SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to applications by approved foster carers and children to acquire Fostering Plus status.
- The Fostering Plus Scheme
- The Fostering Plus Panel
- Application to Fostering Plus Panel re: Child
- Application to Fostering Plus Panel re: Approval of Fostering Plus Carers
1. The Fostering Plus Scheme
The Fostering Plus Scheme is a special scheme with a limited number of places for the top 10% of the most challenging and troubled children between the ages of 5 and 18. In exceptional circumstances, children under 5 will also be considered. It requires the foster carers to make a commitment to undertake additional and specific responsibilities or tasks to meet the needs of the child placed with them, including attendance at support groups and training as specified and the provision of progress reports on the child as requested. It involves the payment of an additional fee in addition to the fostering allowance.
Foster Plus carers are expected to give one month's notice if they wish the placement to be brought to an end in advance of the anticipated end date. Where this occurs, there will be a review meeting with the carers to review their future availability.
Approved foster carers seeking alteration of their approval to Foster Plus will need to be presented to the Fostering Plus Panel (see Section 2, Fostering Plus Panel). New carers seeking this approval process will have this confirmed by the Fostering Panel at the same time as their approval.
The duration and terms of any placement are set out in a written agreement at the beginning of the placement.
Carers would normally be approved for one Fostering Plus placement at a time.
2. The Fostering Plus Panel
The Fostering Panel meets monthly.
The Panel is chaired by the Team Manager (Placements).
Bookings for the Panel should be made through the Team Manager (Placements) or his/her secretary. Seven sets of paperwork will be needed two weeks in advance of the Panel.
Emergency/urgent decisions should be referred to the Team Manager (Placements) or the Service Manager.
3. Application to Fostering Plus Panel re: Child
3.1 Initial Approval
For most applications for initial approval of children required Fostering Plus status, the Fostering Plus assessment report (F+YP1) is to be used. The attached front sheet lists the possible supplemental information which may be required and any additional information included should be indicated on the front sheet.
The only exception to this report format being used is if the child is going to be presented to the Adoption and Permanency Panel around the same time as application to the Fostering Plus Panel, in which case the paperwork prepared for the Adoption and Permanency Panel is acceptable with a behavioural checklist.
It is intended that with a full Fostering Plus assessment report, additional paperwork will be minimised. In particular, all behaviour/features that rate 3 on the Behavioural Checklist should be incorporated into the report in order to highlight the factors and tasks that indicate Fostering Plus status.
It is vital that comprehensive information is given about the child's background and how they have come to require a Fostering Plus placement. If the information is not detailed enough, the application may need to wait until the following Panel.
Required paperwork is as follows:
- Front sheet with Fostering Plus Assessment Report (F+YP1);
- Behavioural Checklist and/or Annexe to Form D;
- Disability Matrix for children with disabilities;
- Last review (Record of Discussion-pages 9-12 only).
Supplemental information, if not already incorporated into report:
- Summary school report (do not send multi-page individual teacher reports);
- Risk assessment;
- Summary/conclusion only of Child and Family Assessment.
Paperwork will not be accepted without the Team Manager or Service Manager's written endorsement of the application and must be typed.
3.2 Request for Extension of Approval
Where a child has previously received Fostering Plus status, his or her approval will usually need to be reviewed as follows:
Child approved before age 11 - review prior to 11th birthday
Child approved age 11 to 16 - review prior to 16th birthday
A child's approval with any other ending date will need to be reviewed as per the relevant Panel minute.
In some cases, Fostering Plus status may no longer be appropriate, but it will be the role of the Panel to make this decision if an extension is requested beyond the date recommended by the Panel. As payments to carers will not continue indefinitely, it is essential that social workers provide an updated report (F+YP5) for consideration by Panel prior to end of agreement date.
On pages two and three of the report, the child's information is to go in the columns on the left and the tasks for the carers on the right. The report must be countersigned by Team Manager or Service Manager.
- Extension of Child or Young Person's Fostering Plus Approval (F+YP5);
- Child's last review (Record of Discussion - pages 9-12 only) or summary of current Care Plan;
- Annexe to Form D and/or Behavioural Checklist;
- Previous Fostering Plus Panel minute.
Additional paperwork, if not included in body of report:
- Summary school report;
- Risk assessment.
All paperwork must be typed and signed by the Team Manager or Service Manager.
4. Application to Fostering Plus Panel re: Approval of Fostering Plus Carers
All carers will have come through the mainstream Fostering Panel, either approved as mainstream carers or as Foster Plus carers.
Those mainstream carers who are seeking to extend their approval to take children with Fostering Plus status will need to be approved through the Fostering Plus Panel process. The exception is for weekend relief's once a month only or for holiday periods of up to one month. In these circumstances, it is not necessary to come to this Panel. For care over and above that level, Panel consideration will be needed.
There will be an expectation that carers requesting extension to their original mainstream approval will attend the Fostering Plus Panel.
The paperwork required for an application for extension is:
- Fostering Plus F1;
- Cover sheet;
- Skills Assessment (information on children cared for should highlight carers strengths and weaknesses in regard to placement).
- Link Worker's Report;
- Summarising any relevant additional information and recommendation. For a child already in placement, reference must be made to child's needs and how the carer is meeting those needs.
- Statement by carer;
- Highlighting why this child is more difficult to look after than a mainstream child and what strategies for dealing with the behaviour the carer is going to implement.
- Last Panel minute;
- Current review of carers.
Statutory checks should be up to date and the application for an extension of carer's approval should be countersigned by the Team Manager - Family Placement.
If a child is already in placement with a mainstream carer and is considered sufficiently challenging to meet the Fostering Plus criteria, then the social worker for the child must present the child to Panel at the same time that the link worker presents the carer to Panel in order that the foster carer can be paid at the Fostering Plus rate.
Foster carers who are approved as Fostering Plus carers will be required to enter into a Supplementary Agreement with the Directorate.