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6.1.9 Fostering Service Non Smoking Policy

REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS

STANDARD 4 - Safeguarding Children

STANDARD 6 - Promoting Good Health and Well-being

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in September 2014 to include the Children and Families Act 2014 restriction on smoking in vehicles when a person under 18 is present.


Contents

1. Introduction
2. Policy Statement
3. Implications
  3.1 Approval of New Foster Carers
  3.2 Review of Current Foster Carers For Children Under 5
  3.3 Placement of Children Under 5 With Foster Carers
  3.4 Placement of Children Aged 5+ With Foster Carers Who Smoke
  3.5 Review of Current Foster Carers For Children Over 5
  3.6 Placement of Children With Health Problems With Foster Carers Who Smoke
  3.7 Recruitment
  3.8 Wider Implications
  3.9 Help and Support


1. Introduction

Wirral Council’s Fostering Service has reviewed its Policy and practice in relation to smoking in the light of national legislation introducing smoke free public indoor areas and in response to national guidance published by the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) and Fostering Network.

The issue of smoking and Foster Carers is controversial and requires that the rights of the Foster Carer are balanced alongside the rights of Looked After Children who frequently come into the care system with neglected or impaired health but who have the right to be healthy.

It is clear that the passive smoking can have a significant impact on the health of young children (under 5), leaving them vulnerable to asthma and ear, nose and chest infections. Young children exposed to passive smoking also have an increased risk of dying from cot death (sudden infant death syndrome), and are at increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer as adults. Also children living in a household were there are smokers are more likely to become smokers themselves. It is important that the Fostering Service has a clear Policy for addressing these risks to the health of Looked After Children.

Under the Children and Families Act 2014 there is a restriction on smoking in private vehicles where a person under the age of 18 is present in the vehicle.

It is the aspiration of Wirral Council’s Fostering Service to move towards a position where looked after children are only placed in smoke-free homes. We acknowledge that expecting all Foster Carers who currently smoke to suddenly give up is not realistic, and we also acknowledge that some Foster Carers who smoke have recognised sufficiently the needs of the children and young people for whom they care and will appropriately minimise the impact of their smoking on the children that they foster.


2. Policy Statement

Wirral Council’s Foster Carers and staff are always expected to ensure that children in placement are not exposed to the harmful effects of smoke, by ensuring that children are not passively exposed to smoke within foster homes and by discouraging young people from taking up smoking.


3. Implications

3.1 Approval of New Foster Carers

As the effects of passive smoking are potentially more serious for younger children, new Foster Carers will not be approved to care for children under 5 years of age, if they smoke, or if other household members smoke. The only exception to this relates to the approval of relative/friend Foster Carers for named children were it would be otherwise detrimental to the child not to have the placement approved. See Assessments and Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure.

3.2 Review of Current Foster Carers For Children Under 5

Smoking arrangements and their implications for any existing or future placements of children under 5 will be considered annually at each Foster Carer review.

3.3 Placement of Children Under 5 With Foster Carers

As the effects of passive smoking are potentially more serious for younger children, children under 5 should not be placed within smoking households unless there are other overwhelming reasons for doing so (see Section 3.1 Approval of New Foster Carers).

3.4 Placement of Children Aged 5+ With Foster Carers Who Smoke

The placement of children aged 5 and over with Foster Carers who smoke will only take place on the understanding that the Foster Carers ensure that any smoking takes place outside of the immediate family home and well away from foster children so as not to be observed.

3.5 Review of Current Foster Carers For Children Over 5

As above smoking arrangements and their implications for any existing or future placements of children over 5 will be considered at each Foster Carer review.

3.6 Placement of Children With Health Problems With Foster Carers Who Smoke

It is acknowledged that children with health problems such as glue ear, heart conditions and breathing difficulties are more likely to be adversely affected by smoking. As a result children with such health problems will only be placed with Foster Carers who smoke under exceptional circumstances. For example if the Foster Carers are kinship carers and there is a Care Plan for the child to remain within their own family.

3.7 Recruitment

In order to facilitate the move towards a future where every child is placed in a smoke-free foster home the recruitment process will address the issue of smoking in a robust and open manner. Whilst the agency would not wish to create an image that applications from smokers are always unwelcome, all applicants will be made aware of the health risks to children posed by smoking and will be advised of the requirements set out in this Policy. Applicants who are smokers will be signposted to appropriate preventive health services.

3.8 Wider Implications

Staff and Foster Carers must not smoke in front of children and young people.

Foster Carers and staff should also be aware of the risks to children and young people of smoking in their car prior to or whilst transporting children or Foster Carers.

All Foster Carers are also required to ensure that children are not exposed to smoke when visiting friend or relatives of the Foster Cares or when other smokers visit their homes

Foster Carers are expected to discourage looked after children from smoking by ensuring that they do not provide cigarettes or tobacco for the child/young person. The Foster Carer should also seek advice from their Supervising Social Worker, the child’s Social Worker and LAC Health Nurses on how to support the child/young person in reducing their smoking.

Arrangements for discouraging children from smoking should be discussed at placement agreement meetings and looked after children reviews.

3.9 Help and Support

Foster Carers who have any queries about the above, or if they or a child in placement needs support to reduce or stop smoking, this should be raised with their Supervising Social Worker from the Fostering Service, who will signpost them to the relevant health professional.

End