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7.2 Recruitment of Foster Carers

This chapter was added to the manual in March 2021.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Sufficiency
  3. Recruitment
  4. Response to Initial Enquiries
  5. The Recruitment of Foster Carers for Specific Children


1. Introduction

The fostering service has a recruitment policy and strategy aimed at recruiting a range of carers to meet the needs of children and young people for whom it aims to provide a service (Fostering Services Minimum Standards 2007/13).

The Regulation of Care Act 2013 sets the legal precedent that all care services covered under the Act are now required to adhere to the standards that govern their particular service. The Fostering Services Minimum Standards are therefore the Family Placement Services’ statutory responsibilities.

The Children and Young Persons Act 2001 Guidance, Volume C (Family Placements) sets out the expectation for the Family Placement Service in respect of the publicity of the service and the recruitment of foster carers. This policy therefore fits within this guidance. The Family Placement Service produce a separate Recruitment Strategy which is annually updated to set out the recruitment objectives and planned recruitment activities for the Service in that year.

Recruitment is concerned with the active encouragement of appropriate applications for perspective carers; Assessment is the objective appraisal of these applicants.

The Directorate is currently introducing the Mockingbird model of working into the family placement services to achieve stability of placement and increase the satisfaction of carer’s.

The DHSC will have a sufficiency strategy for accommodation for children and young people that are looked after. The Family Placement Service is required to provide sufficient foster care accommodation on the Island to meet the needs of the children and young people Looked After by the Department who require a foster placement.

It is recognised that the Isle of Man is in a unique position of having no independent fostering agencies operating on the Island and therefore the Family Placement Service is the sole provider of Foster Carers, and also the only available service for prospective carers to approach. This position provides both a unique challenge, and opportunity, for the service to be bespoke to the needs of the Department and the children in the Department’s care. The Family Placement Service will therefore constantly and actively carry out the recruitment of Foster carers in order to meet this challenge.

The Recruitment Strategy for the Service is reviewed annually to inform the forward plan for the following year. This review includes a clear position around sufficiency and an evaluation of the success of any publicity and recruitment campaigns. This strategic plan should involve consultation with foster carers and children through the Voices in Participation Council [VIP]. The lead responsibility for the Recruitment Strategy is the Group Manager for corporate parenting.


2. Sufficiency

The fostering service needs to recruit a range of carers to meet the needs of the children and young people for whom it provides a service. (Fostering Service Minimum Standards, 2007/2013).

It is the DHSC Family Placement Service’s responsibility to know and understand placement needs for the children and young people who are Looked After. This will be achieved through the use of performance data analysis to predict future needs for the Service and regular review of the Service’s position in respect of the current pool of foster carers (both in terms of numbers of carers, registration categories and skills to meet need).

Arrangements for understanding the current demands on placements should be in place; informed by the monthly performance monitoring meetings operating across the Directorate. The analysis of the data within these reviews should inform the Family Placement Service about recruitment priorities for the Service. For instance, the need for recruitment of carers for adolescents.


3. Recruitment

Aims

Publicity and recruitment campaigns will aim to increase the number of foster carers available to meet the identified need in the child/young people population.

This can be done by:

  1. Raising the profile by using publicity and recruitment campaigns to increase the pool of available foster carers;
  2. Reach all groups in the community, especially where there is or may be a need for foster carers from a particular ethnic, cultural or religious group; and
  3. Increase awareness and understanding generally of the needs of looked after children and the role of the Family Placement Service.

Recruitment methods include both an advertising component and an information-giving role.

Methods

Recruitment methods are how the Family Placement Service will engage with the community on the Isle of Man. The annual recruitment strategy for the Service will set out the key priorities for that year and identify those community groups to be engaged and the methods to achieve recruitment within that year.

Research into the recruitment of carers informs that there is no one key method to achieve interest from prospective carers, however the reputation of the Service and the engagement of current foster carers has often been highlighted as a successful means to generate enquires. The inclusion of current foster carers in recruitment campaigns, and the highlighting of good news stories within the Island’s media, will be utilised to raise the Service’s profile.

A wide range of publicity methods should be utilised as part of recruitment campaigns, based on “What works,” including (but not restricted to):

  • Use of local press – newspaper advertisement, editorials, local radio and social media;
  • Leaflets designed to give initial information about Fostering and the service;
  • Publicity on local transport;
  • Isle of Man Government website and intranet;
  • Internet including social media;
  • Local information evenings;
  • Stalls at community events;
  • Linking with community groups.

Publicity and recruitment campaigns should aim to reach all groups across the community.

Applications are considered, and should be encouraged, regardless of the person’s cultural background, marital status, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.

Fostering Fortnight is an annual national campaign by The Fostering Network to raise the profile of fostering and is the UK’s biggest foster carer recruitment campaign. This and other UK national campaigns will be utilised by the Family Placement Service when focused recruitment activities on the Island are required.

The Family Placement Service will ensure appropriate staffing is available to respond in a procedurally timely manner to enquiries generated by targeted recruitment strategies, with capacity to undertake the assessments generated from these campaigns. Campaign strategies will therefore include this consideration in terms of staffing capacity and availability.

Evaluation

All recruitment methods will be evaluated in respect of the number of enquiries these generate and subsequent applications, assessments and approvals. Successful methods will be harnessed and those which prove less so will be discarded.

Feedback will also be collated from Exit Interviews, with each foster carer who decides to leave the Family Placement Service. This data will be collected and analysed to inform the recruitment as and particularly retention strategies for the service.


4. Response to Initial Enquiries

Please refer to the Assessment & Approval of Foster Carer policy - see: Family Placement Statement of Purpose, Foster Carer Recruitment, Assessment, Approval, Supervision, Support and Review.


5. The Recruitment of Foster Carers for Specific Children

This section of the policy is for circumstances where there are currently no approved carers, who are available to meet the needs of a specific child or young person.

The guidance of the Children and Young Person’s Act 2001 acknowledges that there may be instances where recruitment is targeted for a particular child or children. For example:

  • Large sibling groups;
  • A child or young person with additional needs.

Prior to consideration for a targeted recruitment campaign, the following process must be followed:

  • A referral will need to be made to the Family Placement Service for Family Finding and all approved carers have been considered and unable to meet the child’s needs.

    In addition to the approval of the plan, a plan of targeted recruitment needs to be approved by the Legal and Permanence Panel.

The criteria for considering a targeted campaign is:

  1. The child has identified specific needs confirmed through specialist  assessment, medical (behavioural or emotional);
  2. No current approved carers, or those in assessment demonstrate the ability to meet the child’s specific needs.

Approval to use information about a child in a local targeted campaign must be authorised by a senior manager; Head of Statutory Social Work Services or above.

Consent should be sought from all those with Parental Responsibility by the child’s social worker. If the child is of an age and understanding to consent, their consent also must be obtained and consideration given to this consent (or lack thereof) overriding all others.

A meeting should be convened and chaired by the Fostering Team Leader for long-term fostering or the Adoption Specialist Lead, if for Adoption. The identified family finder, child’s social worker, team manager and strategic lead for therapeutic services should attend and its purpose is to agree a draft profile that can be used during the recruitment campaign and recommend a recruitment campaign using local and UK national sources (Link Maker).

The Group Manager for corporate parenting will have responsibility for authorising the recruitment campaign and ensuring the information divulged is compliant with all DPA requirements.

The approved profile to be shared and agreed by those with parental responsibility and the child/young person, if appropriate, before use.

The cost of any publicity will be met by the marketing and advertisement budget held by the Family Placement Service for recruitment purposes.

The response by the Family Placement Service to any recruitment campaigns for individual children should follow the usual assessment procedures. Please refer to the Assessment & Approval of Foster Carer policy - see: Family Placement Statement of Purpose, Foster Carer Recruitment, Assessment, Approval, Supervision, Support and Review.

However, given that there is a child awaiting a placement the assessments should be expedited where possible.

Matching of the child to the prospective carers must also occur. Please refer to the Assessment & Approval of Foster Carer policy - see: Family Placement Statement of Purpose, Foster Carer Recruitment, Assessment, Approval, Supervision, Support and Review.

The campaign will be reviewed at six months and if no potential carers have been identified within twelve months, then the care plan should be reviewed through return to Legal and Permanence Panel. No child or young person should be subject to prolonged delay for family finding.

End