Behaviour Support Policy


This chapter outlines the policy for foster carers on acceptable forms of physical intervention and sanctions. It must be carefully read and retained by all staff and foster carers. The policy seeks to provide all parties involved with a framework within which necessary boundaries can be maintained, whilst safeguarding children and foster carers and their families.

This policy aims to ensure that:

  • No form of corporal punishment, including humiliating treatment, is used on any child placed with a foster carer;
  • No child placed with a foster carer is subject to any measure of control, restraint or discipline which is excessive or unreasonable;
  • Physical intervention is used only where it is necessary to prevent likely injury to the child or other persons.


This guidance was updated throughout in January 2017.

1. Statutory Framework

The fostering service is required by Regulation 13 of the Fostering Services Regulations 2011 and Standard 3.8 of the National Minimum Standards 2011 to prepare and implement a written policy for acceptable measures of control, restraint and discipline of children placed with foster carers. The requirement includes providing training to support positive behaviour, de-escalation of conflicts and discipline outlining that corporal punishment is not acceptable. Guidance is clearly set out in written information provided to foster carers and is part of the Foster Carer Agreement that all foster carers sign following approval with Calderdale Foster Care Service.

2. Underlying Principles

It is the duty of foster carers to ensure that children being cared for should have a positive experience of family life and be given the same access to opportunities and boundaries as other children. The setting of appropriate boundaries and good order is a necessary aspect of family life to enable children to develop in a safe and secure environment.

Foster carers need to consider the individual needs of the children and young people maintaining safe, consistent and understandable boundaries encouraging positive behaviour. All children will be treated with understanding, dignity, kindness and respect. Carers will strive at all times to develop positive relationships recognising children's unique needs, aspirations, experiences and strengths. Where possible, staff and carers will encourage children and young people to voice and influence their lives complying with current Human Rights legislation at all times.

We expect that all staff and carers who work with our children and young people, build strong positive respectful, relationships, empowering children and young people to take responsibility for their actions. Where possible, repair and restore should be considered, allowing natural consequences to occur with less punitive action.

In day to day decision making, foster carers must demonstrate an appropriate balance between:

  • The needs of individual children;
  • The needs of the group of children residing in the foster home;
  • The protection of others (including the public) from harm; and
  • The wishes and preferences of each member of the household.

Foster carers must make clear to children the consequences of unacceptable behaviour. Any measure applied must be relevant to the incident, reasonable and carried out as close to the time of the incident as possible. The measures taken to respond to unacceptable behaviour must be proportionate and appropriate to the age, understanding and individual needs of the child. 

Relationships between children services staff, foster carers and children should be based on mutual respect and understanding. Clear professional and personal boundaries must be in place. All children must be treated equally, without favouritism or prejudice. Foster carers and children must be aware that each individual has rights and responsibilities in relation to the others that they live with, and the wider community.

All children should be encouraged to develop an awareness of their rights and responsibilities and must be given information appropriate to their home environment. Specific information provided includes:

  • Children's Guide to Fostering (currently under review);
  • Calderdale Council complaints & compliments guidance / leaflet;
  • Children Looked After reviews (guide and information about the IRO Service);
  • Calderdale Children's Rights Service and how to contact them;
  • Information on how to contact Ofsted (contained within the Children's Guides).

3. Risk Assessment and Planning

3.1 Prior to Placement Start

Prior to the placement all information available about the child, including information pertaining to behaviour and causes of any behavioural issues should be shared.  

A risk assessment must be completed by the social worker for each child prior to moving into the placement which will include any difficult or challenging behaviour. When a child is moving into  placement  a risk assessment must be undertaken to consider the impact of the child moving into the placement and the children living in the home.

When the placement is planned, a meeting will be held to share information, plan introductions and complete the CLA paperwork. This is also an opportunity for foster carers to be given any information known about the child.

Where the placement has been made within a short time scale and a pre-placement meeting has not been held, a meeting must be held within 72 hours of the placement commencing:

  • Foster Carers are trained in TCIF de-escalation strategies and techniques;
  • A foster care placement risk assessment as part of the household safe care plan must involve the foster carers and lead professionals involved with the child.

3.2 After Placement Start

If the challenging behaviour develops within a foster placement, an Individual Crisis Management Plan must be completed and reviewed to assess risk and to have an agreed plan of action.

If a child's behaviour regularly endangers them or others a placement stability meeting should be convened and a risk reduction strategy be put in place, which will support the risk assessment.

It is also important to determine whether there are any medical conditions which might place the child at risk should particular techniques or methods of physical intervention be used. If so, this must be documented and drawn to the attention of those working with or looking after the child. If in doubt, medical advice must be sought.

All foster carers must have a Safe Care Plan for their home and all the people living in it. Part of the plan must address how boundaries, discipline and behaviour will be managed in the foster home. The plan should be shared with the child (where age appropriate) before the placement commences and referred to in the Placement Agreement. The Safe Care Plan must be reviewed when a new child enters the foster home and, if the placement is permanent, the Safe Care Plan must be reviewed at least annually with the supervising social worker. If challenging behaviour escalates or changes significantly, the foster carer, supervising social worker and social worker should review the Individual Crisis Management plan.

Where the child is using the Family Placement Short Breaks service, the Safe Care Plan must be discussed and agreed with the child's parents/primary caregivers and the supervising social worker at the Placement Planning Meeting. Short break carers adhere to the foster care role and if there any physical interventions needed, alternative short break services must be considered.

4. Training and Support

Training is offered to all foster carers. Foster carer's TCIF manuals highlight strategies for de-escalating, avoiding or diffusing challenging behaviour.

All foster carers are offered training in positive care and control. TCIF training highlights de-escalating strategies and foster carers must maintain certification every 3 years.

Foster carers and supervising social workers working with disabled children are offered training specifically designed to meet the needs of disabled children and young people. Courses are designed to help participants understand how some behaviours can be linked to a child's disability.

5. Repair and Restore

Where possible, foster carers, social workers, children and young people should consider how to repair and restore any consequences of negative behaviour. Any sanctions used to address negative behaviour should be restorative in nature, to help children and young people recognise the impact of their behaviour on themselves, other children, foster carers caring for them and the wider community. Before any sanction is imposed, supervising social workers, foster carers and social workers must be satisfied of the following:

  1. Sanctions for challenging behaviour should not be punitive but should be restorative in nature;
  2. That the child was capable of behaving acceptably and understands (age appropriately) what was required of him/her. Short breaks carers must be aware of the impact of disability on the child's behaviour. Some conditions such as autism may predispose the child to misunderstanding social cues. Children with a learning disability may not understand abstract concepts and may need very clear and concise messages about what is required;
  3. Supervising social workers must monitor all sanctions to ensure they are used appropriately. Where restorative methods of resolutions have not been successful, any sanctions imposed are relevant, fair and carried out as close to the time of the incident as possible.

6. Physical Interventions

Therapeutic Crisis Intervention Fostering is a restraint reduction programme. The programme is designed to maximise de-escalation techniques providing support to children and young people. It is only in exceptional and rare circumstances that a foster carer would use physical intervention. A physical intervention means any measure or technique designed to restrict a child's mobility or prevent a child from leaving, for example:

  • Any intervention which involves a child being physically held;
  • The locking or blocking an exit in order to contain or prevent a child from leaving.

Physical intervention should only be used to ensure safety and protection. This must  be specified as part of an Individual Crisis Management Plan. All situations involving  physical intervention must be risk assessed and appropriate action taken to ensure the situation is made safe. Failing to intervene could be deemed neglectful. Approval from Head of Service, children Looked After, must be obtained to sanction the use of physical intervention within a foster care setting.

In certain circumstances, approval from Head of Service must be obtained for actions that amount to a Deprivation of Liberty. When working with children with learning disabilities who have limited understanding, physical prompts may be used to assist the child or young person in everyday activities, where identified as a communication aid. If the child or young person goes into crisis, the identified TCIF intervention and strategies should be used. Any physical interventions used from this point would be deemed as such.

A physical intervention in an emergency situation may only be used where there is likely a significant injury to the child, someone else or serious damage to property which could lead to someone being harmed. A physical intervention must not be used:

  • To demonstrate authority;
  • To punish a child;
  • To get a young person or child to comply;
  • Please refer to your TCIF manual for further explanations.

Physical intervention must be notified to the child's social worker/supervising social worker within 12 hours of the incident.  A follow up visit to the child will take place within 5 days by the child's social worker.

7. Medical Examination

  • If there has been physical intervention and injuries are apparent or suspected, medical attention should be sought. The foster carer must immediately notify the Fostering Service and the child's Social Work Team (or out of hours EDT).
  • The medical practitioner, if seen, must be informed that any injuries may have been caused from an incident involving physical intervention;
  • Whether or not the child or others decide to see a medical practitioner this incident must be recorded, together with the outcome.

8. Monitoring and Recording

The TCIF programme ensures risk assessments and individual crisis management plans take into account the child's / young person's individual circumstances including; age, size, disabilities, health, medication, risks factors, child's opinions, relationships between carers and child, identified restraints to minimise any risks of injury.

8.1 Foster carer

The recording of challenging behaviour will be maintained by the foster carer in their foster carer diary and in daily and weekly recording sheets. This recording should be discussed with the child's social worker and their supervising social worker who will also maintain appropriate case recording. If a child or member of the household sustains any injury the child's social worker and supervising social worker must be informed immediately.

A Foster Carer Incident Reporting Form will be completed by the foster carer and a copy given to the supervising social worker and the child's social worker if:

  • If a child or member of the household sustains any injury;
  • If a child is restrained in a foster care placement;
  • If a foster child causes damage to property.

Within the Fostering Service any physical intervention or restraint must be recorded on a Foster Carer Incident Reporting Form. A copy of this must be given to the Fostering Team manager and a copy retained on the carer's file.

9. De-briefing - Post Crisis Response

Supervising social workers will support foster carers post crisis:

  • Foster carers feelings and experiences;
  • Foster carers actions - did the adult feel in control of the situation?
  • What led up to the crisis - could the situation have been handled differently?