Bedroom Sharing Policy
1. Legal Context
Standard 10.6 National Minimum Standards states:
"In the foster home each child over the age of three should have their own bedroom. If this is not possible the sharing of a bedroom is agreed by each child's responsible authority and each child has their own area within the bedroom. Before seeking agreement for the sharing of a bedroom the fostering service provider takes into account any potential for bullying, any history of abuse or abusive behaviour, the wishes of the children concerned and all other pertinent facts. The decision making process and the outcome of the assessment are recorded are recorded in writing where bedroom sharing is agreed"
Statutory Guidance for Family and Friends Care 5.3 states:"Children living with Family and Friends foster carers have the same rights to privacy and suitable sleeping accommodation as other looked after children but these should be seen as part of the total assessment of suitability to be balanced against other factors. A child who would be unhappy to share a bedroom with a child unknown to them may not mind sharing with another child who is a relative and they know well. They may already be living in the carer's home and happy with the overall situation. In approving the foster carer the fostering service will need to be satisfied there is adequate space to a suitable standard as set out in Standard 10.6 of the NMS or if this is not the case set out proposals as to how it will be met in the future. The wishes and feelings of the child will be an important factor in helping the social worker to assess the suitability of the accommodation"
2. Knowsley Fostering Service Policy and Procedure for Bedroom Sharing
- Babies less than 6 months of age should sleep in a cot in the foster carers' bedroom. Foster carers can have children up to the age of two in their bedroom. After the child's second birthday it is expected that they should have their own bedroom unless there are exceptional circumstances or needs. If this is case the SSW should undertake an assessment of the risks and issues and ensure this is recorded on the foster carer record;
- Where possible the fostering service in accordance with NMS will aim for all looked after children over the age of three to have their own bedroom'
- If children will be expected or would prefer to share a bedroom a risk assessment should be undertaken in consultation with the child's social worker. A copy of this should be kept on the foster carers file and it should be included in the family's safe care plan;
- If there is a change in the circumstances of any of the children who are sharing a bedroom which will impact on the welfare or safety of that or any other child the risk assessment must be updated and reviewed;
- If children are sharing bedrooms it should also be considered as part of the annual review of approval for carers to ensure that this is still an appropriate arrangement;
- Sibling Groups or close relatives can be considered for bedroom sharing once an authorised risk assessment has been completed;
- Children over the age of 10 years will not share a bedroom with a child of the opposite sex. After the age of 5 years old only same sex sibling or close relatives may be risk assessed for sharing a bedroom;
- If foster carers are taking children away on holiday and the accommodation necessitates children sharing a bedroom where there is not already a completed risk assessment this must be completed prior to the holiday.
Siblings and close relative children over 3 years old may only share a bedroom together where there is a written risk assessment authorised by the Team Manager. The risk assessment will take place at the point of placement referral as part of the matching process. For Family and Friend's carers this should be undertaken as part of the assessment process and the risk assessment authorised by the manager will be included in the paperwork presented to fostering panel.
This must take into account:
- Age and gender of the children sharing;
- Assessment of the risks presented in sharing – this needs to consider any potential for bullying and any history of abuse or abusive behaviour;
- The management of privacy;
- Ensuring adequate personal space;
- The views of the children's Social Worker;
- The wishes and feelings of the children concerned;
- Any specific needs of the child sharing a room such as enuresis;
- Sleeping arrangements such as bunk beds (see below).
Bunk beds do not always allow for privacy for the child. Bunk beds should be avoided if the child experiences enuresis. They should only be used if children have other areas in the placement that allow for privacy and the children are siblings or close relatives. Bunk beds should also be safe given the age and mobility of the children and safety guidance needs to be adhered to with no children under the age of six sleeping in the top bunk.