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Support is a key aspect of what we offer at Oak Fostering, all agencies offer support but we believe what we offer is different. The support we offer is tailor made in a way that works for the individual child and family and can include on call support, babysitting, day care and consistent planned respite.
All the support we offer to our carers and children is provided by people who know the children and have cared for them for significant periods of time. All members of the Oak Fostering team, from our manager and directors to the outreach workers, all know and have cared for the children we place. This means that the support we offer is based on direct, first-hand knowledge. We will spend time with you and the child and use the relationships we have to help tackle the difficulties that you and the child might be facing.
As an Oak Fostering carer you will also be part of our professional team and therefore have working relationships with those who are offering support to your placement. It won’t be a stranger on the end of the phone; it will be someone you know, who knows you and the child, someone who will be willing to offer moral support, advice and guidance or come out in person at any time of the day or night to be there with you.
We believe it is this level of support, knowledge and experience that gives carers the experience of not being alone and allows children to have a feeling of continuity and security.
We provide regular supervision with a qualified social worker, regular support groups and training and we also aim to create networks of carers who can informally support each other, who can meet socially and share experiences and knowledge further creating the feeling of being supported. We believe that if we support our carers in the right way, they in turn can support our children to thrive.
Full details can be found within our policies, including the ‘foster carer handbook’.
Below is a summary of some of the key areas of support we offer our carers.
Many agencies offer on call telephone support but we feel carers need more than this; we seek to give our carers a different experience, the experience of not being alone. We believe on call support should be someone who will come out to them if needed not just offer phone advice. Oak Fostering on call support will offer advice but also someone who will come out, no matter the time or day, and support carers and their foster child through the struggle they are facing.
Respite is not a term we like to use and it is certainly never used around children, however it is a commonly used term to describe rest breaks and so we use it in describing the rest periods we offer our carers.
Attachment is a key issue for the children placed with Oak Fostering carers and therefore time away from their carers has to be handled sensitively. However we do recognise the importance of rest periods and encourage carers to make good use of the rest periods we provide. At the point of placement we identify and introduce respite carers to gradually get to know the child and carers.
Once it is agreed that it is right to begin respite all carers are provided with up to two nights respite per month and this does not affect carers Foster Carer Fee. These breaks are planned in advance and will involve the child staying with known and regular respite carers to provide continuity. In addition to this monthly respite carers can request up to 5 nights break per year without the child. Any respite has to be based around the needs of the child in placement. It will only be agreed following a discussion with the SSW and allowing plenty of time for planning and preparation.
Oak Fostering recognise that it can be difficult to get some child free time as a parent, and even more so as a carer of a traumatised child. We understand that due to the behaviours presented by the child that babysitting resources may be limited. Therefore we provide a pool of people that carers can book to offer babysitting when they need it.
Oak Fostering carers are required to undertake regular formal training as part of their ongoing development. We place huge importance on this and feel that carers being equipped with skills, knowledge and ideas is a key way of sustaining placements. We also respect our carers as professionals and are therefore keen to support their development with a variety of courses and qualifications.
Throughout the assessment process and subsequent reviews carers and their Supervising Social Workers will have identified training and support needs and these will be pulled through into an annual performance and development plan. The plan is individual to the carer and the family but will cover mandatory training and further training that allows carers to best meet the needs of the child placed in their care.
In addition the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care (TSD) must be completed within the first 6 months of carer’s approval. Supervising Social Workers will assist carers in completion of the TSD standards and in supervisions they will ask for details of the progress being made towards completion; whilst support is given we will expect that carers can work independently and keep to timescales.
On completion of the TSD standards further training needs may be identified. At each review the Supervising Social Worker will provide details of the progress made and the training undertaken, failure to complete required training may affect ongoing approval.
We tailor make our service packages to meet the care plan needs of each child and the support needs of each foster family.
The Oak Fostering team each have a wealth of experience to bring with them to their roles.
Our application process is thorough in order to ensure that children are offered the best standard of care and that carers are fully prepared.