Foster Carers and Baby Sitting
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter highlights key processes for foster carers in this area of practice. Foster Carers choose should chose a baby sitter with the same care as they would for their own child. However, a Child Looked After's particular needs should be carefully considered, along with the qualities of the sitter, who must be at least 16 yrs. and would usually be an adult, Sitters should be vetted in the usual way but in urgent situations, the foster carer should consult with the supervising and the child's social worker.
This policy was reviewed and refreshed where required in December 2020.
Arrangements for baby-sitting children who are fostered should be made with the usual care that any good parent would have. This means careful selection of sitters, ensuring a sitter can care for a child properly and is aware of the child's needs and of the expectations of the carers. The baby-sitter should be informed of any special needs or health needs. No baby-sitter can be under 16 years of age. Where a baby-sitter is under 18 years of age they should have access to a responsible adult for advice/assistance in an emergency and approval to use them from the fostering team manager. Sitters should always be made aware of and required to abide by the "rules of the house" including the no-smacking rule.
Sitters should be a part of the assessing process for foster carers, thus identified and agreed within processes such as approval status and or foster carers reviews to ensure they are suitable.
Baby sitters should not be confused with parents of children where a Child Looked After visits.
2. Checks on Carers - Vetting
Those baby-sitting for children in foster care do not always require the usual vetting checks. Foster carers may have identified family members or friends who can offer regular baby-sitting for Children Looked After. This may have happened at the time of assessment and approval of the carers when all adults with regular contact will be vetted, or at a later date. The Local Authority at any time may deem it appropriate to carry out police checks and or DBS checks for regular baby sitters and or support networks. Foster carers should use their own support networks for baby-sitting.Where there are proposed changes to the regular baby-sitters that carers use, the foster carer must notify these details to the supervising social worker and the child's social worker at an early stage.
Sitters should always be known to and trusted by the foster carer and be known to the child. Where arrangements to use non-vetted or assessed sitters are made the child's social worker or the supervising social worker should be notified within 24 hours of the arrangement. This enables accurate records to be maintained of arrangements made for children's care. Foster carers will also need to update their own written record of all baby-sitting arrangements. Parents and those with Parental Responsibility may also need to be made aware of regular arrangements. The child's social worker or the supervising social worker will advise regarding this.
Where a baby-sitting arrangement requires the baby-sitter to stay overnight in the foster carer's home, the carer should only use vetted carers and should be satisfied that the arrangement is safe and the baby-sitter suitably responsible.
3. Good Practice
- It may be that the child's birth family or friendship networks can provide a sitter who would be familiar to the child. The usual requirements for vetting would apply;
- It may be that another foster carer may be able to help or even a reciprocal arrangement made;
- The sitter should always know how long the carer plans to be absent and it is the responsibility of the foster carer to provide written contact details for emergencies;
- The foster carer should choose someone to baby-sit who shares their own standards and approach to looking after children;
- The baby-sitter must agree to maintain confidentiality about the child;
- The baby-sitter should be informed about the child's routine, any behaviour management issues and likes and dislikes;
- The proposed frequency of any baby-sitting arrangements must take account of the child's needs. For example, some children may be adversely affected by frequent changes in routine and this must be considered when arrangements are made;
- The delegated authority should reflect any baby sitter arrangements for a Child Looked After.
4. Choosing a Baby Sitter
When choosing a baby-sitter consideration should be given to the following in relation to an individual child:
- How long the child has been in placement;
- How well the child knows the proposed baby-sitter;
- The age and experience of the baby-sitter;
- The complexity of the child's needs;
- How vulnerable the child is, including any factors as outlined within the child's behaviour management plan;
- How vulnerable the sitter will be caring for the child;
- Any risks the child may pose, including any factors as outlined within the child's risk assessment;
- The child's own wishes and feelings;
- The views of the child's parents (if appropriate);
- Any health needs of the child.
5. Baby Sitting Costs
Foster carers will be expected to pay for baby-sitting arrangements.
6. Children Looked After Who Babysit
Children and or young people should not baby-sit until they have reached the age of 16. Once they have reached the age of 16 they can baby-sit, subject to an assessment of suitability by the fostering social worker. The carer should visit the person who has asked the young person to baby-sit, to ensure the arrangements are suitable.
If it is proposed that a young person aged over 16 baby-sits for children within the foster home or for other children who are looked after, then he or she will be subject to the usual vetting process. The young person's social worker will further assess their suitability, in liaison with social workers for the other children and discussion with the young person and the foster carer.