Evaluation of processes
This guidance suggests that at the close of the formal review/s an evaluation of the whole process of exploring a concern/allegation may be helpful.
Any concern expressed about the well-being of a child looked after by foster carers or approved kinship carers is extremely stressful for foster carers, approved kinship carers and their families. At the end of the process of investigation and review, foster carers and approved kinship carers could be offered a formal opportunity to talk about the impact of the concern/allegation and the subsequent investigation and review on them and members of their family. They should have an opportunity to identify any support or other services which would have helped them manage the process better and any continuing support they require to deal with the impact of enquiries or investigation.
If a meeting is planned it should be held at a time and place that takes account of the care responsibilities of the foster carer or kinship carer.
Workers should consider whether a separate meeting should take place for any children and young people involved, including the sons and daughters of foster carers.
A record of any meeting should be made available to all who attended.
Points which might be considered at the meeting would include:
- the foster family's/kinship carer's comments on the way in which the agencies undertook their roles and responsibilities;
- the impact of the concern raised and any subsequent investigation on the foster carers/approved kinship carers/family member about whom the concern was raised;
- the impact of any decision to remove children from the placement;
- the current needs of everyone in the foster carer's/approved kinship carer's family;
- plans for meeting the ongoing needs of members of the foster or kinship carer's family by the fostering agency or social work service.
The complexity of exploring concerns raised about foster/approved kinship carers is evident and it may also be helpful for those staff involved to have time to reflect on their own experience of managing the enquiries and supporting the carers and any implications for future practice. This meeting could include the supervising social workers for the carers, staff who carried out the investigation and lead professionals/ social workers responsible for the child. Building in this kind of debriefing and period of reflection could help staff to manage their own anxiety and so continue to treat carers fairly and honestly when faced with any future concerns about the wellbeing of a looked-after child.
Fostering Agencies or Area Child Protection Committees may wish to include in their procedures arrangements for monitoring how effective this guidance is in practice, whether or not using it results in any changes in how agencies respond to concerns about foster carers/kinship carers and whether or not these changes are helpful. A draft recording outline is provided in appendix 4 which could help to collate relevant information from the various decision making meeting and evaluations.
Any issues about the processes followed on responding to concerns could be reviewed by managers at least once a year to consider learning from the events which could improve future practice and process.
Reflecting on the concerns and the process undertaken may also assist in recognising any gaps in the support and training for foster carers and approved kinship carers.
Email: Heather Brown
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