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Tanya Supervising Social Worker discusses family contact within fostering


Family contact can sometimes be a challenging time for our children and young people but also for the foster carers to manage the emotions that come with it. Tanya, a Supervising Social Worker for our East Midlands Team, answers a few questions about family contact arrangements. Tanya has been a Supervising Social Worker within the East Midlands Team since July 2022. Prior to this she worked as a frontline practitioner in a district child protection team for 3 years.

Why is contact important for children & young people in foster care?

For most of our children and young people, relationships with family members, previous carers, friends, and others are very important to them. Contact is also very important in helping children develop their sense of identity and understand their lives. Contact can increase a child's sense of security when the people who are important to them are comfortable with each other. This can also help parents and other family members to feel less awkward and threatened.

What is the role of the foster carer in terms of contact?

Foster carers should have a clear understanding of the arrangements for each of the children which will be in the terms of their contact arrangement, which has been agreed by the network during the placement planning meeting.

It is important that foster carers  establish professional relationships that are positive and welcoming between themselves and the person who the child will be having contact with.

Foster carers need to keep accurate and factual records of the behaviour and reactions of the child before and after contact. This will help identify patterns which can contribute to future planning.

Are there different types of contact arrangements? 

There are many different forms of contact. Face to face contact is generally the best way for children to maintain relationships, but other means such as telephone calls,  letters, photograph exchanges, cards can also play a part.

The Local Authority responsible for the child will provide you with the necessary information including any assessment of risk in respect of contact arrangements. The child's safety is the most important factor that will decide what contact arrangement is in place.

How does contact take place? 

Contact with family and friends will be set out in the Placement Plan. This will detail where, when and how contact will take place including whether it will be supervised or unsupervised. Contact may take place in the foster home, community or somewhere else depending on what is best for all those involved.

What is a social workers role within contact arrangements?

The social worker should continually review any contact arrangements, usually every 6 months, but could be sooner if a risk is identified.

What do foster carers sometimes find difficult?

Contact can often cause a child or young person distress and upset and foster carer's are often the people that have to manage the child’s response to contact when they are feeling confused, angry or disappointed. Foster carer's can often have mixed emotions when this happens, and you should be offered practical support from your Supervising Social Worker.

What support is available for foster carers and children struggling with family contact?

Your Supervising Social Worker will give you practical advice and support where needed to make sure contact is appropriate and safe. 

Tips, guidance or anything to be mindful of.

The fostering network provide a document which includes tips for foster carer’s in respect of their role during contact.

Positive Contact.pdf (



Colleague Career Journeys


  • Foster Carer
  • Young person
  • Parent and Child
  • Social Worker
  • Advice

Date published

15 February 2024

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