COVID-19 Information

Our team are here for you during these unprecedented times. We understand your fears, frustrations and anxieties and we are here to help you. We are the Nation's only truly independent, not for profit support and advice service. Our staff and members are foster carers and you can be sure that all of our truly independent foster carer support and advice is in your best interest and aims to support you in your role whilst protecting your fostering career. This has never been more important than during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

FosterSupport are here to provide support, representation and guidance whenever you need it and to offer answers and explanations to your questions and concerns about your role and responsibilities and the impact of coronavirus on your fostering family. This section includes links to relevant up to date government regulations and guidance from around the UK.

We are also campaigning to raise awareness of the need to make foster carers a priority for vaccination and our draft vaccination priority email has received a favourable response from many MPs around the UK.

You can download a copy here to send to your own MP.

Country Specific Information

England

Fostering Related Exemptions England

Regulation regarding contact/family time

Gatherings necessary for certain purposes are an exception. These certain purposes include:

• Contact with birth parents – that the gathering is ‘reasonably necessary for the purposes of arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children where the children do not live in the same household as their parents or one of their parents’

• Contact with siblings – that the gathering is ‘reasonably necessary for the purposes of arrangements for contact between siblings where they do not live in the same household and one or more of them is — (i) a child looked after by a local authority, within the meaning of section 22 of the Children Act 1989(4), or  (ii) a relevant child, within the meaning of section 23A(5) of that Act’

Guidance

We expect that contact between children in care and their birth relatives will continue… However, there may be local or individual circumstances where face-to-face contact may not be possible, including where members of households are isolating or continuing to take precautions due to clinical vulnerability. Contact arrangements should, therefore, be assessed on a case by case basis taking into account a range of factors, including the government’s current social distancing guidance and guidance on meeting people outside your household and the needs of the child.  


Regulation regarding social worker visits

Visits from a social worker to a fostering household are an exception to the rule of six, as they are for work purposes.

• Gatherings necessary for certain purposes are an exception. These certain purposes include for work purposes – that the gathering is ‘reasonably necessary for work purposes or for the provision of voluntary or charitable services’

However,  the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) (No2) Regulations 2020 allow visits to a looked-after child, as required by the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010, to be carried out over the telephone, a video link or other electronic communication methods.

Guidance

The use of virtual visits should be the exception and can be used as a result of public health advice or when it is not reasonably practicable to have a face-to-face visit otherwise for a reason relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). This could include in the event of local or national restrictions, self-isolation or social distancing advice due to coronavirus (COVID-19). As good practice, children and young people should be told why a face-to-face visit is not possible and be advised of their right to advocacy or support. This does not provide blanket cover for all such visits to be held virtually. Wherever possible, visits should be held face-to-face. This can include considering whether it is possible to move the time or location of the meeting within the statutory timescales.

Scotland

Fostering Related Exemptions Scotland

In Scotland, government advice is to stay at home - however, family time/contact for children can still happen face to face as it falls under the following exemptions:

• The fulfilment of statutory obligations and/or legal orders
• The conduct of essential work
• The provision of care to vulnerable people

Up to date guidance on stay at home regulations in Scotland can be viewed here:

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions and Requirements) (Local Levels) (Scotland) Regulations 2020.

Decisions to make use of any exemptions should be taken case-by-case, in the best interest of the child and take into consideration the views of the foster family and birth family such that all those involved are not placed unduly at risk. If it is decided and agreed upon that a face-to-face meeting should happen, extra precautionary measures such as PPE and social distancing or the meeting being held outdoors should be considered and any arrangements subject to a risk assessment in line with the latest guidance and public health advice.

Northern Ireland

Fostering Related Exemptions Northern Ireland

Up to date guidance on stay at home regulations in Northern Ireland can be viewed here:  

Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance: what the restrictions mean for you

Face to face contact and social work visits are exempt from the regulations as they are fulfilling "a legal obligation".  However foster carers who are vulnerable/have vulnerable family members or are self isolating should negotiate with their fostering service around the appropriateness of ongoing virtual contact.

Wales

Fostering Related Exemptions Wales

In Wales, government advice is to stay at home - however, family time/contact for children can still happen face to face as it falls under the following exemption:

• Fulfilling a legal obligation

Up to date guidance on stay at home regulations in Wales can be viewed here:

The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (No. 5) (Wales) Regulations 2020

Decisions to make use of any exemptions should be taken case-by-case, in the best interest of the child and take into consideration the views of the foster family and birth family such that all those involved are not placed unduly at risk. If it is decided and agreed upon that a face-to-face meeting should happen, extra precautionary measures such as PPE and social distancing or the meeting being held outdoors should be considered and any arrangements subject to a risk assessment in line with the latest guidance and public health advice.

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