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7.1 Family Placement Statement of Purpose

1st Floor, Murray House, Mount Havelock, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 2SF
Telephone: 610000

This chapter was added to the manual in March 2021.


Contents

Caption: contents list
   
  Introduction, Vision and Values
Fostering Service
  1. Aims, Objectives and Principles
  2. Services Provided
  3. Foster Carer Recruitment, Assessment, Approval, Supervision, Support and Review
Adoption Services
  1. Aims and Objectives
  2. Principles
  3. Services Offered
  4. Recruitment, Assessment, Approval, Preparation & Training of Adopters
  5. Post-Adoption (and Post SGO) Support Services
Family Placement Service
  1. Complaints
  2. Safeguarding
  3. Standards of Care and Monitoring and Evaluation of Service Provision
  4. Service Structure and Staffing


Introduction, Vision and Values

This Statement of Purpose sets out the aims, objectives, values and principles of the Department of Health & Social Care Family Placement Service and describes how the aims and objectives will be met in partnership with carers, children and young people, their families and other partner agencies. It also explains the services offered by the Family Placement Service which are delivered in accordance with the Isle of Man legislative and regulatory framework including:

  • The Children & Young Persons Act 2001 Guidance Volume C Family Placements;
  • The Placement of Children (General) Regulations 2002;
  • Regulation of Care Act 2013 and associated Regulations;
  • Adoption Act 1984;
  • Adoption Society Regulations 1985;
  • Fostering Services Minimum Standards;
  • Adoption Minimum Standards.

The Department also looks to best practice established in other jurisdictions such as that established within The Fostering Services (England) Regulation 2011 and The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010 as amended by The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013.

In the Isle of Man the Government has established a Strategy for Children and Young People 2014-2019 where the vision is:

Every Child will have the best opportunities in life

The values underpinning the Strategy are:

Vision and Values

The Priorities set within the Strategy are as follows:

Priority 1: Nurturing children and young people’s healthy development, aspirations and achievement.
Priority 2: Children and young people grow up happy and resilient against adversity.
Priority 3: Children and young people grow up safe and feel safe from harm and abuse.
Priority 4: Children and young people grow up to be engaged and contributing adults in a safe and supportive community.

The Family Placement Service is one of many services provided for children that help to achieve this vision. The Family Placement Service will work collaboratively with providers of services to children across statutory and non statutory sectors to provide the best support to children and young people.

The Family Placement Service is child-centred and aims to provide high quality foster care and adoptive placements for the children of the Island who cannot, for a period of time or permanently live with their own birth family through the provision of the services described in this Statement of Purpose.


Fostering Service

The Family Placement Service provides a fostering service with around 65 registered foster carers including Family & Friends Foster Carers offering in the region of 55-60 placements to children at any one time.


1. Aims, Objectives and Principles

To make a positive and lasting difference to the lives of children and young people in care.

The needs, wishes and safety of children in care are at the centre of the Family Placement Service. We believe that all children and young people needing substitute care have the right to live within a safe, supportive and nurturing family environment, which meets their needs and enables them to realise their full potential.

The Family Placement Service will strive to:

  • Provide the highest quality of care for children through the provision of approved foster carers who can offer a safe, caring and supportive environment to children and young people;
  • Promote an atmosphere of partnership and co-operation so that all those involved in the care of a child or young person are working together to promote their best interests and to meet their needs in respect of health, education, welfare, identity, ethnicity, culture and emotional wellbeing;
  • Recruit, assess, train, support and supervise a wide range of foster carers who can meet the diverse needs of children and young people who need foster placements;
  • Assess, train, support and supervise friends and family carers who are specifically approved to care for a child who is a member of their extended family or who is otherwise already known to them;
  • Continuously improve our placement support and training to enable carers to continue to offer high quality care in meeting the needs of children and young people;
  • Ensure fostering staff are provided excellent supervision, training and development to enable them to offer high quality supervision and support to foster carers;
  • Work in a way that is non discriminatory and respects gender, sexuality, religion and ethnicity.

Keys to providing quality placements:

  • To provide placement choice and positive matching of a child with a placement;
  • Placement will be within the child’s extended network wherever possible;
  • Siblings to be placed together wherever this is possible and determined to be in their best interests;
  • Care provided will be safe;
  • Children will be supported to maximise educational opportunities and achieve to their full potential;
  • Children’s health needs will be responded to proactively;
  • Children’s culture and heritage will be respected;
  • Children will be listened to and involved in decision making;
  • Wherever possible placement beginnings and endings will be planned;
  • Children’s interests and aptitudes will be promoted and encouraged;
  • The needs of children with disabilities must be fully understood and planned which may include the provision of additional support to the carer;
  • Positive contact with family and friends will be promoted in line with their Care Plan;
  • Placements will be stable with a minimum of placement moves for each child;
  • Preparation for independence and successful transition into adulthood will be supported.


2. Services Provided

The Family Placement Service provides family based care for children aged from 0 – 18 who are unable, for whatever reason, to live within their own families or for whom short breaks are needed to support them and their family. Some young people aged 18 plus, may remain in their foster homes as agreed through the Care planning process under Staying Put arrangements. The range includes:

  • Regular short break care to support families and prevent family breakdown e.g. when a child or parent has a disability or long term illness;
  • Short and Medium term foster care to support families through crises, whilst plans are being made regarding a child’s long term future, or in an emergency to protect a child from harm;
  • Permanent substitute family care by way of long term foster care, for children who cannot return to their birth family;
  • Assessment and support for Family and Friends Foster Carers.

Approved Foster Carers deliver this service to individual children in partnership with the children’s social worker, education, health staff and in conjunction with other commissioned services designed to meet the needs of looked after children.

To support children’s educational and emotional wellbeing the Department commissions an Education Support Service and Wraparound Therapeutic Service for looked after children. These services where deemed appropriate will support carers in meeting the educational and emotional wellbeing needs of children in placement.

The child’s Care Plan is the overarching plan which co-ordinates all services for children, and is reviewed at Looked After Child Review Meetings at a minimum. The role of the Foster Carers is contained within the Placement Plan and the carer’s capacity to meet the aims of the Care Plan is reviewed by the Family Placement Service through Supervision.


3. Foster Carer Recruitment, Assessment, Approval, Supervision, Support and Review

The basic process is as follows:

  • On receiving an enquiry from potential foster carers, basic information is sought;
  • If both parties feel it is appropriate, an initial visit will be arranged at the earliest opportunity, during which an application pack and literature is discussed;
  • Following a positive conclusion to the initial visit, the potential foster carers will be invited to the next available Preparation Training;
  • Following positive feedback from the course facilitators, the process for undertaking all necessary checks then begins. A qualified social worker carries out a full assessment and will visit applicants homes generally on six to nine occasions, some together and some apart (if a couple), to meet and collect information about all members of the household, and review the applicant’s experiences and skills in relation to fostering. Where applicable, ex partners are contacted and interviewed;
  • The information obtained forms the basis of an assessment report using the Coram BAAF (British Association for Adoption and Fostering) Framework (Form F);
  • The content of the Form F Assessment Report is shared with the applicant and then presented to the Fostering Panel;
  • The Panel makes recommendations about the suitability of applicants to be approved as foster carers;
  • The Agency Decision Maker receives the recommendations of the Fostering Panel, and, on behalf of the Service, makes the final decision about approval and appointment;
  • Post approval, foster carers must undertake training as part of their development;
  • Annual Home Reviews are carried out by the Service;
  • Retention of foster carers is crucial and to this end the Family Placement Service provides good supervision, a comprehensive training programme, a range of activities to show recognition and appreciation of foster carers and their families along with participation in the service development.

Recruitment

Foster carers are recruited by a variety of methods including personal recommendation by existing carers, media campaigns using a variety of media including radio, posters, leaflets, website, information stands at local events. Interested persons can contact the Service via telephone for a conversation ahead of an initial visit which should occur within 2 weeks of their initial enquiry. The Service are looking specifically for people who have the home space, motivation, time, resilience and energy to look after a child and who have a commitment to undertake all training. Applicants, either single or couples are encouraged from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. Appropriate prospective carers are then invited to Skills to Foster Course (as developed by Coram BAAF).

Assessment

The Family Placement Service uses qualified social workers to undertake assessments. The timescale from assessment to approval is approximately 6 to 9 months.

For new applicants, statutory checks and personal references are undertaken. This may include:

  • Enhanced disclosure and barring service check (DBS) on the applicants and any adults in the household over the age of 18;
  • UK and Isle of Man authorities (e.g. Probation);
  • Employer references;
  • School reports;
  • Medical reports;
  • Details of applicants own children;
  • At least 2 personal references for each applicant;
  • Financial assessment;
  • Landlord references.

The assessment report requires detailed information and a wide range of evidence in respect of the carer’s background, current relationships, family lifestyle, support networks and parenting capacity. The process is designed to help the prospective carers and the assessing social worker to identify the sort of caring which will fit in with their lifestyle, their own wishes and the age, sex and needs of the children they would best be able to care for.

Approval

In the assessment the social worker will make an analysis of the strengths and vulnerabilities in the application and make a recommendation in respect of the type of caring and number of child and age range, gender and type of placement.

All prospective foster carers see the complete assessment report and have the opportunity to suggest changes and make their own comments. They are then invited to sign the completed report which is presented to the Fostering Panel.

The Family Placement Service has a Fostering Panel that sits on a scheduled basis. Applicants and approved foster carers are invited and supported to attend Panel in person. There must be five voting people attending Panel, which has to include two independent members and a qualified social worker with three years’ experience in children’s services. Panel is made up of a variety of people who have the appropriate qualifications and/or experience.

The Panel members read all of the reports before Panel sits and at Panel they have further discussions. They will form a view about the applicants and ask questions to the presenting social worker. They will make recommendations for approval or they can defer making a recommendation for further information to be provided. The Agency Decision Maker (ADM) will make the final decision about approval.

Supervision and Support

The Service recognises that supervision and support for carers is vital if they are to feel valued and recommend the service to others. It is important that their work is recognised as providing the major component in meeting the needs of children in placement. Carer satisfaction and retention is essential for a positive, healthy Family Placement Service.

The Service acknowledges that it is reliant on the goodwill of carers’ families and the professional conduct of carers and seeks to treat carers’ homes and families with respect and acknowledge the demanding nature of the tasks they undertake.

Supervising Social Workers visit carers regularly to look at standards of care provided, assist the carer to play their part in promoting the outcomes in the child’s Care Plan and identify any training or additional support needs. Visits should be at least every 6 weeks. In between visits telephone support is available. Visits prior to Looked After Children Review meetings should consider input to the Review and visits post Reviews should consider any updates to the Care Plan to ensure clarity and identify any support needs.

Foster carers should receive payments according to the Payment Scheme in a timely manner. The Scheme is reviewed annually.

The Foster Carers Handbook provides invaluable advice and information on relevant policies and procedures.

Foster Carer Forums are held regularly to which all foster carers are invited.

An Out of Hours Telephone Support service is available for foster carers to call for urgent matters for advice and support.

The Family Placement Service provides support groups and fun days, which cater to fostered children and foster carers birth children.

Training

Once approved, all foster carers are required to attend training. A range of training is available including generic and specialised courses. The annual training programme includes the mandatory training for all foster carers and developmental training to meet specific needs. The Department’s intention for the next 12 months is to seek opportunities for foster carers to attend joint training events with social workers, residential staff, family support workers and professionals from other agencies which will enrich the learning and create opportunities for networking and greater understanding of each other’s roles etc.

Review

All foster carers have an annual review which is an opportunity to appraise the last year of their foster care and set new goals and actions for the year ahead. Training needs are also assessed and identified. There is a range of consultation undertaken prior to the foster carer’s review.


Adoption Services

The Family Placement Service provides a service relating to all aspects of adoption including recruitment of adopters, placing children for adoption and some post-adoption support activity as well as intermediary services for adults and birth parent support.


1. Aims and Objectives

  • To ensure that children who are not able to live with their birth families grow up in safe, secure, nurturing and healing families where they are able to develop to their full potential;
  • To encourage adopted children to develop a positive sense of self and identity, based on a clear understanding of their unique background and history as well as being secure of their place and value within their accepting, loving and nurturing adoptive families, where fun and laughter are part of everyday life;
  • To ensure adopted children are enabled to develop life-long, trusting relationships to support them in their journey into adulthood and beyond;
  • To enable adopted children to be able to have pride in their achievements, make friends and become adults who make a positive contribution to society;
  • To ensure that adoptive families are thoroughly prepared, assessed, and supported so that they become competent and confident in the important task of caring for children with difficult backgrounds and complex needs;
  • To provide adoptive families, adopted adults, and others with whom they are connected, with the comprehensive, high quality advice, guidance and support they need, at the times that they need it.


2. Principles

  • The Wellbeing of the child is paramount;
  • The child’s Rights are valued and upheld;
  • The child’s Needs will be met;
  • Children, birth parents and adopters are treated with Respect, Honesty and Sensitivity;
  • A sufficient number of Prospective Adopters are recruited for the Island’s children who are assessed and approved to meet The Isle of Man Adoption Minimum Standards;
  • Adoptive Placements are provided following rigorous Matching processes, ensuring that the adoptive parents are likely to be able to meet the child’s assessed and future needs into adulthood;
  • Adoptive placements are appropriately Supported so as to minimise the risks of disruption;
  • Life-long Learning and Development opportunities are provided to adoptive families during assessment, after approval, and following placement;
  • Advice and Guidance is made accessible to the adoptee and the adopter on a life-long basis after the Adoption Order has been made;
  • Work in Partnership with other agencies and professionals, whilst respecting the family’s Confidentiality;
  • Work with Child Protection in mind and follow the Isle of Man’s Safeguarding procedures.
  • Recruit suitably Qualified and Registered staff to deliver the Service;
  • The Performance of the Service and staff is reviewed at regular intervals within a Quality Assurance framework to inform service learning and development;
  • Engage and co-operate with regular Inspections of the service in order to maintain and drive up standards within the Service.


3. Services Offered

  • Recruitment and assessment of prospective adopters who wish to adopt a child from the Isle of Man or elsewhere;
  • Family Finding, Matching and placement of children of Isle of Man children with adopters registered with the Service through to an Adoption Order being granted;
  • Matching and placement of children resident outside the Isle of Man who are being considered for adoption by adopters registered with the Service;
  • Carrying out viability assessments and reporting to the Court with respects to Special Guardianship Order (SGO) applications;
  • Reporting to Court on step-parent adoptions (where a birth parent wishes their partner to adopt their own child);
  • Counselling for pregnant women and their partners considering adoption for an expected child;
  • Birth parent support for those whose children are being placed for adoption;
  • Counselling for adopted persons prior to accessing their adoption records;
  • Intermediary services for adults seeking to contact persons within their family who were adopted as children;
  • Post adoption support and signposting for adoptive families;
  • Letter Box arrangements to support indirect contact between adopted children and their birth families as agreed;
  • Post SGO support and signposting for Special Guardians and children subject to an SGO.


4. Recruitment, Assessment, Approval, Preparation & Training of Adopters

Recruitment

The number of looked after children with a care plan of adoption has been between 3 – 6 children per year; there are rarely children relinquished for adoption. The Family Placement Service Manager sits on the Permanence and Legal Panel within the Department which assists with sufficiency planning and information obtained acts as an early warning in relation to the availability of approved and waiting families who are resident in the Isle of Man. The Service is sufficiently visible within the community so those wishing to adopt are able to come forward. Active recruitment is not generally needed to meet the needs of local looked after children requiring an adoptive placement but could be undertaken if required.

On receiving an enquiry from potential adopters, basic information is sought and given. If both parties feel it is appropriate, an application pack will be sent through the post. The applicants can then request to attend an information session held by the Service. After this an initial visit will be arranged at the earliest opportunity, if both parties feel this is appropriate.

Assessment

Following a positive conclusion to the initial visit, the potential adopters will be invited to the next available Preparation Training. Following positive feedback from the course facilitators, the process for undertaking all necessary checks then begins. The aim is for the assessment process to be completed within six months. The assessment is undertaken by a qualified and HCPC registered social worker, with every effort being made to ensure that there is no avoidable delay.

The social worker carries out a full home-study assessment and will visit the applicants home generally on six to eight occasions, (some together and some apart if a couple), to meet and collect information about all members of the household, and review the applicant’s experiences and skills in relation to adoption. Where applicable, ex-partners are contacted and interviewed.

Approval

The information obtained forms the basis of an assessment report. The Service uses the Coram BAAF (British Association for Adoption and Fostering) Framework - Prospective Adopters Report 2013. The content of the Prospective Adopters Report is shared with the applicants and then presented to the Adoption Panel. The Panel makes recommendations about the suitability of applicants to be approved as adoptive parents.

The Agency Decision maker receives the recommendations of the Panel, and, on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care, makes the final decision about approval and appointment.

Post approval, adopters are invited to continue their development through reading, sessions with their social worker and post approval training. Annual approval reviews are carried out if the applicants have not been matched with a child within the first year, and again in any subsequent years.

Preparation and Training

Initial training is provided to ensure that prospective adopters go into the adoption process with the necessary information, knowledge and skills they require to meet the needs of the children who have a care plan of adoption. This includes understanding the specialist and often more complex needs of sibling groups, older children and children with disabilities or additional needs.

Pre-Approval and Pre-Adoptive Placement

Whilst being trained, prepared, assessed, approved, and matched with a child, and in the months following a child having been placed, a social worker is allocated to the family to provide dedicated support and guidance through the whole process right through to the Adoption Order being granted by the court.


5. Post-Adoption (and Post SGO) Support Services

Once the Adoption Order has been granted, and agreed initial support needs delivered the social worker withdraws. However, adopters are able to telephone the Service during office hours Monday to Friday to seek advice about any difficulties or issues that an adoptive family may be facing at any time during the adopted child’s minority.

Should an adopter consider that their situation requires some form of direct intervention, they may request that an assessment be completed in order to establish the level of support needed. The Manager will consider the appropriate response of the Family Placement Service which may be a face-to-face meeting in the office or the family home, or referral to a more appropriate agency, (e.g. Health or Education). The Service can refer directly to the Wraparound Service (an emotional wellbeing therapeutic service commissioned by the Department) for post adoption support where the need identified requires a therapeutic response. In most cases where the child in placement came to the Island from the UK the placing authority would be required to fund therapeutic support needs.

Post-Adoption Training and Development

Adoption is a life-long process and the needs of the adopted child / children will change as they mature. Adoptive parents are offered on-going access to specialist training and learning and development opportunities for the duration of their adopted child’s minority. This enables adopters to further develop their skills and knowledge as well as to meet other adoptive families at regular support groups and training events. Support groups are chiefly there so that adopters can develop links and network with other adopters however Family Placement Service staff are also on hand to offer advice on themes or issues in common which may be of interest to a number of families. Speakers on specific topics may be brought in to inform everyone on a range of subjects according to need and interest.

Fun Days and Children’s Support Groups

Adopted children and their siblings are invited to take part in regular events where they can meet other children in similar circumstances so that as they grow up they understand that although they may feel or be seen as ‘different’ they do not need to feel isolated. They can share their thoughts and feelings with others in a safe space as well as having a lot of fun.

Letter-Box Service

This service is provided to adopted children, their adoptive and birth families, to facilitate the exchange of information safely between the birth family and the adoptive family. Research tells us that adoptive families who are able to promote and facilitate a safe level of communication about birth family and contact supports the development of a healthy, positive sense of identity and self-esteem as the adopted child makes the transition into adulthood. Letter-box is the most commonly accepted method of indirect contact by which adopted children are enabled to grow up with an appropriate level of knowledge and understanding about their background and birth family.


Family Placement Service


1. Complaints

The Department of Health & Social Care’s Complaints Policy will be used to resolve any complaints made by service recipients.

Records of investigations and the outcomes of complaints are held by Children & Families Division to inform service improvement. Data on complaints is aggregated by the Department across all its service areas.

A Whistleblowing Policy is in place within Isle of Man Government so that staff can raise serious issues outside the Service with protection.

How to contact the regulator:

Registration & Inspection Unit
Department of Health & Social Care
Ground Floor
St George’s Court
Hill Street
Douglas
IM1 1EF

Tel: 01624 642422
E-mailRandi@gov.im


2. Safeguarding

Safeguarding children is at the heart of what Children & Families Division, DHSC, including the Family Placement Service do. The Family Placement Service is committed to ensuring that children and young people whom they place are protected from abuse, exploitation and harm. All allegations of abuse made by children will be reported in line with agreed Safeguarding Children’s Board Child Protection Procedures.

Where an allegation is made against foster carers or adopters, the Family Placement Service will ensure that communication and support is maintained throughout any subsequent enquiry.

Children in placement have their allocated social worker outside of the Family Placement Service but also have access to the Children’s Rights Champion and the Children’s Participation Officer. Contact details of both officers are provided to children when they become looked after.


3. Standards of Care and Monitoring and Evaluation of Service Provision

The Family Placement Service is committed to providing services that meet, or exceed, the Isle of Man Minimum Standards for Fostering Services 2007 and Minimum Standards for Adoption Services 2013 in line with the aims and objectives, principles, vision and values stated above.

Regular monitoring and evaluation which contributes to assessing the effectiveness of the Family Placement Service is carried out by the Department. A range of data will contribute to this evaluation including:

  • Any complaints and compliments made and the outcome;
  • Consideration of any quality of care concerns raised and the outcome;
  • Consideration of child protection enquiries (involving foster carers or children in foster placements) and the outcome;
  • Any statutory Notifications of Events made to the regulator;
  • Outcomes of consultations and feedback received from children and young people and their families, foster carers, adopters, placing social workers, placing authorities, Children’s Rights Champion, Children’s Participation Officer and Voices in Participation groups, other recipients of the service or those who come into contact with it in relation to the quality of the service offered;
  • Outcomes of audits undertaken by the Division;
  • Quality Assurance information and feedback obtained through the Panel processes;
  • Disruptions and the outcome of Disruption Meetings;
  • Adoption breakdowns.

Findings are scrutinised by the Children & Families Division Core Management Team and presented, where appropriate and relevant, to the Department’s Executive Leadership Team and Department Meeting.


4. Service Structure and Staffing

Click here to view the Service Structure and Staffing.

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