Merton Standards of Care Procedures
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter identifies the principles and process for dealing with concerns and complaints against foster carers. The chapter specifies the outcomes that any investigative process can recommend.
This chapter was reviewed and updated in May 2017 to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
It is the expectation that all Merton foster carers will provide children and young people placed with them, the best possible care to ensure that the welfare needs of the children/young person are met.
|1.1||This is achieved through high quality training, supervision and support to the foster carer.|
|1.2||The Standards of Care procedure applies to situations where the quality of care provided by the foster carer falls short of the expectations of the department. It applies to a wide range of concerns including the conduct, attitude and practices of the foster carer and may include the emotional and physical care of children/young person.|
|1.3||All child protection or safeguarding allegations against foster carers will not be investigated under the Standards of Care procedure. (See Allegations Against Foster Carers Procedure).|
The overriding principle in the application of this procedure is that the welfare needs of any child/young person placed in foster care is of paramount importance.
|2.1||Complaints made by children/young people or on their behalf about their care needs will be thoroughly investigated by the department. (See Complaints and Representations Procedure).|
|2.2||The child/young person will be supported through the process of the investigation by an Advocate if they so wish.|
|2.3||It is recognised that the process of conducting an investigation when a complaint or allegation has been made against a foster carer is always difficult for the foster carer and their family. Social Workers will therefore aim to carry out their investigation sensitively, openly, honestly and in a timely manner.|
|2.4||All foster carers therefore will be expected to attend the allegations course as a core course during their 1st year of approval so as to familiarise themselves with this difficult area.|
|2.5||The foster carer will receive support by way of regular updates during the investigation into the complaint through their supervising social worker.|
|2.6||Foster carers retain the right at all times to seek independent advice from Fostering Network.|
|2.7||The Fostering Service pays for all its carers to be members of Fostering Network and that membership gives access to free legal advice.|
|2.8||At the end of the Standards of Care procedure process foster carers will receive details in writing of all decisions made and actions taken.|
|2.9||Foster carers will be able to have access to their file records under the Merton Access to Records policy.|
|2.10||Foster carers will be able to record their own views about any complaints, or investigation and have these records placed on file.|
3. Initial Response
When concerns or complaints are received about the care by a foster carer, the information must be shared as soon as possible with the following:
Where the concern/complaint is to be investigated under Standards of Care procedures the following steps must take place:
The following actions are available and may include a combination of the following:
|4.1||In cases where this is no substance to the concern/complaint or the issue has already been addressed - No further action.|
|4.2||In cases where there is some substance to the concern but the issues can be dealt with in supervision - Further discussions with the carers is noted.|
|4.3||In cases where there is significant substance to the concern but the issues can be dealt with in training - The development of a specific training and development programme is noted.|
|4.4||In cases where the concerns may affect the approval of the foster carer - Bring forward the carers annual review of approval with a report and specific recommendation to the Fostering and Permanence Panel.|
|4.5||The Fostering Supervision Team Manager to write to the carer informing of the outcome of the investigation within 28 days of receipt of the concerns/complaints.|
|4.6||A copy of the letter to be forwarded to the Complaints Team.|
5. Post Investigation
|5.1||The supervising social worker to note the complaint and outcome of the investigation on the foster carer's file.|
|5.2||The supervising social worker to inform the Business Support Team of the complaint/concern to note for statistical purposes.|