Skip to content

Statement of purpose


Published

Last Updated

Introduction

Devon County Council (DCC) believes that most children’s needs are best met within their own families. However, we recognise that it is not possible for some children to remain with their own family and in such cases we will endeavour to find high quality local homes within a family setting.

Fostering Devon provides such alternative care arrangements and offers alternative family environments for children and young people up to 18 years old, either on a temporary or permanent basis. In addition, Fostering Devon actively supports ‘Staying Put’ arrangements for young people over the age of 18 remaining with their foster families.

The principles underpinning Devon Fostering Service are the Children Act 1989 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Fostering Devon is governed by a set of National Minimum Standards 2011 and Regulations for Fostering Services 2011, amendments 2013. We are regulated and inspected by Ofsted under their single inspection framework for Childrens Services

As part of that legislation, Fostering Devon is required to produce “a clear statement of the aims and objectives of the fostering service and of what facilities and services they provide”. This statement of purpose must outline the vision of the service, its structure, the identified needs and our policies and procedures.

A children’s guide is available for all young people fostered through our service and includes details of our service and information for young people to help them get the best out of their care, including how to access an advocate and how to make a complaint.

We have three main offices bases situated at:

  • County Hall – Exeter.
  • Follaton House – Totnes.
  • Taw View – Barnstaple.

The team structure and staffing of the service can be seen at the end of this page. Staff can be contacted through calling 01392 383000 and asking for the staff member’s name in person.

Fostering Devon is signed up, and committed to supporting the foster carer charter. It sets out what foster carers can expect from the fostering service and what the fostering service can expect from foster carers. Fostering Devon support the children in care pledge.

You can contact Fostering Devon direct on 0345 155 1015. Email:foster@devon.gov.uk or contact DCC customer services in a number of ways:

  • you can do it in person
  • at any reception point
  • to a member of staff who provided the service to you or their manager
  • to your local county councillor
  • via email: customer@devon.gov.uk
  • write a letter to: Devon County Council, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX2 4QD

You can also contact Ofsted on 0300 123 1231. Alternatively, you can write to them at: Picadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester, M1 2WB or email enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk

Aims and objectives

The aim of Fostering Devon is to provide foster families that offer a stable and consistent experience of family life to Devon’s looked after children and young people.

This service aims to train and develop foster carers to deliver therapeutic parenting to heal traumatised children and young people.

The fostering service support and contributes to this mission by providing an effective, efficiently managed, high quality foster care service within available resources, to meet the needs of children identified through the stages of assessment planning and review, and aims to ensure the best possible outcomes for children in foster care.

The fostering service has a key role in supporting Devon County Council as corporate parent for children who cannot live with their own families and for whom it shares parental responsibility.

Devon County Council upholds the right of every child to grow up in a stable and loving family environment. We recognise that a child’s best interests are usually met within their birth family or extended family. Mindful of this we provide services to keep children at home or reunite children with their families at the earliest appropriate opportunity.

Where a child or young person cannot live with their family, we aim to provide high quality care in a family setting. We are committed to supporting permanence plans for young people and ensuring placement stability through a strengths based culture of therapeutic and restorative care.

Devon Fostering Service makes an important contribution to the Council’s overall performance agenda.

Core aims

Core aims are to:

  • provide looked after children with a safe, stable and nurturing family environment which will promote their health, educational achievement and wellbeing
  • meet the requirements of the Fostering Service Regulations 2011, Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 and accompanying schedules 1- 8
  • meet the national minimum standards for Fostering Services and other good practice standards
  • have in place a recruitment strategy, which ensures that a range of foster placements are available to meet the needs of all children requiring foster care and to develop any identified gaps in recruitment
  • target recruitment to those prospective foster carers most likely to meet the needs of children in care
  • work within the placement team to identify suitable placements in response to placement requests
  • ensure that prospective foster carers from all backgrounds are welcomed without prejudice regardless of ethnic origin, faith, age, sexual identity, gender, disability, background, marital or employment status, and considered on their individual merits
  • ensure that the recruitment process is respectful, fair, and timely
  • ensure that the preparation process prepares foster carers as well as possible for the care of children in care
  • engage in child centred matching, introduction, and placement processes
  • develop working partnerships that are inclusive of children and young people, their families, foster carers, and children’s social workers
  • make a commitment to ongoing training and leaning for foster carers, and supervising social workers and fostering staff within the service
  • offer responsive and trauma informed support to foster placements to promote stability and enrich lives

Core objectives

Core objectives are to:

  • provide high quality care in a family setting which enables children and young people to explore and reach their full potential
  • recruit foster carers who will respect and promote children and young people’s ethnic, cultural, faith/religious, sexual identify, gender
    and linguistic backgrounds
  • recruit more foster carers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds so that Fostering Devon can offer appropriate placements to children and young people
  • inform future recruitment strategies by an analysis of current and future needs of relevant children in need
  • continue to provide a high-quality service that values diversity
  • ensure that applications to become a foster carer are processed in a timely manner from the point of contact to approval following fostering panel recommendation, as appropriate
  • ensure that all foster carers, including family and friends, are aware of both the role and support function of supervising social workers
  • ensure that staff across children’s service work together to provide the best possible service that is child-centred and supportive of families and foster carers
  • provide a smooth, transitional service for young people moving into adulthood
  • review and update policies, procedures and appropriate processes to ensure they meet statutory requirements and reflect best practice
  • develop and maintain quality, comprehensive training
  • offer a payments structure that rewards carers for the care they offer and rewarding their commitment to building their knowledge and skills base through training and building their resilience through their contribution to support groups

Principles and standards of care

Fostering Devon’s work is underpinned by the following standards:

  • Children are best cared for in a stable and caring family setting which encourages and promotes continuing links with their own family and community.
  • Children have the right to be safe, secure and protected. Fostering Devon have a clear policy against corporal punishment, including smacking, slapping, shaking and all other humiliating forms of treatment or punishment.
  • Children have the right to be listened to and treated equally and fairly. Fostering Devon will actively engage children and young people in decisions affecting them and in the general operation of our services.
  • Fostering Devon will aim to adhere to the requirements of the pledge developed by Devon’s children in care.
  • Every child is valued for who they are. Fostering Devon will make every effort to provide children with suitable placements and carers will support and promote a child’s sense of identity, self-respect and diversity
  • Children’s growth and development will be safeguarded within a robust care planning cycle. Foster carers, supervising social workers and children’s social workers will work together in partnership to enable children to reach their full potential.
  • Fostering Devon values the work foster carers do and the contribution they make to the lives of children and young people. Foster carers are part of the professional network who support and protect the child.
  • Fostering Devon will provide appropriate levels of support and supervision. We are committed to the ongoing professional development of carers and will review training provision on a regular basis.
  • Fostering Devon will make every effort to maintain children in the same school.

Services provided

This section outlines the services currently provided by Fostering Devon. Fostering Devon provides support to all foster carers and specialist provision such as child and parent, Devon Young Peoples Accommodation Service, family and friends and remand. Supervising social workers provide assistance in maintaining placements through the recruitment, approval and training of new foster carers and the ongoing training, support and review of existing carers. These carers are also supported by the childrens placement support work team who provide planned time limited therapeutic support and crisis support to improve placement stability.

Mainstream foster placements

Devon Fostering Service offers respite, temporary, permanent and emergency placements in our three mainstream support teams for children and young people of all ages. All carers are rewarded appropriately for the care they offer coupled with a reward element for attending training and support groups. This strengthens carers knowledge base and resilience.

Kinship - connected persons

Kinship care foster care is when close relatives of a child – grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers  step-parents or a person known to the child – comes forward to care for that child when he or she is no longer able to live with his or her birth parents and the local authority have been involved in making the arrangements.

The connected person who offer this type of care, want to ‘keep the family together’. Being a kinship carer also helps children and young people keep in contact with their wider family. They make a major commitment when offering the child a home for as long as she/he needs it.

Children tell us they prefer to be cared for within their own family or with people they know when they can’t live with their parents. They feel more secure and feel they ‘belong’.

If relatives do not come forward, then the child would need to come in to the care of the local authority. They may then be looked after by foster carers, placed in residential care, or adopted.

Temporary approval of families and friends as foster carers is delivered by Fostering Supervising Social Workers within the family and friends/special guardianship service. This service has been strengthened recently with the establishment of a friends and family / special guardianship service managed by a County Manager and a new management structure and additional family practitioner posts. Fostering Devon then provides long term support from supervising social workers within our service.

PACE Service

Being held in a police station is often a traumatic experience for any young person or child. Therefore, Fostering Devon have introduced a scheme whereby a carer is available to provide a safe and supportive placement to avoid a child being in a police cell overnight. The carers can then support the child the following day in court if required.

Fostering for permanence

Permanence in fostering offers the security of a child’s physical, social and psychological well-being throughout childhood and into adulthood through consistent care, stable relationships and a secure family base.

It improves placement stability, and offers an alternative permanent option to adoption, special guardianship or residence orders for some children. Devon is committed to increase the number of carers offering permanence and is currently working on simplifying its processes as well as recruiting more carers who can offer permanence.

Our aim is to:

  • ensure better planning and matching for all permanent placements
  • reduce the risk of children drifting in the system
  • improve children’s outcomes by increasing placement stability
  • involve carers in making positive decisions about the children they care for
  • encourage carers to plan for placements and not just react to demands
  • improve foster carer recruitment and retention

DYPAS - Devon Young Peoples Accommodation Service

The role of DYPAS supported lodgings hosts are to provide vulnerable young people aged 16+ with a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment and individual care. It recruits from a variety of backgrounds and assesses and approves its own carers.

They welcome young people as part of their family, give advice and guidance, help them access community activities and services, and generally assist them in preparing for independent living.

Child and parent

The Child and Parent Service is a provision that undertakes specialist parenting assessments within parent and child ‘fostering arrangements’ where it is deemed necessary for a parent(s) and child(ren) to be in a fostering family based environment for the purpose of assessment, observation and support.

The service endeavours:

  • to reduce delay in the achievement of permanency for children
  • to enable parents to continue to parent their children in a safe environment with a view to supporting and encouraging them to develop a better understanding of their child’s needs and how to adequately meet these independently and on a consistent basis
  • to test out parenting ability in a more natural setting
  • to avoid repeat assessments being requested or the need for s38.6 assessments
  • to maintain parents and their children close to their local community and families
  • to provide an objective level of independence with evidence based parenting assessments for the court arena

Short breaks (respite) care

Devon County Council Fostering Service offer a range of short break foster placements. These are offered to support children to remain with their family or main foster placement.

Recruitment, assessment and approval process

All fostering social workers undertaking carer assessments have a social work qualification and receive training in the assessment process. This, alongside an established structure for assessment using a competency-based model, assists in maintaining agreed standards and a consistency of approach.

Recruitment and approval process

Prospective foster carers from all backgrounds who can offer children a stable home will be welcomed without prejudice. They will be treated fairly and with respect and kept informed throughout the process. Fostering Devon undertakes regular needs-analysis of children in care to identify future needs and inform the recruitment process.

The dedicated assessment team manage the recruitment and assessment of potential carers. The following flowchart provides an overview of our recruitment and approval process. Fostering Devon aims to make an initial visit and decide whether prospective carers should be assessed within 10 days of receipt of the enquiry. From initial enquiry to approval the normal recruitment process should take approximately six months.

Enquiry and telephone discussion. Initial visit Formal application, checks and references begin Stage 1 of process Skills to Foster preparation course Coram BAAF* Form F Assessment, Stage 2 of process , Devon Fostering Panel Recommendation to Agency Decision Maker, final approval.

Training for foster carers

Fostering Devon recognises that fostering has become increasingly demanding and complex. The service is committed to providing good quality training that is accessible and relevant to all foster carers. Training is viewed as an important element of support to foster carers and comprehensive pre and post approval training is available on an ongoing basis.

Training is provided to:

  • help foster carers to develop and improve their skills
  • improve knowledge, develop and refine skills
  • establish an explicit, positive framework of values, which promotes equality of opportunity
  • encourage foster carers to be aware of the effects of discrimination in all parts of the community, recognising that they care for children, many of whom face discrimination as a part of everyday life
  • ensure that all foster carers are competent and confident in safe caring and in protecting children from harm
  • develop the therapeutic parenting skills of foster carers through training on attachment and utilising PACE techniques (playfulness, acceptance, curiosity and empathy)
  • help foster carers to actively promote the health and education of children and young people

Foster carers are rewarded and supported to take responsibility for their own professional development. Children and young people have the opportunity to feed back their views about their carer to the foster carer’s annual review which influences the training offered.

The training programme is comprehensive and includes face to face training, online training, learning seminars, book clubs and access to training from the Social Work Academy and the Safeguarding Partnership.

In addition to being expected to complete the mandatory training courses, all foster carers must complete the training standards and development for Foster Carer training, support and development. New foster carers must complete the standards within a year of approval.

Fostering Devon is providing a range of support to ensure that foster carers can achieve this, such as workshops and mentoring from other carers.

Support for foster carers

Fostering Devon values the work foster carers do and the contribution they make to the lives of children and young people in their care. Appropriate support for foster families is important to a successful placement.

Fostering Devon provides creative and flexible support arrangements for children and young people and their foster carers. Identifying and ensuring the necessary level of support occurs when a child or young person and foster family are ‘matched’ at the placement planning stage. This support is then monitored and adjusted throughout the placement.

Support arrangements include:

  • supervision and support from a qualified and suitably experienced supervising social worker
  • frequent visits and regular telephone contact from the supervising social worker
  • individual membership of FosterTalk
  • a highly competitive and simplified fees and allowances structure. The fostering payments booklet is updated annually and is available on the DCC website in the approved carers zone
  • a comprehensive post-approval training programme
  • access to short breaks (respite) care when assessed as needed
  • access to support groups
  • therapists from the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services team, who provide expert guidance and support to foster carers of children and young people who are experiencing serious emotional difficulties. Individual therapy is offered where appropriate
  • access to the designated nurse for children in care
  • access to promoting stability workers who are available to provide planned therapeutic support and crisis intervention with the use of Dyadic Developmental Practice as the overarching therapeutic model. This includes a duty line which is available 9am to 10 pm weekdays and 1.00pm to 10.00pm on weekends
  • peer guide support
  • strategy group
  • foster carer conference
  • gala dinner
  • fostering network 2018 – award winning fostering walks
  • virtual support groups – ‘i-support.
  • Educational Psychologist support line for UASC carers and social workers.
  • access to independent support through FISS (Foster Carers Independent Support Services) if an allegation is made against the carer.

Review of foster carers

Fostering Devon has a detailed procedure for completion of reviews of foster carers, which reflects the law, regulations, National Minimum Standards and good practice guidance.

Foster carer reviews follow an appraisal format, assessing the carer’s competencies and training needs. Prior to the review, the views of social workers, foster carers and children who have been in placement, including their parents, are sought. Foster carer reviews take place annually. However, in certain situations, Fostering Devon may choose to bring forward an earlier review.

Listening to foster carers

Fostering Devon has a range of mechanisms designed to elicit feedback from foster carers. The foster care strategy group and peer guides meets monthly and gives foster carers the opportunity to contribute to service development and meet with representatives from across the department. Foster carers are regularly invited to join working groups including leaving care and life long links.

Feedback questionnaires are sent to foster carers periodically. Feedback is also sought as part of the foster carer review process. Foster carers are required to complete quality assurance questionnaires at reviews. Feedback is discussed at management meetings and at foster panel first reviews and is utilised to improve practice.

Keeping children safe

Fostering Devon works hard to ensure that children in foster care stay safe and are aware of their rights. The right to be safe, secure and protected and the requirement for adults to listen and for young people to be treated equally and fairly are fundamental principles. Procedures are in place to ensure that foster carers have sufficient information about every child in their care, to enable them to keep children safe and meet all their needs.

Fostering Devon has a robust system for checking prospective carers’ backgrounds and their suitability to care for vulnerable children. Elements of child protection and how to provide a safe caring environment are reinforced throughout assessment, approval and training for foster carers. All placements have a safer caring agreement in relation to the household and each individual child in placement.

Fostering Devon has a policy against corporal punishment including smacking, slapping, shaking and all other humiliating forms of treatment or punishment. Fostering Devon also have guidelines for the acceptable use of sanctions within the home. Every complaint against a carer is treated seriously and are subject to services for children and young people’s complaints and representations procedure.

All allegations that carers have abused or ill treated a child in their care are subject to Child Protection procedures, in compliance with the Children Act 1989. The supervising social worker will continue to offer support to the foster carer through any process of investigation into an allegation or complaint.

Foster carers are trained to recognise incidents of bullying and work with children and significant people such as their social worker, teachers or family to resolve any problems.

Carers and social workers are trained and informed of developments in practice and understanding of CSE and county lines.

Listening to children and young people

Fostering Devon believes that the voice of the child needs to be heard and is a core principle of the service.

The matching process seeks to take into account the views of young people and their families when identifying a suitable placement.

Children and young people’s views about the standard of their care are sought as part of the statutory review process. As standard practice, reviews are shared with supervising social workers.

Children have direct feedback into the foster carer’s annual review about the quality of service they receive and any issues they may have.

Complaints

We believe that service users, their carers and their families have the right to express their views and make complaints, suggestions or representations about the services that are arranged and delivered, and that by doing so we can improve quality and effectiveness.

Suggestions and complaints are viewed as a positive means of ensuring the quality of service is reviewed, both at a local level and through the formal complaints procedure.

A complaint is a verbal or written expression of dissatisfaction or disquiet.

It may be about the organisation, about the implementation of decisions about the quality or appropriateness of services, or their delivery or non-delivery. Fostering Devon has its’ own Fostering complaints policy which is available on our website in our approved carers zone.

Representations include enquiries, suggestions and statements about such matters as the availability, delivery and nature of services and will not necessarily be critical.

The complaints procedure is provided to all staff and foster carers. You can contact the Customer Service Team:

Customer Relations Team
Room 120
County Hall
Topsham Road
Exeter
EX2 4QD

Telephone: 0800 212 783
Fax:01392 382577
email:customer.relations@devon.gov.uk
web:devon.gov.uk/feedback

The website describes how to make a complaint and specifies how complaints are handled. Information is also provided on other avenues of complaint where appropriate. The complaints procedure is accessible to people with a disability or sensory or learning impairment and to those whose first language is not English.

Useful contacts

Further information about fostering can be found at the following websites: