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7.5 Foster Care Standards of Service

In August 2021, this chapter was added to the manual.


Contents

  1. Policy
  2. Purpose
  3. Scope
  4. Definition
  5. Procedure

    Appendix 1: Standard of Care Concern Process Map

    Appendix 2: Standards of Care Report


1. Policy

The Department is committed to ensuring that foster carers provide a safe caring environment for the children and young people they care for. Standards of Care are required through the Regulation of Care Act 2013 and are achieved and maintained through high standards of practice in recruitment, preparation, training, support, supervision and review. Any perceived fall in standards of care that are identified will be subject to inquiry to understand how they occurred and addressed.

If standards have been found not to be met a remedial plan will be put in place for both the service and the carer. In certain circumstances, issues about standards of care, including potential child protection issues, will constitute a breach of the Foster Care Agreement. This procedure covers those circumstances.


2. Purpose

In accordance with guidelines in respect of

  • Regulation of Care Act, 2013;
  • Isle of Man Safeguarding Board child protection Procedures.


3. Scope

This policy applies to all approved and registered foster carers.


4. Definition

The Department is committed to providing the highest standards of care for Looked After Children. Children and young people have the right to feel safe, to be treated with respect, to be valued, and receive a quality of care consistent at least with the Isle of Man Fostering Minimum Standards 2007 (amended Oct 2013).

Concerns regarding standards of care, complaints or child protection allegations regarding foster carers are dealt with under one or more of the following ways:

  1. Standards of Care in relation to Approved Foster Carers;
  2. The Comments, Compliments and Complaints Procedure;
  3. The Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures - to follow.

This procedure relates to standards of care that do not meet the threshold of harm, but may also constitute a complaint.


5. Procedure

Investigating concerns for Standards of Care

A standard of care could be concern expressed in direct relation to the conduct, attitude and practices of a carer are investigated under this procedure.

It applies to a wide range of concerns, which may include the emotional and physical care of children, working with birth parents or discriminatory attitudes or behaviour.

If a standard of care required in Law and outlined in the Foster Care Agreement is or is suspected of not being complied with then the following will apply;

First stage - Informal response:

Minor concerns should be resolved in consultation with the supervising social worker and the foster carer. Standards of care procedures should only be invoked if it is not possible to resolve minor concerns at this first stage.

Second stage – formal response

Poor standards of care will be investigated under the management of the Fostering Team Leader and where it meets the criteria of an identifiable issue reported to Registration and Inspection within 24 hours. (Please see Registration and Notification Policy - to follow)

Standard of care inquiry process

Complaints and concerns expressed against foster carers are an inevitable result of the increasingly complex and sensitive work carers are required to undertake. When concerns are expressed, the Department is required to investigate. It is recognised that this process can be uncomfortable for carers, though the clarification arising from the investigation can also be beneficial to carers, especially if misunderstandings are resolved through improved communication. Staff aim to carry out investigations sensitively, openly and honestly.

If a supervising social worker or the child/young person's social worker receives information from another party or notes themselves a serious concern regarding a foster carer's performance, and have not been able to resolve informally or is too serious this should be reported to the Fostering Team Leader within one working day.

The Fostering Team Leader will determine whether the matter should be investigated as a Standard of Care matter or escalated as a safeguarding matter, or is a complaint.

Where the Fostering Team Leader confirms that the concern should be dealt with under the Standards of Care Procedure, the supervising social worker must arrange to visit the foster carer within 5 working days to discuss the concerns and inform the child’s social worker and team manager within 24 hours. Please see Appendix 1: Standard of Care Concern Process Map.

The supervising social worker must make the foster carer(s) aware that they can seek independent support from The Fostering Network, as soon as the standard of care concern is discussed with them.

Within 10 working days of discussing the concerns, the supervising social worker must complete a report in relation to the Standard of Care Concern. The report should outline the risks and any recommendations with regards how to bring the standard of practice to the required level. Please see Appendix 2: Standards of Care Report.

The report should be shared with the foster carer(s), their views and agreement, disagreement included in the report before submitting to the Team Leader with signatures.

The report will be quality assured by the team leader and only authorised if satisfied that the matter has been fully explored.

The supervising social worker will share the Team Leaders outcome with the carers

Outcome options

Seeking resolution

If the foster carer(s) do not agree with the actions/recommendations, a meeting will need to be organised by the supervising social worker, fostering team leader and the foster carer(s) to reach a resolution.

The Fostering Team Leader will chair the meeting and minutes will be taken by business support and will be shared by the supervising social worker, once they have been agreed by the Fostering Team Leader.

If the meeting does not achieve a resolution, the carer(s) will be advised of their right to appeal the decision and/or complain about the process.

If they disagree with the decision reached and appeal the matter should be placed before the Fostering Panel for recommendation and ADM for decision.

If they are unhappy with the process followed they can complain to the service (Practice Director) about that. It is important the supervising social worker confirms which the carers are wanting to pursue.

Professional Escalation

The supervising social worker must also share the outcomes (both verbally and in writing) with the child’s social worker, within 3 working days of the report being authorised.

In cases where there is professional disagreement, the matter should be escalated to senior managers. Please see escalation policy within the childcare procedures.

Annual Review

All standard of care inquiries will be routinely submitted to the Fostering Panel, with the annual review.

If an outcome of an inquiry is so serious that continued approval or registration may need to be withdrawn then the Team Leader will request the matter is put to the Panel at the earliest opportunity, and may need to consider if the carers should be suspended or any children removed or planned to be moved. (See annual review procedure.)

The Panel will hear appeals of any standard of care outcome.

Serious Causes for concern – child protection

Where there are concerns that the Standards of Care may reach the threshold of 'significant harm' in relation to the emotional, sexual and physical health of the child the Managing Allegations Strategy Meeting Procedures and the Isle of Man Safeguarding Board Procedures should be applied.

The SW and Team leader should formally refer to the child’s social worker or manager and request a child protection inquiry. If the concerns pose an immediate risk together with the child’s social worker and manager consideration will be given to:

  • The immediate safety of the Looked After Child and any other child in the care of foster carers (including birth children);
  • Suspension of the carers;
  • A MASM.

Recording

All information pertaining to a standard of care inquiry shall be retained on the foster carers file, and where pertaining to a child that may have suffered as a consequence on the child’s file


Appendices

Appendix 1: Standard of Care Concern Process Map

Appendix 2: Standards of Care Report

Original Publication Date March 2021
Last Review Date New policy
Next Review Date March 2022

End