This policy should be read in conjunction with the Department of Health and Social Care circular LAC (94) 4 - Guidelines on smoking and alcohol consumption in residential childcare establishments.
It identifies Knowsley MBC's clear policies with respect to all staff including foster carers regarding smoking and includes recruitment and placement of children.
AMENDMENTThis chapter was amended in July 2017 to confirm that E-cigarettes are included in the smoking Policy together with any other form of vapour (see Section 4, Policy).
The aim of Knowsley Borough Council's Smoking Policy is to protect children and young people in our care from the effects of active and passive smoking.
The Local Authority has reviewed its existing policy and practice in relation to smoking in the light of National Legislation introducing smoke free public indoor areas and in response to new national guidance published by the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering (CoramBAAF) and Fostering Network.
The health risks from smoking tobacco are well documented. In England, more than 250 people die each day from smoking related diseases. There are more than 26,000 deaths each year from lung cancer. Although the majority of deaths occur in smokers, several hundred deaths may occur in non-smokers who have been exposed over time to tobacco smoke. Passive smoking is also linked to increased incidence of serious illness, asthma symptoms and 'glue ear' in children.
Also, children living with adults who are smokers are more likely to take up the habit than those whose Carers do not smoke. Many young people become looked after as smokers, and others become smokers whilst being looked after. It is important that the Fostering Service has a clear policy for addressing these risks to the health of Children in Care.
It is the aspiration of the Fostering Service to move towards a position where children and young people in care are only placed in smoke-free homes. However we recognise that expecting all Foster Carers who currently smoke to give up is not realistic; and we also acknowledge that some Foster Carers who smoke have recognised the needs of the children and young people for whom they care and are taking appropriate steps to minimise the impact of their smoking on the children who they foster.
Electronic cigarettes shall be regarded as smoking tobacco cigarettes, due to unknown health risks and the variance of substances within the vapour.
3. CoramBAAF Recommendations
- Agency managements, together with their Adoption and Fostering Panels, should establish clear guidelines on their approach to Carers who smoke, which should be made available to all staff and to Carers and prospective Carers;
- Applicants who wish to adopt or foster should be advised at an early stage that smoking habits will be considered during assessment along with other health issues. Since smoking is harmful to the smoker(s) as well as others in the household, advice and assistance should be offered to promote no smoking. Applicants who smoke should be encouraged to consult their GP's, who are a focal point in the national campaign to discourage smoking;
- Information regarding the harmful effects should be included in preparation and training programmes for prospective and already approved Foster Carers and Adopters. Also included should be discussion on the choices Carers are likely to face regarding baby sitters or day carers who smoke, visitors to the home, and so on;
- Babies and young children up to the age of two years and all children with respiratory problems are at particular risk and it is therefore not in their best health interests to be placed in households with smokers when equally suitable non-smokers are available, unless there are exceptional reasons for doing so, for example, when the prospective Carer is a member of a child's extended family. Any such reasons should be recorded on the agency's files;
- Agencies should acknowledge the dangers to which children and young people who smoke are exposed. In the light of the information available they should review their policies and procedures, for example for residential establishments, with a view to discouraging smoking by both young people and the staff responsible for them.
The question of smoking is a debated issue with strong arguments on either side. What is beyond doubt is that smoking is both harmful and unsociable. Smoking is actively discouraged in all foster placements, including kinship placements and supported lodgings.
In view of the evidence presented above Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council has adopted the following policies in relation to Foster Carers.
There continues to be a debate on the harmful effects of E-cigarettes and there are many types of vapour used some with or without tobacco. With this said, Knowsley's smoking policy includes e-cigarettes and any other form of vapour.
5. Approval of New Foster Carers
As the effects of passive smoking are serious for all children and young people, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council will not recruit new Foster Carers who smoke or live in a smoking household.
A smoking household is considered to be a household where any member of the household, including teenage and adult children living in the house, smoke inside the property.
Foster Carers who smoke will not be registered for children aged under 5 years unless there are over-riding circumstances, such as placement with relatives.
6. Approval of Current Foster Carers
- All Foster Carers should receive information about the effects of smoking on health, and be made aware from the start that smoking habits will be considered along with other health factors in considering their re-approval at their annual review;
- If Foster Carers or other household members wish to take steps to cease smoking, they should be advised where to obtain assistance, and supported in this course of action;
- Carers must not smoke around children or young people;
- All Foster Carers are also required to ensure that children are not exposed to smoke when visiting friends or relatives of the Carers or when other smokers visit their homes;
- Family members of Children in Care visiting the foster home for contact etc, will be asked not to smoke in the home. This is for the protection of foster families as well as foster children.
In order to facilitate the move towards a future where every child is placed in smoke-free foster homes the recruitment process will address the issue of smoking in a robust and open manner.
All applicants will be made aware of the health risks to Children in Care posed by active and passive smoking and will be advised of the requirements set out in this policy. Applicants who are smokers will be signposted to appropriate preventative health services and unless they are relatives with whom a child may need to be placed in an emergency, encouraged to apply at a future date.
8. Children and Young People in Care
- In line with the law no child or young person aged under 18 should be permitted to smoke. Young people already habituated in smoking will be encouraged to engage in programme's designed to remove the habit in accordance with medical advice as appropriate. Furthermore help and advice will be offered to young people to assist them in giving up smoking. Smoking by young people is restricted to the back garden and all visitors should be aware that this is the policy;
- Even when permission has been given by parents for Children in Care to smoke, Foster Carers must not purchase cigarettes or tobacco for the young person or hold supplies on his/her behalf. Carers will also be supported in imposing restrictions on where smoking may take place;
- Carers are expected to actively discourage smoking by Children in Care and to seek advice from their Supervising Social Worker on how their use of tobacco may be reduced;
- It is vital that the 'no smoking' message is not negated by Carers' examples and actions and that the message on smoking is consistently applied by all.
9. Placements with Other Agencies
When children are placed with other agencies, those agencies will be made aware of Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council's Policy, and asked to observe the same requirements.
10. Home Visits
In accordance with the Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council No Smoking Policy, a council employee has the right to ask a service user and others present in their home or workplace, not to smoke within the rooms that they need to go into to perform and complete their duties. This includes young people and Foster Carers who smoke. If the service user, or others on premises, refuse to stop smoking in the relevant rooms of their home, the Council employee must decide whether it is necessary to enter the premises on that occasion, or whether some alternative arrangements can be made.
11. Wider Implications
- Staff and Foster Carers must not smoke in front of children or young people;
- Staff and Foster Carers must not smoke in their cars prior to or whilst transporting foster children or Foster Carers;
- Arrangements for discouraging children from smoking should be discussed at Placement Agreement Meetings, Care Planning Meetings and Children Looked After Reviews.
Note: from October 2015 it is now illegal to smoke in a car where there are children under 18 yrs. Both the driver and the smoker could be fined. However, it does not apply to e-cigarettes (see GOV.UK Smoking in Vehicles (August 2015).
12. Help and Support
If Foster Carers have any queries about the above, or if they or a child in placement need support to reduce or stop smoking, they should raise the issue with their Supervising Social Worker, who will signpost them to the relevant health service advice and discuss methods by which they can assist the young person in their care.