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Strategy October 2021

Strategy Members

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

 

Mark Mirfin Introduction

Mark introduced himself to the group and the foster carers introduced themselves and let Mark know the children who they are currently caring for. Mark is the senior manager for children and young people in  provider services. Julie’s role was too large and blanketed parts of the service too much, the role needed to be more focused to increase capacity for children in care.

Mark has accumulated a large array of experience within childrens services and has spent time in the disabled childrens team and has also had experience in MASH, adoption, SEND and adult social care. He added cheerfully that he enjoys most social work. Mark and his wife are also foster carers for North Yorkshire and later adopted their foster child. Mark is looking forward to working with Emma and Neil.

 

Janet is to be invited to the next meeting to discuss what it is like to be on the ground in fostering.

 

There is currently one head of service in social care who is Vivian Lines. Currently covers everything which is too big a role for one person. Only the urgent matters get focused upon and other things don’t necessarily get the attention they deserve. The service is keen to recruit more carers and it considering developing residential childrens home. Its all looking really positive.

 

Good News Stories

 

Emma started this section by announcing she is going to have an overview rather than getting too involved in the small things and aren’t significant. She wants to look ahead and has a great vision for fostering and is really proud of the service.

 

Last week was practice week which involve a full week where the service looked at practice with the Social Workers and Independent Reviewing Officers. The meeting involved many challenges but also many positives.

 

Cathy mentioned good appointments with new social workers such as Harriet Hobbs who has done lots of transitional work. Support and attachment is being considered a lot more.

 

Discussions were also made around the reassessment process. Which many in the service have noticed has no real structure. The process needs to be looked at with an end goal, learning circles around what needs to be approved are due to occur.  Phil announced that a redesign is underway around the form F used for reassessment. One idea was that two forms could be made to suit each individuals’ circumstances. Perhaps a simplistic one and a more complex one. It was acknowledged that the form needs to be more generic than what it was. The working circle for this will include both social workers and foster carers.

 

Dave added that his child in care has transitioned to school and has done amazing. The young lady in his care with special needs has transitioned to mainstream and the young man in his care in doing amazing in education and is showing signs of being really bright. Communication has been much better in regard to the education plan.

 

Ali reported on a really successful support group that took place in north. Despite the fuel crisis there was good uptake in the face-to-face meeting and people were happy to be back together.

 

PJ shared that she was invited to one of her ex-foster children’s blessing for their own child!

 

Phil reported that recruitment is getting a better response for teenage recruitment. 6 people have show interest in September and 4 are to be further explored. 27 carers are also investigation to become foster carers.

 

Giving Notice

 

Sharon Bowring-Park then entered the meeting to discuss giving notice. Sharon is team manager for children in care in the South. Sharon asked when should carers give notice to quit, when should carers ask for a child to be moved. What is defined as a placement breakdown.

 

Emma commented that she would urge no carer to give immediate notice, the expectation is to give at least 28 days’ notice and would always encourage carers to contact Amanda’s team who are also available on weekends.

 

Cathy added that whenever a placement is feeling rocky, support will be put into place to prohibit a breakdown from occurring. Even the most experienced carers sometimes struggle.

 

Kim added that she had a difficult placement who was attacking her biological child but never did she consider just handing over the child.

 

The foster carers added that a short stay location isn’t always included in a plan. Burn out may have a significant effect upon carers which later leads to breakdowns as they have not had time to rest. Foster carers feel as though they need to be listened too. Many  carers also suffer from slow burnouts as they don’t want to admit that they are struggling. This sort of behaviour needs to be recognised by people working with the carer.

 

Any Other Business

 

Emma finished the meeting by reminding carers that Christmas is fast approaching and asked carers to have a think about what they would like their areas to do this year.