Pathway Plan – From the foster carers perspective
Introduction to Pathway Plan – From the foster carers perspective
As in all things fostering being prepared and knowledgeable is the key to success. Pathway Plans can be great but they can also cause a range of issues.
It is vital to help facilitate a great pathway plan for your young person, whilst ensuring it does not disrupt their current stability. This entails all those engaged in pathway plans working closely together, involving the young person in all decisions and discussions, but being mindful not to overwhelm them during what can already be a challenging time, adolescence.
The delivery and execution of Pathway Plans vary hugely, some work very well for young people and the fostering families, however, some are not carried out within the appropriate time scales and can sometimes destabilise placements, so it really helps to know what they are and what’s expected from the team involved in them and your role.
What is a pathway plan?
What the government says:
It is basically a whole new plan that starts when your child is 16yrs to plan for their transition to ‘adulthood’ when they reach 18yrs. It plans things in terms of accommodation, education or training, how the local authority will support the young person, their health, finances and future.
How does it work?
The Pathway Plan is done by a series of meetings, the young person’s social worker and PA (personal advisor) will work with the young person first, usually on their own, but with their foster carer if the young person wants to. The plans are then presented at the Pathway Planning meetings attended by usually the young person, their social worker, the IRO (independent reviewing officer) and their foster carer. Although attendees can vary.
The young person is allocated a ‘PA’ which is a personal advisor, the role of the PA is to get to know the child and take over from the child’s social worker when the young person turns 18yrs, and assist them in all the things they will need to know and do. The Pathway Plan remains fluid and is constantly reviewed.
- The young person.
- The foster carer.
- The young person’s social worker.
- PA (Personal advisor).
- Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO).
- Any other relevant people such as medical professionals, advocates, youth offending teams, accommodation providers etc.
- The social worker will make Pathway Plan arrangements with you and the young person.
- They will speak to the young person quite a bit on their own with regards to the Pathway Plan and the young person will be involved in all the meetings and fully involved in the planning process.
What the plan should achieve
- Identifying and recording the young person’s strengths and needs.
- Record actions to be taken and/or services to be provided to meet identified needs.
- Records the frequency and length of the service to be provided..
- Identifies and records the person/agency responsible for providing/facilitating the service.
- Records the date that the service will commence.
- Identifies and records how the young person’s progress will be monitored.
What do foster carers say?
and we are really worried about her.”
Things to be mindful of
- As always work professionally as part of your team. The Pathway Plan is a statutory requirement so work together with the child’s social worker, PA and IRO.
- Sometimes you have to stand your ground for your child when new people enter the team, not everyone knows the child like you do, especially if they have been with you a long time. A brief snapshot in a meeting often no longer than an hour, even if they do manage to meet with them every 6 weeks, is not enough to assess an adolescent’s overall state of mind, needs, wishes and feelings, which as we know can be and feel different on a daily basis. Your knowledge as their carer to the overall picture is key. Politely but firmly make sure you are treated as an equal professional and listened to.
- At other times we need to advocate for our young people as they may not have the strongest voice themselves so make sure they are not persuaded or led into something you
know they are not comfortable about. If your young person wants you at their meetings, make sure you are there, challenge this higher up the chain of command should you get any resistance.
- Pathway Plans can destabilise placements and even cause breakdowns, so keep the communication open between you and your young person, if things start to go wrong try and
identify the problem. If in doubt reach out for independent confidential help.
- Even though the government requires that these plans start from the child’s 16th birthday as with all things fostering this is very often not the case, as you can see from the foster carers comments. If nothing has happened and you and your young person want the pathway plan to start then speak to your SSW and the CSW, if you get no response go up the chain of command to managers and above. It is the CSW’s statutory requirement to implement the pathway plan at 16yrs. However, you may be quite happy with the way things are going and not of a mind to hurry them up, in which case that’s fine as it is not your responsibility or statutory requirement to implement a Pathway Plan.
Fostering Network and Foster Talk – Your provider will supply you with one of these as their own preferred support organisation (that they commission).
Fostering Network and Foster Talk will also have leaflets on allegations and other useful information if you are a paid-up member, or your provider is a member. It is worth noting, however, that most of their existing advice has been devised by social workers and they’re at a different coalface to the foster carers. When you have an allegation against you these organisations will just “take you through the process” they are not there to do active casework for you as the union or other support available does.
Contact your provider for these organisations.
Fosterline – the government fostering advice line, run and owned by Foster Talk (see above).
Relevant Policies and Guidance
Government guidance – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/397649/CA1989_Transitions_guidance.pdf
CoramVoice (for young people) – https://coramvoice.org.uk/myrights/all-you-need-to-know-about-leaving-care/my-rights-as-an-eligiblechild/what-is-a-pathway-plan/
Information, Help and Support
Help and support created for foster carers, by foster carers, we are the experts by experience. We have the first foster carers knowledge bank.
Access both the open pages and members area. Both are free to access and footprint-free. The member’s area gives you privileged confidential access to FosterWiki’s experts by experience for advice and guidance. You will also find short courses and guides from the foster carer’s perspective, top tips, allegation help, templates, and the ability to add to FosterWiki. With more content being uploaded regularly.
Please let us know what information or advice pages you would find useful and we will put them in place. https://fosterwiki.com/register/