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6.2.5 Foster Carers Support Policy

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Scope
  3. Qualifying Criteria
  4. Eligibility for BHCC Employees to become a Foster Carer with the Council
  5. Types of Fostering
  6. Expectations of Managers and Employees
  7. Evidence of Entitlement
  8. Leave Provisions
  9. Cessation of Entitlement to Leave
  10. Monitoring


1. Introduction

Brighton and Hove City Council has responsibility for nearly 400 children in the care system. These children come into care for a variety of reasons e.g. due to a parent's illness or as a result of a crisis within the child's family but many do so because they have suffered from neglect or some form of abuse.

The Council believes that it is in the best interests of these children to place them in a caring and supportive family environment with foster carers rather than accommodating them in residential care. It also believes that, wherever possible, these children should be fostered locally so that they can maintain contact with their family and friends and their schooling is not disrupted.

In order to be able to support this strategy effectively the Council needs to be able to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of foster carers. However, this has proved difficult to achieve and therefore there is a constant and pressing need for the Council to recruit more foster carers, particularly from within the local area.

In view of this situation, the Council wishes to actively encourage and support those of its employees who may wish to become foster carers as well those who are already approved foster carers for the Authority.

In some instances people find it difficult to become or remain foster carers because of problems over release from their employment.

The aim of this Policy is to enable these employees to better balance their work commitments with their foster caring responsibilities by maximising the flexibility available to them.


2. Scope

This Policy applies to all Council employees except those directly employed by schools. In the case of schools, governing bodies will need to decide whether to adopt the Policy locally.


3. Qualifying Criteria

The provisions of this Policy will apply to Council employees who are either applying to become a foster carer or are already an approved foster carer for Brighton and Hove City Council or Barnardo's Brighton and Hove Link Plus Service.

The Policy does not cover employees who are applying to become, or are an established foster carer with another local authority, independent fostering agency or voluntary sector fostering organisation.


4. Eligibility for BHCC Employees to become a Foster Carer with the Council

Although the Council welcomes applications to become foster carers from its employees, there will be certain groups of employees who, regrettably, will not be permitted to become foster carers for Brighton and Hove City Council or Barnardo's Brighton and Hove Link Plus Service due to the nature of their work.

Principally, this will affect those who work in the children and families social care service and who have direct involvement in the planning and decision-making for looked after children. For these individuals, it is considered that there is the potential for a conflict of interest between their professional role and that of a foster carer. A conflict of interest in these circumstances could jeopardise the primary interests of looked after children and therefore must be avoided.

However, the Council will encourage these employees to apply to foster for a neighbouring local authority, national voluntary agency or independent fostering agency outside the Brighton and Hove area and in these particular cases the terms of this Policy will apply to those employees.

Applications from employees in other sections of Children's Services will be considered where there is a consensus of opinion between the employee, line manager and service manager for fostering/permanence that there would be no conflict of interest.

For further details please contact the Head of Fostering and Adoption.


5. Types of Fostering

The provisions of this Policy will apply to all types of fostering ranging from short breaks for week-end respite care through short-term, task-focussed fostering to long-term and permanent fostering arrangements.


6. Expectations of Managers and Employees

The Council recognises that foster carers will often have needs for additional time off work as an integral part of successful fostering.

Managers are, therefore, required to be sympathetic to the needs of foster carers. This means being receptive to requests for flexible working arrangements and accommodating these where there is no major detrimental effect on the service (see also the Council's Flexible Working Policy). It also means being sympathetic to any request for time off work at short notice to deal with unplanned emergency situations affecting the foster child(ren) in the employee's care.

For their part, employees are expected to minimise their requests for leave under this Policy. This means that employees should seek to arrange meetings, home visits, training sessions etc, in their own time i.e. outside their normal working hours or on non-working days.

Where this is not possible then the employee should make a request for leave as far in advance as possible in order to enable cover arrangements to be made.

Where it is envisaged that work difficulties may arise, advice should be sought from the Head of Fostering and Adoption, who will consult Human Resources. Where necessary the Council will consider giving additional support to the line manager.


7. Evidence of Entitlement

Employees wishing to take leave under this Policy must produce written evidence to their manager to show that they are actively applying to become a foster carer or that they are already an established foster carer.


8. Leave Provisions

Leave for prospective foster carers

An employee who is applying to become an approved foster carer may be granted up to a maximum of 3 days leave with pay (pro rata for part-time/part-year or job-sharing employees) to attend any meetings, home visits, mandatory training etc. as part of the preparation and assessment process.

Where a couple are applying to become foster carers, and both are employees of the Council, the leave entitlement will apply to each partner.

Employees who are applying to become approved adopters with the Council will also be entitled to the leave provisions specified above (see also the Council's Adoption Leave guidance).

Leave for approved foster carers

Employees who are approved foster carers may be granted up to a maximum of 5 days paid leave (pro rata for part-time/part-year or job-sharing employees) in any leave year to enable them to attend the required training courses, review meetings etc. in connection with the child(ren)'s placement.

Where a couple are approved foster carers, and both are employees of the Council, the leave entitlement will apply to each partner.

The entitlement to leave is the same irrespective of whether more than one child is being fostered.

Leave in excess of this entitlement will be at the discretion of the employee's manager having regard to the circumstances of the particular case and the requirement to deliver an efficient and effective service. Such leave will be unpaid.

Leave for approved foster carers - emergency situations

Where an approved foster carer is required to deal with an emergency situation in connection with the foster child(ren), he/she may make a request for discretionary special leave (see the Council's Discretionary Special Leave Policy). Managers will be sympathetic to such requests. In difficult cases, advice should be sought from the Head of Fostering and Adoption.

Leave for approved foster carers - planned carer commitments

Employees are expected to use annual leave or flexi-leave to cover known carer commitments.


9. Cessation of Entitlement to Leave

Entitlement to leave under this Policy will cease immediately in the following circumstances:

  • The employee's application to become a foster carer is rejected;
  • The employee's "approved" status as a foster carer is withdrawn for whatever reason;
  • The employee ceases to act as a foster carer either on a temporary or permanent basis for whatever reason;
  • The foster child(ren)'s placement with the employee ends for whatever reason.

An employee who claims falsely that they are entitled to leave under this Policy will render themselves liable to disciplinary action.


10. Monitoring

Managers must record all foster carers' leave granted on the weekly/monthly absence return to facilitate corporate monitoring of the effectiveness of this policy.

End