Whilst children bring their own values and behaviours to placements, foster carers and residential staff play a key role in influencing children.
The culture of the home, generated by the carers/staff, is crucial. Foster carers/staff are expected to understand, manage and deal with young people's behaviour including encouraging children to take responsibility for their behaviour and help them to learn how to resolve conflict. A restrictive, unsupportive, discouraging and punishing culture will most often result in instability, hostility and possibly severe disruption.
All looked after placements should have clear, fair boundaries, where children feel safe, encouraged and appropriately rewarded, so that they will thrive and do well. Foster carers/staff who adopt this approach will also experience less instability and disruption.
Foster carers/residential staff should at all times endeavour to:
All foster carers should have a Safe Caring Plan for their own household. This should be explained to children, with the reasons for the rules and they should also know that that there are rules for everyone. They should not feel that they are being treated with less regard than other members of the household. Ideally these expectations should be known to children before they are placed.
Sanctions can be very effective but, before imposing them, think about it.
Some looked after children may have come to view themselves, and are viewed, as failures. They may have had enough of sanctions, sometimes imposed inconsistently or unfairly or as acts of revenge.
Before imposing sanctions, carers/residential staff should do all they can to support and encourage children to do well. If children do not behave acceptably, strategies should be adopted that are encouraging and rewarding.
Rather than noticing and sanctioning misbehaviour it is always better to notice and reward good behaviour - or any step in the right direction. For example, it may be more effective to allow a child to have use of a TV at bedtime for getting up on time; rather than taking the TV away for getting up late. Same deal, different meaning!
The former is discouraging and causes resentment; the latter is encouraging, can improve self esteem and relationships between children and carers.
Be creative, think outside the box!
If children continue to behave in unacceptable ways, they should be reminded about what is expected and given further encouragement to get it right. If misbehaviour persists or is serious, effective use of reprimands can act as a disincentive or firm reminder. If this does not work, or may not, sanctions may be effective.
Where sanctions are used they must be reasonable and the minimum necessary to achieve the objective. Also, there should be a belief that the sanction will have the desired outcome - increasing the possibility that acceptable behaviour will follow.
If sanctions are imposed, carers should apply the following principles:
The following sanctions are Non Approved, which means they may never be imposed upon children:
*The persons with whom the child may have contact, in relation to c. above, are:
Looked after children in a fostering household should be treated the same as the birth children of foster carers and sanctions should be no more or less than other children in the household. The following sanctions may be imposed upon children:
If a child receives a sanction it should be recorded by the foster carer/residential staff on their daily recording log.
Hull Fostering and Hull Children's Homes are committed to working together with each other and with children in a restorative way. Restorative Practice is a way to bring people together to build bridges with each other and to understand each other better. It has been shown to work in reducing bullying in schools, criminal behaviour in both children and adults and helps to resolve differences in families and groups of adults (including foster carers and other professionals) who have significant differences of opinion. It is based on the premise that everyone works better when we all can make positive change in our behaviour, if those in authority over us do things with us rather than do to us or for us.
Restorative or "family meetings" are sometimes convened by Fostering Team members when a child is unhappy with a specific aspect of their care or a where a foster carer/residential worker feels that their point of view is not being listened to in the plans for a child in their care, for example. This approach has been very successful in helping children stay in their foster placement after an argument or disruption.
Carers/residential staff are not permitted to conduct body searches, searches of clothing worn by children or of their bedrooms.
Should carers suspect that a child is carrying or has concealed an item which may place the child or another person at risk, they should try to obtain the item by co-operation/negotiation.
If carers/staff suspect that a child is concealing an item which may place themselves or another person at risk, they must notify the agency or, in an emergency, the Police.
Residential staff and foster carers in Hull are trained in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI and TCIF for foster carers). These techniques aim to avoid or minimise serious incidents and the necessity to use physical intervention. In the event of any serious incident (e.g. accident, violence or assault, damage to property), carers/residential staff should take what actions they deem to be necessary to protect children/themselves from immediate harm or injury using only TCI recognised techniques; and then notify the agency immediately.
Physical Intervention should only be used as as a last resort to prevent injury or to prevent serious damage to property. If any form of Physical Intervention is used, it must be the least intrusive necessary to protect the child, carer(s)/residential staff or others in line with TCI techniques.
Physical intervention includes restricting the child's liberty of movement. Restriction on liberty of movement can involve adaptations to the environment such as using high door handles or removing physical aids, but it also refers to behaviour support strategies such a requiring a child to take 'time out' in a specific area of the home, asking a child to spend time away from the group to regain control of their behaviour (i.e. if a child is struggling to maintain a socially acceptable level of behaviour at the meal table, asking them to move away from the group to another area, can be defined as restricting their liberty of movement). Even where there is no need to use restrictive physical intervention (i.e. the child goes willingly once instructed to do so) a record of the incident must still be recorded). This is to ensure the intervention can be monitored and to ensure that children are not be scapegoated or unduly being isolated from the group.
If a child has an Education Health or Care Plan in which a specific type of restraint/physical intervention is used as part of the day to day child's routine, the home is exempted from the recording requirement. Where these plans provide for a specific type of restraint that is not for day to day use, the restraint used must be recorded. Any other restraint used must always be recorded.
A child/young person can be prevented from leaving the home if it is felt they are at significant harm in the following circumstances:
This restriction of a young person's liberty should be for the minimum amount of time possible and in response to immediate danger. Staff will need to ensure that in the recording of this incident they clearly outline all the steps taken to prevent the need to restrict the child's liberty using physical means.
If a young person continually requires this level of intervention to help them to remain safe, there must be clear evidence of a planning meeting with the placing authority to consider the appropriateness of the placement. It may be recognised that this is a process of testing and an agreement regarding strategies will be set and reviewed in conjunction with the local authority, this will need to be clearly documented and any agreement must not conflict with regulations regarding 'Deprivation of Liberty'.
Carers / residential staff should endeavour to deal with as many of the challenges that are involved in caring for children without recourse to the involvement of the Police, who should only be involved in two circumstances;
If any serious incident occurs or the Police are called, the child's social worker must be notified without delay and will then notify the relevant senior manager within the local authority and arrange for a full report to be made of the incident and actions taken. The Regulatory Authority must also be notified. Any serious incident must be recorded by foster carers immediately after the event. An incident form should be completed and the fostering social worker notified immediately who then notifies the Group Manager via Liquidlogic. Residential staff must notify Ofsted using the appropriate form.
Only valid for 48hrs