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5.2.16 Role of the Supervising Social Worker


This chapter details the fostering social worker’s role and the expectations on them in respect of their work with foster carers, including a visiting regime and when a child is initially placed with a carer.


Supervision of Foster Carers Procedure

This chapter was added to the manual in July 2017.


  1. Introduction
  2. Following Foster Carer Approval
  3. Following a Child's Placement
  4. General Duties
  5. Visiting Frequency
  6. Directorate Responsibilities to the Social Workers in the Fostering Service
  7. Annual Review of Approval

1. Introduction

All approved foster carers will be supervised by a named appropriately qualified social worker, known as the supervising social worker. This will include Carers who are temporally approved under Reg 24. (Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations (2010)).

The role of the supervising social worker is to assist the foster carer in their task of providing care to a child in care which will improve the child’s well being and life chances by promoting the individual outcomes for children. The supervising social worker should be ensuring that they observe the children in the placement.

The supervising social worker will ensure the foster carer has access to adequate social work and other professional support, information and advice, to enable the foster carer to provide consistent, high quality care for a child or young person placed in their home.

The supervising social worker’s relationship with the foster carer should be based within professional boundaries with a clear understanding that the primary responsibility is to the child in placement. It is good practice to agree the type of support and frequency with the Foster Carer.

Supervising social workers will meet the requirements of Knowsley in recording information in a timely manner.

2. Following Foster Carer Approval

Following allocation the Supervising Social Worker will:

  • Ensure a signed Foster Carer Agreement is on the foster carer file;
  • Ensure the foster carer is supplied with copies of the Foster Carer Manual and Children’s Guide, Foster Carers Charter;
  • Identify in partnership with the foster carers their training needs and how these will be met;
  • Advise admin of new carers and changes so that the Foster carer register can be updated as and when required;
  • Ensure that the foster carers maintains an up to date Training Profile;
  • Ensure a Personal Development Plan is completed for both carers if there are two approved carers in the household. This is completed annually;
  • Ensure that the foster carer has a Safe Caring Policy and guidelines (see Safer Caring Guidelines for Foster Carers) for their household and specific to the children in placement;
  • Ensure that any complaint by or against a foster carer is investigated in accordance with the relevant procedures;
  • Ensure the lines of communication between the foster carer and the child’s social worker are open and effective;
  • Maintain regular and effective communication with the child’s social worker;
  • Provide the foster carer with assistance in dealing with other relevant services such as Health and Education;
  • Respond promptly to telephone calls and correspondence from the foster carer and agree a suitable level of support that is individual to the foster carer and children in placement, but that also meets Knowsley’s requirements and National Minimum Standards;
  • Ensure that foster carers have a diary and that they are advised on effective recording of their information. The recordings should be kept separate for each child. The diary is signed off by the supervision social worker at supervised visits;
  • Ensure specific support needs of Foster Carer’s own children are addressed. Where possible the sons and daughters should be spoken to individually and give the details for the sons and daughters groups;
  • Ensure statutory visits are undertaken and foster carers are appropriately supervised;
  • Carry out an annual review of the foster carer’s registration, this should be done to ensure it has not expired within the 12 month period and be chaired by the Fostering Team Manager;
  • Ensure that DBS checks and Health checks are completed on everyone in the household (above the age of 18 years). This includes young people at the age of 18 years for DBS who may be remaining on a ‘Staying put’ arrangement;
  • Ensure that DBS checks and Health checks are updated every three years or if there is a change in the foster carer’s circumstances.


DBS and Health checks must be requested at least 6 months before they are due to expire.

3. Following a Child’s Placement

The supervising social worker must:

  • Ensure payment is made promptly by ensuring the Placement Plan has been completed and has been inputted onto ICS;
  • Ensure the foster carer has the required equipment;
  • Ensure the child’s social worker provides the Placement Plan and that the carer is given any other relevant information needed to provide appropriate safe care;
  • A visit by the supervising social worker must be undertaken within 7 days of a child moving into the placement;
  • Arrange a Placement Planning Meeting with the foster carer and the social worker with 10 days of placement being made or before the placement if a planned placement. The plan must include any further financial payment needed to support the placement including for contact and equipment. It should also record the Care Plan with a date for the 28 day Review;
  • Complete at the Placement Planning Meeting a Safe Caring Agreement for the child in placement, before any planned placement and within 7 days of an emergency placement. Safe care information should be shared at least verbally with each carer at the point of placement;
  • Visit every month whilst the child is in placement, coordinating visits with the child’s social worker to ensure maximum support to the foster carer and supervision of the child in placement. For newly approved foster carers they should have a package of support agreed prior to placement.


A lower visiting frequency may be agreed for long term, stable placements. This will be agreed via the fostering team manager and outlined within an appropriate risk assessment.

  • Record and agree the visiting arrangements and telephone contact between the supervising social worker and the foster carer;
  • Ensure telephone contact is maintained with the Foster Carer when there are no children in placement;
  • Ensure the foster carer is involved in all Review Meetings and is kept fully informed of any changes to the child’s Care Plan;
  • Ensure the foster carers training needs are identified and appropriate training attended;
  • Ensure that the End of Placement Reporting Procedure is initiated when a foster placement ends;
  • Ensure the necessary changes are made to the Foster Carer Register within 7 days of placement;
  • Ensure that foster carers are aware of delegated authority and what their role is;
  • Ensure carers have a diary and recording book for all children placed with them;
  • Ensure that they receive information about Knowsley Foster Carers Committee and have contact details for them;
  • Newly approved carers to be allocated a mentor.

4. General Duties

Supervising social workers will:

  • Attend child care Statutory Reviews and care planning meetings for children in placement including where Family Finding activity is taking place;
  • Cover the Fostering Service Duty System Rota;
  • Undertake assessment of additional family members who may provide short break care for the child as part of the support of the placement;
  • Supervising social workers share with the child’s social worker the responsibility for safeguarding the child/ young person whilst in foster care.

5. Visiting Frequency

It is requirement that foster carers receive a minimum of FOUR supervisory visits and a minimum of TWO unannounced visits each year. In terms of Staying Put agreements they should have a minimum of two supervisory visits and one unannounced per year (if no other children or young people are in placement). If other children are in placement then the original frequency will continue. All Staying Put carers shall have a supervising social worker. These visits must be fully recorded on the agreed documentation and detailed on the ICS in the Foster Carer file. All staying put carers should maintain their DBS and medical/health checks every three years.


All contact with foster carers must be recorded within the Knowsley MBC Children and Young People Directorate recording standards and foster carer’s files must be maintained and kept up to date in line with the file guidance

In addition foster carers, as a minimum, must be visited on a monthly basis unless an agreement about an alternative visiting arrangement has been agreed between the supervising social worker and team manager. Visiting arrangements will remain under regular review. For example, when a child is matched long term at Permanence Panel. The agreement should be a formal contract and signed by the foster carers, team manager and the supervising social worker.

The supervising social worker must sign the Foster Carer Record/diary Sheet at each visit.

The main purpose of the unannounced visit will be to look at the home environment and conditions that a child in care is living in.

Newly approved Foster Carers should be visited once a month until the TSD is completed or their first annual review is undertaken.


We are constantly striving to ensure that children are safe and well cared for in foster care and unannounced visits are one of the mechanisms available to ensure this.

6. Directorate Responsibilities to the Social Workers in the Fostering Service

All social workers will have access to or receive a copy of:

All social workers have the professional responsibility to ensure that they have read and understand the expectations of their role. They must ensure their own professional development is addressed via supervision and if they are not able to achieve this with their line manager, they should raise the issue with the Service Manager for the Fostering Service.

7. Annual Review of Approval

The supervising social worker must complete an annual review of the foster carer’s approval. The documentation for the review must be shared with the foster carer prior to the Review Meeting.

Review documentation must be provided to the chair of the meeting at least three working days before the date of the Review Meeting. This must include a contribution from the social worker, IRO and the children in placement.

Following the review the supervising social worker must address the actions identified in the Foster Carer Review within timescales.

All reviews will outline the strengths and vulnerabilities of the foster carers, a personal development plan and agreement of the skill level met by the foster carer.