Baby Sitters and Overnight Stays

All parents as well as foster carers need a break and will at times have to leave their child with relatives or a baby-sitter. A child/young person may also want to have an overnight stay at some point or times with friends.

It is important that the child’s social worker and the child’s parents reach agreement at the time of the child’s placement as to the circumstances in which you can give permission to these situations and that this is set out in the Placement Plan and recorded. This is also the case for Family and Friends Carers.

However the general rule is that the child or young person should have the same opportunities to enjoy leisure time activities like sleepovers as any other child of their age unless there is a good reason for this not to happen.

It may also be helpful to identify as soon as possible anyone who you may consider to be a baby sitter and discuss this with your Fostering Social Worker. This should be included in your Placement Plan and where appropriate recorded as part of the decision with regards to delegated authority.

Children in Care have often led unsettled lives and usually benefit from being given good notice about staying somewhere different overnight.

A young person may also be asked to babysit and you should talk to your Fostering Social Worker for advice.

Overnight Stays

You should only give agreement for overnight stays if it has been agreed that you have delegated authority to make such decisions and agreed as part of the Placement Plan. It is your responsibility to find out all that you can about the people the child wishes to visit or stay with.

You should meet the adults, have an address and telephone number and be confident the child will not be at risk of harm.

You should also have a clear idea of how the child is getting there; sleeping arrangements and how and when the child will return.

Wherever possible overnight stays should be planned to ensure arrangements are made appropriately. Permission for overnight stays will usually be discussed when the child is placed and recorded in the Placement Plan as part of your delegated responsibilities.

You should base your decision on the following:

  1. What does the Placement Plan say about baby sitters, visits and overnight stays?
  2. Would the child struggle with an overnight stays because of their background?
  3. Are you worried about the people or the activities they may be taking part in?
  4. The age and understanding of the child/young person;
  5. Whose idea was the overnight stay and what is the purpose?
  6. How well is the friend or family known to the child?

The child should also have your contact details; know the plan for their return and what to do if they decide to come home early.

Depending on the needs of the child, you should discuss with the child if they are old enough what they can tell the people they will be visiting.

You should only give information on a ‘need to know’ basis and record what information you have given in the child’s daily record.

You may tell them about health care needs of the child, routines and any behaviour issues.

If the child does not want information to be shared, then they need to be told that this could affect whether they can stay overnight.

Record any decisions and the arrangements in the child’s daily record.

Even if it has been agreed that the child’s social worker does not have to be consulted, you should still inform them as soon as possible afterwards (within 1 working day) and the social worker should inform the parents as appropriate.

If as part of contact arrangements, the child/young person is due to stay away from placement with family members, the child’s social worker will make all appropriate arrangements.