Home Safety Checks in Fostering and Adoption

CoramBAAF Adoption and Fostering Academy have published new guidelines for their members in Practice Note 61 – Home Safety Checks in Fostering and Adoption.

The Academy is a leading membership organisation dedicated to improving outcomes for children and young people in care by supporting the agencies and professionals who work with them.

Using checklists

In fostering and adoption, it has long been common practice to use checklists to determine whether an adoptive or foster home is sufficiently safe for children to live there and  CoramBAAF also provides a Home Safety Checklist.

The new guide, developed in collaboration with Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) recognises that:

implementing a checklist is only one small part of the way to keeping children safe; avoiding unintentional injuries depends at least as much on the actions and attitudes of foster carers and adopters in terms of their awareness, ability to provide effective supervision and to communicate well with children and young people about keeping safe.” 

There is emphasis on the need to be aware of a child’s physical, intellectual and emotional development at different ages and that the checklist can be useful every time a new child or young person joins a foster or adoptive family.

A dilemma for foster/adoptive families

The context of fostering and adoption means that carers have different challenges from other residential or day care settings. Children and young people need to feel like they are living in a home and not an institution. Carers will want their home to be safe for the children they care for, but they also need to strike a balance between maximising safety and imposing safety measures that make normal family life impossible.

The challenge for social workers involved in undertaking home safety checks is to practise in a way that is robust, evidence-based and proportionate. The guide suggests that foster care applicants use the Home Safety Checklist in the first instance to self-evaluate, and for the assessor to subsequently complete the checklist in discussion with them. Completing the  home safety check would be a learning exercise where responsibility is shared between the applicant and the assessing social worker. Approved foster carers would also use the checklist when a new child joins the family.

The guide is comprehensive and covers the legal framework; evidence about unintentional injuries including fire-related harm; falls; burns and scalds; poisoning; strangulation and suffocation; drowning and cutting and crushing injuries; and vehicle safety. It also explores myths and excesses and cover issues relate to home insurance.

Home safety checks in fostering and adoption: Practice note 61 is available to members of the BAAFCoram Fostering Academy

Support from CAPT

CAPT’s training courses are relevant to professionals working with parents and carers in a wide range of settings, including fostering and adoption. The course, Supporting Home Safety coaches participants on using home safety checklists as a tool to empower parents and carers. Contact Kevin Lowe , Head of Consultancy and Training for details.

CAPT also provides consultancy support to local authorities and has helped several to develop tailored home safety checklists and wider provision including home safety advice and equipment schemes.

“CAPT provided us with specialist advice to help review and redesign our local child accident prevention scheme, drawing on their experience and knowledge of best practice schemes in other areas.  This resulted in an improved service specification and delivery model based on the best available evidence of what works in preventing childhood accidents.” – Health Improvement Principal, Local Authority Public Health Team

Contact Kevin Lowe , Head of Consultancy and Training for details.


More information

  1. BAAFCoram Fostering Academy
  2. CAPT’s training courses
  3. CAPT’s consultancy service
Updated September 2016