Disclosure and Barring Checks: Procedures for Children age 17 who will remain in Placement on Reaching their 18th birthday (Fostering and Residential Care)
This will be read in conjunction with Staying Put Policy.
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
- Children who remain in foster care or residential placements on reaching their 18th birthday and becoming young adults;
- Any child of a foster carer/staying put carer living in the household who reaches their 18th birthday and becomes an adult;
- In situations where there are no foster children in the placement, but further children will be placed the procedure should be followed in full as the arrangement remains a 'regulated' placement;
- In situations where a young person reaches the age of 18 and no further foster children will be placed a DBS check should not be undertaken as this will not be deemed a 'regulated placement'.
1. When a DBS Check for a CLA is Required
Where a young person remains in a foster placement under a "staying put" arrangement or in a residential placement from their 18th birthday, they will need to be subject to a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check as they will become adult members of the foster household/children's home.
The DBS process will need to commence when the child reaches the age of 17¾ and be completed by the young person's 18th birthday (this will include any risk assessment process, should the DBS check highlight a 'trace' (i.e. an offence or issue).
If the DBS check is not completed by the young person's 18th birthday a risk assessment will need to be undertaken and the placement/"Staying Put" arrangement approved following the standard Hertfordshire escalation/approval process, written approval must be in place by the young person's 18th birthday.
2. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Background
The Disclosure and Barring Service was established by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. With effect from 1st December 2012, the Criminal Records Bureau and the Independent Safeguarding Authority merged to become one body – the Disclosure and Barring Service. This body carries out the previous functions of both organisations, such as conducting criminal record checks to enable an assessment to be made on the suitability of a person to care for, or work with children and/or vulnerable adults (previously carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau) and maintaining the 'Barred Lists' of individuals barred from working with children and/or vulnerable adults (previously held by the Independent Safeguarding Authority).
3. Procedure to Follow
3.1 In House Fostering
- When a Child Looked After reaches the age of 17½ and it is anticipated that they will remain in their foster care placement as a "Staying Put" arrangement (and the placement will remain a regulated foster care/supported lodgings household) the DBS checking procedure should commence;
- Where a child of a foster carer reaches the age 17½ and it is anticipated that the foster carer will continue to foster, or take future foster children, when their child reaches the age of 18, the DBS checking procedure should commence;
- The Supervising Social Worker (SSW) will start the process and will check the necessary identity documentation (ID);
- The person (young person in placement or child of the carer) requiring the check must complete the application themselves online. They can be supported by the Supervising SW or the foster Carer to complete this;
- The applicant can monitor the progress of their check online. This is a password protected process;
- The ID checker will be sent an email notifying of the results being sent out to the individual. The ID checker can view the certificate reference number online;
- The disclosure certificate should be viewed and copied by the SSW;
- If there is a trace on the check the Team Manager of the relevant Fostering team will be alerted;
- A Risk Assessment will be completed. See Risk Assessment Form;
- The Risk Assessment should be undertaken by the SSW in consultation with the young person's social worker;
- The person that the trace relates to will be required to attend a meeting to discuss the trace to enable the assessment to be completed. In exceptional circumstances a telephone interview may take place dependant on the individual trace and circumstances, where this occurs it must be noted on the risk assessment paperwork;
- The Risk Assessment should be approved by the Fostering Team Manager;
- The Risk Assessment should then be sent to Safe Staffing Team for review, and then they will meet and sign off the Risk Assessment with the Operations Director, Specialist Services;.
- If at any point the risk is deemed too high in terms of the impact on the foster children in the placement, a decision will be made about the placement continuing;
- A re-check will need to take place if the relevant person remains in the placement after their 21st Birthday, i.e. the DBS check should be repeated every three years);
- Where a young person commits an offence within the three years of the DBS Check, not all offences will be automatically notified to the Safe Staff Team. Young people must be told that they must disclose information about any offence they commit. Failure to notify may result in the "Staying Put" arrangement or residential placement being terminated.
3.2 Family and Friends/Connected Person Placements
For a young person reaching the age of 18 in a Connected Person (Family and Friends) Placement a DBS check will need to be carried out if there is another Child Looked After in the placement, or further children will be placed.
3.3 Hertfordshire County Council Managed Residential Placements
See above. The same process applies as with young people in foster care.
The Residential Manager will be responsible for initiating the process and checking the relevant documents and approving the Risk Assessment prior to sending the DBS Check and Risk Assessment to the Safe Staffing Team.
3.4 Independent Placements
Brokerage will have responsibility for informing all relevant agencies and providers of this process.
The Fostering Agency or Independent Residential Provider will be responsible for carrying out the process outlined above, in advance of a child in placement turning 18.
Where a Hertfordshire child is placed in an independent foster placement with a child from another authority who it is anticipated will remain after their 18th birthday, the Social Worker for the Hertfordshire child must inform Brokerage in order that the fostering agency can be contacted to ensure a DBS check is in place for that child by their 18th birthday.
This is an interim arrangement pending the development of appropriate contracts, notification arrangements and independent fostering agencies developing their "Staying Put" arrangements – safeguarding and DBS Check procedures.
Where a child is placed in an independent residential setting and another young person reaches the age of 18, the provider must carry out their DBS and risk assessment and notify Brokerage of any trace that is highlighted on the DBS Check and the arrangements for keeping other children safe. The notification should be sent to the Safe Staffing Team for monitoring.
The Children's and Young People Joint Commissioning Team will ensure that the process described above is incorporated into all contracts with independent providers.
4. Funding for External Checks
The provider is responsible for ensuring DBS Checks and suitable safeguarding arrangements are in place for all children and young adults placed with them. As such providers should undertake/fund DBS Checks as required.
5. Visitors and Regular Visitors/Overnight Stays - Foster Care and "Staying Put"
A regular visitor is defined as a person aged 18 and above who visits the foster carer/"Staying Put" household 4 times in any 30 day period, or has 1 overnight stay.
Foster/"Staying Put" carers via the process of delegated authority should ensure that suitable arrangements are in place to ensure that all adult visitors within the foster carer household do not pose a risk to members of the household, including foster children. Foster/"Staying Put" carers should ensure safer care arrangements are in place to limit any risk that an adult visitor may pose. Specific safer care plans should be approved by the supervising fostering social worker. In exceptional circumstances it may be deemed appropriate to undertake a DBS check on a regular visitor.
Independent providers should have a policy and procedure for visitors and regular visitors. The policy and procedure should cover the visitors and regular visitors who will be managed by the foster/"Staying Put" carer via delegated authority, a risk assessment process and a safer caring approach and those who require a DBS check.