There are regular appeals on media for people who are prepared to take in a child or children, either temporarily as a foster carer, or on a permanent basis. Understandably, there are a lot of hoops to jump through first to make sure that the people approved as foster carers or adoptive parents are suitable for the role. One of the first checks which the Local Authority social services department will conduct is an enhanced DBS check.
Enhanced Level DBS Checks
An enhanced DBS check is the most detailed level of check. For adoption purposes, the check will also include a search of the child’s Barred List, which is a register of all people whose previous crimes mean they have been banned from working or volunteering with children. An enhanced disclosure looks at not only someone’s current and unspent criminal record, but also at much older convictions or cautions which can be disregarded in other situations. When looking at someone’s record, the Police will be aware that the searches are being carried out for the purpose of adoption and will decide what to disclose accordingly.
Family Member Checks
Safeguarding is the most important aspect of an adoption or foster placement, as many children in the care system come from troubled backgrounds and it is essential that they are placed in safe and stable homes. It’s not just the adults who are being approved as foster carers or adoptive parents who will be subject to an enhanced check. Any other family members such as older children have to be checked too, as do any other friends or relatives who regularly stay overnight at the property where the children will be living. Having a criminal record, or a family member with a criminal record won’t automatically rule someone out from becoming an adoptive parent. Every case is considered separately. There is also a charge associated with having an enhanced disclosure check. Some adoption agencies and local authorities might pay for checks on behalf of applicants, but in other cases the families might be expected to meet the cost themselves.
The Application Process
Most potential adopters apply through their local authority, and the social services team will have ample experience in guiding people through the process of filling in the form, proving their identity and receiving the final certificate. The process is not complex and can mostly be completed online. Enhanced disclosure is not available to individuals, so prospective applicants will first have to be linked with a Local Authority or other agency which is a Registered Body with the Disclosure and Barring Service. If a family is registered with more than one local authority or agency, then they are likely to need to go through the process with each body as certificates are usually not transferrable. The entire process should take around 4 weeks, possibly a bit longer at times of high demand, so do not delay if you are thinking of starting the process of being approved as an adoptive parent or foster carer.