Support Care Foster Placements

See also: Placement Request Form and Child in Care External Placement Approval Form


Short Breaks: Assessment, Planning and Review

Breaks Away Procedure


Short Breaks: Statutory guidance on how to safeguard and promote the welfare of disabled children using short breaks (DCSF, 2010)


Support Care is the provision of time limited placements to support a family in the community to continue to parent a child or children, or as support to a foster care placement. It is a time-limited resource and should never be expected to last indefinitely.


This procedure should be used for referrals for regular placement of children as part of the plan to assist their parents/carers to continue parenting, and to prevent longer term admission to substitute care. This may include adoptive placements.

In any situation an assessment should have been undertaken which demonstrates:

  1. Why the support care placement is required;
  2. How the placement will assist the child;
  3. How the placement will assist the parents/carers to continue parenting;
  4. What will change with the placement and how will the situation be assisted to change.

When support is considered for foster carers, breaks from caring must meet the needs of placed children.

There should also be an allocated social worker to ensure that strategies can be implemented alongside the provision of Support Care to enable change to occur.

Where the Support Care is being provided to either short term or long term foster care placements, the need for planned recurrent Support Care should have ideally been identified at the beginning of the placement and have been written into the Placement Agreement.

An individual placement cannot exceed 28 days nor can there be more than 120 days of accommodation under a single agreement in a 12 month period (in the case of planned recurrent support care placements).

1. Accessing Support Care

Referrals for planned recurrent placements may be made by a social worker from the Initial Response Team, Child Protection and Family Support Teams, Children Looked After Teams or Outreach Team.

Any request for a placement must be approved by a Service Manager using a Placement Request Form.

Once permission to place has been agreed, a referral will be made to the Fostering Team Duty Worker.

Information required includes:

  1. Placement Request Form;
  2. Either: Child and Family Single Assessment/Planning Meeting Minutes;
  3. Any further information which will assist the Fostering Team in matching the child with an appropriate foster carer.

2. Acceptance of Referral

Upon receiving the referral for Support Care the Fostering Team Duty Worker will:

  1. Write up the referral on the monitoring form;
  2. Make up a foster care file for the child (if there is not one already).

If the referral for a Support Care placement is for a child already in either a short or long term foster placement, it is the responsibility of the Fostering Social Worker for the child's foster carer to initiate a search for a support carer. The knowledge of the Fostering Team should be used.

New referrals for Support Care will be discussed at Team meetings. They will be added to any waiting list for Support Care and prioritised at that time. This will allow for the collective knowledge of the Team to be utilised.

Once a potential match has been identified, the Fostering Social Worker for the potential carer will inform the referring worker of that match and begin to progress the referral.

3. Progressing Referral

The Fostering Social Worker responsible for the potential carer will approach the carer and begin liaising with the referring worker to set up introductions and follow through to placement.

4. Introductions and Placement Agreement

The child, the parent/carer, the referring worker, the foster carer and the foster carer's Fostering Social Worker must meet to enable a decision to proceed to be made.

The decision as to whether or not to proceed is ultimately the decision of the child, the parent/carer and the foster carer. It may be better made upon reflection.

The introduction process may well be different for each child. Their needs are paramount and the pace of the introductions should be matched to the needs of the child.

The parent should understand that, although the child will be Accommodated in the Support Care placement, they retain Parental Responsibility for the child while the child is in Support Care.

All parties must be aware that the sharing of information is essential to ensuring the success of the placement. Information sharing is an essential aspect of working together and includes professionals. The information will be kept confidential and the parent/carers are asked to do the same with the information they receive.

At the first meeting there should be agreement as to the timetable for the introductions and a date and time set for the signing of the CLA documentation and Placement Plan before the first placement. This includes written consent regarding health issues.

There must be agreement about transport issues during the period of support foster care, including to and from placement. Foster carers must ensure that they have full comprehensive insurance and are insured to use their vehicle for business use. Support foster carers will be able to claim travel expenses.

There should be agreement about the initial length of the Support Care.

5. Review of Placements

See also: Child Looked After Reviews Procedure.

The following statutory requirements for reviewing children who are Looked After and who are in receipt of short term placements apply:

  • Under Section 20 Children Act 1989, with short breaks of not more than 17 days each in the same setting (where the total number of placement days does not exceed 75 in any 12 month period): in these circumstances an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) must be appointed, and a Short Break Care Plan drawn up.┬áThe 2010 Regulations are modified (Regulation 48), so that Child Looked After Reviews and Social Work Visits are less frequent and the short breaks are treated as a single placement.
  • Under Section 20 Children Act 1989, where short breaks exceed a total of 17 days per placement or more than 75 days per 12 month period and/or take place in more than one setting: in these circumstances an IRO must be appointed and a Care Plan drawn up.┬áThe 2010 Regulations apply in full, including the provisions on frequency of Child Looked After Reviews and Social Work Visits.

The reviews must be chaired by an IRO.

The continuing need for the support care should be reviewed at the reviews. 

Reviews should include the child as well as the parents, the foster carer and the Fostering Social Worker from the Fostering Team.

The resource under the Support Care Scheme will be offered for an initial period of no longer than 6 months and will be reviewed at the Looked After Reviews by all parties involved.

6. Foster Care Payments

It is the responsibility of the allocated social worker for the child to enter the episode on the relevant computer records.

If the Support Care placement is being provided to a child already in a foster placement, it should be noted on the relevant computer records that this is not the main placement.

When the Support Care is being provided to a child already in a foster placement, the Support Care provider should complete 'Support Care/Short Breaks Care Placements form and return it on the last day of the month to their Fostering Social Worker.

The Fostering Social Worker (or the Team Manager in their absence) will then sign that the placements for that month have occurred and forward the form to Finance for payment of the placement.

Payments for foster care payments and fees will be made as per the Foster Carer Payment for Skills Scheme.