Newcastle City Council Logo


Top of page

Size: View this website with small text View this website with medium text View this website with large text View this website with high visibility

6.4.3 Staying Over: Policy and Guidance


Contents

  1. Purpose
  2. Principles
  3. Practice
  4. Guidance


1. Purpose

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


2. Principles

There are four principles which are central to this policy and procedure:

  1. As a Local Authority, we have “a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child”;
  2. 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;
  3. Guidance also tells us that we must act as a “reasonable parent” who takes account of the child's needs, abilities and understanding;
  4. The allocated Social Worker for the child has responsibility for the Child Plan and Placement Agreement of any child accommodated. Who and when a child stays with must be addressed in the Child Plan and Placement Agreement;
  5. Guidance states that, for children in foster care, it should be normal practice for the responsible authority, in agreement with those with parental responsibility, to delegate to the foster carer day-to-day decision making about allowing a child to stay overnight with friends and to state this in the Placement Plan.


3. Practice

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.

The approval or refusal will be included in the Placement Agreement for the child, in consultation with the child, her/his parent(s) where appropriate and the foster carer or children’s home.


4. Guidance

It is not necessary to Police / DBS 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.

Before agreeing to allow a child to stay over at a friend’s house, a reasonable parent would:

  • Know the name and address and telephone of the friend;
  • Will have met and spoken to the parent(s) of the friend;
  • Will have agreed the practical arrangements concerning picking up, dropping off and contact arrangements, should anything go wrong, e.g. illness or accident;
  • Will have spoken to the child about expectations of behaviour and conduct while staying at their friend’s.

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.

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 or children’s home, this fact must be recorded in the Placement Agreement.

Whoever carries them out must record that they have done so. 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.

If it has been agreed and recorded in the Child Plan and Placement Agreement that this process of checking has been delegated to the foster carer or children's home, the social worker:

  • Still retains responsibility for ensuring that the proper checks have been carried out;
  • Still retains responsibility for knowing who a child plans to stay with and when.

This guidance applies to Looked After children and young people of all ages.

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.

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 DBS 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.

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.

A reasonable and responsible parent would still want to know:

  • The home address and telephone number of the friend;
  • The practical arrangements concerning who else would be there, time of return etc.;
  • That the young person knows what the social worker’s/ foster carers’ or care staff's expectations of behaviour and conduct are.

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 a Local Authority and it is inevitable that in some cases despite the care taken, things 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.

End