process for them to become members is completed;
  • Ensure that the Foster Carers are aware of the Swindon Foster Carer Association and contact numbers and email addresses are provided;
  • Ensure that the Foster Carers have the relevant telephone numbers of their Supervising Social Worker, Business Support, Out of Hours Support and EDS;
  • Provide the Foster Carer with the name and telephone number of the Fostering Team Manager;
  • Ensure that the Foster Carers are aware of the complaints procedure for themselves as well as the comments, compliments or complaints for children and young people;
  • Discuss the possibility of putting the Foster Carers in touch with a more experienced Foster Carer as an additional support – Buddy Scheme;
  • Provide Foster Carers with the information about local support groups and how they might access these;
  • Arrange for ID cards for the carers to be completed;
  • Any outstanding actions from the above list should be clearly recorded in the supervision record and monitored to ensure that they are all completed.

Financial Support

See also: Foster Carers Finance Handbook

The weekly basic allowance is designed to cover the costs of caring for a particular child or young person and the extra costs related to fostering, plus a payment in recognition of the skills, experience and time involved in caring for a particular child or young person. The weekly allowances ensure our carers are rewarded sufficiently for the complex task of fostering.

Progression Scheme for Foster carers

We promote the professionalism of the fostering service by the Payment for Skills Scheme which concentrates on carers' skill levels by evidencing learning and formal qualification. Our Skills-based payment scheme allows for four 'fee' levels, ranging from Approved Carer at point of approval (attracting no fee) and progressing on to Core Carer usually after 9 months, then to Qualified Carer (on application, after 2 years experience and subject to qualifications), and on to Advanced Carer after three years experience (again on application, and subject to qualifications).

Social Work Support and Supervision

All foster carers have their own Supervising Social Worker who will offer advice, support and supervision. This worker is separate from the child's social worker and is an experienced specialist in family placement social work. Carers have told us that they value the close, supportive working relationships with supervising social workers. The child's social worker and their team is also there to advise and support carers about the specific needs of the child.

"Kids United" - Support for Sons and Daughters of Fostering Families

(Please see Appendix 2: "Kids United" - Support for Sons and Daughters of Fostering Families).

Expectations of the sons and daughters of foster carers are extremely high and while most report that they are happy being part of a fostering family, they also point out that there are many challenges that can be negative or difficult to handle. It is imperative therefore, that sons and daughters are well supported by their fostering service and that they feel that their role in the foster family is recognised and celebrated. Studies have shown that foster carers are more likely to give up fostering if they found that it was a difficult experience for their own children.

We are very proud of the sons and daughters who foster, and have an active support group for them here in Swindon called "Kids United".

Membership of the Fostering Network

Click here to view The Fostering Network website.

Once approved we will pay a carers membership of the Fostering Network. This national charity works throughout the UK to promote and improve the service provided for children in foster care and to be the voice of foster carers. Benefits of membership include:

  • Legal insurance - carers can get up to £100,000 legal expenses to cover criminal cases caused by a carer's fostering duties;
  • Regular information on fostering, including Foster Care magazine;
  • Specialist publications and training;
  • Access to independent advice and representation.

Support Groups / Activities

The fostering family Placement Team holds Lunchtime support groups every fortnight, with a variety of topics and guest speakers. In addition, there are separate Support Groups for Home and Away Carers and Supported Lodgings Carers. The Swindon Foster Care Association also hold regular coffee mornings that all carers are welcome to attend. At least twice per year we have an Activity Day for Foster Carers. These activities are very well attended by carers and the children they look after.

Peer Support from Experienced Carers

More experienced foster carers, who are willing to provide advice and support, are linked to newly approved and less experienced carers. These mentors not only are there as a listening ear at a time of crisis or difficulty in a placement for new carers but proactively will contact less experienced carers on a regular basis in order to help prevent possible problems getting out of hand.

Out of Hours Service

The fostering and permanence teams offer an out of hours 'on call' telephone advice and support service to all carers. So in the evenings, at night and at weekends carers are not left alone to struggle with problems.

Respite Care

See also: Respite Foster Care Guidance & Procedures

Carers can have access to respite care when the need arises, if carers or their Supervising Social Worker considers a break from caring for a particular child(ren) is required or a situation has arisen which means Carers cannot care for a child placed with them for a period. We also recognise that the demanding nature of contemporary fostering requires carers have holidays and periodic breaks from caring in order to avoid 'burn out' and on occasions devote time to their own families.


See Appendix 4: Foster Carer Training.

We provide a comprehensive annual training programme to help carers develop skills and knowledge and become more confident. Under the new payment scheme the skills payment is linked to an expectation that carers attend mandatory training on approval and further training once they have been approved.

As well as attending required and discretionary training courses / events, carers can raise particular training needs as there are other ways of meeting this. Training is another occasion for foster carers to meet other carers.

Communications with Carers

We produce an internal newsletter every month. In addition, we have regular mail shots that keep carers updated on training and other information. We also use the LearnForYou capacity to communicate. We use questionnaires to seek feedback from our carers.

The Swindon Foster Care Association also sends out a regular newsletter.

The Swindon Foster Care Association

The Swindon Foster Care Association (SFCA) represents the interests of local foster carers. This is warmly welcomed by Children and Families, especially as an active association enables us to involve carers more fully in future service developments. Though we are proud of the support services we provide for and with carers, we are aware that there remain areas that need to be developed further in consultation with SFCA, and that services have to change to reflect changing needs of carers and children.

Appendix 2: "Kids United" - Support for Sons and Daughters of Fostering Families

Expectations of the sons and daughters of foster carers are extremely high and while most report that they are happy being part of a fostering family, they also point out that there are many challenges that can be negative or difficult to handle. It is imperative therefore, that sons and daughters are well supported by their fostering service and that they feel that their role in the foster family is recognised and celebrated. Studies have shown that foster carers are more likely to give up fostering if they found that it was a difficult experience for their own children.

We are very proud of the sons and daughters who foster, and have an active support group for them here in Swindon called "Kids United" for primary school-aged children, and Inspiring Youths for young people in secondary school. Currently, the Kids United group meets on a regular basis, with meetings taking place during term time, and outings or activities planned most school holidays. Inspiring Youths is available for our older group of young people as and when there is sufficient demand.

The group caters for the children of foster carers, with the ages ranging from 7 to 17 years. We have 20 children and young people that attend regularly and great interest and enthusiasm has been shown by the group. In addition to discussion, there are on-going activities such as meals out, bowling, football, making pizzas and playing games. Most sons and daughters state that they are happy fostering and recognise the benefits of the experience. There is evidence that a proportion of sons and daughters go on to become foster carers themselves or enter the caring professions and many feel that fostering enhances their social understanding, empathy and skills.

Appendix 3: Foster Carers Supervision Record Form

Click here to view Appendix 3: Foster Carers Supervision Record Form.

Appendix 4: Foster Carer Training


See Training for Foster Carers.

We provide a comprehensive annual training programme to help carers develop skills and knowledge and become more confident. Under the new payment scheme the skills payment is linked to an expectation that carers attend mandatory training on approval and further training once they have been approved.

Training, Support and Development (TSD) Standards

All Foster Carers approved after April 2008 are expected to complete TSD standards, initially adapted from the Induction Standards for Children's Workforce (ISCW) and gain the Certificate of Successful Completion within the first year after approval at Panel. All existing Foster Carers, who were approved prior to April 2008, were expected to complete the standards by April 2011. More information is available online at Training Support and Development (TSD standards for Foster Care).

There are seven standards and 112 outcomes. The purpose of the standards is to ensure that all people working with children, young people and their families have the best possible training, qualifications, support and advice. The standards have been designed to support you as a Foster Carer and can be used as a measure of evidencing the good work a Foster Carer has achieved.

We hold regular workshops to help assist carers in completing the standards.

QCF (Qualifications and Credit Framework)

Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People's Workforce

Social Care Pathway. Foster Care. 65 credits

For carers wishing to advance to Qualified Status with the Payment for Skills Scheme*

We have contracted with a company called R and P Training Solutions Ltd. regarding this diploma. This diploma has much more flexibility and individually tailored learning pathways to meet the needs of carers availability and experience. Carers will be able to use some of the work already undertaken, for example, applicable ISCW standards and training may just need to be enhanced. There will be the option of carers completing a paper portfolio or an E-portfolio.

Once forms are received carers will be contacted to set up an information / induction session where the programme and expectations will be explained. Those who are unable to attend a group session will be met with individually. Once a carer has had an induction meeting and wants to proceed, the required paperwork will be filled out. The programme will start in September. The goal is for carers to complete this in one year or at the most, 18 months. Once we have this cohort started we will look at how we will work with other carers who wish to undertake the QCF in the future.

These qualifications cannot be achieved as a course of study alone, as carers will also be required to demonstrate competence skills to the required standard. They need to be able to show that they can meet the required Learning Outcomes and be able to demonstrate that they can apply the assessment criteria in practice. There are the basic building blocks of your Diploma. Within some units they may also be required to provide written evidence / work products in order to meet the additional guidance identified.

Appendix 5: Bedroom Sharing Assessment and Arrangements

Click here to view Appendix 5: Bedroom Sharing Assessment and Arrangements.

See also: Bedroom Sharing Policy