Standards and Regulations

Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards

Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care:

  • Standard 2 - Understand your role as a foster carer.
  • Standard 4 - Know how to communicate effectively.
  • Standard 5 - Understand the development of children and young people.
  • Standard 6 - Keep children and young people safe from harm.

Relevant Information

Children and Families Act 2014 Section 95

Rules about tobacco, e-cigarettes and smoking: 1 October 2015 (DHSC, GOV.UK)

Related Chapters

Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking Procedure

Money Matters and Insurance Procedure

1. Passenger Safety, Competency of Driver and Agency Expectations

The Fostering Service expects you to take all advisory and necessary precautions to ensure that driving is safe and within the legal limits. This relates to the mechanics of the car and having in place the appropriate license and insurance, and the measures taken to ensure children are safely secured whilst being transported and that driving itself is safely undertaken, and complies with the Highway Code and associated speed limits.

You must take responsibility as the owner or driver of a vehicle, that the correct license, insurance (which covers fostered children), tax and MOT certificates are in place and valid. An annual check of foster carers' certificates will be made during the foster carer review process to validate these documents.

Any penalties that are issued to you (such as being banned from driving or receiving points on your licence) should be communicated to the supervising social worker and the Registered Manager, and must be notified to the insurance company.

A first aid kit and fire extinguisher must always be carried in the vehicle.

Where outdoor activities are planned, first aid kits should be carried.

2. If an Accident Occurs

Any accidents where children in placement have been involved should be communicated as soon as possible and a written report provided to your supervising social worker. Where medical treatment has been necessary this should be communicated immediately (or as soon after the accident when it is practical to do so) to the supervising social worker and the decision made about who will notify the child's social worker and, where required and appropriate, the child's family.

3. If a Child is Upset or Their Behaviour is Challenging

You may be required to take children in placement to meetings/visits to see professionals or family members from time to time. These circumstances can and do lead to children becoming upset, and caution should be applied where a journey in the car is being made when this occurs.

If a journey is due to be made and the child is very upset or where behaviour is unsettled it will depend on the relationship and understanding of behaviour to determine whether the journey should go ahead, however, it is safer to be late for an appointment, when considering a journey in the car with an unsettled child.

If car journeys are of particular concern and an on-going issue this should be raised with your supervising social worker and a risk assessment undertaken, and discussed with all involved in the child's care. It may be that an escort may be needed to support the child.

It is important to consider safety at all times and avoid transporting a child who is upset and distressed if at all possible.

4. Vehicles

4.1 Car Seats/Restraints

Young children, especially those below the age of 12 years old should not be seated in the front passenger seat as they are the most at risk when the frontal airbag deploys in a crash.

The law requires all children travelling in cars to use properly fitted purpose made child car seats or booster seats (see GOV.UK) until they are either 135cm in height or the age of 12 (which ever they reach first). After this they must use an adult seat belt.

RoSPA provides information and advice about buying, fitting and use of car seats:

Additional advice and information is available at: Department for Transport: 'Seat belts and child restraints'.

4.2 Transporting Disabled Children

Disabled children may need specially adapted car seats and restraints: these should be used at all times. Each child's needs should be looked at individually. This should be recorded in the children's placement plan. Carers should know how to use this equipment and should keep it in good working order following the manufacturing guidance around this.

Wheelchair users may need to be in a specially adapted vehicle with a 4 point strap system in place to secure the wheelchair.

Carers may have a specialist adapted vehicle provided by the Motability scheme to meet their child's transport needs. For this to be agreed the child needs to be on the mobility rate under Personal Independence Payment; any mobility car needs to be agreed by the children's social worker and be used for the purpose of transporting the disabled child or young person.

When a child can travel without a car seat: the law taxis and minicabs etc. See Child car seats: the law.

It is the driver's legal responsibility to ensure that the child is correctly restrained.

4.3 Use of Other Vehicles

If other vehicles( which are not provided by the Education department or Children's Social Care) are to be used then consideration must be given to the child's and driver's needs and their safety.

Things to consider:

  • Can a child travel on their own;
  • Do child locks need to be in place on the car;
  • Is an escort needed;
  • Mix of children in the car;
  • Age and sense of responsibility of child/young person including their understanding and vulnerabilities;
  • Health issues- such as epilepsy, oxygen needs;
  • Any equipment that needs to be carried such as mobility aids;
  • Risk of absconding;
  • Risk of unpredictable behaviour;
  • Risk of allegation against driver;
  • Risk of child leaving the vehicle whilst in motion;
  • Risk of abuse or attack.

This should all be detailed in the care plan and risk assessed before it happens to mitigate any risks that are identified. See also: Risk Assessment and Planning Procedure.

5. More Passengers than Seat Belts

The safest option is to only carry the same number of passengers as there are seat belts. If necessary, foster carers should make two journeys for the trip.

Children must still use a child car seat until they are either 135cm tall or 12 years old so that they meet the law, as described above.

6. Smoking

When children and young people are present in a private vehicle, no smoking is permitted.

It is an offence:

  • For a person of any age to smoke in a private vehicle that is carrying someone who is under 18;
  • For a driver (including a provisional driver) not to stop someone smoking in these circumstances.