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3.12.5 Friends and Visitors Procedure - Children's Homes

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all friends and informal visitors of young people in a residential care setting in Lincolnshire.

Also see Social Visits and Overnight Stays Procedure.

AMENDMENT

This chapter benefited from minor updates in December 2013.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Arrangements for Friends/Visitors
  3. Safeguarding of Children Visiting Children's Homes
  4. Review of Arrangements


1. Introduction

The general principle is that all Looked After Children should as far as possible be given the same permission to take part in normal and acceptable age appropriate activities, such as contact with friends, as would reasonably be granted by parents of their peers. Judgement should depend on the assessed risks to and needs of the child.

Children are supported and encouraged to maintain and develop family contact and friendships, subject to any limitations or provisions set out in their Care Plan, Placement Plan and any court order. Appropriate forms of contact are promoted and facilitated for each child, including where appropriate visits to the child in the home.

The Children’s Homes: National Minimum Standards (Standard 7 - Leisure activities) says that children should be encouraged and enabled to make and sustain friendships with children outside the home, which may involve friends visiting the home and reciprocal arrangement to visit friends’ homes.

When the child’s placement is made, information regarding significant relationships should be obtained when completing the Placement Plan. This should be regularly reviewed and updated as children form new friendships in their placements.

The Placement Plan should include the parameters within which visits or stays away from the home with friends may be agreed by the residential worker without prior consultation with the social worker, and whether agreement to such visits required the residential worker to obtain parental consent.

Although checks should not normally be required as a precondition of a friend or visitor of the child coming to the home, in circumstances where it is considered necessary as a result of specific risks identified in the risk assessment at the time of placement, relevant checks will be completed.

Where there are exceptional reasons to require the residential worker to seek the permission of the Social Worker, Manager or a parent to agree to contact/visits from friends, this should be because of reasons necessary to safeguard the child’s welfare. Any such restriction, together with the reasons, should be clearly recorded in the Safety Plan and explained to the child. Restrictions should be reviewed regularly to ensure they remain relevant.


2. Arrangements for Friends/Visitors

The following procedure applies to all visitors/friends coming to see young people within the home:

  • Where possible, arrangements need to be made with staff on duty to ensure it is appropriate for friends to visit the unit (this will need to take account of any other issues within the building and staff available);
  • All friends/visitors will need to complete the visitors book in order to comply with Health and Safety requirements;
  • Unannounced friends/visitors need to be aware that they may be asked to leave if it is not convenient for them to stay (e.g. during an incident with other young people);
  • Friends and visitors will normally only be allowed in communal areas in the building, unless agreed and monitored by staff on duty and has been risk assessed as appropriate for bedroom areas;
  • Where appropriate, visits are confirmed with the parent of the friend or the adult who has responsibility for them;
  • Name, address and contact details of friends are added to ‘Friends and Family’ contact sheet for reference;
  • Friends/visitors need to be aware of the boundaries in place regarding acceptable behaviour and language whilst on the premises;
  • Risk assessments need to be completed for all young people re ‘Contact’ with details of any restrictions in place and any risks presented;
  • Where possible, parents’ views and consent to contact with friends should be obtained at the time of the placement;
  • Unchecked visitors are adequately ‘chaperoned’ when on the home’s premises;
  • Staff have appropriate training, supervision and support if they are required to supervise and facilitate contact.


3. Safeguarding of Children Visiting Children's Homes

Parents and Foster Carers are expected to take responsibility for all children they bring for contact at residential units. It is not the responsibility of staff on duty to monitor and care for children that are not accommodated there.

All staff have up to date Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks in place and meet statutory requirements and guidance in the recruitment and selection process.

Friends and visitors will be supervised by staff on duty to ensure the safeguarding of all children present. Where any issues or concerns are raised, staff on duty will attempt to contact the parent of the child concerned to pass on any appropriate information. This may include their exclusion from visiting or reporting of any incidents that may have occurred within the unit.


4. Review of Arrangements

Contact arrangements and risk assessment will be reviewed monthly along with Placement Plans and amended as appropriate. All information will be shared with Social Workers and relevant parties where appropriate.

End