Many schools will have pupils living with Dorset Council approved foster carers, either on a short term basis or as a long term arrangement. Some of these foster carers may also be family members of the child, their grandparent or auntie. All approved foster carers must have their approval reviewed each year to satisfy Dorset Council that they are still suitable to foster, this is in accordance with the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011. This plays an important part in ensuring children are safe in the home they live in and that their wellbeing and development is being promoted there.
Dorset Council now has two Fostering Reviewing Officers (FRO) located in the Safeguarding and Standards Team. They are Stacey Harris and Fiona Darlington-Black. Stacey has a background in children’s services and child protection while Fiona’s background is in Fostering Services and ensuring children are safe in foster care.
The process of foster carer reviews involves gathering and analyzing evidence, comments and feedback from a variety of different sources to demonstrate a carer’s good practice, or to identify areas that need to change or be developed. These sources include the carer and child/young person, sometimes members of the child’s birth family, social workers and others involved in the child’s day to day life or the services that they access. The Fostering Team gather the feedback and the Fostering Reviewing Officer then considers it all, meets with the carer(s) to discuss their past year of fostering and the year ahead, including the quality of care, safeguarding and relationships provided to the child, the carer’s own development and training, the wider tasks of fostering such as working with others and with the child’s family and the quality of support they have received as foster carers.
Schools can have a very useful contribution to make to a foster carer reviews. They are in a position to comment on what they see of the day to day care the child is receiving, they can comment on how a foster carer interacts with school staff and how the carer is promoting the child’s learning and development. Children may tell school staff about their home life and relationships there and about their feelings. Even a small amount of feedback can be very helpful to the Fostering Reviewing Officer, it may confirm what someone else has commented on or add something extra to the Review information. Foster Carer Reviews, like staff appraisals are a time for noting and commending a foster carer’s good practice, progress and achievements. It may be the school’s feedback that provides evidence to support this.
The feedback form that you will see is called BAAF FR-F1 Other Professionals. The headings on the form for you to comment as briefly or in detail as you wish are:
• How has the foster carer met the health/education/other needs of the child in placement?
• Please comment on any strengths of the foster carer
• Please comment on any limitations of the foster carer or their household. Do you believe there are areas that the carer could benefit from additional advice or training?
• How well has the foster carer communicated with you/your organisation?
• Is there anything else you would like to say?
We very much look forward to receiving feedback from schools in the year ahead and value what that will bring to our foster carer’s reviews.