22.12 Visits to the Private Foster Home - Frequency, Purpose and Records
Last updated 23/09/2021
Visits by a social worker must be made to the child and the private foster carer at the foster home within one week of the placement, or the date when notification was received if later, and then visits will be made at least every six weeks in the first year by a social worker.
In subsequent years, visits must be at least every 12 weeks.
The need to visit more frequently will be decided by the social worker and his or her manager depending on the circumstances and the need to visit unannounced and/or to choose times when all members of the household are likely to be present should also be considered.
Additional visits should be arranged at the request of the child or the foster carer.
The child must be seen alone by the social worker on each visit unless this is not appropriate having regard to the young age of the child or if the child does not wish to see the social worker alone. The child's bedroom should be seen on some visits.
At no point must a child/ren subject to private fostering arrangements be ‘stepped down’ to Early Help as the child MUST be allocated to a qualified Social Worker.
The overall purpose of all visits is to ensure that the welfare of the child is safeguarded and promoted, encourage the maintenance and improvement of child care standards and check that the child's needs are met within the private foster placement and in particular:
- To observe the overall standard of care including visiting the child's bedroom;
- To ensure that the child is developing satisfactorily and that his or her needs arising from religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background are being met;
- To speak to and ascertain the wishes of the child;
- To review the purpose and likely duration of the placement and ensure that arrangements with the parents are working;
- The parent and the foster carer should be encouraged to plan the ending of the placement and prepare the child for the change.
- To check that any requirements imposed are being met and check whether they need to be changed or cancelled;
- To ensure that the arrangements for the child's education are satisfactory;
- To advise or arrange advice for the private foster carer as necessary, for example in relation to the maintaining of the child's links with his or her cultural heritage or in relation to appropriate travel arrangements for the child visiting family abroad;
- To check that the financial arrangements for the care of the child are working;
- To ensure that the child remains registered with a GP and dentist and that any necessary health care has been provided to take account of any special health needs;
- To ensure that the child has access to services as required as a result of any disabilities;
- To enquire as to the contact arrangements for the child with the parents and siblings;
- To encourage the private foster carer to keep a record of the child's development, including accidents, illnesses, immunisations, school reports, achievements and any contact with parents or significant others.
Reports on Visits
A written report on every visit must be made by the social worker and recorded on the child’s electronic record. The private foster report must state whether the child was seen and if so, whether the child was seen alone. If the child was not seen, the reasons must be recorded. The record must comment on the child's welfare and how the placement is progressing including any views expressed by the private foster carer and the child. It must also contain a recommendation about the continued suitability of the private fostering arrangement and whether any action should be taken and/or requirements on the private foster carer.
The private fostering visit report must be reviewed by the team manager and discussed in supervision.
Where there are concerns about the child's care, the parents should be advised and consideration should be given to invoking the Local Safeguarding Children Board Procedures.