Fostering is an extremely rewarding effort that around 400,000 households across England are proud to offer. However, many don’t realise what is involved in becoming a foster carer and how much paperwork is required.
The following article discusses DBS Checks for foster carers, including why they are needed and how to obtain one.
Why Are DBS Checks Required for Foster Carers?
Companies that provide fostering opportunities must be certain that the foster carers are suitable for the role to provide the highest level of safety for all involved.
DBS Checks are the best way to ensure that these individuals are suitable for fostering. These checks allow fostering providers to view whether prospective applicants have any criminal convictions that would make them unsuitable for fostering.
Types of DBS Checks for Foster Carers
There are three types of DBS check that can be undertaken, as detailed below.
- Basic DBS Check: only returns unspent convictions.
- Standard DBS Check: returns both spent and unspent convictions as well as cautions, warnings and reprimands.
- Enhanced DBS Check: returns the same results as a standard check but also includes any relevant police notes with an additional option for a check of the DBS barred list.
In order to become a fully approved foster carer, you would need to undertake an Enhanced DBS Check with barred list check. The reason for this is that those who appear on the barred list are prohibited from working with children and vulnerable adults, and those found to be doing so are liable for prosecution.
How to Obtain a DBS Check as a Foster Carer
When applying to become a foster carer, the required standard and enhanced DBS checks must be applied for on your behalf. This is necessary because some of the questions that need to be answered must be verified by a third party; therefore, you are unable to complete these checks individually.
The foster provider or social work organisation should take responsibility for applying for these checks on your behalf and should ensure that this check is completed appropriately.
The Importance of DBS Checks for Foster Carers
Fosting children and young adults falls under a category of work known as ‘regulated activity’ which means that those looking to undertake this kind of work must undergo thorough checks to ensure they are safe.
This is when the previously mentioned ‘Enhanced DBS Check with barred list check’ comes into play during the fostering process.
Ensuring that these checks are suitably completed before the fostering begins is paramount for the safety of those involved. It is not uncommon for an entire household to undergo rigorous checks, potentially others that frequent the address too, in order to be deemed a secure residence to foster in.
If an individual looking to foster has a criminal record, this then just be disclosed and discussed by the regulated body involved.
Disclosure of Criminal Records to the Foster Carer Panel
You are able to find out whether or not you have a criminal record by visiting the Disclosure and Barring Service filtering guide on the UK government's website. You may also check this if you are aware of your previous convictions and want to check whether or not they still appear on your criminal record.
It goes without saying that if you have any previous offences involving direct violence towards a child or instances of a sexual nature, you will be automatically disqualified from fostering, as well as most jobs surrounding children and young adults.
What Else Do Foster Carers Need To Get Approved?
It is essential that all foster carers complete a full health check as part of their application to ensure they are physically and mentally fit to carry out such duties.
Those looking to become foster carers who are the right fit for the role will also need to undergo training as well as given ongoing support from a social worker, who will ensure that both the child and the foster carer and happy and healthy at all times.
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