Foster Cares Ltd Update
Due to the current crisis in relation to Coronavirus, Foster Cares Ltd we would like to take the opportunity to clarify the Company’s position on how we propose to continue to effectively undertake the various functions we undertake as a fostering service provider.
As you will be aware the current circumstances are unprecedented and have greatly impacted upon the whole of society. As such, we have had to respond to the crisis and the subsequent restrictions placed upon us, to identify and implement different ways of working in order to maintain service provision.
The Government have introduced the following guidelines in relation to social distancing:
- Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
- Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible
- Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this.
- Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
- Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
- Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
With this advice in mind the Agency has taken the following measures to ensure the health and wellbeing of its staff, foster carers, children and the wider society:
- Our priority is to maintain the stability of children’s placements, support our foster carers during this crisis with the aim of avoiding placement breakdown, adhere to Government and Public Health England guidance and minimize the spread of infection.
- All Foster Cares Ltd staff will be working from home until further notice.
- Access to Staff – all staff will be contactable in the same way via office number, emails, texts or agreed virtual platforms
- Out of Hours – Will continue as usual by calling the regional office telephone number which will automatically divert to the duty SSW.
- Our staff and foster carers will not be attending any face to face meetings until further notice, to prevent the spread of infection. All meetings will be held virtually
- Contact – Our foster carers will facilitate contact through social media until such time face to face contact is safe / appropriate to reinstate
- Education – children placed with our carers are deemed to be vulnerable under the Dfe guidance and as such are entitled / expected to attend school during the Covid 19 crisis. However, the foster carer and/ or LASW may decide that personal circumstances may mean this poses a greater risk to the child /carer or household members and therefore decide to keep the child at home. Foster carers will support the child’s ongoing Education whilst at home as best they can. Foster carers should not be placed under any further / unnecessary pressure in relation to education during a time of already significant anxiety. The priority should be the mental wellbeing of children and placement stability.
- Supervision of foster carers will take place via the telephone or via Teams on windows 10, Skype or Whatsapp conference call etc
- Foster Carer Annual Reviews will take place virtually, via Teams on windows 10, Skype or Whatsapp conference etc
- Respite has been withdrawn until further notice in order to minimize the risk of spread of infection to the child and /or respite carer/ households.
- Foster Carer training that was due to take place in our offices has been cancelled until further notice. Foster carers will still be able to access our online training provision.
- Recruitment – will continue via social media
- Initial visit to applicants – will be undertaken virtually be mutually agreed virtual platforms
- Form F assessments – will continue to be undertaken virtually be mutually agreed virtual platforms with the aim of minimizing any delay to the approval process
- Medicals – Applicants will complete a self-assessment and this will be sent to our medical advisor for consideration. It may be the advisor contacts the applicant for clarity if required. As soon as practicable the applicant will be required to attend their GP for a medical as usual.
- Our independent fostering panel will not be held face to face until further notice. The Agency will enable the panel function to continue via the use of virtual media.
As the health advice changes daily, we will advise you of the agency position and any change in policy and working arrangements. We will continue to keep you updated as much as we can in relation to changing government and Public health advice via our Agency website.
We will do everything in our power to ensure that the high level of service you would normally expect to receive, will not change.
As usual you should contact the Agency on the usual office telephone number during the day 9am-5pm and for Out of Hours 5pm -9am and weekends:
Durham – 0191 586 9655
Warrington – 0161 872 7048
The measures we have set out and those we may have to take in the future, have not been taken lightly and have been done so in the hope that they protect everyone as best we can.
As soon as we can, we will return to normal working practices and will of course keep you updated.