1.5.6 Living Away from Home
- Children in Care
- Private Fostering
- Foreign Exchange Visits
- Children in Hospital
- Children in Custody
Revelations of widespread abuse and neglect of children living away from home have done much to raise awareness of the particular vulnerability of children in these circumstances.
These circumstances include boarding schools, children's homes, foster carers, private fostering, hospitals, prisons, young offender institutions, secure training centres, secure units, army bases, foreign students and foreign exchange visits.
Disabled children are particularly vulnerable when living / staying in such settings (see also Section 6, Disabled Children).
In addition to Sexual Abuse and Physical Abuse, such children may experience Emotional Abuseand Neglect, including peer abuse, bullying and substance misuse, which are a particular threat in institutional settings.
Practice with respect to reporting of concerns, conducting of enquiries as well as recruitment of staff or carers is as described in Recognising Abuse and Neglect Procedure, Referral and Assessment Procedure and Section 47 Enquiries Procedure.
Safeguards which should be observed in such settings (and explicitly addressed in contracts with external providers) include the need for:
- Children to be valued and respected: staff must communicate directly with them using appropriate verbal and / or non-verbal means and recognise the importance of ascertaining their wishes and feelings;
- Care providers to be appropriately recruited, assessed and trained;
- Children to have access to a trusted adult outside of the institution / family and the institution itself be open to the external world and scrutiny;
- Clear procedures for complaints, safeguarding concerns, concerns about staff / carers and 'whistle blowing' arrangements;
- Respect for diversity and sensitivity to race, culture, religion, gender, sexuality and disability;
- Effective supervision and support, extending to temporary staff and volunteers.
Children in Care
Social workers should ensure that a Child in Care has opportunities to see her/him alone regularly and at key points.
The Independent Reviewing Officer should also ensure s/he has the opportunity of seeing the child and speaking to them on their own (if age and developmentally appropriate).
A Section 47 Enquiry, when there are concerns about Significant Harm to a child, applies on the same basis as it does to children who live with their own families, but Allegations Against Staff, Carers and Volunteers Procedure provides additional procedures relevant to these circumstances.
Children Placed for Adoption
Where a child is placed for adoption, the child remains a Child in Care, until the Adoption Order is made and the safeguard described above apply equally for these children. Allegations Against Staff, Carers and Volunteers Procedure provides additional procedures relevant if allegations are made against approved adopters.
A private fostering arrangement is one made without the involvement of Children's Social Care for the care of a child under the age of 16 (under 18, if disabled) by someone other than a parent or close relative for 28 days or more. Close relative is defined as "a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step-parent."
Privately fostered children may include children sent from abroad, asylum seeking and refugee children, teenagers staying in short term arrangements with friends or other non relatives and language students with host families.
Under the Children Act 1989 private foster carers and those with Parental Responsibility are required to notify the local authority of their intention to privately foster or have a child fostered.
Teachers, health and other professionals should notify Children's Social Care of any private fostering arrangements that come to their attention; unless they are satisfied Children's Social Care has been notified of the arrangement.
Children's Social Care must satisfy themselves as to the suitability of the private foster carer, their household and accommodation.
Where advance notice is given, this should be prior to the commencement of the arrangement (The Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005). There are powers to impose requirements on the carer or, if there are serious concerns about an arrangement, to prohibit it (see local private fostering procedures for details of assessment and review processes).
Children's Social Care must visit privately fostered children at regular intervals (a minimum of 6 weekly visits in year one and thereafter a minimum of 12 weekly) to ensure that their welfare is being satisfactorily safeguarded and promoted and that private foster carers and parents are provided with any required advice.
The Children Act 1989 creates a number of offences in connection with private fostering, including the failure to notify an arrangement or to comply with any requirement or prohibition imposed by Children's Social Care. Certain people are disqualified from being private foster carers.
Foreign Exchange Visits
Children on foreign exchange visits typically stay with a family selected by the school in the host country. Where this is for a period of less than 28 days they are not 'privately fostered'.
In these circumstances the only agency involved is education, with the school making arrangements to select host families and to negotiate the provision of families abroad.
In the event that any child in a household is subject to a Child Protection Plan or is the subject of a Section 47 Enquiry, the household should (until there is a satisfactory resolution of concerns) be regarded by the school as unsuitable to receive a pupil from an overseas school.
Schools should take reasonable steps to ensure that relevant schools abroad take a comparable approach.
Children in Hospital
Hospitals should be child friendly, safe and healthy places for children, with care in an appropriate location and environment. Children should not be cared for in an adult ward.
S.85 of the Children Act 1989 requires Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) to notify the 'responsible authority' (Children's Social Care for the area where the child is ordinarily resident or where the child is accommodated if this is unclear) when a child has been or will be accommodated by the CCG for 3 months or more e.g. in hospital, so that the welfare of the child can be assessed if necessary and kept under review.
Children in Custody
Young Offenders Institutions which accommodate Juveniles (16-18) must have policies and procedures in place which set out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children and young people in their care.
Specific institutions in an area must ensure that there are links in place with the relevant Local Safeguarding Children Board and local authorities.
Additional Safeguards for Children on Remand
With effect from 03 December 2012, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012, came into force and make significant changes to the remand framework for young people age 10-17 years.
The Act imposes a new scheme for remands of children (other than on bail.) All children must now be remanded into local authority accommodation or (where certain criteria are met) Youth Detention Accommodation. In both situations, the cost of this accommodation must be met by the designated local authority, and the child when remanded will attain Looked After status. A Detention Placement Plan must be prepared within 10 working days of the remand.
By making local authorities responsible for covering the custody costs of these young people, the Act provides a financial incentive for councils to keep young offenders out of custody.