This guidance is for foster carers who are also currently childminders – providing valuable respite care for the Fostering Service while also providing childminding services to non-looked-after children.
It will help ensure that these carers manage the dual responsibilities and requirements successfully.
“A childminder is someone who provides care for at least one individual child for a period or periods of more than two hours in any one day, on premises that are usually not the child’s own home, for reward.”
(Childcare Act 2006)
Although we recognise that often children benefit from the company of other children, complex childminding arrangements do not always sit easily alongside the task of fostering. This is particularly relevant where there are a number of children involved or children who are minded over long periods of time.
There are also issues regarding the wellbeing of children cared for on a child-minding basis where a fostered child may potentially pose a risk to others.
On this basis, our view is that child-minding should not be undertaken alongside the role of foster carer, other than where short break placements, of no longer than two weeks duration, are proposed.
Where a new applicant approaches the Fostering Service with a view to being assessed as a foster carer (and they are currently also a childminder) they should be informed that any childminding responsibilities will have to cease before any looked after child could be placed with them on anything other than a respite basis.
This should be clarified from the outset of any initial application. Applicants should also be advised that a reference will be sought from Ofsted as part of the assessment process.
Foster carers who are also currently childminders
Where currently approved foster carers are also undertaking child-minding responsibilities, any current short or long-term foster placements will not be ended abruptly.
However, once any current fostering placements of this nature come to an end, only short break placements should subsequently be made with the carer, unless there is exceptional and demonstrable evidence that they have the skills and experience to manage the demands of both fostering and childminding together.
It is anticipated that such placements are more likely to be made for older children.
Specific approval must also be sought from the fostering service manager and agency decision-maker.
In any situation whereby short or long-term placements are made with a carer who is also continuing to undertake childminding responsibilities, this must be identified as appropriate and recommended following a foster carer review.
Any such review must also ensure that the foster carer’s childminding responsibilities are fully discussed alongside their responsibilities as a foster carer. The full extent of their childminding responsibilities should also be discussed and documented as part of the review.
It is also essential that every foster carer review has considered a reference from Ofsted in respect of the foster carer’s childminding responsibilities.