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Strategy: 10 May 2021

if you require previous minutes please contact Emma Moore at Emma.Moore@Devon.gov.uk

Strategy members

Terminology and Language

The meeting began with discussion around the use of terminology and language in the service. “Respite” is of particular concern due to the connotations associated with the word. Emma explained to Strategy members that managers and their teams had been toying with the word respite. Suggested replacements include ‘sleep over’, ‘short break’ and ‘short stay’. The selected word needs to be a terminology that’s easily understood, specific and unique to the fostering service.

Children were consulted during a language group around the word respite and they did not approve of its usage. Jo informed the group that the assessment team are reluctant to use the term short breaks as it is often a term used for children with disabilities. Respite also implies that the carers need a break from the child.

Emma requested that carers think about which term can be used rather than respite, considering the effects it’ll have upon a child. She prompted carers to ask older children what they remember respite being called previously.

Emergency Bed Update

Emma then notified carers around the Emergency Bed Policy. There are no emergency beds across Devon for children in crisis. The previous Emergency Bed Policy that Luke made hadn’t worked as well as anticipated. Emma and the managers have rewritten the Emergency Bed Policy and have changed it from a single night stay to 7 nights and 8 days. This allows children to settle; and for colleagues to workout the best arrangement for them.

The scheme has an attractive package offered to those who become emergency bed carers.

  • 2 weeks at an enhanced rate.
  • 2 weeks off £150 retainer each week.

The role will require carers to take any placement that they are given.

The service is looking for carers without any other young people. The policy is going to senior management for discussion. There will also be an article in the newsletter to beckon carers. The service would like 8 sets of foster families. A child may not stay with their emergency carer the full week due to successful planning and having an early move and find viability with a family member or a foster family. The scheme will work from a rota, the service needs to start from somewhere and trail it, it will be a case of learning and adapting.

Supervising Social Workers will be informed of the policy.

Emma asked carers to ask if anyone is interested in the scheme.

Fostering Fortnight and the State of The Nations Survey

The group were then notified about the upcoming advert on Radio Exe in the upcoming two weeks. The advert seeks to recruit carers that care for teenagers. It features the voices of children who have had positive outcomes from their fostering experience. Emma Moore sent the Strategy team members the audio of the advert and it received positive feedback.

Emma also requested that foster carers fill in the State of the Nations Survey.

30 Pound Allowance

There has been much confusion around the £30 allowance. There was an incident where a foster child did not receive their £30 allowance which resulted in a stressful experience for both them and their carer. Emma gave her apologies and reassured carers she would look into this. The following was later published by Emma Nobes.

“Some of you may have heard P & T are revising the Care Leavers Finance Policy.  Gemma Wilson – Area Manager for P & T has asked me to share the following information:-

As part of the review, we have had to make one change that has come into immediate effect:

Young people under 18 in foster care placements and residential care will no longer receive £30 per week personal allowance. This payment is for young people in care who are placed in supported (16+) accommodation ONLY.

Young people under 18 in foster care placements and residential care receive pocket money at the rates defined within the fostering allowances.

We appreciate that this may not be a popular change, but we feel that these payments create a significant disparity between what our young people in supported accommodation receive, compared to those in residential or foster care placements.

This message was originally sent out to teams a bit earlier in the year, but we are aware that this may not have been shared across the piste. To be clear, those with current “live” arrangements will continue, no new requests for personal allowance for those in foster care and residential placements. There may be anomalies and certain special arrangements that need individual consideration, and these should be raised with Cathy Attfield or I.

I appreciate this won’t affect many of you as you are looking after younger children and young people; if you are looking young people this will affect, please can discuss this with your Supervising Social Worker as the changes will need carefully communicating with young people

Skills Audit

Emma briefly informed carers on the Skills Audit. The Skills Audit will help assist the service with careful matching for foster children and carers based on their foster carers skills, likes, hobbies ect.

Internet Access

Carers then voiced their concern around internet access. Carers spend much of their time safeguarding children without considering the dangers of the virtual world that they often have unlimited access to.  Foster children are often expectant on having unlimited internet access during all hours, this can prove challenging for foster carers who can’t monitor everything a foster child is doing on a device.The usage of phones and internet should be discussed at placement planning meetings – does a policy need to be put into place? Many in the meeting argued this needs to be done by a case by case basis and needs to be negotiated as and when problems occur. We also need to consider what would we do if it were our own child and take into consideration what schools do around internet access and what policies they have in place