Bedroom Sharing Policy

This chapter was added to the manual in January 2019, it is originally from the Northumberland Fostering and Adoption Services Manual and has been updated.

1. Bedroom Sharing Policy

Children entering new foster care placements should be appropriately matched with a placement that has appropriate bedroom space taking into account the age and needs of the child.

Children in placement should have adequate privacy and bedroom space, to preserve dignity and provision for the child to have space to keep their possessions.

Risk assessments must be considered when making an appropriate match with the placement to ensure bedroom sharing is appropriate and does not hinder the child's safety and well-being.

Babies under 6 months of age should sleep in a cot in the foster carers bedroom.

Unrelated children over 3 years old will not share a bedroom unless in exceptional circumstances and a written risk assessment is completed and approved as set out below in Section 2, Risk Assessment.

Children over the age of 3 years will not share a bedroom with a child of the opposite sex.

Any new applicants must have at least one spare bedroom for 1 child or 2 siblings to share.

Babies and infants up to age 2 years may share the foster carers bedroom where appropriate.

2. Risk Assessment

Siblings and close relative children over 3 years old may only share a bedroom together, where there is a written risk assessment agreed by the Family Placement Manager. The risk assessment must have regard to the following factors:

  • Assessment of the risks presented in sharing;
  • The management of privacy;
  • Ensuring adequate personal space;
  • The views of the children's Social Workers and parents;
  • The wishes and feelings of the children concerned must be recorded and considered.

Any new applicants must have bedroom space compatible with the above.

The department aims to fulfil its responsibilities under the Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards for foster care (2011) namely:

  1. To ensure foster carer homes can comfortably accommodate all who live there including where appropriate any suitable aids and adaptations provided and fitted by suitably trained staff when caring for a disabled child;
  2. To ensure that where possible each child over the age of three has their own bedroom;
  3. To ensure that before seeking agreement for the sharing of a bedroom, the fostering service provider takes into account any potential for bullying, any history of abuse or abusive behaviour, the wishes of the children concerned and all other pertinent facts. The decision making process and outcome of the assessment are recorded in writing where bedroom sharing is agreed.

3. Matching

  1. Placing officers should demonstrate consultation with existing children in placement, and consideration of risk assessment when placing a child in a new foster placement especially if it is expected that a child will be sharing a bedroom;
  2. Forward planning needs to be incorporated at the point of agreeing a placement in terms of what will happen when a child requires their own bedroom, and considering whether a foster carer has sufficient bedroom space in the medium term future. This will prevent unnecessary moves for the child accommodated by the foster carer.

Risk Assessment:

  1. Risk assessment will take place at the point of placement referral and as part of the matching process and will be recorded in the Placement Plan documents;
  2. Issues to be considered include:
    1. Age and gender of the children sharing;
    2. Sleeping arrangements, bunk beds* etc;
    3. Relationships with other children in the placement;
    4. Specific needs of the child sharing a room i.e. enuresis, children waking in the night, requiring the light on etc;
    5. Sexualised behaviour of the child being placed and the children in the placement;
    6. The provision in placement for privacy and adequate personal space including storage, with special consideration being given to a child in adolescence.

4. Care of Babies Under the Age of 6 Months

  1. At no point should a baby sleep in the foster carer's bed;
  2. Bedroom provision should be anticipated in advance of when the child is ready to move into a bedroom of its own.

5. Sibling Groups

  1. Sibling Groups or close relatives where all children are under the age of 3 years may be assessed, for sharing a bedroom together or over three where an authorised risk assessment has been completed;
  2. After the age of 3 years old only same sex sibling or close relatives may be risk assessed for sharing a bedroom.

6. Bunk Beds

*Bunk beds need special consideration, as they do not always allow for privacy for the child. Bunk beds should be avoided if the child experiences enuresis, and if possible should only be used if children using them have other areas in the placement that allow for privacy and the children are siblings. Bunk beds should also be safe given the age and mobility of the children.