We are aware that some foster carers are not able or willing to accept the risks that come with accepting new placements in the light of Covid-19. Equally, we are aware there are foster carers who want to accept placements as a way of helping children during the pandemic. This is an individual choice which each foster carer must make for themselves – but this ought to be an informed choice.
All our members should seek out sufficient information to assess the risk of accepting any new placements and to ensure you have the maximum amount of protection from contracting the virus and prevent the spread of Covid-19 if you choose to accept a new placement.
This includes asking for:
- Testing of any child over the age of 5 for Covid-19 before a placement or within 48 hours of arriving in placement.
- An indication of the level of risk of Covid-19 infection on all referrals. You should ask about contact with known positive cases and/or the reasonable likelihood of others in the household adhering to government guidance. Where this information is not available we would advise members to consider it high risk until otherwise confirmed.
- An agreement in writing of what use of PPE or self-isolation with children are reasonable and acceptable, as well as a supply of PPE for the first 14 days of placement where its use is agreed.
- An agreement of what support (including financial) will be provided if, as a result of contracting Covid-19 from a new placement, the foster carer or anyone in their household falls seriously ill and what compensation will be paid if a carer or anyone in their household dies as result.
Furthermore, where carers take the decision not to take placements due to shielding or Covid-19 concerns, our stance is this should not negatively impact on any foster carer being offered placements again in the future.
We would encourage all members to keep in regular contact with their social worker and we will support our members’ right to make an individual decision in this regard.
Anticipated increase in referals
It is has been widely reported that once children return to school there will be a significant surge in referals. All carers should be aware that they may come under increased pressure to take on more children than normal.
With this in mind, members should remember:
- Not to feel compelled to take a child if they do not think they can safely manage the situation.
- To be extremely cautious if it is suggested that children can share rooms.
- That you will be held responsible for anything that happens in your home even if social work says it’ll be ok.
- To ask for written information about any new child and do not feel pressured into accepting a new child on the spot.
- You are within your right to ask for time to think before giving an answer. Consider all the implications of taking a new placement then phone the referer back once you’ve made your decision.