“‘Fostering is an immensely challenging career, and foster carers need to be properly skilled, trained and supported to carry out the invaluable work that they do. In all circumstances foster carers must be given all the available information about every child…they must receive ongoing bespoke training and support that is tailored to the needs of each child.”

Sara Lurie

Director, The Fostering Network


Foster Carer Restraint and Challenging Behaviour Training

3.97.   Every fostering service must prepare and implement a clear written policy about acceptable measures of control, restraint and discipline of children placed with foster carers (regulation 13 and standard 3). All foster carers should be made aware of the policy and apply it at all times.

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations

Volume 4: Fostering Services

fostering-keynote-2016-032    fostering-keynote-2016-033

Learning Outcomes for Foster Carers

Understanding Legislation and Guidance for Foster Carer Restraint and Challenging Behaviour training.

Our course for your Foster Carers can be tailored to your specific needs (or the needs of a specific child/family), however we will almost always need to cover the following key concepts.  For Foster Carer Restraint training, we refer to many pieces of legislation, including the Fostering Services Regulations related to the Children Act 1989 so that your staff will be able to:

  1. Explain the Paramount Principle of children’s welfare and best interests
  2. Understand the importance of the Provision of Information about the child
  3. Explain Health and Safety Duty of Care issues in the care of children
  4. Describe the importance of Avoidance, Dialogue and De-Fusing to the care of children
  5. Define the 5 principles of using constructive dialogue to defuse situations
  6. Identify “exceptional circumstances” in terms of incidents where someone might be harmed
  7. Appraise how emotional responses to situations of high stress can effect behaviour
  8. Explain excessive or unreasonable measures of control, restraint and discipline
  9. Illustrate how withdrawing from a situation is sometimes the best (safest) initial response
  10. Understand the principles of Reasonable Force

Foster Carers Restraint Physical Skills Course:

Once your staff have a thorough grounding in the legislation and guidance, we can work with them on the appropriate physical skills for Foster Carers which should be used “in exceptional circumstances” and “where it is the only appropriate means to prevent likely injury to the child or other people”, as follows:

  • Managing proximity during high-stress interactions with the child
  • Using safe body language which is congruent with dialogue and defusing
  • Understanding routes for withdrawal and the creation of ‘safe space’ for both parties
  • Physical tactics for reasonable-force Prompting and Escorting
  • Understanding of Control when necessary as a last resort
  • The use of containment in high-risk exceptional circumstances
  • Self-protection concepts for exceptionally dangerous situations of assault
  • the dangers of attempting to restrain a child on your own

On completion of the Foster Carers Restraint and Challenging Behaviour course, your people will have completed three major units of study:

  • How to defuse conflict during high-stakes interactions with the child
  • How to stay safe in exceptional circumstances where there is a risk of harm
  • How to navigate the guidance and legislation in regard to the use of force where it occurs

Care and Control 4

Format of Foster Carers Restraint and Challenging Behaviour training

Developing skills in managing Conflict and making decisions about Physical Interventions

Considering the time pressures on Foster Carers and their services, we have evolved a popular format which allows flexibility in training and also the relevant amount of contact time for the carers, as follows:

  1.  ONLINE TRAINING (90 minutes of online work at YOUR carers’ convenience)
    1. Our online learning system has been used by thousands of staff since its first use in 2014.  Using video presentations by our Director of Training, Gerard O’Dea, coupled with knowledge-quiz activities, we quickly and efficiently enable your carers to be introduced to the key facts about the law, guidance and good-practice in the area of conflict communications and physical interventions for foster carers.  Each carer is provided with a unique individual login to the system and can complete the work in their own time wherever they have access to the internet.
  2.  IN-PERSON TRAINING (4 to 6 hours of verbal/physical practice of target skills)
    1. Our in-person training, booked in for a time and place which is convenient for your carers, will cover numerous elements of both conflict communications and physical safety interventions which are relevant and appropriate for foster carers.  We will work with you on the best ‘fit’ of physical tactics to teach your carers, depending on the level, frequency and impact of the behaviours they are dealing with.  This in-person training is practice-focussed and includes scenario replication and role-play as appropriate to the carers’ needs.

The online Foster Carers Restraint and Challenging Behaviour training is common to all foster carers as a baseline level of understanding needed to make good decisions about how to defuse and manage incidents of exceptionally high risk.  The in-person training can be tailored to fit either a baseline of understanding about the management of conflict with looked-after children in general, or can be far more specific to the needs, triggers, cues and actions of specific children in your service who present challenging or distressed behaviours.

Punch Drunk Restraint Training Design



 – Foster Carer – Peterborough City Foster Care Services, Aug 2016


Foster Carer – London Borough of Barking and Dagenham – September 2016

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Training For Foster Carers of Paramount Importance – Sheriff

Fostering Agency Sued in £700,000 negligence case.

The death of a foster carer who was killed by a boy she was looking after was avoidable, an inquiry has found.  Dawn McKenzie, 34, was stabbed by the 13-year-old at her home in Hamilton in 2011. He was later detained for seven years after admitting culpable homicide due to diminished responsibility.

A fatal accident inquiry found that Mrs McKenzie’s death was not foreseeable.   It may have been avoided, however, had her fostering agency taken proper account of her inexperience.

screenshot-2016-09-25-12-33-36“With the benefit of hindsight … it is now known that tragedies such as that which befell Mrs McKenzie can occur in foster placements, and there is no doubt from the evidence which I heard that lesser attacks on foster carers can and occasionally do take place.

The area of training of foster carers is clearly an important one.  Whereas I am prepared to accept given the evidence which I heard, that [conflict communications and physical intervention training] is more effectively given after foster carers have commenced their caring … felt strongly that it ought to be offered to new carers at the outset of their fostering career because that was when they were at their most inexperienced or vulnerable.  I find no fault with that argument.

I can see no reason why such training cannot be given at the outset of a foster carer’s fostering career and repeated perhaps to more effect after a year or two years when they have more experience.

The Care Inspectorate feel that training is of paramount importance in relation to all placements to equip foster carers with the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the needs of the children placed with them.”


Sheriff of South Strathclyde

Fatal Accidents Inquiry into the Death of Dawn McKenzie

screenshot-2016-09-25-12-32-55The family of a foster ­carer killed by a ­teenager have launched a £700,000 legal action against the company which housed the boy with them.

The action at Hamilton ­Sheriff Court had originally included a claim against ­Glasgow City ­Council, but that has now been dropped by the family.

The family are seeking £500,000 for Mr McKenzie in compensation for Dawn’s death and £200,000 for her mother, Ray Byrne. Both claims seek damages for loss and injury as a result of alleged negligence.

Mr McKenzie told a fatal ­accident inquiry into the ­killing that they had not been given enough ­information about the boy and had been let down by social workers. Sheriff David Bicket ruled that the carer’s death could not have been predicted, but might have been avoided had the firm taken proper account of her inexperience.

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“Excellent training session, addressing a very real need. Our Foster Carer’s and support team now understand their rights, the risks involved and how & when to act, when faced with violent behaviour from Children & Young People. We cannot expect our children to feel safe, if we as adults are unable to keep ourselves safe. Highly recommended.”

Fostering Service, M4 Corridor