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5.3.2 Overnight Stays and Social Visits

Contents

1. Introduction
  1.1 Scope
  1.2 What are Overnight Stays, Visits or Holidays?  
  1.3 Delegation of Decision Making
  1.4 Restrictions
  1.5 Assessing Risk for Overnight Stays, Visits and Holidays    
  1.6 Planning for an Overnight Stay, Holiday and Visit 
  1.7 DBS Checks
  1.8 Review of Overnight Stays   
  Appendix 1: Overnight Stay, Holiday and Visit Record 


1. Introduction

This procedure accepts the principles contained in the Fostering Services Statutory Guidance that looked after children should as far as possible be granted the same permissions to take part in normal and acceptable age appropriate peer activities as would be reasonably be granted by the parents of their peers. Therefore foster carers and residential workers can be given delegated responsibility to make judgements about allowing a looked after child to stay overnight with friends and relatives of the children or the carers by the Local Authority with the agreement of anyone else who has Parental Responsibility. Judgements should be made on a reasonable assessment of risks in the same way as parents make judgements on whether or not there are risks for a child staying in a particular household, visiting relatives or someone babysitting.

Any restrictions on overnight stays, visits and holidays should be based on clearly stated reasons necessary to safeguard and promote the child’s safety or welfare and clearly stated in the child’s placement information record and subject to regular review.

1.1 Scope

This procedure aims to clarify the position in relation to the delegation of decision making about short stays, visits and holidays for children in care in care, living both in residential accommodation and in foster care. This includes short-term stays with friends and relatives outside the usual place of residence, and alternative carers coming into the Foster Carers home e.g. babysitters, and friends/relatives caring for children in care when the Foster Carers may be in hospital, working away or on holiday.

This procedure must be considered in conjunction with the Contact with Parents, Siblings, Relatives and Connected Persons Procedure to ensure that the process has been followed for agreeing appropriate contact and that the agreed contact is contained in the Placement Information Record.

Where a holiday is being proposed the Holidays and School Trips in the UK Procedure must also be followed and the child’s and parents views obtained.

1.2 What are Overnight Stays, Visits or Holidays?  

Overnight stays, visits or holidays according to this procedure include one night, weekend stays, and longer visits such as holidays with friends and school trips.

If the stay is to more prolonged and regular, for example where the care is being shared, consideration will need to be given whether these are alternative carers that need to be regulated as Foster Carers.

1.3 Delegation of Decision Making

In order to infer delegated decision making for overnight stays to a Foster Carer the parameters within which the carer can agree the arrangement for the child must be stated in the Placement Information Record, the Care Plan and any changes to be considered at the Looked After Child Review.

Similarly, to infer delegated decision making to a residential worker those parameters should be stated in the Placement Information Record, the Care Plan and any changes to be considered at the LAC Review.

1.4 Restrictions

Any specific restrictions which are necessary to safeguard and promote the child’s safety or welfare should be clearly stated in the Placement Information Record and the child’s Care Plan and changes to be considered at the LAC Review.

Such restrictions may detail when the Foster Carers or residential workers should seek permission from the Local Authority or a person with Parental Responsibility and may exclude individuals such as identified in Court Orders etc.

Restrictions should be based on clear and stated reasons that have been fully discussed with the child and their views taken into account in making a decision where appropriate.

Restrictions should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they remain relevant.

1.5 Assessing Risk for Overnight Stays, Visits and Holidays    

Foster Carers and residential workers who have been given delegated decision making for overnight stays, visits or holidays for particular children can make a decision on whether to allow a stay according to any restrictions detailed in the Placement Information Record and Care Plan. They must base their decision on allowing an overnight stay, visit or holiday on a reasonable assessment of risks. In assessing potential risk the Foster Carer or residential worker must consider the following:

  • Are there any factors in the child’s past experiences or behaviour which would preclude this overnight stay, visit or holiday?
  • Is the child staying in the household with another child or children, rather than staying solely with an adult or adults?
  • What is known about the purpose of the overnight stay?
  • The length of the stay;
  • The need to give consideration to the wishes of the child, as appropriate to their age and understanding;
  • The need for young people approaching and beyond the age of 16 to increasingly make decisions for themselves, including the need to allow young people to take some risks;
  • The need to obtain the parent’s views with regard to the ongoing responsibilities of the child’s parents, particularly in respect of children and young people accommodated under Section 20;
  • Will a child’s education be interrupted by a holiday in term time? (see Holidays and School Trips in the UK Procedure);
  • Have appropriate risk assessments been undertaken for school/organisational trips;
  • The extent to which the individual concerned will be alone with the child;
  • The regularity of the contact;
  • Any relevant restrictions contained, for exceptional reasons, in the child’s Placement Information Record or Care Plan or any Court orders which restrict the child from particular activities or contact;
  • The foster carer’s/residential worker’s own knowledge of the person concerned;
  • Any grounds for concern that the child might be at significant risk in the household concerned or from the activities in question;
  • Any other factors or characteristics which may make the child more vulnerable than any other child in the circumstances in question.

1.6 Planning for an Overnight Stay, Holiday and Visit 

If the assessment of risk does not raise any concern the Foster Carer or residential worker must:

  • Ensure they have contact details for the household in which the child is staying or for the holiday;
  • Make contact with the household beforehand to discuss arrangements and assist in assessing risks.

Following the assessment of risk and contacting the household, the Foster Carer or residential worker must complete an overnight stay record (see Appendix 1: Overnight Stay, Holiday and Visit Record) and for Foster Carers the completed form must be sent to the Fostering Service. The form should be kept on the child’s file with a copy on the foster care files. In addition a record of the stay must be recorded on the relevant diary sheet. These records will be monitored during supervisory Social Workers visits.

If the foster carer or residential worker’s assessment of risk and contact with the household raises any concerns regarding the child staying in a particular household they should consult the child’s Social Worker to ask that Children’s Specialist Services make the decision. The Supervising Social Worker must also be notified for Foster Carers. The reasons for any concerns should be discussed with the child.

1.7 DBS Checks

There is no statutory requirement for DBS checks to be made for overnight stays or visits or holidays with their Foster Carer’s friends or relatives. However if there are any concerns arising from risk assessment consideration can be given to seeking further checks.

1.8 Review of Overnight Stays   

The Supervising Social Worker will discuss overnight stays, visits and holidays with the foster carer during their supervisory visits and the child’s Social Worker at the statutory visit. If there are concerns that the overnight stays, visits or holidays are outside the Placement Information Record or Care Plan or that they should be regulated by another means, there must be a discussion between the Supervising Social Worker and child’s Social Worker, raised at the LAC review and the Fostering Service Team Manager and the relevant practice manager informed.


Appendix 1: Overnight Stay, Holiday and Visit Record 

Click here to view Appendix 1: Overnight Stay, Holiday and Visit Record.

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