The Foster Care Forum
This is an exciting opportunity for department staff and carers to work together and make positive changes to the service given to children and young people.
The Forum is a consultative group that brings together management, carers and related professionals with the intention of discussing policies and resolving issues to improve outcomes for Looked After Children in Tameside.
- All carers receive minutes and agendas and are invited to attend meetings. Information is also shared via newsletters, support groups and individual support workers.
- You can also contribute your ideas through either this website, your support groups or your supervising social worker
Foster Care Forum - Terms of Reference
"Tameside Foster Care Forum; promoting better working relationships between key stakeholders in order to effectively develop and improve fostering services, with a focus on improving outcomes for looked after children in Tameside"
- Recognise achievements and areas of Good Practice
- Appreciate and understand individual roles and responsibilities
- Collectively represent the views of Foster Carers to identify areas of development within the Service
- Give Carers a voice with informed choices and information
- Have a wide and inclusive focus with a commitment to service user involvement, working in partnership and problem solving
- Have membership and representation from senior management who have responsibility for planning and delivering services
- Promote better working relationships between stakeholders in order to identify and improve good practice
- Recognise the importance of consultation with stakeholders and identify ways to record and feed views into future planning and delivery of services
- Understand that all stakeholders will have areas for development and breakdown cultural barriers
For the purpose of clarity stakeholders referred to include: Foster Carers, Fostering Service, Assessment and Family Support Teams, Leaving Care, Education Resource Team, Commissioning Team, Designated Health Worker for LAC, Senior Mental Health Worker for LAC, Education Inclusion Team, Conference and Review Officers (LAC Review Chairs), Children’s Rights Officer, Senior management, LAC Support Team and representation from Looked After Children and Young People via In Care and Leaving Care Consultation Groups
Mode of Operation:
- The Forum will meet regularly and it is intended that the agenda will take into account any collective issues of carers and any consultation that services may wish to bring to this arena in terms of developing services
- Meetings will be of a 2 hour duration with the first 1.5 hours given to consultation with stakeholders and the last ½ hour given to core members in order to discuss any issues arising and be given the opportunity to meet independently to discuss future agenda items
- The agenda will be agreed at the meeting prior and will be set via the Forum Chair
- It is intended that the Forum Chair be independent of any of the representing services and be voted on via the Foster Carers who make up the core Forum until this is arranged Sandra Willans of the User Involvement Team will undertake this role
- It is envisaged that the Forum will conduct research amongst stakeholders to identify themed issues to be addressed in this arena
- All Carers will be fairly represented and there will be a specific emphasis on Equality Issues ie: consideration of gender, race, sexual orientation, age and disability will be given in all consultation mechanisms
- Meetings will endeavour to take into account accessibility, particularly for members who may struggle to attend during working days and school holidays due to their professional and home commitments. It is suggested therefore, that alternate times be identified to include evening meetings to allow access and inclusion
- Where necessary crèche/childminder/supervision facilities will be considered to promote access for carers via the coordinator and by arrangement
- Training will be offered to carers on chairing and attending meetings, confidence building and assertiveness, in order to ensure the professional conduct of said roles within the Forum
- Information and Communication
A vital part of maintaining and sustaining any consultation Forum is the significance of ensuring good quality information and feedback is communicated to all levels of involvement across the service, including children and young people where there is a direct impact on decisions that affect them.
It is necessary therefore, to ensure that mechanisms are identified and established at an early stage in the process to keep not only members up to date with developments of the Forum, but also to consider how to promote a wider focus and ensure stakeholders remain aware of the impact of any developments on individuals and the services they represent.
- Fostering News - to include Forum events and updates which will inform carers of developments
- Regular promotional materials such as flyers, posters etc. will be designed and distributed to carers and stakeholders alike
- Introduction to Tameside’s Foster Care Forum will be included in induction packs for new carers
- Minutes and action plans will be disseminated to all Forum members
- Updated information will be posted quarterly in all internal staff newsletters
- Different methods of consultation will be considered to ensure all key stakeholders are given the opportunity to contribute to themed issues
- Kidzone Magazine will carry articles where children and young people have contributed to change
Membership of the Forum will be equally split with 50:50 representation attending Forum meetings.
Membership is open to all key stakeholders. To ensure continuity, members will nominate a representative if they are unable to attend any meeting in person.
In order to ensure that meetings are managed effectively, a core membership made up of 9 carers, a minimum of 1 senior management representative, practitioner reps and managers from key services and the supporting coordinator role will make up a total number not exceeding 18 people.
Consultative themes will identify specific services that would need to be represented via invitation by the Forum Services, elected members etc. may request a 'spot' on a Forum agenda in which to bring service developments to the table for discussion and consultation.
Members of the Forum will ensure effective distribution of information, particularly where non-attendance is an issue
The Forum will be considered successful if:
- Opportunities for consultation on service developments are taken
- A coherent picture of the Forum helps to inform local planning, funding and decision making processes
- The voice of carers is considered in service planning and the developing Forum is recognised as an empowered arena for providing a focus on improving services both to foster carers and ultimately Looked After Children
- It can evidence how it drove certain ideas forward which resulted in improved services for children and young people looked after
- Stakeholders routinely invite joined up working/planning and seek opinions of the Forum
- A diverse range of carers are seen to be working together in implementing the vision
- Carers themselves feel it has made a difference to how they are seen/supported/listened too
- There are greater understandings of roles, responsibilities and remits across the Forum
If you have information, comments, agenda items, or issues you believe the forum should consider please use the online comments form.