Once foster carers are approved, health boards assign a named social worker, known as the link worker, to provide information, advice and support to them.
Foster care Ireland and Tusla have written protocols that:
– define the roles of the link worker, and the child and family social worker but allow for negotiation in relation to the carrying out of specific tasks, especially in relation to the assessment and support of relative foster carers;
– ensure clear lines of communication between them;
– facilitate the exchange of reports relevant to the placement within specified time limits.
Link workers responsibilities generally include:
– organising training;
– providing regular supervision and support for foster carers and their children;
– ensuring that foster carers understand, accept and operate within all relevant standards, policies and guidance of the health board;
– ensuring that foster carers receive all relevant information and advice about the children including: background history, health, education, cultural, ethnic, religious, and sexual development issues, vulnerabilities and risks, and information regarding neglect or abuse the children may have suffered;
– providing foster carers with specific written information on, and explanations of, FCI procedures should a complaint or allegation be made against them and the supports available in such an event;
– providing foster carers with specific written information on the procedures to be followed should a child go missing from their care;
– ensuring that counselling is available to foster carers and their children where a placement breakdown has occurred, or after other critical events.
Link workers meet with foster carers on a regular basis and have separate meetings with the foster carers own children.
Child and family social workers and link workers visit the foster carer’s home together to make arrangements for any new placement, and draw up an agreed placement plan.
Link social workers maintain a record of all contacts with foster carers, including the issues discussed, requests for additional support and the response to these requests.
Foster carers are informed of their right of access to records pertaining to them.
We ensure that there are support groups for foster carers and their children in each local area.
Foster Care Ireland has an out of hours service to help its foster carers in emergency situations, foster carers are informed in writing how to access this service.
– FCI has a strategy for the training of foster carers, the children of foster carers, where appropriate, and professionals involved in foster care, including opportunities for joint training. The strategy also addresses the specific training needs of relative foster carers. Our training programmes take account of assessed training needs, child care policy and practice, research, inspection findings and best practice.
– We periodically evaluate the training programmes for those involved in foster care.
– We ensure that training is organised in such a way as to encourage and facilitate attendance by foster carers.
– Applicants and foster carers commit to participate in appropriate training programmes.
– Where necessary, foster carers receive training on key areas relevant to the specific needs of an individual child before his/her placement.
– Link workers maintain records of all training undertaken by each foster carer.
– Foster carers’ reviews include an appraisal of their training needs and this forms the basis of the training programme for the following year.