SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
Support care provides a series of planned short breaks for Children in Need including those with a Child Protection Plan, Adoption Support, Looked After Children who are placed with their parents and those placed with Connected People. Those children with a severe disability should be referred to the Shared Care Service.
Support Care is a short break fostering scheme. Its primary purpose is to maintain young people at home by helping to prevent family breakdown. It meets this aim by recruiting families and individuals as support carers who then offer a variety of flexible short breaks to children in need. The planned short breaks are usually over a nine month period and take place in the carer's own home, The ability to provide a variety of responses is reflected by the different types of referral directed to the team. Parent and adolescent conflict and children involved with CAMHS are the largest groups but sexual exploitation; ADHD and offending are also significant. The service operates under the Fostering service Regulations 2011 and children who have overnight stays are usually placed under Section 17 Children in Need, although a very small number may fit the criteria for Section 20 of the Children Act 1989.
2. Approval of Support Carers
Support Carers are the subject of the same assessment process as other foster carers and their approval is considered and reviewed at the Fostering Panel. The requirements for their approval are the same. See Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.
3. Accessing the Service
The need for the service is identified following an assessment of the child / young person by the child's Social Worker or Community Resource Worker. Referrals to Support care can be made directly to the service. The social worker making the referral should discuss this with the duty social worker in the Support Care Team and if it is felt to be appropriate the scheme will ask the social worker to complete a further information form. The referral then goes to a meeting to identify a suitable carer and discussions will take place with that carer, this is followed by a joint visit to the carer by the child's social worker and the Supervising social worker. The child's social worker would then arrange a visit for the child and their parent to the carer and then, if all are in agreement, arrange a placement agreement meeting, This can be on the same day as the family meeting (usually half an hour later) to reduce the amount of meetings and facilitate setting up the placement as quickly as possible. The appropriate forms are completed at this meeting
A review date would be set at the placement agreement meeting. The scheme will only accept a referral if there is a commitment by the child's social worker to continue support for the length of the agreement. The majority of placements are for nine months to one year.