Working with Families and other Professionals

1. Introduction

As a professional you have an important part to play in the lives of children and families that you may work with.

Some children who are looked after will go home, so it is important for them to keep their relationships with parents and other family members.

Parents or other relatives may visit a child in your home, or the child's social worker may feel these meetings should take place somewhere else. Contact will be set out in the child's Placement Plan and Care Plan.

See: Contact Between the Child, their Family and Others.

It is important that you develop an open and honest relationship with the parents and ensure they know at all times that the child is the most important person and their well-being is being looked after by you.

This will be difficult for parents, so you need to ensure you work sensitively with them. Sometimes no matter what they have done, a child will continue to love their parents; you should never speak about parents in a negative way.

During your time as a foster carer, you will also work alongside many other professionals including your Supervising Social Worker as part of a team around the child/young person that makes sure the child's needs are met and developed and they are safe from harm.

Professionals will include amongst others;

2. The Child/Young Person's Social Worker

Each child or young person placed in foster care will have a social worker.

Social workers work with the whole family, not just the child/ren, and although their primary concern is for the child's welfare they do have to balance this with the wishes and needs of the parents. They should keep you informed about the progress of the plan for the child and any changes of plan or direction.

Their role is to:

  • Assess the needs of a child;
  • Develop a relationship with the child;
  • Plan for the child and regularly review that plan;
  • Work with you, the child and the child's family;
  • Share information with you;
  • Identify and obtain resources so that the child's needs are met;
  • Visit the child at the foster home within one week of the placement and then at least every six weeks for the first year or visit in line with the Care Plan. Thereafter, where the placement is intended to last until the child is aged 18, at intervals of not more than three months, and in any other case, at intervals of not more than six weeks.

If as a foster care you or the child in placement are having some difficulties contacting the social worker it is important to let your Supervising Social Worker know so that they can work to try and resolve this.


Each school will have a designated teacher for Looked After Children. You should work with the educational settings to make sure the child is achieving what they should and that they have aspirations for their future. You will need to keep them informed of the child'/young person's situation.

Some children/young people will attend different education settings to a mainstream school setting.

3. The Independent Reviewing Officer

Each child or young person placed in foster care will have an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). Wherever it is possible, the IRO will meet the child before the first Looked After Review.

Sibling groups, whether or not placed together, should usually have the same IRO who will be allocated for the duration that the child is looked after.

The IRO has two roles: chairing a child's Looked After Review and monitoring a child's case on an on-going basis. They can be a good source of support to you if needed when plans for a child are not going how it should, although it is the child's social worker you should try to speak to first.

4. Guardian Ad Litem

A Guardian is appointed by the court from CAFCASS (Children And Family Court And Support Service) when they want an independent view of what has been happening and what should happen in the child's life. They may also be involved in adoption proceedings.

You should support the child to share their views particularly about their future, and are supported to spend time with the guardian appointed so that the Guardian can tell the child's story in court where the child is not able to do this themselves.

5. Independent Visitor

The Local Authority looking after a child has a duty to appoint a person to be the child's Independent Visitor where it appears to them that it would be in the child's best interests to do so. The Independent Visitor will have a duty to make regular visits to the child and maintain other contact, by telephone and letter as appropriate.

Independent Visitors are particularly important where children have no contact with any member of their family.

The main purpose of the visits and contacts will be to befriend the child and give advice and assistance as appropriate.

6. Advocate

This is a person appointed to speak on behalf of another person and/or to support them. All children who are Looked After should be given information about how to access an Advocate. The child's Independent Reviewing Officers should also make sure that this information is available to the child and assist the child to identify and appoint a suitable Advocate as appropriate.

7. Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)

The Child and Adolescent Health Service take referrals for Looked After Children. Some of these children, due to their experiences, may have higher levels of behavioural, emotional and mental health problems. Your role will be to highlight any issues of concern about a child/young person that may result in the need to refer to this service. The referral will be made by the child's social worker. If the service is needed, you should make sure appointments are kept and work with professionals from the service.

8. The Looked After Children Nurse

You will work alongside the LAC Nurse and other health professionals to make sure the health needs of Looked After Children are met.

9. Emergency Duty Team (EDT)

The EDT service is open at night and at weekends. They operate a call service and will respond to you as soon as possible. If no one is available when you ring, leave a message. You must contact the police first if you feel you, your family or foster child are in any danger and do not wait for EDT.

10. Support Out Of Hours

Support is provided outside of office hours, your Supervising Social Worker will tell you about this including their contact details.

11. Adoption (Permanence Team) Team

The Adoption Team is responsible for finding adoptive families for children who cannot remain with their birth families. They will look at the child's background, health and any special needs and find the right adoptive family. When the adoptive family is linked with a child, they have a period of introductions before the child goes to live with them. You will play an important role in supporting the child through this time and introductions. It is important that the child sees you working alongside the adoptive parents. You can also give valuable advice and support to the adoptive parents who will be feeling anxious about getting it right. Your Supervising Social Worker will guide you through this and should be contacted if you have any concerns.

This list is not exhaustive, during your role as a foster carer you may work with other agencies and individuals to ensure the child/young person receives the support and advice they and you need. Your Supervising Social Worker will discuss this with you.