Salford Children's Services Procedures Manual Salford City Council website
Greater Manchester SCB Procedures
Greater Manchester SCB Procedures Greater Manchester SCB Procedures

3.13.2 Family Placement Team Case Recording Policy

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose of Recording
  3. Case Files and Recording for Prospective Foster Carers
  4. Case Files and Recording for Approved Foster Carers


1. Introduction

This recording policy is written with the intention of providing guidance to members of the family placement team involved in recording information about service users within the Children's Services division of the Directorate. Staff affected by these procedures are:

  • Family placement social workers;
  • Family placement support workers;
  • Family placement admin workers;
  • Team Managers;
  • Head of Service.

Nothing in this guidance removes the need for staff to exercise professional judgement with regard to recording. Although the policy provides a framework for staff to operate within, there is still a requirement for judgement and discretion to be used on deciding on the appropriate nature of recording in individual cases.

Recording should be viewed as an important activity, not just for the agency but for the service users and/or foster carer. For the young person in public care recording serves as the corporate memory. Whilst workers move on, the record remains and later may be used by the child/carer to understand his or her experiences and why decisions were made. Good recording serves to inform them about their what happened to them and make sense or the past. In contrast poor recording serves to confuse and can lead to misunderstanding and resentment. Recording therefore should be seen as an integral part of practice and as time needs to be allocated for direct contact with service users, time should be similarly identified for recording where interruptions and diversions are kept to a minimum.

As far as possible recording should be contemporaneous or undertaken as soon after the event rather than rely on memory. Keeping information in the head to be committed to paper at some future time could mean that key information may well have been forgotten and lost forever. Allowing recording to mount up to be completed at some later date will result in the worker being confronted with increasing amounts of paperwork. This in itself is demoralising and makes the task of recording more difficult and time consuming. Essentially the key for successful recording is to plan time for contact with a family and similarly plan time for recording.

The ability to record relevant information accurately and concisely is a skill in itself and therefore workers will need to receive training in order to know what standard is expected by the department and how to use current computer systems. For this purpose a rolling consolidation programme, with a module on case recording is run bi-annually by Children's Services. Training on the use of Care first and Charms computer systems is available on request.


2. Purpose of Recording

Social Work is a complex task and recording is a vital activity that supports good practice in a number of ways. These include:

  • Supporting effective partnerships with users and carers;
  • Assisting continuity when workers are unavailable or change;
  • Providing a documented account of a department's involvement with an individual service user;
  • Serving as a supervisory and analytical tool;
  • Serving to coordinate activity;
  • Providing evidence for planning and allocating resources at an individual and strategic level;
  • Facilitating reflection, analysis and planning;
  • Enabling managers to monitor work;
  • Supporting supervision and professional development;
  • Recording that the practitioner and agency have met the expected standards of social care;
  • Recording provides the foundation for the compilation of court reports and serves as a written record of service delivery in the event of a claim against the council.

Access to information policy statement

The city council is committed to working openly and honestly with the aim of promoting trust and public confidence in the Children's Service Directorate. In keeping with this principal this guidance aims to promote a culture where records are routinely shared with service users. Sharing records proactively with service users should be seen in the context of good casework and one that promotes trust and transparency.

Case recording needs to be viewed as part of the service that the Children's Services Directorate provide for the service user. It is essentially the service user's record and should be compiled with care and accuracy. Accordingly the case record should be written in a style that promotes the sharing of the record and engages the understanding of the service users. The case record should be used as a casework tool and in the spirit of partnership should be written with the expectation that the service user will read the record.

A fundamental principal in social work practice is respect for the service user and recording practices similarly need to adhere to this principal. Recording should therefore be evidenced based, differentiating between fact and opinion, should avoid the use of both jargon and statements that are discriminatory, oppressive or gender biased.

The expectation that the record is to be shared does not mean that all parties will always agree and in these circumstances dissent by the service user should be recorded. Sharing records does provide the opportunity for the practitioner of clarifying issues, correcting inaccuracies and checking the service user's perception of the circumstances affecting their family. It also promotes a mutual understanding of the issues, encourages partnership, and endorses directorate's desire to be transparent and honest in its dealing with the public.


3. Case Files and Recording for Prospective Foster Carers

From the point of a member of the public completing an initial enquiry form for the fostering service, information is stored on the Charms computer system by the admin team, recruitment officer or fostering team manager. This enables the fostering team to record information and track progress on prospective foster carers until the point of approval.

Initial visit folder

If the enquirer requests an initial visit, an admin worker will prepare an initial visit folder for the worker carrying out the initial visit. The initial visit folder contains the following sections:

  • Front page to track progress of application;
  • Initial enquiry form;
  • CHARMS main details sheet;
  • Initial visit recording document.

On completing the initial visit, the family placement social worker, support worker or recruitment officer should complete the initial visit recording document with a recommendation and return the folder to the responsible fostering team manager.

Prospective foster carers attending preparation groups

If the enquirer progresses to attend preparation groups, the responsible admin worker will put together a training file for the group leaders. The file contains the following sections:

  1. Programme content;
  2. Invited list and relevant notes;
  3. Booking form and relevant notes;
  4. 7 sections under the heading of each training module. Each section contains a signing in sheet and running sheet;
  5. Attendance and evaluation report.

After each training module, group leaders will need to arrange a meeting to record their evaluation of each prospective carer's progress on the programme.

Following the final module, an evaluation of each prospective carer should be completed, with a record of the sessions they attended and a recommendation of what type of fostering they would be suitable for. The training file should then be returned to the responsible admin worker.


4. Case Files and Recording for Approved Foster Carers

Case files

On receiving the application form from prospective foster carers, an admin worker will make up an individual case file containing the following sections:

  • Contact/action/message sheet - to be kept on the front page;
  • Record of application/approval process;
  • Chronology;
  • Decision document;
  • Finance;
  • Correspondence;
  • Children's section - contains documents e.g. reviews, planning meeting minutes etc relating directly to Looked After children;
  • Case recording - contains running sheets and supervision forms on foster carers;
  • Training;
  • Panel - contains panel minutes and panel correspondence to foster carers;
  • Assessments/reports/reviews;
  • Application process;
  • Non-accessible.

Case recording

Once a foster carer has been approved information about them is recorded and stored on the Carefirst computer system and kept on their individual case file.

Supervision can occur at any frequency, but is usually from every 1 to 3 months, according on the type of fostering and level of need of the individual foster carer. For recording purposes a Foster Carer Supervision Form is available to aid the supervision process and accurately record discussions, decisions and any actions to be taken. The foster carer supervision form requires workers to record the following information:

  • Current placement details;
  • Plan for each child in placement;
  • Health and education needs of children in placement;
  • Financial issues;
  • Foster carers' record keeping;
  • Changes in circumstances;
  • Support issues;
  • Any actions to be taken;
  • Personal development and training.

Following supervision sessions, a copy of the completed form should be sent to the foster carer for their own records. A copy should also be kept on file and on the Carefirst computer system. In order to avoid duplication, the foster carer supervision form can be stored on Carestore.

All other direct or indirect contact with foster carers, professionals or other relevant persons should be recorded on running sheets on Carefirst. Each running sheet should include the date of contact, who the contact was between e.g. social worker and family placement social worker, the mode of communication e.g. by phone, email etc and details of the communication/event. Copies of running sheets should be printed off each year at the time of the foster carers' annual review and placed on the individual case file. They will also need to be read and signed off by the family placement social worker's team manager.

Information about children

There may be times, particularly for family placement supports workers, when relevant information is obtained either directly or indirectly about children placed with foster carers. For example, a child may share information about school or birth family which is relevant to the care planning process. In some cases, it will be appropriate to record the information on the child's file on Carefirst. Each situation needs to be considered on an individual basis and it is considered good practice to communicate with the child's social worker prior to the information being inputted on Carefirst.

Email

Nowadays the use of email is prolific and can be used in a similar fashion to conversing with someone face-to-face. For this reason, it is not always practical to store every piece of email correspondence. Equally, information in emails can be extremely relevant in recording events and understanding decision making processes. Workers are therefore expected to use their knowledge and professional judgement in deciding which emails need to be printed off and kept on the foster carers' file or copied onto Carefirst. It is important to remember the purpose of recording as stated previously when making any decisions about what information needs to be saved or discarded.

End