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1.1.6 Family and Friends Care Policy

RELATED GUIDANCE

FRG Initial Family and Friends Care: This resource outlines what a viability assessment for family and friend carers should look like, what social workers should consider and how to undertake international assessments.

AMENDMENT

In December 2017, the above link was added to FRG Initial Family and Friends Care.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose of the policy
  3. Scope of the Policy
  4. Context
  5. Statement of Values, Principles and Objectives
  6. Private/informal Arrangements for Children in Need
  7. Public Arrangements for Children who are Looked After


1. Introduction

The Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities, Family and Friend Care published in 2011 makes it a requirement for each local authority with responsibility for children's services to publish, in collaboration with local partners, a policy setting out its approach towards promoting and supporting the needs of children living with family and friends carers, whether or not they are Looked After children.

Family and Friends carers have said that they are often uncertain as to what help is available and how to access services. This policy will help family and friends carers and anyone in contact with them to understand the type of arrangements they are undertaking, the duties and responsibilities involved in these care arrangements, the types of services available and where to go for further information.


2. Purpose of the Policy

The purpose of the policy is to provide guidance and information on how Tameside MBC (TMBC) in collaboration with its partners and local services will support the placement of children with their family (relatives) and friends. These arrangements can be made informally by parents and family and friends or, more formally by parents and family and friends with Tameside MBC for children who are Looked After.

The aim of the policy is to ensure that family and friends carers receive the support they require to meet the needs of the children they are caring for.


3. Scope of the Policy

When there is a crisis in the family, family and friends often rally round to make sure the children are well looked after, and often make arrangements between themselves to look after children until the crisis has passed. Mothers, and most fathers, have Parental Responsibility which gives them the authority to make such private arrangements.

Tameside MBC only becomes involved if there are welfare or protection issues with which the family needs support or intervention; if the arrangement falls within the definition of Private Fostering; or if the child is or becomes Looked After.

The policy comprises two parts which cover:

  1. Informal/private arrangements for Children in Need - the placement of children by parents with their family/relatives and friends when these arrangements are for Children in Need;
  2. Public arrangements for Children who are Looked After - the placement of children who are Looked After with their family/relatives and friends.


4. Context

Family and friends play a unique role in enabling children and young people to remain with people who they know and trust if they cannot, for whatever reason, live with their parents. Many children who live in family and friends care do well in life, but others are vulnerable and are failing to achieve good outcomes.

Many family and friends carers both want and need support to enable them to meet the needs of the children they care for. Each case will bring different challenges but research evidence tells us that family and friends care can bring stability to children and enhance their behavioural development and emotional wellbeing.


5. Statement of Values, Principles and Objectives

The council recognises the vital contribution family members and friends make in providing care for children. The great majority of children living with families and friends do well and prosper without the intervention of the council. There are occasions and in some circumstances where assistance may be requested or is required to support family and friends who care for children who are unable to live with their parents.

This policy clarifies how that support, if any is assessed as needed, will be arranged and provided.

The policy recognises the importance carers put on face to face contact with those providing advice and support, particularly in relation to the provision of benefits.

This policy is based on principles which are described below:

  • The child's welfare and safety is paramount;
  • Children are best looked after within their families, with their parents playing a full part in their lives, unless compulsory intervention in family life is necessary;
  • Children and young people will become Looked After only where this improves their life chances and no child or young person will become Looked After by TMBC or be on Care Orders unnecessarily;
  • The aim should always be to assist families in resolving their problems which would enable them to be reunited or be found permanent stable placements with family, friends, or alternative families close to home;
  • Parents should be expected and enabled to retain their responsibilities and to remain as closely involved as is consistent with the child's welfare, even if that child cannot live at home either temporarily or permanently;
  • If children have to live apart from their family, both they, their parents and carers will be given adequate information and support to enable them to make an informed choice about the most appropriate form of care;
  • Continuity of relationships is important and attachments should be respected, sustained, and developed;
  • All children need to develop their own identity, including self- confidence and a sense of selfworth.


6. Private/informal Arrangements for Children in Need

6.1 Aim and Definition

Our aim is to ensure that family and friends carers receive the support they need to meet the needs of the children they are caring for.

Private/informal family and friends care arrangements are defined as arrangements made by birth parents for the full time care, nurture and protection of their children, living apart from them with their family or friends. With few exceptions, Parental Responsibility will remain with the birth parents but with day to day parenting tasks and decisions delegated to the carers. A number of these informal arrangements work well and will not come to the attention of the council.

In some cases TMBC may be involved with providing a service to these children and families to support the arrangements as they fall under Private Fostering regulations; or support for these private/informal arrangements is required from the council to promote and safeguard the child's welfare and prevent the children becoming Looked After.

Children cared for under these arrangements are not Looked After children. The arrangements may be made under the following circumstances:

  • Children placed with close relatives (as defined by Children Act 1989) by parents at the parents' own initiative;
  • Children placed with close relatives (as defined by Children Act 1989) by parents with the arrangements facilitated by and with the support of the council e.g. as an agreed safeguarding measure;
  • Young people aged 16+ (some exceptional circumstances apply) who are living with a relative of their own volition;
  • Children and young people placed with friends or non close relatives (as defined by Children Act 1989) by parents for a period of less than 28 days;
  • Children placed by parents for over 28 days with friends or non close relatives (as defined by Children Act 1989) under Private Fostering regulations.
See also Private Fostering Procedure

6.2 Early identification and support

The majority of private/informal arrangements work well and meet the needs of the child with the support of universal agencies such as Health and Education services.

It is important, however, that any difficulties are responded to early. Partner agencies have a key role to play in identifying and supporting children who are living with family and friends carers. Services need to be aware of and sensitive to the needs of these children and their families.

To enable family and friends to offer appropriate care for children and young people who cannot live with their parents, access to a range of high quality universal and targeted services will be needed. Support services should not be withheld because a child is living with a carer in a private/informal arrangement. Early intervention, underpinned by the Common Assessment Framework (CAF), will help prevent difficulties escalating to the point where specialist services are required.

These services are key to the identification of those children who have a higher level of need e.g. those who are in Private Fostering arrangements where statutory intervention and the provision of specialist services are required.

6.3 Our approach

TMBC recognises that most private/informal arrangements work well to meet the needs of the child and that with the provision of support at the earliest opportunity, there will be no requirement for council intervention.

TMBC will only assess informal/private family and friends care arrangements when it is necessary to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, or where the council is obliged to meet the requirements of Private Fostering regulations. TMBC will make best endeavours to support these arrangements within the context of constrained resources.

TMBC supports the view that no child should have to become a Looked After child in order to access support when cared for by family or a friend. After an assessment under the National Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families, where it is safe to do so, arrangements made by the parents for a child to live with, or continue to live with, a relative or friend on a private/informal basis as a Child in Need will be rigorously explored and supported, before consideration is given to taking a child into public care.

Where, in the child's best interests, a private arrangement by the parents is facilitated by the council, as a safe alternative to public care, the child will be subject to a Child in Need Plan or, where appropriate, a Child Protection Plan. This will ensure the coordinated provision of support to meet the child's needs, that the arrangements are still in the best interests of the child, and that the child's need for permanence is being met.

Following assessment, the service may make payments under section 17 to support a child's placement with relatives or friends to promote their best interests and prevent the child becoming Looked After. These payments will be monitored and reviewed and parents and carers advised to seek advice about entitlement to benefits.

In all cases, it is essential that the parents and the family/friends carers have a clear understanding of the status of the arrangements i.e. this is a private arrangement made by the parents supported by TMBC and that the child is not a Looked After child. Parents and carers, the child, the social worker and other services will need to be clear about the level of support that will be provided.

6.4 The Legal framework

The following statutory powers and duties provide the legal basis for service involvement in private/informal/ kinship care arrangements:

  • The Children Act 1989;
  • The Children and Young Person Act 2008;
  • The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review;
  • Family and Friends Care: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities;
  • The Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005.

6.5 Accountability

Arrangements where there is no TMBC involvement

Parental responsibility remains with the birth parents but with day to day parenting tasks and decisions delegated to the carers.

Arrangements where there is involvement by TMBC

It is essential that all parties have a clear understanding of the status of the arrangements.

Parents and carers and staff involved in facilitating private/informal arrangements need to be clear about the child's legal status i.e. the child is a Child in Need not a Looked After child, and the role of the parents and carers in making and adhering to these arrangements.

The parents retain and will continue to exercise Parental Responsibility with agreement reached as to the day to day parenting tasks delegated to the carers and the decisions they can take.

The suitability of the arrangements to meet the child's needs and the range of support, including any financial support to meet the child's needs, will be reviewed via the child in need or child protection procedures.

If the support provided means that the council assumes a level of responsibility for the placement that is akin to the level of responsibility that it would have if the child were looked after, consideration needs to be given as to whether the child needs to be Looked After and the carer assessed under fostering regulations.

6.6 Assessment and support

TMBC will only assess private/informal family and friends care arrangements when it appears to the council that it is necessary to do so in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child or it constitutes Private Fostering arrangements. TMBC will make best endeavours to support these arrangements within the context of constrained resources.

There will be circumstances when TMBC will facilitate arrangements for the parents to arrange for relatives or friends to care for a child in order to prevent the child from becoming Looked After. This may be in response to a crisis in the parental home which makes it unsafe for the child to remain with his/her parents in the short term e.g. during a Section 47 Enquiry. The suitability of these arrangements will need to be agreed by the Social Worker's Team Manager following appropriate assessment.

Professional judgement is required to assess a child's safeguarding needs. The child may need to be Looked After if some or all of the following circumstances apply. This list is not exhaustive and other factors may be relevant. Each case must be assessed on its own facts.

  • Birth parents may not agree, or may be inconsistent as to their agreement for child being cared for by family and friends carers;
  • There is concern that the child's placement with family or friends carers may be seriously disrupted by a birth parent, whose behaviour may have been assesses as being potentially dangerous, or as posing a significant risk;
  • Court orders are in place which makes managing contact difficult;
  • A birth parent may be untraceable, or incapable of giving agreement to the child being cared for by family/friends carers;
  • If the council assesses that it needs to share Parental Responsibility with the birth parent(s) in order to promote and safeguard the child's welfare and secure the placement.

If the judgement is that the child may need to become Looked After, legal advice may be appropriate to assist with the decision, including whether it should be a voluntary arrangement under Section 20 or whether Care Proceedings should be commenced.

Before they are asked to make or when they make a commitment to a child, carers should be provided with clear information about the level of support they will receive and for how long.

It is acknowledged that private arrangements may be made in an emergency, with little or no planning of the placement involved, so it is vital that appropriate/timely assessments and plans are made.

When the TMBC supports private/informal arrangements made by parents, the child will be treated as a Child in Need and appropriate assessments will be made under the Framework for Assessment for Children in Need and their Families to inform a Child in Need plan or Child Protection Plan if required.

The assessment will explore whether care for the child can be safely provided by a relative or friend, the suitability of these arrangements and if this is the most appropriate legal status for these arrangements.

The Child in Need Plan will agree the practical and other support, including any financial support, to be provided for the child, to the child's carer and the role and responsibility of the child's parents.

This is particularly important as neither the carer nor TMBC has Parental Responsibility for the child in these circumstances, since no court orders have been made conferring it.

The carer may do what is reasonable to safeguard and promote the child's welfare (s.3 (5) Children Act 1989) but should be supported to refer back to the parent or other person with Parental Responsibility about significant decisions.

It is acknowledged that many of these arrangements will be temporary and short term but, if the arrangement continues, plans need to be made to secure permanence for the child and prevent drift. Carers may be given advice and guidance on applying for Child Arrangements Orders or Special Guardianship Orders under Private Law. After assessment, consideration may be given to funding a one-off legal consultation.

Consideration should always be given to the child's need for permanence and to their legal status.

6.7 Supporting Contact

Schedule 2 paragraph 10 of the Children Act 1989 requires TMBC to promote contact between a child who is not Looked After but is a child in need who is living away from home and their parents and family, where it is necessary to do so in order to safeguard and promote the child's welfare.

Contact arrangements will need to meet the needs of the child. It is acknowledged that management of contact can be a source of considerable anxiety and sometimes conflict for family and friends carers.

Contact arrangements will need to be explicit. If necessary, information will be made available to family and friends carers about local contact centres and how to make use of them. Contact will need to be monitored to ensure it does not become unsettling or harmful to the child.

6.8 Financial support

Parents will always be expected to make appropriate financial arrangements with the carer to enable them to care for the child.

Family and friends care arrangements made without TMBC involvement

Parents can elect to place their children with relatives for as long as they choose or with friends for a limited period without the involvement of the service. Young people similarly may elect to go to live with relatives, with or without their parents' consent once they have reached the age of 16.

The responsibility for funding these placements rests entirely with the parent(s) and or others with Parental Responsibility. Under these circumstances, unless there are other reasons, TMBC need not become involved or alternatively could choose to withdraw.

Private/informal family and friends arrangements made by parents supported by TMBC and with payments from Section 17.

Before they are asked to make, or when they make a commitment to a child, carers should be provided with clear information about the level of support, including any financial assistance that they will be offered. This will include how finances have been or will be calculated and how long this support will last. Carers, who may, for example, have to give up their job to care for the child(ren) will then be able to make an informed choice about whether the placement is feasible for them to enter into.

Parents will always be expected to make appropriate financial arrangements with the carer to enable the carer to care for the child. However, if a child's needs cannot be met by a family member or friend without financial support in the short term, TMBC may and, with the agreement of the parents, provide financial support to the placement under Section 17 (Children Act 1989) rather than accommodate the child under Section 20 so long as this is consistent with the child's welfare.

Under these circumstances, financial support under Section 17 could range from a one off payment to the provision of an agreed level of financial support which will be regularly monitored and reviewed.

In the process of making decision about the funding of arrangements under Section 17 the service will have regard to the following criteria:

One-off payments under Section 17 - one-off payments made in respect of costs arising during the course of a child's private placement with family/relatives and friends will be made in accordance with the criteria outlined in the TMBC policy on financial support under Section 17.

Provision of funding for child maintenance costs subject to monitoring and review - payment for the child maintenance costs may be made, at the service's discretion, under Section 17, where an assessment has concluded that:

  • Financial assistance is required to meet the child or young person's needs and to promote and safeguard his/her welfare; and
  • TMBC would have to accommodate the child/young person under Section 20 of the Children Act if no financial assistance was provided and there is clear evidence that the child's needs are likely to be best met without the provision of accommodation under this Section;
  • A financial assessment indicates that no person(s) with parental authority is able to fund the placement and the placement cannot be funded by recourse to the national benefits system.

The level of any allowance payable will be based upon Income Support rates for the child minus any relevant deductions.

Parents and carers will be informed in writing of any arrangements for financial support and will be advised that these will be monitored and reviewed with the expectation that parents will fund the arrangements.

The considerations for financial support outlined above will apply to Private Fostering arrangements.

6.9 Private fostering arrangements

See also Private Fostering Procedure

There will be circumstances when private/informal arrangements made by parents constitute Private Fostering arrangements.

Tameside MBC holds statutory powers and responsibilities as a Local Authority in relation to Private Fostering arrangements.

Privately Fostered children and young people are a diverse group and come from a large variety of backgrounds and circumstances. All professionals should take into account the specific needs of each Privately Fostered child/ young person including that of race, ethnicity, culture, religion, sexual orientation, class, disability and marital status. The council is committed to ensuring services are provided in a manner which does not discriminate at organisational, family or individual levels.

In Tameside each Privately Fostered child who has been assessed must be notified to the Private Fostering Social Worker who will assess and provide advice and guidance in relation to Private Fostering Arrangements.

Legal definition of a Privately Fostered Child

A child under the age of 16 (under 18, if disabled) who is cared for, or proposed to be cared for, and provided with accommodation by someone other than:

  • A parent;
  • A person who is not a parent but has Parental Responsibility;
  • A close relative, i.e. aunt/uncle/step-parent (including civil partnerships)/grand-parent/sibling but not a cousin or great aunt/uncle;

    and is:
  • Cared for and accommodated by that person for 28 days or more, or the period of actual fostering is less than 28 days but the Private Foster Carer intends to foster him/her for more than 28 days;
  • The arrangement is seen as Private Fostering if it meets the criteria above whether for reward (monetary or otherwise) or not;
  • A child is not Privately Fostered if the person caring for him/her had done so for a period of less than 28 days and does not intend to do so for any longer period;
  • Parents, carers and partner agencies have a duty to notify TMBC about Private Fostering arrangements and TMBC has a duty to satisfy itself that the welfare of Privately Fostered children in its area is being safeguarded and promoted. It will assess the suitability of the placement and visit the child in a private foster home in line with regulations to ensure the child is safe and well.
Parents and carers involved in the arrangement will be given information and offered professional advice and support.

6.10 Local Support Services

Research has identified that family and friends carers can enhance the behavioural development, mental health and placement stability of children but that attention must be paid to increasing levels of support.

In implementing this policy TMBC aims to narrow the gap in outcomes between children placed in family and friends care from disadvantaged backgrounds and those of their peers by the provision of effective inter-agency support and working with our local partners in Health, Housing and Education.

TMBC has a corporate responsibility to ensure that local services are effective and accessible. Family and friends carers will be signposted to local services.

When children and family and friend carers are supported by the Common Assessment Framework or Child in Need planning process, local resources will be identified and accessed.

6.11 Accommodation

Family and friends carers may need support with accommodation as their home may not be of sufficient capacity to suddenly take on the care of a child or a sibling group.

Tameside will work in partnership with the Housing Authority and providers to ensure that family and friend carers who come forward can access suitable accommodation.

6.12 Education and Health

Family and friends carers may take on a caring role in an emergency or at a stage in their lives when they are not aware of local support services for children and families.

They will be given information to assist them in their caring role and about what resources are available in their local area such as early years provision, day care, out of school services, colleges, health services leisure and youth support services. They will also be advised of specialist services for children with special educational or mental health needs such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).


7. Public Arrangements for Children who are Looked After

7.1 Aim and definition

Our aim is to ensure that family and friends carers who are approved as foster carers receive the support they need to meet the needs of the specific children they are caring for.

Public arrangements are defined as the placement of a child with their family/relatives and friends who is a 'Looked After' child.

Children become 'Looked After' when their birth parents or someone else who has Parental Responsibility are unable to provide ongoing care in either a temporary or permanent capacity. Children can either be 'Looked After' as a result of voluntary agreement by their parents or as a result of a Care Order.

When children need to be Looked After family and friends often come forward or are identified as potential carers. This might happen in the following circumstances on either a planned or emergency basis:

  • Where TMBC has initiated Care Proceedings and placed or plans to place the child under an interim or full Care Order;
  • Where TMBC has Accommodated the child under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 with the family or friends by agreement with birth parents;
  • Where the child is already placed with approved foster carers or is in a regulated placement and TMBC is assessing the potential family and friend carers as interim or longer term carers for the child;
  • Where the Looked After child or young person (usually a teenager) decides of their own volition to live with a family or friend and expresses a wish to remain.

7.2 Our approach

Where a child is looked after and where it is in their best interests, and it is the most appropriate placement, Tameside MBC will ensure that they will give preference to a member of the family/relative, or friend (Connected Persons) as the placement of choice for the child.

It will do this by considering a member of the family/relative, or friend (Connected Person) at each stage of the decision-making process during any legal proceedings or assessment in relation to the Looked After child.

In addition, any person who is connected to the child who is identified as a potential carer and who puts themselves forward to offer care will be considered for an assessment to determine their viability as a potential carer.

Tameside MBC will therefore take a pro-active approach to identifying, considering and supporting family and friends carers in the child's network who may be able to care for the child.

7.3 Wishes and Feelings of the Child or Young Person

The assessment for temporary and full approval of family and friends as foster carers includes the requirement that the wishes and views of the child or young person, the birth family and the carer's immediate and extended family, where relevant are sought as part of the planning process and that they be taken into account when making the final recommendations.

Children tell us: "Try family and friends but assess first"; and "use the same judgement as when moving to live with another family member as social workers would when moving to a foster carer."

Many children benefit from placements with family and friends, however not all relatives are able to safeguard and promote a child's welfare and their parenting capacity should be rigorously assessed before approval as a local authority foster carer.

7.4 The Legal Framework

To enable relatives, friends or other persons connected to the child to care for a child who is looked after, they must be approved as foster carers under the 2011 Fostering Service Regulations or temporarily approved under Regulation 24/25 2010 Care Planning Placement and Case Review Regulations and then subsequently approved under the 2011 Fostering Service Regulations.

The regulations cover temporary/emergency, short term, and long term approvals. Accountability for the placement resides with Tameside MBC as the placing authority.

See also Placements with Family and Friends/Connected Persons (Regulation 24) Procedure

7.5 Assessment and Approval

Nobody has a right to be a foster carer, but Standard 13 of the National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services 2011 requires that people, who express an interest in becoming foster carers, are treated fairly, without prejudice and with respect.

The Standard also requires that prospective foster carers should be considered in terms of their capacity to look after children in a safe and responsible way that meets their developmental needs.

In all circumstances, where the proposed carer is the most appropriate placement and where it meets the child's needs as identified in the child's Care Plan, the carer will be assessed and approved as a foster carer before the child is placed.

7.6 Emergency Assessment and Temporary Approval as a Foster Carer under Regulation 24

If the child has to be placed with a relative, friend or Connected Person in an emergency and it is not possible to carry out a full assessment, the carer will be temporarily approved for 16 weeks (or in exceptional specified circumstances 24 weeks) provided TMBC has:

  • Ascertained key information about the proposed carers and members of their household before the placement or if not possible, immediately afterwards (Regulation 24(2) of the Care Planning, Placement and Care Review Regulations (2010));
  • Made arrangements, where required, to carry out a full fostering assessment under the Fostering /Service Regulations 2011 and taking into account the Fostering Service National Minimum Standards 2011.

Children will only be placed in an emergency with a Connected Person where it is in the child's best interests and where the child has to be Looked After and placed that day and where there has been insufficient time to complete a full assessment under Fostering Service Regulations 2011.

The assessment for this temporary approval will be carried out jointly by the child's social worker and a duty supervising social worker from the Family Placement Service and approval agreed and approved by the Head of Service, Children's Social Work.

This temporary approval only lasts for up to 16 weeks and early consideration must be given to arranging a full fostering assessment if required within specified timescales.

Where the full assessment is not completed within 16 weeks (or in exceptional cases 24 weeks if an extension has been applied for) from the date of temporary approval, or the outcome of the assessment is negative, then the child must be moved from the placement.

7.7 Planned Assessment as a Foster Carer under Fostering Service Regulations

Where possible, placements should be planned to enable a thorough and full assessment of the proposed carer under Fostering Service Regulations.

In some circumstances the local authority may carry out a viability assessment of the proposed carers in order to ascertain whether they will be able to meet the child's assessed needs and can proceed for a full assessment as foster carers under Fostering Service Regulations.

In Tameside the assessing social worker for the full Fostering assessment will use CoramBAAF from "C" and accompanying guidance to ensure that with reference to the child's Care Plan and permanence plan, a full assessment is carried out which demonstrates the carer's capacity to meet the specific child's needs in a safe and responsible way for the duration of the proposed placement whether this is short or long term.

The proposed carer must undergo and satisfy certain specified statutory checks and references before approval can be recommended.

The Form C is a competency-based assessment which allows the assessor to focus on the specific needs of the child or children concerned whilst assessing the carer's skills and qualities against the required standards (National Minimum Fostering Standards, standard 30, 2011).

The assessment will balance the experiences and strengths of the carer against any aspects which might make them less suitable. The needs of the child will be kept central as the process of the assessment will also be to match the child to the carer.

On completion of the full assessment the carer will be considered for approval by Tameside's Fostering Panel in relation to the specific child or children they are connected to. The panel will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker.

Carers have recourse to seek review of the initial decision either directly to the Agency Decision Maker or to the Independent Reviewing Mechanism within 28 days.

7.8 Supporting Contact

Most Looked After children living with members of their extended family will be in contact with one or both of their parents and with other relatives and such contact is generally a positive experience in that it helps them to maintain a sense of identity and belonging.

TMBC has a responsibility to promote contact for Looked After children with their parents, relatives or anyone connected to the child unless it is not reasonably practicable or consistent with their welfare.

Contact will be carefully managed, monitored and supported for Looked After children placed with family and friends carers and any need for additional support identified at the child's review or during the foster carer's supervision sessions and Annual Foster Carer Review. In some circumstances, contact will be facilitated and supervised by Children’s Social Care subject to review.

All family and friends foster carers are made aware of their role in promoting contact, in particular their role in supporting, arranging and facilitating contact with the child's birth family where this may not be considered safe or in the child's interests.

The need for any ongoing support or support services, especially in relation to managing contact for child(ren) will also be identified in the assessment and addressed in the foster carers' subsequent supervisions sessions and annual foster carer reviews.

7.9 Ongoing support

Throughout the assessment process whether for temporary approval or approval under Fostering Service Regulations, family and friends foster carers with children in placement will be supported  by a named allocated supervising social worker; and the child will be supported by the child's social worker.

The need for any ongoing support or support services, especially in relation to managing contact  for child(ren) will also be identified in the assessment and addressed in the foster carers' subsequent supervisions sessions and annual reviews.

Many of the issues that go with being a family and friends carer are likely to be the same whether or not the carers are approved as foster carers. Being a foster carer brings with it additional obligations and responsibilities which have to be met.

The child's social worker is responsible for the child's Care Plan and the allocated supervising social worker is responsible for supervising the carer but both have a responsibility for ensuring that the carer exercises delegated authority within the overall framework of the Care Plan and the placement plan and that the carer demonstrates that they are meeting the child's needs as set out in the plans.

The foster carer must be clear about their role in relation to consents for the child in particular their role in supporting, arranging and facilitating contact with the child's birth family where this may not be considered safe or in the child's interests.

7.10 Training and Development of the Family and Friends Foster Carers

All family and friends foster carers temporarily approved or fully approved under Fostering Service Regulations are in all respects foster carers and entitled to the same level of training and support as unrelated foster carers including relevant fostering allowances.

All family and friend foster carers will be supported by a named allocated supervising social worker who will be responsible for the foster carer's support, supervision, training and development.

Family and friends fostering carers temporarily approved or fully approved will sign a Foster Care Agreement which details the expectation of the carer to meet Fostering Service Regulations and Fostering National Minimum Standards and the level and type of support from Tameside Fostering Service and Children's Social Work Services.

Tameside Fostering Service ensures that all family and friends foster carers temporarily or fully approved will receive support which is equivalent to that provided for unrelated carers including relevant  fostering allowances.

7.11 Training and Support Groups

TMBC will ensure that family and friend foster carers have access to family and friends preparation groups, post approval payment for skills training and support in order to achieve the DfE's (formerly Children's Workforce Development Council's) Training, Support and Development Standards.

Future training and development needs will be identified with the carer by the supervising social worker.

7.12 Permanence

At any stage of the assessment process where it is considered in the child's best interests and will promote their welfare and secure permanency, consideration will be given to supporting the carers to apply for an appropriate legal order giving them Parental Responsibility through a Child Arrangements Order, Special Guardianship Order or Adoption Order or by facilitating and supporting private/informal arrangements with a connected person under a Child in Need Plan.

Tameside will review the child's care plan through the Care Planning process to ensure that the child does not remain Looked After for longer than is needed and where financial support is not the primary reason for maintaining that status. The review will be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer.

If the child is not to return home, TMBC will consider whether the child's needs can best be met by permanent placement with the Connected Person as a long-term foster carer, special guardian, an adopter or where the child is placed under a Child Arrangements Order.

Family and Friend foster carers who are offering a potential permanent placement for a child will have access to support services irrespective of the legal status of the child and will be eligible for practical and financial support following an assessment of need, the allowance currently being paid to the carer and the drawing up of a support plan.

If there is no support plan identified and only financial assistance required as part of the special guardianship or child arrangement order, the child’s case would close to the social work team and transfer over to the nominated finance department to review annually. Should there be any change in circumstances and support required for the child (other than financial), the care giver should contact the public services hub who would reassess to identify support needs.

7.13 Legal Fees

TMBC will consider the payment of the legal costs of carers to apply for a Residence or Special Guardianship Order where it support the application and where not doing so would lead to the children remaining Looked After unnecessarily.

7.14 Accommodation

Family and friends carers may need support with accommodation as their home may not be of sufficient capacity to suddenly take on the care of a child or a sibling group.

Tameside will work in partnership with the Housing Authority and Registered Providers to ensure that family and friend carers who are being assessed for approval are not rejected solely on the grounds of inadequate housing.

7.15 Education and Health

Family and friends carers may take on a caring role in an emergency or at a stage in their lives when they are not aware of local support services for children and families. They will be given information to assist them in their caring role and about what resources are available in their local area such as early years provision, day care, out of school services, colleges, health services leisure and youth support services. They will also be advised of specialist services for Looked After children with special educational or mental health needs.

7.16 Feedback, complaints and enquiries

Complaints by Children and Young People

All children and young people will be given a copy of the Children's Services leaflet, "How to Make a Complaint" which outlines how and where to make a complaint.

Advice about making a complaint is also contained in the children's guide given to all children and young people on placement in foster care.

An advocacy role and support will be available for children who are looked after from a Children's Right's Worker throughout the process.

Complaints by Family and Friends Carers and Family and Friends Foster Carers

All carers are encouraged to discuss any complaint or dissatisfaction about the service with their social worker so that the complaint can be resolved informally.

However, if the matter cannot be resolved in this way the formal Complaints and Representations Procedure can be used. A copy of the complaints leaflet will be given to the carer by the social worker.

All foster carers for Looked After children are encouraged to discuss any complaint or dissatisfaction about the service with their supervising social worker so that the complaint can be resolved informally. However, if the matter cannot be resolved in this way the formal complaints procedure can be used.

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