Promising practice details

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C4EO theme: Vulnerable (Looked After) Children

Team Parenting™.

Themes this local practice example relates to:

  • Vulnerable (Looked After) Children
  • General resources
  • Adoption and Fostering

Priorities this local practice example relates to:

    Basic details

    Organisation submitting example

    Foster Care Associates, part of the Core Assets Group

    Local authority/local area:

    The Core Assets Group operates independent fostering services in 10 countries including FCA in the UK.

     

    The context and rationale

    Background details to your example

    Summary

    FCA developed Team Parenting™ as a systemic, resilience and strengths based therapeutic approach centering on the needs of the child/young person in placement by considering the whole placement context as a dynamic process of family/professional interactions and relationships. Team Parenting™ provides a joined up approach to parenting foster children/young people. Taking into account the complex needs of children/young people with histories of interpersonal trauma and/or attachment disorders, Team Parenting™ recognises and respects the professional roles and care interventions of all those working with the child/young person.

    Background


    A foster care placement should provide stability of care in which supportive professionals can work therapeutically with children/young people to enhance their ability to form secure attachments thus improving longer-term outcomes. Team Parenting™ acknowledges that every support person involved with the child/young person holds different information and has different experiences of that child/young person and that when working together they can create a cohesive full picture of the child/young person. Team Parenting™ acknowledges that children and young people with histories of trauma, abuse or neglect and/or attachment difficulties often require therapeutic input to promote psychological wellbeing and development. As much as possible, this replicates a secure family model.

    History and Development of Team Parenting™
    Since its inception,n Foster Care Associates (FCA) has been committed to providing looked after children/young people fostered by the agency with therapeutic support. Initially, this was done through individual therapy sessions. However, given the confidential nature of individual therapy, it became clear that this approach produced gaps in knowledge between the therapist, foster carers and other support workers. In addition, differences in the professional priorities of carers and other support workers occasionally undermined a joined-up approach to care provision. For example, the aims and experience of the individual therapists and those of the foster carers could differ so that what might be occurring in the home was kept separate from, or not addressed during, therapy. The therapeutic boundary could be interpreted by foster carers as an implicit criticism of their own work with the child/young person. The outcome of this fragmented approach undermined the stability of the foster placement.

    FCA recognised that factors destabilising foster placements which led to placement breakdown further compounded the child/young person’s emotional and psychological wellbeing, particularly regarding attachments. In addition, academic research reiterated the importance of informing and supporting foster carers to understand challenging behaviour as well as their own emotional response to such behaviour. Moreover, experience from FCA foster carers demonstrated that placements impacted the foster family as a whole – carers as well as other children living in the household. FCA identified four interacting factors leading to placement breakdown:

    1. confidentiality boundaries of individual therapy
    2. lack of information sharing across the care network
    3. impact of fostering on carers and other family members
    4. impact of, and repetition of, attachment difficulties.

    FCA developed Team Parenting™ as a systemic, resilience and strengths based therapeutic approach centering on the needs of the child/young person in placement by considering the whole placement context as a dynamic process of family/professional interactions and relationships. Team Parenting™ provides a joined up approach to parenting foster children/young people. Taking into account the complex needs of children/young people with histories of interpersonal trauma and/or attachment disorders, Team Parenting™ recognises and respects the professional roles and care interventions of all those working with the child/young person. While each support service may provide particular expertise to meet specific needs of the child, the Team Parenting™ model brings each service provider together for a comprehensive, integrated approach where services complement each other and weave together a helpful network of care provision focused on understanding and caring for the child in a holistic context. Team Parenting™ provides joined up care for a child/young person where a family of services communicate clearly with each other about the individual needs of the child and communicate with the child/young person in order to listen and respond effectively.

    Central to Team Parenting™ is the move from the child/young person as the ‘client’ in any therapeutic work, to the ‘child in placement’ as the ‘client’. This shift acknowledges the critical role of the foster carer as the predominant agent of therapeutic change in the child’s life, and as such recognises the primacy of the daily caregiving dynamic between foster carer and child. However, the phrase ‘child in placement’ encompasses all those involved in the placement. Whilst the relationship between the carer and the child/young person is central, given the foster carer’s potential as an attachment figure, all the other relationships and roles are seen to be important to the overall wellbeing of the child/young person. Everyone involved the child’s placement holds different information and experiences of that child, and when brought together can hold the child together and create a cohesive full picture of the child, their strengths and their needs.
    The interlocking and inter-relational nature of Team Parenting™ is depicted in the flower diagram below. The child/young person and his/her foster carers at the centre, surrounded by professionals who influence, and are influenced by the child, the carers and one another. Team Parenting™ should:
    1. provide a holistic view of the child/young person’s needs;
    2. provide relevant therapeutic support for the child/young person, carers and other Team Parenting™ professionals;
    3. provide relevant additional educational or other support work for the child/young person;
    4. provide evidence of communication between Team Parenting™ members regarding the child's/young person’s needs and issues regarding placement stability.



    FCA is committed to providing an ethos of Team Parenting™ for each foster child placed with our foster carers. While some professional interventions will reflect local authorities resource constraints, FCA’ fundamental commitment to Team Parenting™ means that all foster carers are trained in this mode of interaction including weekly KDA™ monitoring (explained below); that FCA therapists, support workers and educational facilities are accessible for acute involvement when needed; and that all FCA workers are committed to a holistic approach to fostering informed by systemic and attachment theories of care. When sufficiently resourced by Local Authorities, the Team Parenting™ model provides unrivalled outcomes for looked after children in terms of placement stability and educational attainment. Team Parenting™ addresses the four interacting factors leading to placement breakdown by:

    1.Providing a holistic view of the child/young person’s needs;
    2.Providing relevant therapeutic support for the child/young person, carers and other Team Parenting™ professionals;
    3.Providing relevant additional educational or other support work;
    4.Providing evidence of communication between Team Parenting™ members regarding the child/young person’s needs and issues regarding placement stability.

     

    The practice

    Further details about the practice

    Team Parenting™ is about bringing together those professionals involved in the child/young person's life in order to provide a cohesive full picture of the child and as a result maintain stability and encourage wellbeing. The child/young person is surrounded by carers and professionals who aim to work collaboratively to understand and support the emotional and developmental needs of that child/young person. These include:

    FCA Foster Carer/s
    Young Person if appropriate
    FCA Supervising Social Worker
    Local Authority Social Worker
    FCA Education Liaison Officer
    A representative from school i.e. Teacher, Teaching Assistant, School Nurse
    Speech and Language Therapist
    FCA Support worker
    CAMHS Worker i.e. therapist, psychiatrist etc.
    Life Story Worker
    Birth Parents - if agreed that their witnessing of, or contributing to, the meeting would be valuable to the young person
    Guardian
    YOS Worker.

    The FCA Supervising Social Worker has responsibility for providing supervision to the foster carers. In supervision, the social worker creates a space to contain the carers’ feelings, providing a supportive and available presence, and introducing palatable amounts of challenge and new learning. Social workers also carry out safeguarding duties, as well as sometimes being required to coach or mentor foster carers. Social workers encourage carers to work in a strength-based manner and enable learning and development in tandem with the FCA therapist. As a statutory requirement, each child/young person has a Local Authority social worker to work directly with the child/young person and those providing foster care.

    Team Parenting™ meetings form part of the ongoing therapeutic intervention with the child/young person. The Local Authority social worker is invited to provide, in as detailed manner as possible, the child/young person’s chronology, other group members are then also invited to contribute the pieces of history they hold. A school representative offers an educational history and assessment. The foster carers report on the child’s/young person’s daily lives and immediate likes and dislikes. Other support workers, e.g. YOT, language therapist, etc, may be involved in Team Parenting™ meetings.

    The initial Team Parenting™ meeting establishes the parenting team and acknowledges that whilst each individual member exists and functions independently of one another, there is a need to form a collaborative group to prevent the individuals replicating the splintered nature of the child or young person’s life within the care system. It also gives recognition to the challenging task of caring effectively for children/young people traumatised by abuse and neglect and allows collective responsibility where difficult decisions and/or risks may be taken. The outcome of the initial meeting includes a clear articulation of each professional’s role and a coherent picture of the child/young person’s overarching therapeutic, educational and other support needs. Subsequent Team Parenting™ meetings focus on, for example, building up trust between professionals and harnessing collective expertise to facilitate placement stability, meeting the needs of the child/young person and building up an appreciation of that child/young person’s history, development and wellbeing needs. One possible outcome of Team Parenting™ meetings includes recognising the need for other professional intervention. For example these could involve other support workers, additional educational help or intensive therapeutic interventions.

    A support worker may be allocated to the child/young person to assist with extra-curricular activities. This frequently entails children/young people learning new skills. Mastery and achievement have shown to be important protective factors in emotional health and wellbeing. Support workers are able to build up a unique relationship with the child/young person as they are not teachers, carers, social workers or therapists. The support worker is able to ‘get alongside’ the child/young person building a positive and collaborative relationship. The activities in which they engage invariably provide a forum for conversation and reflection because the children/young people are distracted by what they are doing and find it easier to talk. Creating opportunities for skill acquisition and positive relationships maximises the protective factors of self-esteem and self-efficacy.

    The education officer may help to ensure the child/young person has either an appropriate school or placement within a learning/work environment. This can include offering consultation to school staff, explaining the impact of attachment difficulties on behaviour, suggesting suitable and appropriate strategies, sourcing additional support for the child/young person within school such as extra tutoring or alternative educational provision. The education liaison officer also consults with foster carers encouraging them to adopt realistic educational goals for the child/young person.

    Therapeutic Support
    The FCA therapist holds a key role in Team Parenting™. As a facilitator of the Team Parenting™ meetings, the therapist can move between using psycho-educational tools, attachment theory, and brain development to help other professionals think about the emotional and behavioural development of the child/young person. In addition, the therapist facilitates relationships and explores dynamics between the members of the parenting team. The therapist may use their skills to encourage the voicing of thoughts/feelings towards the child/young person and the placement that may be difficult to talk about and acknowledge out loud. After each meeting, the FCA therapist maintains this communication role by distributing minutes of the meeting which summarise discussion and action points to all members of the parenting team.

    Alongside the option of individual therapy for the child/young person, foster carers can access therapeutic consultations. Consultations help carers to recognise that looking after children with disrupted attachments is a difficult task that must be sustained by working together. These sessions are offered to support carers in their position as substitute attachment figures. The input provides time for carers to decode the extremes of behaviour they see and think about why these behaviours may exist and what the underlying communications of the behaviours are. Consultations are not therapy for the foster carers, instead the focus is on how best to support them to continue to care for the child/young person in placement. Consultations can help teach carers how to respond to the child/young person’s unconscious communications, discuss brain development and neuroscience to understand emotional processes and give carers a space to be allowed to express their own frustration, disappointment, pain and sadness in a non-judgemental environment. In this context, the carer can be helped to understand the child/young person’s behaviour rather than seeing episodes as ‘attacks’ on them as individuals.

    Consultations are also available to any member of the FCA staff team that support children and young people to discuss the ways they are supporting the child/young person in placement, as well external professionals such as Local Authority social workers, teachers, CAMHS workers. These consultations can help with the dilemmas and difficulties inherent in the work as well as issues arising from care planning, contact, independence, assessments and behavioural management in schools etc. These consultations can be face to face, on the telephone or by email as the need arises.

    A clinical decision may be made by the parenting team that joint carer/child therapy sessions are needed for the placement to remain stable. This model is based upon the principles of attachment theory and recognises that a secure attachment is an important component of resilience, whereas compromised attachments create many difficulties for children and young people. Joint work with carers and children has a dual function: it works towards building the attachment between carer and child, and it facilitates the processing of trauma by the child. Carers are able to get alongside the child and help them explore their inner world. The act of processing trauma together adds to and facilitates the development of the attachment relationship between the child/young person and their carer. Elements of the sessions replicate the very early parent-baby attachment relationship and give the child the sense of ‘you are understood, you are ok.’ This is known as attunement. Attunement has been described as reciprocity or sensitive, responsive care-giving. It encompasses the notion of empathy and extends beyond this. Attunement provides the scaffolding for children/young people to begin to access, identify and conceptualise their emotional states.

    Therapy Groups are available for both new and experienced carers, and aim to give a space to think about and learn new skills in therapeutic parenting. Groups for carers aim to provide a space for carers to use both verbal and non-verbal tools to think about and reflect on the behaviour and emotional needs of children and young people in placement and the impact of the fostering role. The aim of these groups is to encourage carer resilience through sharing and solving difficulties, unpicking unconscious processes and sharing experience and expertise with other carers.

    Alongside all of the above interventions there is also a Team Parenting™ Training Programme for both carers and staff. This encompasses two methods of delivery: training delivered by therapists to groups of foster carers and staff over one or two days and training as part of closed groups that run for a fixed term.

    KDA™ – Key Developmental Assets

    The efficacy of Team Parenting™ is evidenced through the KDA™ monitoring system which requires foster carers to record the child/young person’s progress in terms of developmental milestones, skills and talents. KDA captures the developmental progress or lack of along with lifespace events and monitors them against 20 key developmental assets based on those identified by Search Institutes as being necessary for children and young people to achieve their developmental trajectory. Foster carers play a crucial role in noticing and observing the progress of the looked after children along these identified trajectories and the process can sharpen the carers’ reflective capacities in identifying areas of need.

    Foster carers submit weekly reports electronically that are designed to track and monitor progress in the young person’s daily life focussing on strengths. Ideally the KDA™ is recorded with the young person, so that they have a direct input into what is being said about their achievements. Patterns of behaviour and progress can then be discussed with social workers both in supervision with carers, directly with the young person and during Team Parenting™ meetings to develop strategies for further work. This way of recording means that carers and children/young people are working on outcomes/reaching developmental milestones from the outset of the placement. These reports assist in mapping the direction and training for the carer and reinforce the positive outcomes for the young person whilst creating a developmental record for the child in perpetuity.



    KDA™ Achievement Profiles provide A screening tool that is enacted from the first moment of placement, KDAs can highlight any particular or extreme difficulties as they develop and prompt the appropriate service to become involved.

    A sophisticated observational tool – KDAs enhance the reflective and observational skills of carers by concentrating their attention to specific areas of development. In turn, it provides evidence of carers professional development and skills in the areas of child development and psychology.

    A shared reporting mechanism – KDA recordings and achievement profiles are discussed at Team Parenting™ meetings to facilitate communication regarding the child/young person’s current needs, difficulties, strengths and resources. As such, they inform the parenting team discussion regarding actions that would best support the child in placement.

    An evaluative/auditing tool – KDAs provide a qualitative measure for the success of Team Parenting™ and records the progress the child or young person has made during their time in placement.

    Team Parenting™ Four Phases:
    Phase 1
    – Stabilising the placement within the agency.
    Interventions and support include:
    • Supervision with social worker
    • Initial Team Parenting™ Meeting
    • Education Liaison attending Personal Education Plan meetings
    • Consultations with therapist
    • Some support work may begin
    • Training
    • KDA™.

    Phase 2 - Providing appropriate responses to the young person’s emotional distress.
    Interventions and support include:
    • Supervision with social worker
    • Team Parenting™ Meetings
    • Education support
    • Consultations with therapist
    • Support work sessions with child
    • Joint Child and Carer sessions
    • Specialist training
    • Therapeutic carer groups
    • KDA™.

    Phase 3 – Modelling appropriate emotional responses.
    Interventions and support include:
    • Supervision with social worker
    • Team Parenting™ Meetings
    • Education support
    • Consultations with therapist
    • Support work sessions with child
    • Joint Child and Carer sessions
    • Specialist therapeutic parenting training
    • Therapeutic carer groups
    • KDA™.

    Phase 4 – Building resilience.
    Interventions and support include:
    • Supervision with social worker
    • Team Parenting™ Meetings
    • Education support
    • Consultations with therapist
    • Support work sessions with child
    • Joint Child and Carer sessions
    • Specialist training
    • Therapeutic carer groups
    • KDA™.

    Throughout all phases of the Team Parenting™ model therapists and education liaison officers/managers can be involved in numerous ways. Sometimes a placement will require all levels of intervention and others may need only one or two.




     

    Evidence and evaluation - making a difference to children, young people and families

    Evidencing your practice has made a difference to children, young people and families

    Team Parenting™, in conjunction with KDA™ monitoring, has changed practice in two significant ways. First, each child/young person has a thorough assessment of needs and levels of appropriate intervention are determined through a holistic joined up approach. For example, the role of the therapist has changed from individual, somewhat fragmented, therapeutic relationship to an integrated therapeutic relationship with the whole of the Team Parenting™ group. In addition, there is a significant concentration on education with dedicated education rooms where children/young people not in school for a period of time can be tutored in a ` friendly environment. FCA can work with other education providers to arrange that young people take exams in our own education rooms. These environments have given young people who have had particular difficulties in school the confidence to reintegrate into school and achieve some educational success.

    The second significant change in practice is in relation to the KDA™ monitoring system. There are clear records of progress for each child/young person that are accessed and actioned by a team of professionals working with the child/young person. This more positive approach to recording moves carers away from a ‘problem saturated’ approach to a solution-focussed one. Identifying areas of success in this solution-focused culture leads to increased resourcefulness and efficacy as participants who work this way come to realise their pre-existing capacities and look to expand and build upon strengths.

    Outcomes in terms of placement stability:
    Following the implementation and ‘roll out’ of Team Parenting™ across FCA, the stability of placements has increased. For example as of March 31st 2008, 83.33% of children (under 16) placed with FCA Thames Valley for more than two and a half years have been in their current placement for more than two years, and this figure increased to 91.3% as of 31st March 2011.

    Outcomes in terms of progression:
    Across all regions from March 2008 to February 2011, FCA has helped 675 children to move on to independence, 230 children to be adopted and 1,444 children returned home.
    For Thames Valley region specifically, in the same time period, FCA has helped 27 children to move on to independence, 12 children to be adopted and 92 children to return home.

    Outcome in terms of educational achievement:
    Another related indicator of stability and holistic support can be found in the level of education achievement of children/young people placed with FCA. At the start of 2011, 98% of post-16 young people placed with FCA in England were engaged in education, employment or training, therefore only 2% were NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). According to government statistics the national average of 16-18 year olds NEET is around 9-10%.
    UK government statistics note that of the children in school year 11, 99% of all school children obtained at least one GCSE or GNVQ compared with only 64% of children looked after. Only 13% of looked after children obtained at least 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades A*- C compared with 62% of all children. FCA measure the change in predicted grades at GCSE, rather than a comparison to the national looked after children statistics because the populations of children are not directly comparable as the FCA population has a more complex spectrum of need. This is evidenced by the fact that the percentage of young people taking GCSEs with FCA in 2011 who also had a Statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) was 33.5% while the general level in the national LAC population is 19.2%. Despite this, FCA young people still achieve similar general results. For example, children placed with FCA generally perform higher than expected in GCSE attainment.

    Outcome in terms of market trust:
    *Increasing placements year on year (FCA UK Wide)

    2009-2010 – 2.7% Increase
    2010-11 – 3.9% increase
    2011-12 - 1.6% increase


    *Numbers of Long-Term (over six months) placements year by year:
    From 2010 to 2012 there has been a 10.5% increase in long term placements.


    FCA has also recieved positive feedback from customers, young people, carers, FCA staff and leading experts.

    KDA
    The KDA™ online system allows for the secure storage and dynamic reporting of daily life events that can be congregated to show developmental outcomes. The reporting features of KDA™ range across a spectrum of functions from measuring the progress of the individual to evaluating the impact of a service on large population groups. KDA™ facilitates user-based developmental outcomes achieved over time, through to wide demographic reporting to articulate developmental outcomes in an uncomplicated and responsive manner.
    There are 20 Key Developmental Assets™ around which the system is based. These 20 assets are, through research, associated with greater success and well-being in adulthood. Personal growth happens incrementally as developmental progressions. KDA™ is uniquely poised to monitor and support growth and development, placing the subject at the center of care planning and the caregiver as the primary agent of change. KDA™ also creates a transparent culture of conscious competence across a continuum of care highlighting areas of need and allowing the effective facilitation of additional resources, training or intervention as appropriate to consumers and practitioners.

    Foster carers, ideally in conjunction with the child/young person, report weekly on each aspect, as explained here, and this information is sent electronically to the Supervising Social Worker who collates these for the Team Parenting™ group. The outcome is that the Team Parenting™ group is kept informed about the child/young person and each can then plan, adjust and tailor their interventions and support accordingly.
    By using the KDA™ model, FCA monitors the quality of care and practice provided, as well as improves recording and reporting standards in relation to young people placed. Adopting an outcomes measure enables reflective and responsive care recording and planning, informing any Team Parenting™ supports wrapped around the child, as well as promoting our values and good practice. Reporting on outcomes for looked after children and young people meets the requirements of Government Policy and placing authority agendas.
    The KDA™ Online system which foster carers use to complete their weekly KDA™ recordings is a fully automated system. Once a foster carer submits a completed weekly recording, the system will send an electronic copy to the carers supervising social worker. The social worker will then use the system to produce a KDA™ Achievement Profile™. An Achievement Profile is a short automated report which summarises an individual child or young person’s development over a selected period of time. This takes the form of a series of charts/graphs which display an individual ‘development profile’ for each of the 20 Key Developmental Assets, together with a short narrative summary written by the social worker, which both give a clear picture of the trends and patterns influencing and affecting a young person’s development.

    Achievement Profiles™ are used to inform children’s Looked After Reviews, planning meetings and Team Parenting™ meetings to better meet the needs of the children and young people we look after. As Achievement Profiles™ are generated from the foster carers weekly recordings, this demonstrates our belief that foster carers really are the ‘agents of change’ for young people, being there with the children 24/7 means that carers are best positioned to influence and inform the needs of the young person.

    20 Key Developmental Assets

    External:
    1. Safety: Give an example from home, school, or the community where an adult has said something or taken action to ensure the child/young person’s health and safety.
    2. Positive Carer/Child Communication: Give an example of any positive communication, in words or gestures, with the child/young person.
    3. Family and Other Adult Relationships: Give an example of the child/young person accepting any support from an appropriate adult outside your home.
    4. Child Care/School or College Environment: Give an example of how teachers, tutors, carers, workers or peers have used a consistent/supportive approach to the child/young person’s learning and development, taking account of their level of ability, language and learning style.
    5. Carer Involvement in Child Care or Education: Give an example which illustrates your level of involvement or contact which encourages the child/young person in a child care, education or work setting.
    6. Carer Family Support: Give an example where you have provided the child/young person with emotional or physical care, or given personal attention to their needs, worries or achievements.
    7. Service to Others: Give an example where the child/young person has carried out a simple but significant and helpful task for you or others.
    8. Play/Social Activity: Give an example of the organised activities the child/young person attended this week which have involved interaction with others.
    9. Carer Family Boundaries: Give an example which demonstrates the setting of understandable and appropriate boundaries or ground rules for the child/young person.
    10. Child Care, School or Work Experience Boundaries: Give an example of child care workers, teachers or supervisors setting understandable and appropriate boundaries for the child/young person.
    11. Adult Role Models: Give an example which demonstrates how you or another adult provided a positive role-model for this child/ young person.
    12. High Expectations: Give an example of where you or another adult expected and supported the child/young person to do their best and where their achievements were acknowledged.

    Internal
    13. Planning and Decision-Making: Give an example of where the child/young person has told you about or demonstrated her/his capacity to plan ahead or make a decision appropriate to their age and stage of development.
    14. Engaging in Learning Activities - at Home/School/Community: Give an example to illustrate the level at which the child/young person has actively taken part in a learning activity.
    15. Motivation to Achieve: Give an example of how the child/young person demonstrates a willingness (outside school) to improve their skills, try out or master new things.
    16. Learning Opportunities and Homework: Give an example linked to an educational or formal setting which illustrates the level of support the child/young person has sought or the extent to which they have been encouraged in their learning.
    17. Personal Power: Give an example of the extent to which the child/young person is making some sense of their own views and feelings and those of others, and is at least starting to voice an opinion and take action relating to their lives.
    18. Responsibility: Give an example, however small, which illustrates the child/young person’s ability to take responsibility for their own actions or their personal care.
    19. Peaceful Conflict Resolution: Give an example which demonstrates the extent to which the child/young person has managed their own emotions and behaviour in a difficult situation.
    20. Positive View of Personal Future: Give an example which demonstrates how the child/young person views themselves, others or their future, taking account of their own cultural identity, a growing awareness of difference and the diverse world around them.

     

    Sustaining and replicating your practice

    Helping others to replicate your practice

    Team Parenting™ and KDA™ assures Local Authorities that children/young people are seen in a holistic way, that the assessment and therapeutic interventions are rigorous and that carers are trained and engaged in the developmental process as professionals. Local Authorities are given clear reports regarding each of these and FCA is able to indicate value for money service that has a positive developmental impact on children/young people’s lives.
    FCA will continue to rely upon the Team Parenting™ ethos across all placements, provide ongoing thorough training for support workers and foster carers and create opportunities for reflective practice. The assessment of the Team Parenting™ model will be monitored reflectively in conjunction with the KDA™ data analysis and Supervising Social Workers in order to ensure appropriate data capture and comparable longitudinal analysis of the Team Parenting™ method. As significant longitudinal data increases, this will feed into future monitoring and programme development for the Team Parenting™ method.

    The annual cost of providing a Team Parenting™ placement is approximately £50,000 per year. Whilst this is a significant investment in the future of a young person it compares very favourably to alternative provision.

    If it were not for the intensive support provided through a Team Parenting™ foster placement, then the young person may be placed in residential care. With residential care typically costing between £125,000 to £150,000 per year, a Team Parenting placement not only provides better outcomes for a young person in a family setting, but it also represents significant financial savings for the public purse. Indeed, having an established provider of complex fostering placements is particularly important in the current economic climate as Local Authorities close residential provision and seek to save costs by placing young people in foster care who would previously have been in residential care.

    In comparison to a standard foster placement, the additional supports provided in a Team Parenting™ placement also represent good value for money. The service cannot just be added on or ‘bought in’ on top of a standard fostering placement, as it relies on staff and carers being trained and supported before a placement is made. Standard fostering placement costs vary significantly but typically costs £30,000 - £40,000 per year. The standard placement is for young people with no obvious complex needs and provides a basic level of support for a young person from a trained and supervised foster carer. In comparison a Team Parenting™ placement, whilst being more expensive than a standard fostering placement, is specifically for young people with challenging and complex behaviours and it provides a range of significant additional inputs:

    • Therapeutic consultation for carers and staff
    • Education support
    • Fortnightly carer supervision
    • Team Parenting™ meetings
    • Access to support workers to provide activities for young people to provide the carer with a break
    • Enhanced carer training.

    Studies by the new economics foundation (nef), whilst not directly related to intensive foster care, have shown generally that interventions with vulnerable young people can generate significant SROI of up to £9.20 for every £1 spent. The Team Parenting™ approach not only delivers good outcomes for vulnerable young people it also represents excellent value for money.

    Hot Tips
    The must do for this method of practice is the quality of the staff required. The method requires practitioners across the board who can truly work in a multidisciplinary team. This requires the different disciplines to be able to share the themes from their work with individuals to enhance the outcomes for children/young people. Selection of staff is critical.

    It is also essential to encourage a non-defensive ethos within teams and provide as many opportunities as possible for reflective practice. Reflectiveness needs to become the rationale for all working practices. This way of working involves allowing time specifically devoted to case discussion not just as individuals but in teams. The team need to sit together and work together very regularly. This promotes not only safeguarding but training for newer members of the team and prevents hierarchy of professions. Equality and diversity are therefore promoted automatically in this way of working.

    Ensure that a Team Parenting™ meeting takes place early in the placement, as the sooner the team, carer, young person and other professionals can begin to work on strategies to help the more successful the outcomes are likely to be.

    Golden Threads:
    • You Can Do It – Promoting Resilience
    • It takes a community to raise a child – See the Bigger Picture.


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