Training and Development of Foster Carers
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter explains the purpose and duties of the Fostering Service to provide appropriate training and development to foster carers.
1. Introduction and Legal Framework
Foster carers should receive effective training and supervision in respect of the specific and complex needs of children, to ensure that placements are more effective and stable as a result. Foster carers should achieve the training, support and development standards in foster care within one year of approval, or within 18 months if they are family and friends carers.
The TSD Standards support the Training Framework for Foster Care, which sets out the training and development pathways for foster carers at different stages of their fostering career: Pre-approval, Induction and Foster Carer Development. The Fostering Regulation 2011 require a fostering service to "provide foster carers with, training, advice, information and support...as appears necessary in the interests of the children placed with them". The Statutory Guidance on Fostering says that foster carers should be supported to maintain an ongoing training and development portfolio which demonstrates how they are meeting the skills required of them. Foster carers should be able to evidence the fostering Training Development Standards (TSD) within the specified timescales. Standard 20 of the National Minimum Standards for Fostering 2011 (NMS) expands on this further and requires:
- Foster carers to have personal development plans which set out how they will be supported to undertake ongoing training and development;
- That personal development plans are reviewed, and the effectiveness of training and development is evaluated;
- That training is available to all foster carers, including harder to reach carers, that assist them to meet the specific needs of children they are caring for;
- That appropriate training on safeguarding is provided to all members of the fostering household including children who are of sufficient age and understanding;
- That all training fits within a framework of equal opportunity and anti-discriminatory practice.
2. Types of Training and Learning Opportunities
Foster carers will be provided with a wide variety of training and learning opportunities which are delivered in a variety of formats. There is an expectation that foster carers will access training provided by the Fostering Service.
- Formal training includes formal classroom or virtual training sessions with other foster carers and professionals and specific conferences and training course;
- Online training and distance learning includes online learning (e-learning) courses, information that foster carers have obtained via the internet and courses run by external organisations. This must be evidenced by certificates and through discussion with the supervising social worker on how it relates to their practice as a foster carer;
- Independent learning - includes reporting on the radio, TV or in newspapers that foster carers have listened to or read. This must be evidenced through discussion with the supervising social worker on how it relates to their practice as a foster carer;
- Support groups - support groups for foster carers provide a valuable opportunity for foster carers to meet together, share concerns and ideas and develop their learning;
- Specialist training – the Fostering Service will endeavour to offer training for foster carers looking after children with specific needs where this is required to care for the child or is beneficial to the child.
3. Evidencing Learning
All new foster carers must complete a workbook which shows evidence of their ability to meet the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care, Short Break Carers or for Family and Friends Foster Carers within 12 months of being approved (or within 18 months for Connected Persons foster carers (family and friends).
Two foster carers in the same house can use the same workbook.
Training will be geared towards each carer's needs.
The standards cover the main areas of the foster care role and what they should know, understand and be able to do.
This evidence will begin to be gathered before foster carers are approved, through the Skills to Foster course and will continue after foster carers are approved. All evidence will be recorded in a training and development portfolio.
There will be some standard training (core) that foster carers must attend. There will also be further training which may be identified by the Supervising Social Worker through supervision meetings and through annual appraisal.The foster carer's personal development plan will set out how they will be supported with training and development.
4. What happens if carers cannot complete within the timescales?
A minority of foster carers may need longer than twelve months to complete the TSD Standards, particularly in the following situations:
- Exceptional and unexpected personal circumstances such as bereavement, ill health and personal crisis;
- Difficulties with foster carers' literacy/language skills;
- A significant period of time without a placement;
- Complex placement issues such as disruption or allegation.
This is acceptable, although it is good practice to re-negotiate a time frame for completing the standards in these situations. It is advised to check whether the issues can be resolved by looking at different approaches. A proportionate and common sense approach should be considered where circumstances require it. The requirement for all carers to complete the TSD Standards within 12 months of approval is written into the National Minimum Standards 2011, and form part of Ofsted inspections. It is important to keep a record of any issues of noncompliance. The Fostering Service will need to determine policy where foster carers are unable or refuse to complete the TSD Standards.