TSD Standard 4 Know how to communicate effectively

Effective communication in foster care settings

People working in fostering settings often communicate to share ideas/information; to offer reassurance; to build relationships; to ask questions and much more. Factors to consider for effective communication includes: the level; pace; tone; sensory needs; content; use of jargon/slang; child or young person’s or colleagues wellbeing and ability. This includes taking factors into consideration that may impact on how you communicate with individuals with certain disabilities; developmental delay and emotional trauma.

Gaining an appropriate level of trust sometimes forms the foundation for effective communication, as it promotes the communication process as well as supporting the development of relationships.

Understand the importance of keeping good records

In psychological terms communication represents the transmission of something from one location to another. Therefore, fostering settings should ensure an up-to-date, comprehensive case record is maintained for each child or young person in foster care which details the nature and quality of care provided and contributes to an understanding of her or his life events is in place. In addition, relevant information from the case records should be made available to the child or young person and to anyone involved in her or his care. Each fostering service must ensure it has a written policy on case recording.

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TSD standard 4 know how to communicate effectively

Overall, knowing the record keeping policy of your fostering agency, and how information is shared with others, including children and young people and their families may contribute to better outcomes for children. Ofsted framework for independent fostering services (2014:27) states ‘Records are clear, up to date, stored securely and contribute to an understanding of the child’s life’ (NMS 26)’.

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Staff and foster carers should also ensure they know how to record understandable, relevant, clear and concise, factual information, which audited/sampled by the service managers. Fostering service staff and foster carers must know how to enable children and young people to participate in record keeping and keep their own records and memorabilia. Thus, Ofsted framework for independent fostering services (2014: 12) assert that ‘children and young people Looked After ‘have access to the independent fostering agency records about their life, which are provided, with appropriate support, when they are needed’.


Useful statutory guidance

Children Act 1989 Fostering Services (Volume 4)


In accordance with Working Together, it is important to keep on the foster carer’s record a clear and comprehensive summary of any allegations made, details of how the allegation was followed up and resolved, and details of any action taken and decisions reached, and to make this available to the individual. Notwithstanding the requirements of regulation 32 regarding retention of records, such information should be retained on file at least until the person concerned reaches normal retirement age, or for 10 years if that is longer. The purpose of the record is to enable accurate information to be given in response to any future request for a reference. It will provide clarification in cases where a future DBS Disclosure reveals information from the police that an allegation was made but did not result in a prosecution or a conviction, and will prevent unnecessary re-investigation if allegations re-surface at a later date.


Malicious allegations should be removed from personnel records and unsubstantiated, unfounded and malicious allegations should not be referred to in references.


Written records should be kept detailing every individual incident of a child going missing and the fostering service should share these with the responsible authority and the child’s parents where appropriate.


There should be explicit policies in place to enable foster carers and staff to keep clear records about children in placement and the work of foster carers with those children. Information recorded should be non-stigmatising and distinguish between fact and opinion. Children must be made aware of policies regarding their access to all records kept about them, whether by the foster carer or the fostering service itself.


A record must be kept in relation to each foster carer, covering the carer’s assessment and approval, children placed, and other matters as set out in regulation 30. This includes foster carers who are temporarily approved under the 2010 Regulations. The records must be kept for at least 10 years after the foster carer’s approval ends. There is also a requirement to keep records relating to people who do not go on to be approved as foster carers, and to retain these records for 3 years (regulation 32).


The fostering service must keep a register of foster carers, containing the information set out in regulation 31, and retain on this register information about foster carers for at least 10 years after their approval has ended. It must also keep a register of children placed with foster carers and include in it the information set out in Schedule 2 of the Regulations, and keep this for 15 years after the date of the last entry (regulation 22). They must also keep a register of foster carers, containing the information set out in regulation 31.


All records of the service must be kept under conditions of confidential and secure storage so as to prevent their loss or destruction (standards 26 and 27). Premises must be suitable to enable secure storage of records, both paper and electronic.


If a person who has previously been approved as a foster carer but has had their approval terminated (which includes as a result of their resignation) applies to another fostering service to become a foster carer, they may consent to that fostering service inspecting their previous fostering record (regulation 26). In such circumstances the service holding the record must comply with the request within 28 days (regulation 32(6)).



Guide to Children’s Homes Regulations (2015)


Records must be kept detailing all individual incidents when children go missing from the home (regulation 36 (schedule 3(14)). This information should be shared with the placing authority and, where appropriate, with the child’s parents. Evaluation of missing incidents should be undertaken to identify any gaps in training, skills or knowledge for staff or to record and retain evidence of what worked well. This evaluation should inform the review of the quality of care.


Records of restraint must be kept and should enable the registered person and staff to review the use of control, discipline and restraint to identify effective practice and respond promptly where any issues or trends of concern emerge. The review should provide the opportunity for amending practice to ensure it meets the needs of each child.


Children should be encouraged by staff to see the home’s records as ‘living documents’ supporting them to view and contribute to the record in a way that reflects their voice on a regular basis.


Some records may be kept electronically (regulation 38) provided that this information can be easily accessed by anyone with a legitimate need to view it and, if required, be reproduced in a legible form. Electronic records should be held at the individual home in accordance with data protection principles. IT systems should ensure the safe storage of these records and business continuity planning should be in place to prevent loss or damage to them.


Staff should be familiar with the home’s policies on record keeping and understand the importance of careful, objective, and clear recording. Staff should record information on individual children in a non-stigmatising way that distinguishes between fact, opinion and third-party information. Information about the child must always be recorded in a way that will be helpful to the child.


The home’s records on each child represent a significant contribution to their life history. Children and their parents should be supported to understand the nature of records kept by the home and how to access them. Staff should understand their important role in encouraging the child to reflect on and understand their history, according to their age and understanding. Staff should keep and encourage children to keep appropriate memorabilia of the time spent living at the home and help them record significant life events.


Children should be actively encouraged to read their records and to add further information to them. They should be regularly reminded of their rights to see information kept about them and be given information about how they might be supported to access their records in later life.

Diploma in Residential Child Care – A5_FLYER_DIGITAL. secure pdf




Training Support and Development Standard 3.4 (Promoting positive behaviour)

Promoting principles for supporting the behaviour development in children and young people whilst meeting the Training Support and Development Standards.

In terms of promoting positive relationships and socially aware behaviour the following methods are sometimes useful in supporting behaviour management and working in line with the Training Support and Development Standards:

  • Using positive reinforcement strategies;
  • Modelling positive behaviour and responses to situations;
  • Having an overall positive culture in the setting;
  • Creating an environment that promotes positive behaviour;
  • Individual behaviour planning;
  • Distraction and diversion strategies;
  • Boundary setting and collaborative ground rule making;
  • Supporting children and young people’s reflection on and managing of own behaviour.


In some cases working with children and young people involves knowing why  a child or young person might actively seek out negative reinforcement through socially unacceptable behaviour.  The result of learned behaviour outcomes could include foster carers/child care workers:

  • Identifying triggers and how to minimise triggers, e.g. ensure appropriate structure/planning of environment;
  • Promoting consistency; familiarity and routine in minimising risk of triggers;
  • Promoting clear boundaries or effective communication;
  • Ensuring that the child or young person’s needs are being met (as appropriate);
  • Working towards attention being gained for positive behaviour and not predominately for negative behaviour;
  • Being aware that anxiety impacts on behaviour;
  • Being knowledgeable around substance misuse (Training Support and Development Standards 3.3 c);
  • Promoting an understanding  around the possible impact of abuse, separation and loss on the behaviour of children and  young people (Training Support and Development Standard 5.6 c);
  • Being aware of how some learning difficulties or mental illness may impact on behaviour.

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Given the likelihood that working with children and young people may involve knowing about a range of behaviours presented by children and young people and how to encourage positive behaviour (Training and Support Standard 3.4 b) – foster carers and residential care workers should receive appropriate training and clearly be competent around:

  1. Promoting the use of proactive and reactive behaviour management strategies
  2. Responding appropriately to incidents challenging behaviour
  3. Being able to support individuals and others following an incident of challenging behaviour
  4. Being able to review and revise approaches to promoting positive behaviour
  5. Being able to Promote effective personal safety and security strategies to protect yourself, staff and members or your family (Training Support and Development Standards 3.4 a)

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Promoting National Minimum Standards

The Fostering National Minimum Standards (2011) section 3.8 states:

‘All foster carers receive training in positive care and control of children, including training in de-escalating problems and disputes. The fostering service has a clear written policy on managing behaviour, which includes supporting positive behaviour, de-escalation of conflicts and discipline. The fostering service’s policy is made clear to the responsible authority/placing authority, child and parent/s or carers before the placement begins or, in an emergency placement, at the time of the placement’.


Training and Development in health and social care

Whilst the Children’s homes quality standards (2015) section 7.18 state:

‘Staff should have the relevant skills and knowledge to be able to help children understand, and where necessary work to change negative behaviours in key areas of health and well-being such as, but not limited to, nutrition and healthy diet, exercise, mental health, sexual relationships, sexual health, contraception and use of legal highs, drugs, alcohol and tobacco’.

The Guide to the Children’s Homes Regulations including the quality standards (April 2015) highlights the following positive relationships standards:


11.—(1) The positive relationships standard is that children are helped to develop, and to benefit from, relationships based on—

(a) mutual respect and trust;

(b) an understanding about acceptable behaviour; and

(c) positive responses to other children and adults.

(2) In particular, the standard in paragraph (1) requires the registered person to ensure—

(a) that staff—

(i) meet each child’s behavioural and emotional needs, as set out in the child’s relevant plans;

(ii) help each child to develop socially aware behaviour;

(iii) encourage each child to take responsibility for the child’s behaviour, in accordance with the child’s age and understanding;

(iv) help each child to develop and practise skills to resolve conflicts positively and without harm to anyone;

(v) communicate to each child expectations about the child’s behaviour and ensure that the child understands those expectations in accordance with the child’s age and understanding;

(vi) help each child to understand, in a way that is appropriate according to the child’s age and understanding, personal, sexual and social relationships, and how those relationships can be supportive or harmful;

(vii) help each child to develop the understanding and skills to recognise or withdraw from a damaging, exploitative or harmful relationship;

(viii) strive to gain each child’s respect and trust;

(ix) understand how children’s previous experiences and present emotions can be communicated through behaviour and have the competence and skills to interpret these and develop positive relationships with children;

(x) are provided with supervision and support to enable them to understand and manage their own feelings and responses to the behaviour and emotions of children, and to help children to do the same;

(xi) de-escalate confrontations with or between children, or potentially violent behaviour by children;

(xii) understand and communicate to children that bullying is unacceptable; and

(xiii) have the skills to recognise incidents or indications of bullying and how to deal with them; and

(b) that each child is encouraged to build and maintain positive relationships with others.

Thus, to promote principles related to supporting the development in children and young people leaders and managers in independent fostering settings will need to promote some of the following Ofsted Framework (2014:sections 36 & 44) requirements for a good grade:

Children and young people looked after take, or are learning to take, responsibility for their behaviour. They are either being helped to reduce any incidents of, or are not, offending, misusing drugs or alcohol, going missing or being sexually exploited. If any such risks are identified, the independent fostering agency takes action, in partnership with the local authority, that reduces the risk and protect the child or young person.

The agency offers placements to children and young people with complex needs and challenging behaviour and provides the necessary specialist support and help for as long as it is required.

In addition, leaders and managers in residential children’s homes settings should ensure they contribute to leading their related organisation in meeting the following Inspections of children’s homes Ofsted good characteristics (December 2015):

Children and young people develop skills and strategies to manage their own conflicts and difficult feelings through developing positive relationships with the staff. There are clear, consistent and appropriate boundaries for children and young people. Adults understand how children’s experiences and present emotions can be communicated through behaviour. They are able to be clear with children and young people about the consequences of difficult and unsafe behaviour and the help and support they may need. Children and young people report that adults are consistent and clear about the management of all behaviour and expectations (53.i).

Under section 57 of the framework for the Inspections of children’s homes Ofsted Inspectors judgements, amongst other factors ,takes account of:

  • How well risks are identified, understood and managed and whether the support and care provided help children and young people to become increasingly safe
  • The response to children that may go missing or may be at risk of exploitation or self-harm
  • How well situations and behaviour are managed by staff and whether clear and consistent boundaries contribute to a feeling of well-being and security for children and young people.


In terms of helping children cope with death – children tend to react differently to death than adults. Their response will depend on:

  1. What type of relationship they had with the person who has died. Death of a Mother for example, maybe much harder than the death of an Uncle.
  2. Age and level of understanding – for infants they may feel the loss in terms of how it affects their day to day routine. Pre-school children usually see death as temporary and reversible. Older children may have realised that death involves a permanent separation. Sometimes children may feel that they “caused” the death – e.g. by being naughty. They will show their feelings about the loss usually in terms of their behaviour or presentation.
  3. Circumstances of the death – a traumatic death may be hardest of all for children to cope with sudden death will also be very hard for children.

Training and Development in health and social care

When helping children cope with death some adults try to shield children from what has happened by withholding information from them.  But research tells us that children benefit from knowing what has happened as soon as possible.  Children also need to be listened to and have their questions answered.

Sometimes a child many not be able to clearly recall their loved one’s face and this can be very distressing for them.  Helping children to cope with death could also include the use of a significant photograph as a source of comfort.  Most of all they need to be given a way of saying goodbye – if for example they’re considered too young to attend the funeral they might be able to say a prayer for the person they’ve lost.  As time goes on they’ll need permission from the adults around them to show their feelings in whatever way helps (anger, sadness etc).

Grief and loss video



The promotion of good risk assessments policy and procedures

In terms of risk assessment policies, when working in line with the  Inspections of independent fostering agencies inspection a, Good grade reflects  – the promotion of a good risk assessment policy and ensuring staff and foster carers comply to such guidance may well contribute to the experiences and progress of, and outcomes for children and young people. Ofsted 2014:19 appear to indicate that fostering placement plans and risk assessments must be established with foster carers for each individual child and young person placed and include actions required to protect and support the children and young people concerned. This information also considers it to be good practice adults take action to protect children and to review plans for them where they continue to be at risk.



Promoting Standards in Social Care Training


In terms of promoting Standards in social care training the Education and Training Foundation (website) released a set of aspirational standards in May 2014. The Professional Standards provide a framework for teachers and trainers to critically appraise their own practice and improve their teaching through Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Almost 1,000 sector professionals were involved in the development of the standards to ensure they accurately reflected practitioners’ needs.
To download your copy click here


Promoting Safe and stable placements in which children can develop safe and secure relationships

The Ofsted Framework for Independent Fostering Services asserts that Looked After children should be supported, ‘in care, to live and thrive in safe and stable placements, in which they develop safe and secure relationships’.
The Ofsted Framework for Inspecting Children Homes (2015:31), related to promoting safe and stable placements, states ‘where young people have left the home since the last inspection, inspectors must focus on the reasons the young person has left (well-planned and facilitated move or placement breakdown) and the contribution the manager, keyworkers and staff have made to the plans for their future’

Training and Development in health and social care
The Who Cares Trust highlight, related to promoting safe and stable placements, ‘The Government’s Care Matters agenda identifies stable relationships as one of the key factors in ensuring good outcomes for children in care. But there is an unacceptable amount of movement in care for a lot of children, who often don’t get the chance to form stable relationships with carers or social workers’.

The Care Inquiry (2013: 3.18), in terms of promoting safe and stable placements, claims that ‘High-quality relationships matter more than anything else for children in or on the edge of care, and for the adults in their lives’.

Thus, when considering promoting safe and stable placements, breakdowns to family placements can sometimes badly affect children and contribute to their emotional disturbance. Placement breakdown is defined as the placement not lasting as long as planned. Much of the key findings from studies over the past ten years have shown:

  • Frequent moves can badly affect children.
  • Breakdowns, or unplanned moves, are much less likely in younger children in comparison, ‘teenage’ placements. Some factors appear to cause frequent placment moves- they include: iStock_000039752748_Medium.png smaller
  • a change of social worker
  • Over-optimistic expectations
  • Placement breakdown, particularly for teenagers
  • The child’s level of emotional disturbance and motivation to remain in the placement also appears to be a key factor.

Research also indicates that foster carers often feel like giving up altogether during difficult times. Therefore, assessment around foster carer/s ability to provide durability and commitment to promoting safe and stable placements should continually ensure that carers’ and residential care support worker’s own attachment, sensitivity and motivation are suited towards promoting stable placements for children.
In terms of placement stability, the Department of Education information shows:

  • 89% of all looked after children had up to two placements in the year ending 31 March 2012.
  • 10 year olds were most likely to have a single placement
  • Promoting stable placements for children in care
  • Support should be part of all care plans to ensure the best outcomes for children and to prevent carer strain and placement breakdown (Boddy, 2013).

Overall, actively promoting practice that promotes triangulated assessment of foster carers, including reviews, contributes to service management evidence about the quality of foster care provided. On top of this, building very strong policies and procedures based on the legislative research as well as practice standards whilst working in line with the relevant Ofsted inspection framework, will contribute to quality fostering service and residential child care provisions.

Thus, policies, legislation, national standards, Ofsted framework for services and organisation procedures are, of course, of immense importance and serve as a means of promoting stable placements. They promote robust practice and consistent implementation of these policies, standards and procedures contribute to keeping children and young people safe. Leadership and management within fostering and residential services therefore plays a key role when promoting stable placements for looked after children. Thus, Ofsted 2015: states that Leaders and managers actively and regularly monitor the quality of care provided and use learning from practice and feedback to improve the experiences and care of children and young people.


Sexual health safeguarding guidance and information related to children and young people

Some Legislative Framework, guidance and standards related to sexual health and foster care:

  • Fostering Services Regulations (England) 2011: Regulation 13 (3) – Behaviour management and children missing from the parent’s home
  • Fostering Services National Minimum Standards 2011, 4.1 – Children’s safety and welfare is promoted in all fostering placements. Children are protected from abuse and other forms of significant harm (e.g. sexual or labour exploitation)
  • Fostering Services National Minimum Standards 2011 – Standard 5 – Children Missing from Care
  • Fostering Services National Minimum Standards 2011, 12.1 – Children are supported to: a. establish positive and appropriate social and sexual relationships; b. develop positive self-esteem and emotional resilience
  • Children’s Act 1989, Guidance and Regulations Volume 4 Fostering Service, Chapter 3 – Ensuring the best for children and young people (paragraph 3.88. to 3.94)
  • Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • The Children’s Homes and Looked After Children (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013 (Section 29 (a)
  • The Children and Families Act 2014
  • (Fostering Services) Training Support and Development Standards (Safeguarding actions specifically related to subsections: 6.1 a, b, 6.2 b, c, d, 6.3 a, b, c, d, e, 6.4 a, b, c, 6.5 a, b, c, d) regarding understanding how to promote good sexual health with children and young people as well as enabling children and young people to develop a positive sexual identity with regard to their sexuality (5.7 a & 5. 7 b)
  • Ofsted Framework for Inspecting Independent Fostering Agencies (2014;19) area 46, the incidence of children or young people going missing and/or being at risk of sexual exploitation is monitored rigorously. Adults take action to protect children and to review plans for them where they continue to be at risk
Training and Development in health and social care

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children research and guidance information

Main Legislative Framework and Guidance

The Children Act 1989 places a responsibility upon Local Authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people living in their area. When children in need are identified, an assessment of their needs should be undertaken.

A major factor for unaccompanied asylum seeking children is that the burden of proof is placed upon the applicant to evidence his or her asylum claim.

The Hillingdon Judgement and Local Authority Circular (2003) 13

All UASC should, on arrival, be supported under S20 of the Children Act 1989, until an assessment of needs has been completed.

  • Based on assessed need, most UASC including 16 and 17 year olds who require accommodation should be provided with S20 support.
  • The majority of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children  will be entitled to leaving care services.
  • S17 can be used to support Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children in exceptional circumstances where an assessment of needs identified that to become looked after would not be in the UASC’s best interests – for example if the young person strongly expresses aversion to becoming looked after.
Research by the refugee Council
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Recent research by the refugee council shows that 88% of unaccompanied children applicants were male and 90% of unaccompanied children were aged 14-17. This research also highlighted that unaccompanied children who have reached the age of 18 are much more likely to have their asylum claim refused. This involves children who have reached the age of 18 having a refusal rate of 70% in 2013.
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The refugee council research also highlights that a new category, UASC leave, was introduced in 2013 and is now used in cases where the only reason for giving leave is that the applicant is a child who cannot be returned, and this means there are now far fewer grants of discretionary leave than in the past’.
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In terms of finding the families of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children the Kent’s Law clinic publication (2014) shows that even when an accompanied child claims asylum in the UK the Home Office has a duty to endeavour to trace the child’s family.
All Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children should be supported by the appropriate Local Authority. The National Asylum Support Service and Coram Children’s legal centre also provide some useful services for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children.

Training Support & Development Standards for foster care and the Social Model of Disability (5.8 a)

Training and Development in health and social careThe social model of disability has been developed by disabled people in contrast to the medical model. The medical model is seen to give little acknowledgement or explanation about the individual personal experience of disability or contribute to promoting a more inclusive ways of living with a disability.

Under the medical model, these impairments or differences should be ‘fixed’ or changed by medical and other treatments, even when the impairment or difference does not cause pain or illness’ www.scope.org (2015).

In contrast the social model of disability asserts that disability is caused by the society in which we live and is not the ‘fault’ of an individual disabled person, or an inevitable consequence of their limitations. The social model tends to promote disability as the product of the physical, organisational and attitudinal barriers present within society, which lead to discrimination.

The social model tends to have the aim of removing barriers so that disabled people have the inclusive opportunity to determine their life styles and general outcomes.

In terms of promoting foster carers understanding about the social model of disability – the following Legal entitlements to equality of treatment for children and young people with complex disabilities or conditions may be useful.  Legal entitlements of disabled children and young people for equality of treatment and principles of working inclusively:

In terms of promoting the training and development standards for foster carers unit one, subsections: 1.1 a, b, 1.2 a, b, c, 1.3 b. c, 1.4 a, b, c –  its useful to work in line with the Ofsted inspection Framework for independent fostering agencies 2014.

The Ofsted framework for independent fostering agencies states that independent fostering agencies must meet their responsibilities as set out in the equality legislation. For all children and young people, the expectation is that the services provided are sensitive and responsive to age, disability, ethnicity, faith or belief, gender, gender identity, language, race and sexual orientation, (2014:8) .


Health and social care training and the use of reflective functioning

iStock_000017978984_Medium.jpg smallReflective functioning is  described by various researchers to involve both a self-reflective and interpersonal components in which an individual grasps the complex interplay between their own feelings and those of others.

One way of trainers/teachers manifesting the characteristics of reflective thinking is through models of training and/or teaching deliveryFor health and social care training it is important to give social care workers working in settings such as foster care and other residential child care, the opportunity to reflect upon the  internal experience of the children they are caring for .

This includes promoting the basic principles of how children and young people from all ages form attachments and promoting the understanding around how these attachments affect their development, and the impact of interrupted development, trauma, separation and loss.

The training, support and development standards (5.1 a-c, 5.2 a, 5.3 a-c, 5.4 a-c) covers some basic foster care practising standards around promoting attachments and stages of development.  Adoption & fostering quarterly journal by BAAF (Volume 9, 2 July 2015: 145-158 explores reflective functioning in foster carers using the Parent Development Interview.