A Guide To DBS Checks For Adoption & Fostering
People who adopt or foster children in the UK are an important part of society who have a big positive impact. Children that are adopted or fostered have the opportunity to live within supportive families and the experience is rewarding for the adoptive and foster parents too.
To make sure that all children get to experience positive outcomes, the process of adoption and fostering must be safe. Safeguarding of children is important and DBS Checks are a pivotal part of the adoption and fostering process.
In this brief guide, we’ll look at how DBS Check rules and eligbility apply to fostering and adoption.
DBS Checks for adoptive parents
People that wish to adopt a child need to get an Enhanced DBS Check as it is considered to be a regulated activity. A regulated activity is defined by the DBS as an activity that involves direct, unsupervised contact with children or vulnerable adults.
Anybody engaged in a regulated activity must get an Enhanced DBS Check, as well as a check of the children’s barred list. This also applies to any additional members of the adoptive parent’s household who are aged 18 or over.
The good news is that because adoption is an unpaid role, the DBS Check can be applied for as a volunteer check, which is free of charge (apart from a small administration fee if you use a DBS registered body).
DBS Checks for foster carers
Foster carers, and any other adults in the household, will also need to get an Enhanced DBS Check with a children’s barred list check.
The main difference between foster carers and adoptive parents is that foster carers are paid for the role, which means they are not eligible for the free volunteer check.
DBS Checks for backup foster carers
Backup foster carers are individuals that have been named by a primary foster carer to step in and care for the child if and when they are needed. They can take care of the child for a period of time ranging between a weekend to 4 weeks, either at the home of the primary foster carer or the backup carer.
Backup foster carers are also eligible for an Enhanced DBS Check with a children’s barred list check as it is considered to be a regulated activity. Also, as the role is paid, they are not eligible for a volunteer DBS Check.
Frequent visitors to the home of a foster carer or adoptive parent
Any people that visit the household of foster or adoptive carers frequently will not usually be required to get an Enhanced DBS Check, as it is not considered to be a regulated activity.
However, if the role is named within the formal care details, as a babysitter or respite carer for instance, then they may be eligible for an Enhanced DBS Check and barred list check.
If there is no formal role involved and they visit frequently, but not left unsupervised with the child or children for long periods, then an Enhanced DBS Check is unlikely to be required. Some people apply for a Basic DBS Check instead to highlight any unspent convictions that may be relevant.
A note on volunteer DBS Checks
The DBS makes volunteer DBS Checks available for free, but there may be a small administration fee from the umbrella body.
In order to qualify for a free volunteer DBS Check, the applicant must meet the following criteria, which is stated in the Police Act of 1997 (criminal records):
‘Any person engaged in an activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit some third party and not a close relative.’
Any person considering applying for a free volunteer DBS Check must not:
- Benefit directly in financially or materially from the role
- Be in receipt of any form of payment (apart from travel and out-of-pocket expenses)
- Be involved in a work placement as part of the role
- Be in training or on a course that requires participation in the voluntary role
- Be in a trainee role.
Therefore, adoptive parents can claim a free volunteer DBS Check as they are not paid, but foster carers are not eligible.
We hope that this guide has helped you to clarify the type of DBS Check you need to become a foster carer or adoptive parent. If you would like to find out more about DBS Checks, contact us today.