Statement of Purpose
Download our Statement of Purpose here.
TLC (WALES) INDEPENDENT FOSTERING LTD
Statement of Purpose
Provider: CareTech Community Services Ltd
3 Darkes Lane
The Service: TLC (Wales) Independent Fostering Ltd
Responsible Individual: Beverley Senior
Registered Manager of the Service: Anthony Boggis
Name of the Service: TLC (Wales) Independent Fostering Ltd
Location of the Service
TLC (Wales) Independent Fostering Ltd (TLC) is based in Crosshands and was registered in 2002 as a fostering agency, set up to provide specialist family placements for children and young people with disabilities and complex medical needs from 0 – 18 years of age. On the 27 May 2011 it was acquired by and became part of the CareTech Holdings Group.
Although TLC is based in Crosshands it has Foster placements across South East and West Wales and is part of the Children’s Commissioning Consortium Cymru (4C’s). TLC operates under the All Wales Framework Agreement and also caters to Local Authorities who may need to purchase ‘off Framework’. TLC also offers Foster placements based in Wales, to English Local Authorites.
The Range of Needs we can Support:
TLC provides family foster placements for children aged 0–18 years who have a diagnosed medical condition and/or disability. TLC meets the needs of a range of children, some of whom have life limiting conditions and some who have profound physical disabilities while others have complex needs.
- Family Foster placements across South East and West Wales – operating under English Frameworks, and under the All Wales Framework Agreement.
- Highly skilled staff and Foster Carers with expertise and knowledge in disability, child care and safeguarding.
- Placements for both male and female children and those who see themselves as ‘A -gender’.
- Short term, long term and respite placements, shared care and palliative care placements for children and young people up to 18 years of age. It is recognised that some children or young people will have experienced trauma alongside their disability and may also present challenging behaviours.
- Parent and Child placements where the parent and/or child has a disability/medical need.
- Family Foster homes that are able to keep siblings together.
- Family Foster homes where the child or young person is the only child in placement (solo placements).
- Bridging placements and short breaks placements to allow children and young people from residential placements to experience “family life”.
- Foster Carers who are able to support a child or young person to move on from residential care (Transition placements).
- Pre adoptive placements
TLC employs Supervising Social Workers who offer therapeutic support to our Foster Carers, which is integral to our service.
How services are provided at TLC.
The Statement of Purpose (SOP) takes into account the expectations of the Regulated Fostering Services (Service Providers and Responsible Individuals) (Wales) Regulations 2019 and is under the Regulation and Inspection of the Social Care (Wales) Act 2016. As required, the SOP sets out TLC’s aims and objectives, the service and facilities it provides and how the service monitors the outcomes for children and young people placed in our care.
A copy of the SOP will be provided on request and can be found on the TLC website (www.tlcwales.org.uk).
In line with the Regulations, the SOP will be made available to the following people:
• Foster Carers approved by TLC and prospective Foster Carers.
• Staff members at TLC.
• Any social worker of a child placed with TLC and all commissioners.
• A parent or person with parental responsibility for any child placed with TLC.
The SOP is intended to be user friendly and child focused. It sets out the principles underpinning the service, but does not contain details of policies and procedures (all are available on request).
The Aims and Objectives of TLC – a child focused service
• TLC recruits and supports specialist Foster Carers solely to care for children and young people with a wide range of disabilities and complex needs. TLC is also registered to provide Parent & Child placements for parents and/or a child with a disability.
• TLC believes that children and young people with disabilities are the most vulnerable in the Looked After population. We believe that by securing the best family placements with trained and skilled Foster Carers, children and young people will have the opportunity to develop trusting relationships, form attachments, be safe and achieve the best possible outcomes in terms of care, education, health and social inclusion. TLC recruits Foster Carers who will relate to a child or young person with dignity and respect and can advocate on their behalf when necessary.
• TLC takes its safeguarding responsibilities seriously, ensuring rigorous recruitment of staff and Foster Carers. It will involve statutory agencies appropriately when issues of concern come to light with staff and Foster Carers.
• TLC places collaborative working high on its agenda to ensure care planning with the respective Local Authority is child focused, needs led and ensures the best possible outcomes for every child and young person placed.
• A service where children come first and one which listens to and allows children to contribute to their development, through consistent and close interaction, supportive discussion and guidance, and enabling the child/young person to attend meetings when appropriate.
• Foster homes which are carefully matched to the needs of the child and where a child or young person feels they have a sense of belonging.
• Foster Carers who are fully prepared, supported, supervised and trained to meet the complex and individualised needs of the child or young person in their care.
• Foster homes that provide high levels of stability, security and warmth where the child or young person can develop a positive sense of their own identity, including their culture, religion and ethnicity, and where children and young people are communicated to in a way that is meaningful to them.
• Foster homes that facilitate and promote contact in line with care plans and where children and young people are supported to make sense of their past.
• Foster homes which promote a child’s education, embracing their talents and hobbies and challenging barriers to inclusion and participation, where they exist.
• Foster homes which actively promote a child’s health, including mental health.
• Foster homes which actively prepare a young person for adulthood, and Foster Carers who can support young people into post-18 provision. Foster Carers work with adult services and all the professionals involved, helping children and young people to understand risk and reduce their vulnerability.
• Support that is robust and of a high quality to staff and Foster Carers, challenging poor practice and raising standards to provide the high quality care that children and young people deserve.
TLC places a very strong emphasis on listening to Service users and our Partners. TLC is a Tier 2 provider under the All Wales Framework and as such is subjected to an annual Quality Performance Assessment (QPA). The QPA ‘s purpose is to evaluate the Outcomes for children and young people who are Looked After across all domains of their lives. TLC is able to consistently evidence the positive outcomes for children in our care and the progress they make, maintaining our position as a quality provider year on year.
It is imperative for the Children and Young People placed with TLC to have their individual voices heard, and that consultation and participation takes place regularly regarding the care and support of each child placed. For many Looked After Children in our care, mainstream forms of communication cannot be used.
- TLC, as a specialist agency treats each child and young person as an individual. Due to their disability and complex needs, we have developed effective communication methods to ensure their voices are heard and that individual needs are met. Some Foster Carers have been trained in Maketon, BSL and deaf/blind boards to become specialised in their communication with the child in their care.
- Children of Foster Carers (Children who Foster) undergo training and a ‘special interest interactive day’ to raise awareness of living with a child with a disability. TLC is committed to child-centred care where children and young people’s identity is promoted. This can include access to language classes, specific diets and religious practices so their cultural needs are met with dignity and respect.
- TLC has developed a Children and Young People’s Consultation Group which meets on a regular basis to explore ways to improve the experience of young people coming into our care. It brings together children and young people who are able to communicate verbally. Their contribution towards the group enables us to adapt and review our methods of communication. This is further informed by feedback from children and young people placed with us.
A Strategic Framework for Promoting the Welsh Language in Health, Social Services and Social Care’ was published in 2012 by the Deputy Minister for Social Services.
The aim of the framework was to ensure that organisations recognise that language is an intrinsic part of care and that people who need services in Welsh get offered them. This is called the ‘Active Offer’.
What does the ‘Active offer’ mean?
An ‘Active Offer’ means a service is provided in Welsh without someone having to ask for it.
It is the responsibility of everyone who provides care services for people and their families across Wales to deliver the ‘Active offer’.
- TLC ensures ‘named’ staff members are ‘matched’ to children and adults who are Welsh-speaking.
- Bi lingual Signage in our service helps to orientate Welsh-speaking users.
- All training materials, policies and procedures, childrens guides and marketing materials are available in Welsh.
Consultation in communication
- TLC has a visual, as well as written, Children’s Guide exploring the service and explains how children and young people can raise concerns and to whom. Children and young people are consulted in their LAC reviews, Foster Carer reviews and at participation events.
- Foster Carers attend education and health reviews and provide high levels of support to encourage children and young people to participate. Where children and young people cannot articulate verbally, TLC Foster Carers are trained in alternative methods of communication and have strong links with advocacy services where appropriate, and will often themselves advocate on the children and young people’s behalf.
- TLC meets regularly with Local Authorities and commissioners to talk through any issues or areas for discussion in relation to the contracts and working practices. TLC also meets regularly with its Independent Reviewing Officers to consult regarding any issues arising and to continually improve the service.
- The Service supports Foster Carers to ensure children and young people are happy and supported to have positive outcomes in terms of health, development and overall wellbeing (including intellectual, social and behavioural development).
- Children and young people in TLC are supported by skilled Foster Carers. Marketing and Recruitment campaigns are geared to finding committed Foster Carers with a background in health and/or disability and who are highly motivated towards caring for a child or young person with additional needs.
- TLC considers the experience and skill levels of Foster Carers and the detail provided in referral documents to ensure robust matching and this ensures longevity of placements. TLC will not express an interest in a child if they cannot sustain the placement and fulfil the care plan from the local authority.
Stable placements – Fulfilled Lives
TLC has demonstrated a high level of stability and longevity in its placements (evidenced in previous CIW reports and Review of Care data) which means children and young people are able to develop secure and sound relationships with their foster carers, their family and in the wider community.
In the 2018 CIW report the Inspector commented that on reading the files, “children and young people live in stable placements where they experience warm, positive attachments and a sense of belonging”.
LAC reviews, minutes, Foster Carer annual reviews and consultation group documentation evidence Foster Carers speaking with warmth and affection about the young people regarding them as an integral part of the family. TLC Foster Carers have also been assessed as adult carers with a dual registration to support children and young people to remain with them into adulthood. Foster Carers also maintain links with young adults who transition into supported living.
If children or young people need to move on, carers are diligent in adhering to and working with the transition plan.
Safeguarding & Keeping Children and Young People safe
- Children and young people in TLC are placed with Foster Carers who are supported by a very experienced and knowledgeable staff team.
Staff and Foster Carers have comprehensive training and there is a strong commitment to professional development in TLC evidenced on Foster Carer and staff files at the Registered Office. Records of supervision monitor outcomes for children and young people closely and track safeguarding concerns which are addressed effectively and speedily. TLC has robust Recruitment and Selection policies and procedures which are reviewed regularly. The TLC fostering panel promotes safe and secure placements through rigorous quality assurance with a detailed panel report annually reflecting on performance and quality.
- TLC has robust, ongoing monitoring systems to assess quality in relation to outcomes with very clear lines of accountability and clear policies and procedures regarding child protection and safeguarding. TLC have qualified Designated Safeguarding Officers operating within the service. Foster Carers and staff receive regular training relating to the safeguarding pathways and receive high levels of support to care for the children and young people in placement. TLC has a designated person tracking concerns and addressing any child protection or safeguarding issue which could compromise the welfare of the child. Evidence submitted for CIW reports have commented on the competency of Foster Carers and that they receive appropriate supervision, support and training. TLC has a clear supervision strategy which includes support groups and events.
Supervision and Support for Staff & Foster Carers
All staff have designated supervisors and have formal monthly supervision (with informal contact in between). Supervision notes are typed and kept securely on file. Each member of staff has an annual appraisal and access to internal and external training to support professional development and tasks relating to their job description. Copy of staff training records is available on request.
TLC has a staff group which is highly experienced and is able to support carers with very complex and challenging placements. TLC has a stable staff group.
All carers have a supervising social worker for regular supervision on monthly or 6 weekly basis with telephone/SMS contact from their supervisor and access to support and guidance as required in between.
Recruitment, Assessment and Approval
TLC has a detailed Recruitment and Assessment policy and procedure with the Deputy Head of Service taking the lead for quality assurance.
TLC differs from other Independent Fostering Agencies (IFA’s) in that the agency solely recruits Foster Carers who have a strong desire to foster children and young people with a disability and/or complex medical needs. TLC uses a variety of marketing approaches to recruit a diverse range of Foster Carers to meet the individual needs of the children referred. These people often have a wealth of experience with backgrounds in disability, nursing, care work and may have a disability themselves. TLC has focused recruitment campaigns targeting nursing/health care professionals as well as those with teaching backgrounds who work with children and young people with additional needs.
Foster Carers have chosen TLC because of their motivation, commitment and desire to make a difference to the lives of Looked After children (LAC) and young people with additional needs. They have also chosen to foster with TLC because of the high level of support TLC offers to Foster Carers, ensuring that they feel part of a team.
TLC has a Commercial Manager who works closely with the Deputy Head of service and the Marketing Officer to ensure that we recruit Foster Carers with high levels of motivation and interest to care for children and young people with a disability and/or complex medical needs, and ensure quality assurance is monitored throughout. There are focused campaigns to meet the market demands of the Framework authorities and specific training courses on Recruitment to ensure we deliver the best practice for children and young people placed. Marketing and Recruitment during the year has included focused campaigns in the press, social media, community- based magazines, events, transport and radio advertising. TLC has a website through CareTech (who own TLC) who are already known in England.
TLC has developed financial incentives for Foster Carers to encourage friends, family and colleagues to foster for us.
Marketing has generated a number of quality enquiries with a number progressing to the Skills to Foster preparation training which runs quarterly, and then through to assessment. TLC has a very clear process of assessment to make sure that business objectives can be achieved by ensuring the quality of the application.
Assessment of Prospective Carers
In assessing prospective Foster Carers, TLC operate under the Regulated Fostering Services (Service Providers and Responsible Individuals) (Wales) Regulations 2019. Following an initial enquiry, prospective carers are visited at home. Once a formal application to foster is received, statutory checks are undertaken and applicants are required to attend 6 sessions over 3 weeks of Skills to Foster preparation course delivered by Deputy Head of Service and an Independent Assessor. This training is an essential element in the preparation of Foster Carers for the task of looking after children and young people. The statutory and best practice checks are undertaken by the Statutory Checks Officer. These include a number of formal checks with agencies such as the police, health, education and local authority. Personal references and home health and safety assessments are also undertaken.
Once checks and training are satisfactorily completed an independent assessing social worker is allocated to undertake a competency-based assessment with the prospective carers. This assessment involves discussion with family and others who are regular visitors to the home.
The Fostering Panel, Approval and Reviews
The completed assessment is presented to the TLC Fostering Panel which is made up from a Central List of members with in depth knowledge and experience of Safeguarding and Disability. The Deputy Head of Service is Panel Advisor and advises on regulatory/legislative matters and Agency Policies and Procedures. The Panel provides an independent quality assurance mechanism with additional expertise and knowledge in disability and medical issues.
The role of the Panel is to make recommendations to the Agency Decision Maker (ADM), who makes the final decision of approval status. If Foster Carers/applicants are unhappy with the final decision of the Panel there is a clear complaints process. Once approved, an Agency Supervising Social Worker is allocated to support the new Foster Carer and to deliver the agency Support Strategy.
The Training Coordinator is responsible for sourcing the Post Approval Training Programme. There is a comprehensive package of additional training for Foster Carers to ensure their professional development and enhance their skills in caring for children and young people with disabilities. Foster Carers are required to attend all Mandatory sessions. Training is also delivered to staff and panel members on an annual basis. The programme is identified through feedback from: Foster Carer supervision, course evaluation, training needs analysis, annual reviews, panel member appraisals and Form F assessments.
All Foster Carers receive an Annual Review undertaken by an independent social worker. All first reviews are placed before TLC Foster Panel and it is an expectation that carers attend their review on the day of Panel. All reviews following the first review are considered by the ADM. The exception to this would be in the event of a Post Allegation Review or where there is a change in the Foster Carers circumstances that necessitates the Foster Carer/s going back to panel.
Foster Carer Agreements
A Foster Carer agreement is completed following approval and covers a range of contractual information and undertakings, including:
- To care appropriately for the child or young person in placement.
- To inform TLC of any significant changes to their household or details.
- To work in line with the Fostering Regulations and Standards and other relevant legislation.
- To follow procedures laid down in TLC Foster Carer’s Handbook.
The Support Strategy
This is delivered by the TLC Support Team and is quality assured by Head of Service through the agency Supervision Policy.
- TLC views its Foster Carers as it’s most valuable resource and has developed a comprehensive and robust support strategy to retain its Foster Carers and acknowledge their skills and contribution. Foster Carers are regularly consulted, and supported in the best possible way to meet the assessed needs of the children and feel very much part of TLC.
- All Foster Carers in TLC have an allocated Supervising Social Worker who has in- depth experience and knowledge of childcare and disability as evidenced in the CV’s of staff later in the Statement of Purpose.
- Foster Carers receive monthly formal supervision and weekly contact from their SSW. The CIW inspection report produced evidence of the individual and collective skill base of the Support Team and the support teams skills and knowledge in child protection, direct/group work, disability and child care issues has strengthened the success and ensured stability and sustained very challenging and complex children and young people in placement – often when there are not allocated social workers or resources are scarce in Local Authorities.
- All Recording and Reporting information is held on our secure electronic file management system (CHARMS). This includes personnel files of staff. TLC is compliant with GDPR legislation with regard to the retention of information.
- Encouraging team and personal development for both staff and Foster Carers will be ongoing through professional supervision and annual staff appraisal and Foster Carer Annual Reviews.
- The Support Team ensures that Foster Carers have the necessary information regarding the assessed needs of the children and that the required protocols (namely for children with epilepsy/life threatening conditions) are in place and reviewed regularly.
- TLC has a comprehensive Foster Carers Handbook which has just been recently reviewed. Policies & Procedures are reviewed and updated regularly and information circulated electronically and manually to Foster Carers.
- TLC has clear policies and procedures especially in Child Protection, Safe Caring, Bullying, Health, Education, Social Media, Social Inclusion and Transition. TLC has specific policies and procedures around issues relating to disability and medical conditions.
- TLC has specific Policies & Procedures and Practice Guidance for Parent & Child Placements.
- Each Foster Carer has an opportunity to access Support Groups with a specific disability focus.
- TLC offers an ongoing training programme for all Foster Carers. All training is relevant to meeting the specific and specialist needs of children with disabilities and the professional development of Foster Carers. Foster Carers are required to attend locally based core training and also have the choice of attending ‘special interest’ sessions. The programme is identified through feedback from Foster Carer supervision, course evaluation, training needs analysis, annual reviews and form F assessments. Training is also delivered to staff and Panel members on an annual basis. In striving to meet the specific circumstances of Foster Carers and their differing learning requirements the option of offering more home-based study training packs will be developed further. The training programme will be looked at by the Training Coordinator and management team to ensure staff and Foster Carer training is relevant and that we source quality providers.
- Foster Carers undertaking Parent & Child Placements will undertake the Skills to Foster preparation training and additional training around key skills and parenting assessments and support.
- Learning and development opportunities are in line with the Post Approval Learning and Development Framework for Foster Carers
- TLC has a 24 hour on call system and a clear on-call policy.
- TLC has a website which will be a very dynamic recruitment tool as well as consulting and informing our Foster Carers.
- TLC has a Children Who Foster group and a Social Committee which helps to organise activities for children and young people and their families.
- TLC has a Children and Young People’s Consultation Group. TLC shares information regarding resources and activities for children/young people with disability as well as acknowledging achievements of the child/young people, Foster Carers and staff through group messaging apps.
- TLC acknowledges the vital role of short break Foster Carers for ‘In House’ respite and requests for respite from the local authority and has ensured its Recruitment Policy allows us to meet the specialist needs of the children/young people referred, and for those Foster Carers who need regular breaks, to sustain and strengthen long term placements.
Complaints & Compliments
TLC considers complaints to be a form of consultation. At their worst, complaints raise safeguarding concerns and are likely to require immediate statutory investigation. At a lower level, complaints provide helpful feedback about how services provided by TLC can be improved.
TLC is committed to treating all complaints seriously and proportionately. Complaints will be reported and recorded clearly, quickly and passed on to the relevant manager for their urgent consideration.
Who can make a complaint?
- Any child or young person who is, or has been a foster child.
- Parent of a child or young person who is, or has been a foster child.
- TLC Foster Carer.
- Any placing authority, school or external agency involved with a looked after child or young person.
- An independent worker commissioned by TLC.
TLC has a comprehensive Complaints Policy (copy available on request).
Children and young people placed with TLC are made aware of the complaints procedure by their supervising social worker at the start of the placement and are provided with a Children’s Guide (giving details of who to contact about any aspect of their care). Foster Carers, staff and the placing authority are provided with information about the TLC Complaints Policy through documentation, preparation training and placement agreements.
All allegations of abuse or maltreatment of a child or young person by a professional staff member or any other person in contact with children will be treated seriously by TLC and treated in accordance with current procedures. All staff and Foster Carers are made aware of the organisation’s whistle-blowing policy and should feel confident to voice concerns about the attitude or actions of colleagues.
All compliments received from children and young people, Foster Carers, Local Authorities and any other body are recorded by TLC on an electronic system and monitored on a regular basis.