DBS checks for foster carers: everything you need to know
Are you thinking about fostering? To make things easier, we’ve come up with a guide to help unravel the mystery surrounding DBS checks for foster carers.
Fostering can make a huge difference in children’s lives, offering them a positive experience of family life – and it can be immensely rewarding for foster carers, too.
But before you can become a foster carer, the council or fostering agency will have to ascertain whether you’re suitable to take on the role.
The DBS checking service forms a key part of this process.
Why do foster carers need DBS checks?
Looking after a child is a big responsibility, and fostering providers have to be certain that foster carers are suitable for the role.
A DBS check will show whether a prospective foster carer has any criminal convictions that would make them unsuitable to foster.
What sort of DBS check should foster carers have?
Anyone who works in ‘regulated activity’ with children will be eligible for an enhanced DBS check with a check of the children’s barred list, which is a list of people who have been barred from working with children.
Fostering falls under the scope of regulated activity, and so prospective foster carers are required to have this type of check.
An enhanced DBS check will reveal any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings the applicant has, as well as any relevant information held by local police.
It’s illegal for a person to seek work, or for an employer to knowingly employ a person to do work, from which they’ve been barred from doing.
Who else needs a DBS check in the foster carer’s household?
Any members of the fostering household aged 18 or over will be required to have an enhanced DBS check with a check of the children’s barred list.
Some local authorities and fostering agencies ask for DBS checks to be undertaken on any members of the household aged 16 or over, although it’s only a legal requirement for those over 18.
This also includes any members of the fostering family, friends or relatives who regularly stay overnight in the foster home.
DBS checks can also be undertaken on anyone in the foster carer’s network who will have substantial unsupervised contact with the foster children, for example, regular babysitters or people who collect the children from school.
In these cases, the fostering provider would have to be aware of the arrangements to approve the checks.
DBS checks for foster carers: a summary
DBS checks for foster carers help ensure the safety of foster children.
All foster carers, and any members of the fostering family aged 18 or over, will be required to undergo an enhanced DBS check before they begin fostering.
DBS checks will be arranged by the fostering provider as part of their assessment of the prospective foster carer’s suitability for the role.