Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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6.2.17 Staying Over Policy

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

The Staying Over Policy and Procedure covers the practise and guidance for when "looked after" children and young people in Slough want to stay over at friends. The policy will ensure that consent to do so is given or withheld in an informed and considered manner.

RELEVANT CHAPTERS LEGISLATION / GUIDANCE

Statutory Guidance 2011

AMENDMENT

In January 2017 this chapter was revised and updated throughout and should be re-read in full.


Contents

  1. Purpose of The Staying Over Policy and Procedure
  2. Principles
  3. Practice
  4. Guidance

    Appendix 1: Child Plan and Placement Plan Supplement - Staying Over


1. Purpose of The Staying Over Policy and Procedure

The purpose of the Staying Over Policy and Procedure is to ensure that when "looked after" children and young people in Slough want to stay over at friends, consent to do so is given or withheld in an informed and considered manner.


2. Principles

  1. There are four principles which are central to this policy and procedure:
  2. As a Local Authority, we have "a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child";
  3. Guidance tells us that we must help "looked after" children lead as normal lives as possible and not be disadvantaged by being a "looked after child;
  4. Guidance on Delegated Authority for foster carers - Volume 4 - Statutory Guidance 2011;

    and finally,
  5. The allocated Social Worker for the child has responsibility for the Care Plan and Placement Plan of any child accommodated by a Foster Carer or living in a children's home. Who and when a child stays with must be addressed in the Child Plan and Placement Plan.


3. Practice

  1. The allocated Social Worker for the child has overall responsibility for approving or refusing to allow a child or young person to "stay over" with friends, unless the child/young person is accommodated (S20) where the parent(s) retain ultimate responsibility;
  2. The approval or refusal will be included in the Placement Plan for the child, in consultation with the child, her/his parent(s) where appropriate and the Foster Carer or children's home.


4. Guidance

  1. It is not necessary to Police Check everyone who a child or young person may want to stay over with. The use of Police Checks should not be the first option considered, the first option should always be what a "reasonable parent" would do;
  2. In making decisions about whether or not to permit a looked after child to stay overnight with a friend or to have a holiday with their friends or with relatives of their foster carers, or to go on a school trip, foster carers and responsible authorities should consider the following factors:
    1. Whether there are any relevant restrictions contained for exceptional reasons in the child's care plan, including the placement plan;
    2. Whether there are any court orders which restrict the child from making a particular overnight stay, visit or holiday;
    3. Whether there are any factors in the child's past experiences or behaviour which would preclude the overnight stay, visit or holiday;
    4. Whether there are any grounds for concern that the child may be at significant risk in the household concerned or from the activities proposed;
    5. The age and level of understanding of the child concerned;
    6. What is known about the reasons for the overnight stay, visit or holiday;
    7. The length of the stay.
  3. And will:
    1. Know the name and address and telephone of the friend;
    2. Have met and spoken to the parent(s) of the friend;
    3. Have agreed the practical arrangements concerning picking up, dropping off and contact arrangements, should anything go wrong, e.g. illness or accident;
    4. Have spoken to the child about expectations of behaviour and conduct while staying at their friend's.
  4. Where the child has made a new friend or has been invited to stay over at a party, all of the above would still apply. All of these steps are those which a reasonable and responsible parent would undertake, irrespective of whether or not a child was "looked after" by a Local Authority;
  5. The above tasks can all be carried out by the Foster Carer or residential worker either with or without the help of the child's Social Worker. Where delegated to the Foster Carer, this fact must be recorded in the Placement Plan;
  6. Whoever carries them out must record that they have done so. Please see the attached pro-forma as a guide. It is essential that the risks to the child/young person are addressed along with the risks to the friend/family. In the case of a child/young person who has experienced abuse or may themselves be an abuse risk to other children or young people;
  7. If it has been agreed and recorded in the Child Plan and Placement Plan that this process of checking has been delegated to the Foster Carer or the staff of the children's home, the Social Worker;
    1. Still retains responsibility for ensuring that the proper checks have been carried out;
    2. Still retains responsibility for knowing who a child plans to stay with and when;
  8. This guidance applies to "looked after" children and young people of all ages;
  9. If the Foster Carer/Children's home staff and/or Social Worker feel that the information being provided by the child and/or the person(s) they want to stay over with is unreliable, then a reasonable and responsible parent would refuse permission;
  10. If the Foster Carer/children's home staff and/or Social Worker feel that the information being provided, and/or the person(s) they want to stay over with is such that it is felt advisable to conduct a Police Check, then this should be considered to be over and above what a reasonable and responsible parent would expect or be able to carry out;

    Permission to stay over should be refused unless the child/young person and their friend agree to have one carried out with the decision made on the basis of the information received;
  11. In the case of older teenagers who have been invited to stay over at a friend's or go to a party, this is a normal part of life for the age group;
  12. A reasonable and responsible parent would still want to know;
    1. The home address and telephone number if the friend;
    2. The practical arrangements concerning who else would be there, time of return etc;
    3. That the young person knows what the Social Workers'/Foster Carers' or care staff's expectations of behaviour and conduct are;
  13. With older teenagers, there is greater risk to their safety and wellbeing as they explore and test greater levels of independence. This applies to young people living at home as well as to those who are looked after by the trust and it is inevitable that in some cases despite the care taken, thing will go wrong. It is the intention of this procedure to protect children and young people as our duty as reasonable and responsible parents. It is also intended to enable Carers and Social Workers to demonstrate that if something does go wrong, they took all reasonable precautions to protect the child or young person.


Appendix 1: Child Plan and Placement Plan Supplement - Staying Over

Click here to view Appendix 1: Child Plan and Placement Plan Supplement - Staying Over

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