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Fostering Statement of Purpose 2024-25

Welcome to our Fostering Statement of Purpose, which gives you information about the values, aims and principles underpinning Peterborough City Council Fostering Service. It outlines the staffing and management structure of the service, and provides you with information about the recruitment, assessment and training of our foster carers, and about our foster homes.

The statement is a legal requirement that fulfils the requirements of Standard 16 of the Fostering Services Minimum Standards (Care Standards Act, 2000) and Regulation 3 of the Fostering Services Regulations 2011. 

Fostering Standards

Our Standards of Care are measured and monitored against the National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services 2011 and the UK National Standards for Foster Care.

Location: Peterborough City Council Fostering Service has been in operation since 1 November 2023 and is based at St Martin House, Bittern Way, Fletton Quays, Peterborough. PE2 8TY. It is based alongside colleagues from Peterborough City Council’s statutory children’s services.

Peterborough City Council’s promise to children and its priority outcomes

We will ensure every child gets the best start in life – with more children and young people in care finding permanent, safe, loving and stable homes.

Priority Outcomes

  • Children and young people are safe from harm and lead healthy lives.
  • Children and young people are confident, resilient, thrive in their learning and engage positively and actively in their communities.
Happy boy

Our aims and objectives

Peterborough Fostering Service is committed to ensuring that children in foster care should have the same quality of life and opportunities as all children.

Our belief is that children need a warm, loving and nurturing family that we do all we can to make sure that children and young people who cannot live with their parents are given the opportunity to live within their kinship network wherever possible. When this cannot happen, our foster homes will give them a loving home in which they will thrive and achieve their potential.

Our primary aim is to provide nurturing, safe, loving and caring foster homes for children and young people where they feel valued and are supported and encourage to grow and develop as individuals, where their health and well-being is promoted and prioritised.

  • We will reach out to our communities and work alongside them to find a wide range of foster homes to meet the needs of as many children and young people as possible within our locality.
  • Everyone who enquires about fostering will be responded to quickly and respectfully, and supported to understand what becoming a foster carer means for them and their family.
  • We will make sure that every application we receive is dealt with promptly and that the appropriate and regulatory checks and references are taken up to ensure that we comply with the relevant legislation, regulations, guidance and standards.
  • Assessments of potential foster carers will be completed in a timely way and will provide evidence of the suitability of applicants to become foster carers.
  • Our Fostering Panel will consider all applications to foster, first annual reviews, changes of approval (where relevant), reports concerning allegations of foster carers, extensions to temporary approval of kinship carers and the resignation/deregistration of foster carers.
  • We will make sure that all foster carers are reviewed annually.
  • Approved foster carers will have a named social worker and will be supported and supervised by them in accordance with the regulations.
  • All potential matches of foster carers and children are carefully considered to take account of the individual and assessed needs of the child and the impact on the foster home.
  • Foster carers are provided with as much information as possible prior to a child or young person joining their home and throughout the time the child lives with them. This to support them to be able to care for the child or young person to the best of their ability.
  • All foster carers have access to the Council’s complaints procedure.
  • Children and Young people have access to an advocacy service.

  • Children and young people live in local foster homes and are supported to maintain relationships with family, friends and community.
  • Identify and promote children and young people living within their kinship network wherever possible.
  • Provide sufficient high quality foster homes that will meet the needs of the number, ages and characteristics of children and young people who need them.
  • Provide safe and nurturing foster homes with every effort made to achieve good outcomes for the children and young people in our care, within set timescales and to agreed standards.
  • Continuity of education, health and cultural links and activities is ensured. When it is not possible to achieve this within Peterborough, an appropriate foster home outside of the resources of the Council will be sought.
  • Recruit foster carers who are trained and supported to provide safe care to the children and young people in their care.
  • Work with foster carers throughout their fostering journey to support them to develop their skills and confidence to care for children and young people with diverse needs and experiences.
  • Match children and young people with foster carers who understand and can meet their individual needs and, who respect and promote their heritage, culture and identity and religious practices. If needed, we will provide additional training for foster carers to fulfil this.
  • Wherever possible, children and young people meet with their prospective foster carers and receive a foster family profile before they move into the foster home.
  • Provide foster homes where brothers and sisters can stay together if this is the right plan for them.
  • Promote and achieve permanence for all children and young people who are unable to return safely to their families.
  • Promote ‘Staying Put’ for those young people who wish to remain with their foster families beyond 18 years old.
  • Work openly and in partnership with all involved with the child or young person, in the best interests of the child.
  • Actively promote and encourage the participation of children, young people, foster carers and their families in developing our services and building their feedback into future service development.
  • Support foster carers with their emotional well-being, recognising the personal impact that caring for others can have on us all.

Fostering team and service delivery

Julie Mepham is the Head of Service - Fostering. She is qualified social worker with over 25 years’ experience of senior leadership.

Sue King is the Fostering Service Manager and the Registered Manager

Amanda Carter, Tasalla Shaiyen and Jayne Barrett-McGrath are – the Fostering Service Team Managers. They are social work qualified, have experience of supervision and management and are each responsible for teams of social work and alternatively qualified staff.

The fostering service is monitored at several levels and in the following ways:

  • Ofsted inspections – to ensure we comply with regulations and standards and are meeting the needs of children and young people in care in Peterborough.
  • Annual Fostering Service report.
  • Yearly audit by the quality assurance service
  • Manager audits of case files
  • Activity monitored at a strategic level against the objectives, performance indicators and tasks as contained in the Service Plan
  • Through provision of formal supervision for all staff and foster carers.
  • Day-to-day management of the service and support to staff and foster carers.
  • The quality and effectiveness of the complaints procedures is regularly monitored and kept under review.
  • A participation programme to ensure the views of children and young people are integrated into strategy and service delivery.

As of March 2024, Peterborough has 74 approved foster carers (including respite, link and connected persons carers), with 13 households in the assessment process.

There are currently 134 children and young people in foster homes.

There is a clear matching policy where only suitable carers who can meet the child or young person’s needs have children and young people placed with them.

There was 1 complaint in the year 2023 - 2024 which was upheld.

There is a guide for children and young people which clearly sets out what they can do if they are unhappy about the service they are receiving.

Being a foster carer – types of foster care

Our foster families offer a range of foster homes for children and young people which includes time-limited and permanent options:

fostering

This will be when children and young people become newly looked after while their family situation is being assessed.

When children and foster families develop a bond which they wish to recognise as significant, a matching assessment is completed which is considered by a panel and agreed by the Agency Decision Maker. (ADM)

Planned child led support for foster carers when by other experienced carers from within the fostering community.

Time limited short breaks provision and long term (matched) homes for children with disabilities.

The service assesses and supports people from within a child’s family and friends network to enable children and young people to remain living within their wider family or network.

This can be in respect to prospective Special Guardianship arrangements, where the carer is a temporarily approved foster carer, as well as longer term fostering arrangements where the carer is a fully approved foster carer in line with the child’s care plan.

Homes for parents and their child who need a family home environment. This is usually during care proceedings for their child.

A foster family provides care when a child or young person first becomes looked after in an emergency when needed for a short period of time.

The Local Authority has a duty to provide accommodation to children and young people under the age of 18 who have been charged with an offence so that young people do not remain in police custody longer than needed.

Foster carers who go on to adopt their foster child/ren, either through being approved as adopters first (assessed by the Regional Adoption Agency) or who are approved foster carers.

  • Assessment of mainstream and kinship carers
  • Foster carer training through our extensive learning and development programme
  • Sleep over (respite) foster care and day care for foster children.
  • Support groups for carers who look after children aged 0-5.
  • Support groups for all carers.
  • Clinician support and other specialist support
  • Buddying /mentoring schemes
  • An out of hours support line for foster carers and access to social workers on the Emergency Duty Team.
  • Support for the Foster Carer Committee
  • Private fostering assessments
  • Assessments of foster carers wishing to become Special Guardians for their foster children.

Recruitment and marketing

We are proud to be part of the Foster East network. Foster East will inform us that you have made an enquiry, and we will contact you so that we can find out more about you and discuss all of the exciting options that you have available to you.

A dedicated marketing team develops and oversees the marketing and recruitment strategy for the Fostering Service. They are supported by a Team Manager and a recruitment team. This includes assessment social workers, recruitment officers and a marketing officer.

Our foster carer recruitment ambassadors offer valuable support to the team to provide information of their lived experience of fostering. A combination of digital and non-digital marketing techniques are used to maximise reach to prospective foster carers.

The following process is followed for anyone enquiring to become a foster carer:

  • Initial enquiry via telephone, website or web-based routes.
  • Allocated for an Initial Visit by a Recruitment Officer.
  • Initial Visit carried out and Recruitment Officer makes recommendation to proceed or not. Recruitment Manager makes decision to proceed or not.
  • If the Initial Visit is positive the enquirers are encouraged and supported to apply during the Initial Visit.
  • If the decision is not to proceed, the applicant is informed verbally, and this is followed up in writing in 7 days.
  • Applicants are invited to attend the Journey to Foster preparation course for fostering.

If the decision is to proceed to a fostering (Form F) assessment, the household is allocated an assessing social worker.

Stage one of the assessment process

All applicants need to consent to statutory checks and references being completed which comply with the requirements of Schedule 3 of the Fostering Services Regulations of 2011. These include:

  • Disclosure and Barring Checks on all members of the household over the age of 18 • Medical Report from their General Practitioner
  • Child protection and local authority checks
  • Three personal references.

In addition, interviews are conducted with adult children and children living in the household. There is immediate exclusion of an applicant who has been convicted of any ‘specified offence’ against a child or adult. (Fostering Regulations 2011, 26 (5)

Stage two

This will usually take place concurrently with the completion of Stage 1.

Stage 2 is when an assessing social worker is allocated to assess the suitability of the applicants. An assessment of a prospective foster carer takes place in the applicant’s home over a period of approximately six to eight visits, plus reference interviews and interviewing other relevant parties. An assessing social worker ensures that timelines, analysis of significant relationships, the family dynamics and characteristics of the foster carers under-pin and all inform an assessment.

We aim to complete all assessments within four to five months of the application (the legal requirement is eight months)

When Form F assessments are completed, and all checks and references are returned it is presented to the Fostering Panel for recommendation. Applicants are invited to attend Panel alongside their assessing social worker.

The ADM decides whether to approve the applicants. Applicants are informed in writing of the ADM decision.

All approved foster carers will be required to sign the Foster Care Agreement which outlines expectations of the Fostering Service and of foster carers. This outlines any terms of approval relating to the foster carer.

The Fostering Panel is a requirement of the Fostering Regulations and is updated to meet the criteria set out in the regulations. The Panel meets regularly, in person in Peterborough. to consider each application for approval and, to recommend whether a person is suitable to act as a foster parent.

It also recommends the terms of approval; reviews the suitability to continue as carers from time to time; advises the Agency on the procedures and their effectiveness; oversees the conduct of the assessments that are carried out; gives advice and makes recommendations on such matters or cases the Service may refer to it.

The Panel is chaired by Mick Cunningham who is an independent person with many years’ experience as a Senior Manager in children’s social care. It includes members with wide and appropriate range of skills, knowledge and experiences.

The Panel has access to a Medical and Legal Advisor.

Agency Decision Maker

The Agency Decision Makers are Julie Mepham and Sue King, who are senior managers within the organisation.

Kinship carers are approved foster carers for a specific child (or children) who were previously known to them. For example, as family friends or relatives (Standard 30 NMS 2011). The prospective foster carers will be provided with information about the assessment process so they know what is expected of them, how they will be assessed, including the criteria that will be used. They will be made aware of how particular issues for kinship foster carers will be addressed, and any support that is to be offered during the assessment process.

They will be assessed within 16 weeks to determine their suitability for the role. An extension of 8 weeks can be agreed by the ADM, if they are satisfied that the child is safe within the home and to allow extra time for the assessment to be completed.

When approved, kinship foster carers have access to the same support, learning and development opportunities as mainstream foster carers. They are allocated a supervising social worker who will supervise them regularly to ensure that they have the information and support they need to carry out their role. They will receive a fostering allowance in line with the agreed rates for Peterborough foster carers, dependent on the child’s age.

This type of fostering is an arrangement whereby a child under the age of 16 years (or 18 if the child has a disability) is living in the care of someone who is not the child’s parent(s) or a ‘connected person’ for 28 days or more.

Private foster carers can be from a child’s extended family (although not a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt) who a parent has asked to care for their child or an education provision (such as language schools) which secures host families or boarding schools during the long summer holidays.

Once we receive notification of a prospective private fostering arrangement, we carry out an assessment of suitability and, if the arrangement is found to be suitable the fostering service will arrange to visit the child at least every 6 weeks during the first year, and at least every 12 weeks after the first year.

Support and supervision

A team manager oversees the supervision and support team - which comprises six supervising social workers and a placement officer. Each social worker supervises their foster carers on a regular basis according to regulations and need.

The supervising social worker supports the development of the foster carer and fostering household members to provide the best care to their foster children. They offer advice and guidance and an opportunity for reflection on the fostering role.

The placement officer receives referrals from children’s social work teams for children needing foster homes. Where possible they identify suitable homes for children and liaise with the foster carers and their supervising social worker to discuss whether the foster carer has the skills and experience to offer a foster home to the child or young person.

Foster carers have access to a telephone support line which is operated out of regular office hours in the evenings and weekends.

There are support groups and activities for foster carers, children and young people including activities and events throughout the year.

All our foster carers have access to the same Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) that the Council offers employees. The EAP is provided by Health Assured, an independent external organisation that has a professional code of strict confidentiality. Our foster carers can access the EAP 24 hours-a-day, 7-days a-week, 365 days-a-year. In addition, we provide free membership to the Fostering Network which provides high quality, professional, independent support to fostering households.

Fostering households can take advantage of family membership with Vivacity which is the local provider of leisure centres in Peterborough.

There is an extensive fostering annual learning and development programme, and foster carers have an individual Personal Development Plan (PDP) linked to the programme. Foster carers are supported to complete learning opportunities that suit their style of learning and their lifestyle which includes access to both online courses and face to face courses. Undertaking learning and development is an ongoing requirement for all foster carers

Newly approved foster carers must complete the Training Support and Development Standards (TSDs) for foster carers. It is part of a framework of induction, mandatory core training, and continuing professional development that will equip foster carers with the essential skills and knowledge to meet the needs of the children and young people in their care. It is expected that carers will evidence that they have met the induction requirements within the first 12 months of approval (18 months for Kinship carers). Evidence can be identified from a range of sources such as training and development sessions, distance or web-based learning packages, direct observation of their practice and reflective practice.

All foster carers will be supported to complete the standards.

Each foster carer is reviewed annually. The fostering independent reviewing officer (FIRO)leads on the annual review process, working alongside the supervising social worker to consider the foster carer’s previous year of fostering. A review meeting is chaired by the FIRO and includes the supervising social worker and foster carers. The first review is considered by the Fostering Panel.

Going forward the Fostering Panel and / or ADM considers the recommendation of the review and makes their decision.

Foster carers receive weekly allowances according to the age of the child. Additionally, there is a 'Skills Fee' scheme which recognises the experience and skills foster carers have. The Skills Level fees operate at 4 levels which set out practice requirements, training and development expectations and, their support of fostering service activities. The fees are published on Peterborough City Council website and are reviewed annually.

Complaints, allegations and actions

All allegations in relation to foster carers are investigated. It is likely that this will be completed by the FIRO or a different social worker from the foster carers social worker.

The investigation is reported to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for the area in which the foster carers live and who will be involved from the initial phase of the allegation through to the conclusion of the case and will:

  • Be involved in the management and oversight of individual cases.
  • Provide advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations.
  • Liaise with the police and other agencies.
  • Monitor the progress of cases to ensure that they are dealt with quickly and fairly and that policies and procedures are followed.

Foster carers are offered independent support from Fostering Network during this process.

Comments, complaints and compliments are welcomed to help us to grow and develop as a service. It is hoped that any problems can be dealt with quickly and at a local level by the fostering service.

When foster carers have contact with any member of staff they should expect to be treated with respect and responded to without delay. Peterborough children’s services aim to ensure that foster carers are always treated with respect.

A complaint can be made by a child, young person or an adult who has requested or received a service from Peterborough City Council. A foster carer can also make a complaint on behalf of a child. Any complaint relating to a child should initially be discussed with the child’s social worker, their manager, or the Independent Reviewing Officer.

Foster carers wishing to comment or complain on their own behalf should do so via the corporate complaint's procedure using the contact details below.

Peterborough City Council Complaints Team

Sand Martin House, Bittern Way, Fletton Quays, Peterborough, PE2 8TY
Tel: 01733 296331
Email: complain@peterborough.gov.uk

Registration Authority and Children’s commissioner

OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills)
Ofsted, Piccadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester, M1 2WD
Tel: 0300 123 1231 (about children’s services)
Email: enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk

Children's Commissioner for England

Dame Rachel de Souza, Children’s Commissioner for England
Sanctuary Buildings, 20 Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3B
Tel: 020 7783 8330
Fax: 020 7931 7544
Email: info.request@childrenscommissioner.gsi.gov.uk

Or find out more at Help at Hand:

www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/help-at-hand/
Tel: 0800 528 0731

The Fostering Service can recommend to the Fostering Panel the termination of approval of any foster carer if it is no longer satisfied that the foster carer or the household are suitable to foster. This is discussed at a foster carer review and a recommendation is made from this meeting which is then presented at the Fostering Panel.

When foster carers decide to retire or resign from the fostering service, then the Fostering Panel is provided with notification of this.

If a foster carer disagrees with a decision not to approve them or to change or terminate their approval, they can either make representations to the fostering service or to the Independent Review Mechanism.

The Independent Review Mechanism panel will consider the matter however, it does not have the power to force a change in decision. It can recommend that the fostering service reaches a different decision. The fostering service will make the final decision considering the Independent Review Mechanism Panel’s advice into account.

Data, participation and EDI

The views of children and young people are sought and welcomed through a variety of methods, including feedback from the Children in Care Council, outcomes of complaints, lessons from disruptions in children’s care arrangements, children’s views expressed in statutory reviews and foster carer reviews and surveys.

The fostering service has a responsibility to maintain accurate records on all foster carers and to ensure that information is shared with the carer wherever possible. Files on foster carers are held electronically and historical information is held in paper files which are stored securely by the fostering service. All information is recorded, stored and shared in line with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR.)

Foster carers can request specific information through their supervising social worker or request access to their file in writing. Consent for the release of any third-party information must be gained and, where this is refused, this information will have to be removed from the file before it is shared.

The Fostering Service works to Peterborough City County Council’s Equality and Diversity Policy. The service treats all service users fairly, openly and with respect throughout the fostering approval process. Applicants wishing to be approved as foster carers will be considered irrespective of ethnicity, religion, belief, gender, sexual orientation or disability providing the fostering service considers they can safely meet the needs of children throughout their childhood and into independence. Every attempt will be made to find a home which meets a child or young person’s emotional and developmental needs taking into consideration their ethnicity, religion, language, culture, gender and disability.