Role of the Supervising Social Worker


This chapter was substantially updated in December 2020 and should be re-read.

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 temporarily approved under Regulation 24. (Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations (2010)), as they are approved carers.

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 and develop relationships with them. All work must be child focused.

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 over the statutory requirement.

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

2. Assessments

Assessments will be child centered, proportionate and of a high quality. They will be holistic, balanced and jargon free.

Assessments must comply with the Fostering Regulations 2011, Regulation 26 and Knowsley's policies and procedures in relation to foster carer assessments.

For assessing social workers to adhere to timescales given to ensure that there is no drift or delay in attending panel.

Checklist to accompany assessments:

  • Enhanced DBS for all applicants, adult household members and alternative carers;
  • LA check;
  • Health visitor or school reference for all applicants' own children and any children that are already placed;
  • AH medical with response from medical advisor;
  • Current employer reference;
  • Reference from any previous employment or voluntary work involving children and vulnerable adults;
  • Reference from previous/current fostering agency;
  • 3 personal references (1 family member and 2 friends) that can comment on both applicants;
  • Significant ex-partner reference;
  • Interview with all applicants children;
  • Overseas checks;
  • SSAFA checks;
  • Social media checks;
  • ECO map, family tree and chronology for both applicants;
  • Health and safety, safe care and pet assessments;
  • Ensure a Personal Development Plan is completed for both carers if there are two approved carers in the household and has their signature to confirm. This is completed annually.

See also Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.

3. 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;
  • Advise admin of new carers and changes so that the Foster carer register can be updated as and when required;
  • Identify in partnership with the foster carers their training needs and how these will be met;
  • PDP should be consulted at every supervisory visit to reflect on what training has been completed/advice taken.
  • Ensure that the foster carer has a Safer Caring Policy and guidelines (see Safer Caring Guidelines for Foster Carers) for their household and specific to the children in placement;
  • Ensure all risk assessments such as pet, house check etc are on file and pertinent to the carers and their family;
  • Ensure that any complaint by or against a foster carer is investigated in accordance with the relevant procedures and this has been presented to fostering panel;
  • Ensure the lines of communication between the foster carer and the child's social worker are open and effective;
  • Will work in partnership with families & other professionals in regards to a child's care plan and supporting achieving positive outcomes.
  • Maintain regular and effective communication with the child's social worker and where necessary share information about the foster carers onto a child's file;
  • Provide the foster carer with assistance in dealing with other relevant services such as Health and Education;
  • Respond by the next working day 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 are registered on the 'hub' and complete weekly update logs and any significant event sheets;
  • Ensure specific support needs of Foster Carer's own children are addressed. Where possible the children who foster should be spoken to individually and give the details for the Role of SSW workshop 'Kids who Foster's groups;
  • Ensure statutory visits are undertaken on a monthly basis until the TSDS workbook is completed and then a minimum of 3 monthly and ensure that foster carers are appropriately supervised;
  • The contents of supervision notes should be agreed between the supervising social worker and foster carer prior to being signed off. Should there be a differing perspective of the conversations that took place and agreement cannot be reached, both perspectives should be written on the notes and then signed off. These documents are evidence for both foster carers and staff that conversations did or did not take place. Foster carers must be provided with a copy off all supervision notes.
  • Carry out a foster carer review (or review after significant change) on at least an annual basis or following a significant even or change in circumstances, this should be done to ensure it has not expired within the 12 month period and be chaired by the Independent Reviewing Officer;
  • Ensure that DBS checks and Health checks are completed on everyone in the household (above the age of 18 years), regular care givers to the child/children. 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. All statutory checks are the responsibility of the Supervising Social Worker and under no circumstance should they expire during approval status.

Any adverse DBS check should have the relevant form and management oversight on file and this should be logged within the foster care register.

4. Following a Child's Placement

  • Ensure the child's social worker provides the referral and Information Record, Care Plan and Placement Plan to the child and that the carer is given any other relevant information needed to provide appropriate safer care;
  • 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;
  • A visit by the supervising social worker must be undertaken within 7 days of a child moving into the placement (Where possible the supervising social worker should be with the child's social worker when a child or young person is placed to ensure all information and paperwork is shared);
  • 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 Safer Caring Agreement for the child in placement, before any planned placement and within 7 days of an emergency placement. Safer 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. The SSW will make sure children understand their experiences by working with the foster carer and the Child's social worker;
  • 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. Any agreement needs to adhere to fostering regulations and Knowsley policy.

  • 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 Child and Carer Review Meetings and is kept fully informed of any changes to the child's Care Plan;
  • Ensure any plans in relation to the foster carer or a child is SMART and purposeful and outcomes focussed. The SSW make sure that the plan that is in place for each child has a positive impact on their life – and if it doesn't will work with the foster carers and CSW to address this;
  • Ensure that no child will be subjected to "drift or delay" in terms of the planning, support and permanency;
  • Ensure the foster carers training needs are identified and appropriate training attended as outlined in the foster carers Personal Development Plan;
  • Ensure that the End of Placement Reporting Procedure is initiated when a foster placement ends and this information is shared with the foster carer at the next supervision visit and within the foster carers review;
  • Ensure the necessary changes are made to the Foster Carer Register by the next working day in respect of placement starts and ends;
  • Ensure that foster carers have a completed delegated authority and what their role is;
  • Ensure carers have access to the 'hub' to effectively record weekly logs and significant event sheets, this is to be reviewed within each supervisory visit;
  • Ensure carers have set up an account for 'my memories' for each child in their care and regularly update this with photographs and information, this is to be reviewed within each supervisory visit;
  • Ensure that they receive information about Knowsley Foster Carers Committee and have contact details for them;
  • Newly approved carers to be allocated a Mentor.

5. 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 and ensure they have up to date DBS checks;
  • Supervising social workers share with the child's social worker the responsibility for safeguarding the child/ young person whilst in foster care;
  • Ensure carers records are up to date, jargon free and show clear decision making;
  • Ensure all National Minimum Standards are understood and adhered to;
  • Ensure all Knowsley policies and procedures are read, understood and adhered to;
  • Ensure recording is completed in a timely manner, in line with this policy and Knowsley practice standards;
  • Ensure record keeping is effective, clear and concise.

6. Visiting Frequency

It is requirement that foster carers receive monthly supervision until the TSDS workbook has been completed and successfully signed off by a manager and a minimum of TWO unannounced visits each year. After this a minimum of FOUR supervisory visits and a minimum of TWO unannounced visits each year is required. If there are two foster carers in the household, both carers must receive supervision. The frequency for the second carers can be agreed with the Team Manager.

A supervisory visit is required on a regular basis to see and speak with both carers, carers own children and any child that is placed with the family.

It is a requirement that foster carers are visited on a monthly basis which can also be recorded as a supervisory visit. This visit is to offer the carer support and guidance.

In terms of Staying Put agreements they should have a minimum of four 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 Panel. The agreement should be a formal contract and signed by the foster carers, team manager and the supervising social worker.

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. These should be completed on different days and times

Newly approved Foster Carers should be visited once a month until the TSDS 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.

7. Annual Review of Approval

The supervising social worker must complete an annual review of the foster carer's approval. All 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, Children in placement and any sons and daughters, end of placement reports, Health and safety, safe care and Personal Development Plan. Completion of children's contributions but should be supported by the supervising social worker or CSW and not the foster carers.

Following the review the supervising social worker must address the actions identified in the Foster Carer Review within timescales. These actions should be included on to the supervision document to ensure the fostering team manager has oversight.

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. Reviews should always be conducted with the SSW, child's social worker and the foster carer as a minimum.

It is the responsibility of the supervising social worker and the Fostering IRO to ensure the review takes place and is completed, with ADM within the annual year. This will require planning in most cases and note they should not be completed on the week a review is required in the event panel or ADM need to consider approval the status of the foster carer(s).

The decision maker is also responsible for deciding whether a person and their household remain suitable to foster, and whether the terms of approval remain suitable, following each review of the foster carer's approval. The decision should be based on the written report of the review; it must take account of any recommendation by the fostering panel (which must be provided on the occasion of the first review and may be provided for subsequent reviews) and any recommendation of the IRM.

8. Timescales

A viability or initial visit will be allocated by the team manager to a supervising social worker with an allocated timeframe in which it is to be completed. It is then the supervising social workers role to complete the written assessment within 3 working days of the assessment session.

After a supervisory visit is completed it is the role of the supervising social worker to complete the written account within 3 working days.

All case notes must be added to the system within 3 working days.

After an unannounced visit is completed it is the role of the supervising social worker to complete the written account within 3 working days. If the unannounced visit was unsuccessful this needs to be recompleted within a 4 week period, unless is already due and then at the nearest possible opportunity. Unsuccessful unannounced visits must not be recorded on the unannounced visit form.

An unannounced visit is a safeguarding visit conducted by the foster team and there may be circumstances whereby the manager or head of service requires a higher level of unannounced visits to occur.

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

All social workers will have access to or have received 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.

Glossary of Timescales

Caption: glossary of timescales
Type of activity Timescales Timescales for write up Responsibility
Home visit Monthly 3 working days Supervising social worker
Supervisory visit Monthly for a minimum of 12 months and until TSDS have been completed then a minimum of 3 monthly. 3 working days Supervising social worker
Unannounced visit 6 monthly, if failed then is required to be completed again at the nearest opportunity. 3 working days Supervising social worker
Health and safety check Annually - unless a significant change. 3 working days Supervising social worker
Safer care Annually - unless a significant change or a new child is placed and then within 7 days of the child being placed. 3 working days Supervising social worker
DBS 3 yearly - but to request at 2 years 6 months. N/A Supervising social worker
Medical 3 yearly - but to request to request at 2 years and 6 months. N/A Supervising social worker
PDP Annually - unless a significant change. Month prior to due date/foster carer review. 3 working days Supervising social worker
Foster carer review Annually - unless a significant change. To be with manager 2 weeks before review date. Supervising social worker
Case supervision

At least once every 3 months.

Monthly for assessments or regulation 24 placements.
3 days prior to supervision Supervising social worker