Confidentiality Policy for Foster Carers

1. Background

This policy applies to all Foster Carers registered by the Kirklees Family Placement Unit. Kirklees Children and Families Services hold information on the young people that are Looked After under strict legal and ethical obligations. There are a number of reasons why young people and children are Looked After and they have a right to expect that our services will hold personal information in confidence.

Standard 26 of the Fostering services (England) National Minimum Standards (2011) sets out the requirements in relation to keeping records. This policy refers to all information including written and verbal.

2. Responsibility of Individual Carers

  • To enable you as a carer to care appropriately for a child or young person you will need to be given substantial amounts of information about the young person and their family both verbally and in writing. It is essential that this information is kept confidential;
  • Foster carers must be equipped to enable them to store confidential information and a locked box will be provided for this purpose. Any records which you keep during the child/young people's placement should be kept in this box and passed back to your Supervising Social Worker at the end of the placement (see Policies, Values and Principles (Values));
  • Information regarding the child should not be stored on the hard drive of your computer as this has security implications. Storage on a memory stick which is kept secure is acceptable but any data or information should be deleted once it has been passed on to the appropriate person. Personal information regarding children should not be sent via e-mail;
  • Information about children should not be shared on sites such as Facebook;
  • No information regarding the council or children in placement should be shared on Facebook or other social internet sites.

3. Breaches in Confidentiality

  • Confidentiality must always be given the utmost priority and is a clear responsibility on the Foster Carer. Any breach of confidentiality will be treated as a serious matter;
  • If a carer or a member of their family is found to have breached confidentiality then consideration will be given to de-registration.

4. General Principles

  • You should not discuss the child/young person's circumstances with anybody who does not need to know. This includes your friend's neighbours and members of your extended family. If in any doubt re this discuss with the child/young persons Social Worker;
  • You should not discuss details of the child/ young person's history with other foster parents and whilst it may be acceptable to discuss in principle some of the problems you are experiencing, it is not acceptable to be disclosing details about a child/young persons history or that of the parents. An exception to this rule would be if another carer was taking on the care of that child either on a temporary or permanent basis;
  • When verbally passing on confidential information it is important that this is not overheard by anyone who should not have a right to have that information;
  • Any records in respect of each child may need to be read by the Social Worker or your Supervising Social Worker they may also need to be made available to the child or young person. It is therefore important that any information is clearly recorded in a way which is legible and none stigmatising;
  • In the case of training you may want to give account of scenarios relating to real issues which you have dealt with and this is quite acceptable if all present are bound by the confidentiality policy and the child is not identified;
  • If a child discloses information to you which you believe is new information always refer for guidance to either your Supervising Social Worker or the child social worker. Any information which may have Child Protection implications should be shared as a matter of urgency with the child's Social Worker, manager or duty manager;
  • Some information given to you from the child cannot be confidential and you must explain to them that the information may need to be shared with their Social Worker. Once again you may need to seek clarification from you Supervising Social Worker and some judgement will be required on your part. Not everything a child says to you needs to be repeated to the Social Worker and at times, personal judgements will need to be used. However it is important that a carer considers the requirements of this procedure when making a personal judgement on a matter. A child making a serious disclosure can never be kept confidential and a carer should be able to explain the reasons for this to the young person in their care;
  • Your own children play an important part in your families fostering and should be given a general understanding around the reasons for a placement, e.g. the family has some problems, the mother is in hospital or cannot provide care at the moment. Your own children if they are old enough should also understand the principles of confidentiality. This includes the implications in relation to social networking sites. You will have to exercise careful judgement around what you share with your own children. Your Supervising Social Worker should be able to provide you with guidance on this;
  • Carers children, should under no circumstances be taking photographs of foster children e.g. on mobile phones and putting these on face book or taking them to school to show friends. This could potentially put a child at risk.

5. Support for the Child/Young Person in Respect of Confidentiality

  • A Young person or child may require some help in protecting themselves from the curiosity of others, they can sometimes talk openly about their circumstances and the information can be spread or be misused;
  • Sometimes a cover story can help a child to cope with any probing questions which they may not wish to answer. A lot of what a child is able to share and with who is dependent on their age, maturity and understanding. The child/young person themselves should be helped to understand the need for confidentiality.