Skip to main content
Redbridge Logo

Top of page

Size: View this website with small text View this website with medium text View this website with large text View this website with high visibility

4.6 Supervision and Support of Foster Carers


This procedure applies to all approved foster carers.


STANDARD 21 - Supervision and Support of Foster Carers



This chapter was updated in February 2020 to reflect in more detail the foster carer’s role and responsibilities with respect to Fostering National Minimum Standards – Notification of Significant Events (see Section 1, Introduction) and relevant aspects of Schedule 6 in The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 (see Section 2, Planned Supervision Visits).


  1. Introduction
  2. Planned Supervision Visits
  3. Frequency of Supervision
  4. Unannounced Visits
  5. Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker
  6. Tasks of Social Worker if Allegations are made Against the Carer

1. Introduction

All approved foster carers will have an allocated, suitably qualified supervising social worker. The allocated supervising social worker is responsible for supervising and supporting carers, ensuring that they have the necessary guidance, support and direction to maintain a quality service, including safe caring practices. This will include an understanding that they must work within the National Minimum Standards for Fostering and the agency's policies, procedures and guidance.

The supervising social worker must also ensure that the foster carers' training and development needs are identified, and that newly approved carers work towards completing the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers Workbook. They also have the responsibility to ensure foster carers are familiar and made aware of new policies and guidance.

The foster carer(s) should be fully aware of the Notification of Significant Events and the need to immediately report to their supervising social worker or Fostering Agency the following:

  • The Death of a Child;
  • A Serious illness or serious accident of a child placed with them;
  • The outbreak at the foster home of any infectious disease (which in the opinion of a general practitioner attending the home is sufficiently serious to be notified);
  • An allegation that a child placed with foster parents has committed a serious offence;
  • A child placed with them they have concerns about of being sexually exploited;
  • The Police calling to the foster carer’s home as a result of a serious incident relating to a child placed there;
  • A child placed with the foster carer(s) who has gone missing;
  • Any serious concerns about the emotional or mental health of a child, such that a mental health assessment would be requested under the Mental Health Act 1983.

The child’s allocated social worker should be contacted for specific advice or support in relation to the child and their Care Plan and Placement Plan.

2. Planned Supervision Visits

A programme of supervision visits should be set up and agreed between the foster carer and the supervising social worker from the time of the foster carer's approval, and endorsed by the supervising social worker's line manager.

Supervision is essentially a supportive and enabling two way process to:

  • Ensure the foster carers understand how they contribute to the local authority's services for children;
  • Enable foster carers to contribute effectively to the plans for the children for whom they are caring;
  • Provide appropriate monitoring and feedback on the foster carers' work to ensure National Standards for Foster Carers are fully met;
  • Complete personal development plans for each carer, which are linked to their training and their annual review;
  • Support foster carers by providing advice or making this available from elsewhere as appropriate;
  • Give foster carers an opportunity to raise any problems and make sure they are addressed appropriately;
  • Acknowledge the challenges and demands that the fostering tasks make on foster families and ensure appropriate support is available;
  • Recognise and address any difficulties the foster carers’ own children may be experiencing arising from fostering;
  • Assist foster carers to work in an anti-discriminatory way that respects and promotes individual differences.

The agenda for each meeting should cover:

  1. Matters arising from the last supervision;
  2. Personal issues, e.g. effect of a placement on the foster carer’s own family, changes in the carer’s situation and circumstances etc;
  3. Child/ren in placement:
    1. Their health, cultural, educational, leisure and contact needs - and any support needs;
    2. Progress and work with respect towards each child’s Care Plan;
    3. Any accidents, injuries and illnesses experienced by each child;
    4. Any complaints in relation to children placed with them and their outcomes;
    5. Any issues of control, restraint or discipline in relation to children placed with them;
    6. Any other significant events (see Section 1, Introduction);
    7. Any medication, medical treatment or first aid administered.
  4. Training/development issues for the foster carers and family;
  5. Safe caring and health and safety issues;
  6. Foster carer’s recording which is to be reviewed by the supervising social worker who should read and sign the foster carers' log sheets for each child in placement and collect these at the end of a placement to be returned to the child’s social worker for the child’s record.

The supervision visits should be recorded in writing and saved on the case management recording system. A record of all meetings should be kept on the foster carers' file and one copy given to the foster carers.

The supervision records will inform the Foster Carer’s review - see Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.

3. Frequency of Supervision

Supervision meetings will take place at intervals of not less than every month when a child is in placement or every two months in no child is in placement. Visiting frequency can be further reduced in line with the amendments to the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010.

However, the frequency of visits should always be determined by the circumstances of the case and the authority must arrange a visit whenever reasonably requested by a child or foster carer regardless of the status of the placement.

4. Unannounced Visits

There should also be unannounced visits at least once a year. If the circumstances of the case merit additional unannounced visits these should be if determined as necessary by the Fostering Service. The unannounced visits will be undertaken by the foster carers' supervising social worker who will need to complete a routine supervisory visit and ensure that at this visit that they see around the whole of the foster carers home and inspect the outside premises. Unannounced visits should take place even if there is not a child in placement  when there has been a long gap between placements. If the foster carers are not at home, the supervising social worker should leave a note for the foster carers to say that s/he has visited and make their own arrangements to undertake a visit shortly after. If the foster carers are not at home but the child is present and being looked after by someone else, the social worker should check the identity of that person but should not continue with the visit.

Unannounced visits should be recorded as a usual statutory supervising social work visit.

There should not ordinarily be a regular programme of unannounced visits without particular reason - for example if a foster carer is being closely monitored. In such an event the reason for such will be explained to the foster carer.

5. Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker

Supervising social workers should ensure the following tasks are done: 

Post Approval

  1. Ensure that all new carers complete the induction programme and that their support, development and training needs are assessed and met so that they meet the standards and achieve the TSD certificate of completion by their first annual review, or soon after if extra support is required;
  2. Give access to the online Foster Carers’ Handbook to new carer;
  3. Provide carers with a Welcome Pack including relevant information about Redbridge’s children services, the Fostering Service  and partner agencies, support  for foster carers both locally and nationally and a list of relevant contacts including how to access out of hours support;
  4. Give Foster Carer Agreement to the carer: 2 copies to be signed and one returned and placed on the carer’s file;
  5. Support carers with any specialist issues for disabled children for e.g. support in completing applications for Carers' Allowance, Disability Living Allowance etc.
  6. Establish that the carers have secure storage facility for confidential documents;
  7. Give the supervision agreement covering the arrangements for supervision between the foster carers and the Fostering Service: 2 copies to be signed and one returned and placed on the carers file.


  1. Complete risk assessments surrounding bedroom sharing (each child over 3 has their own bedroom or, where this is not possible, the sharing of the bedroom has been agreed by the placing authority), mixing with other children in home, etc. Discuss and check equipment (especially in the child's bedroom) and ensure it is appropriate to the age of the child in placement;
  2. Take part in discussions about potential placements;
  3. Take part in planning meetings regarding placements;
  4. Ensure that the child's social worker give the foster family full information about children about to be placed, including any abuse or neglect and the reason for the placement, the child’s educational, medical, religious, racial, linguistic and cultural needs;
  5. Discuss issues relevant to contact with birth parents and other family members;
  6. Discuss how child's health needs are promoted and how children should be encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle;
  7. Assist carers in dealing with other relevant services such as health and education;
  8. Discuss appropriate training to provide appropriate care when caring for children with complex health needs;
  9. Assist carer with training needs for appropriate safer care practice, including skills to care for children who have been abused. For foster carers who offer placements to disabled children, this includes training specifically on issues affecting disabled children;
  10. Discuss financial issues with the carer: allowances, pocket money, leisure activities, toiletries and travelling etc. and the importance of complying with the terms of the Council's insurance policy for carers;
  11. Enquire about holiday plans the carers have made, and if the child is able to join them? If not the carer must inform the child’s social worker so alternative arrangements can be made;
  12. Exchange contact numbers with all relevant members of the family, including out of hours support;
  13. That arrangements are made for the provision of specialist equipment for disabled children;
  14. Set date of first visit after the placement;
  15. Let the social worker for a child already in placement know when another child is placed;
  16. Provide carers with training and written policy on behaviour management.

During Placement

  1. Within 5 days of the placement been made  ensure that a Placement Planning Meeting is held and that foster carers receive further written information beyond that which was given at the start of the placement about the child placed;
  2. At the Placement  Planning Meeting discuss Delegated Authority issues and set a date for this to be reviewed with the child’s social worker, the child (if of an age and understanding to take part  the discussion) the birth family and the supervising social worker;
  3. Where necessary, check and follow up on all issues raised during the placement. Discuss any areas of concern with foster carers and ensure appropriate support/advice is addressed and reviewed with the carers and the child’s social worker;
  4. Provide foster carers with breaks from caring as appropriate, which must meet the needs of placed children;
  5. Take part in any Strategy Meetings and Section 47 Enquiry relating to the foster family. Be involved in interviews/support as agreed;
  6. Ensure the supervising social worker and the foster carers receive invitations to child’s Looked After Reviews and Child Protection Conferences, and attend when appropriate;
  7. Prepare for and attend Foster Carer Review Meetings (See Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure);
  8. Ensure training programme is updated and accessed by carers and carers’ family and children;
  9. Visit regularly to establish how the carers are helping each child in placement to meet their outcomes and achieve more in accordance with the Foster Carer’s needs, the child’s Care Plan and as required, (See also Section 3, Frequency of Supervision, and Section 4, Unannounced Visits);
  10. Review the Safer Caring Plan and any changes in household circumstances;
  11. Assess and review any health and safety issues within the fostering household including the addition of any new pets and the environment in which they are kept;
  12. Ensure the foster carer is keeping a memory box and details of the child’s stay with the carer which they can take with them when they leave the placement and that they undertake this task regardless of the child’s age;
  13. Review with the foster carers how they are enabling the child or young person to express their views, wishes and feelings including supporting them to provide feedback for their reviews;
  14. Support the carers and their family to support children through various transitions in their lives including preparing  children for  adoption, permanent fostering a return home or independence;
  15. Be alert to early warning signs of any placement stability issues and implement the placement stability procedure to minimise the risk of a placement breakdown;
  16. Make unannounced visits as required;
  17. Update Disclosure and Barring Service checks on members of the family every three years, including those reaching eighteen years of age, and other persons who come to live at the home, who are eighteen plus;
  18. Whilst there is no statutory time interval, as good practice medical information should also be updated at least every 3 years by writing to the foster carer’s GP. In the event of any serious concerns about the foster carers health, a review of the foster carers approval should be carried out immediately;
  19. Record contact with carers and provide carers with a copy of statutory supervisory visits;
  20. Provide reports for Panel as required under the relevant procedures;
  21. Where appropriate contribute to Court Reports as agreed with child’s social worker;
  22. Discuss how the carers can support young people into adulthood and be actively engaged in the Pathway Planning for young people.

At End of Placement

  1. Support the family as much as possible in what can be a very difficult time;
  2. Discuss fully with the carer and their family all the issues that have led to any unplanned end of a placement and identify any learning/training opportunities; for permanent placements support the carer to be involved in any subsequent disruption meetings and attend disruption meetings if required;
  3. Assist the foster carer to complete their end of placement report if required.

6. Tasks of Social Worker if Allegations are made Against the Carer

For the detailed procedure, see Allegations Against Foster Carers Procedure.

Where allegations regarding childcare or child protection are made, the supervising social worker should:

  1. Support the family;
  2. Discuss fully, with the carer and their family, all the issues that have led to the allegation, as agreed at the Strategy Meeting;
  3. Make the carers aware of the process and of their rights during any investigation and ensure that they have a copy of the council complaints procedure;
  4. Make the carer’s aware of their own possible conflict of interests and inform them of where they can seek alternative support and advice from the Fostering Network or other independent sources.