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Smokers could be banned from fostering children

Aberdeen City Council is considering the policy to rule out people who smoke from taking care of children.

Council ban: Fostering could be ruled out for smokers

A local authority is considering whether to ban people who smoke from fostering children.

Aberdeen City councillors will consider a new policy stopping the recruitment of foster carers and adopters who have a cigarette habit.

The move comes amid fears the local authority could be held liable if children in care develop health problems linked to passive smoking.

Under the plans ex-smokers would have to prove they have stopped for at least a year before being considered for foster care or adoption placements. And no child born in a non-smoking family would be placed in the care of a smoker.

Drop in carers

Aberdeen City Council officials admit the new rules were "likely" to lead to some prospective carers ruling themselves out.

Graeme Simpson, children's services manager at the council, also accepts many current carers smoke but they may be asked to smoke outside and never around the child.

He said: "We recognise that some of our existing foster carers who are providing a valuable service to a child or children are smokers.

"It is unrealistic to expect them to stop smoking immediately although the health benefits for themselves are significant. We will support our existing carers to seek help to stop smoking.

"We also will support them to look at how they can minimise the impact of their smoking on the child or children placed with them. However, the council has a duty to ensure first and foremost that the health and safety of our looked-after children is paramount."

Children's charities say it is s important carers try to quit now or children could suffer in the long run.

Barnardo's

Stephanie Stone, assistant director of Barnardo's Scotland, said: "If Aberdeen City Council adopt the recommendations they will be falling in with the majority of agencies and councils in Scotland.

"There are a number of agencies who will of course have existing carers who smoke. In this situation we would do our best to encourage them to cease smoking and offer them support in doing so.

"Local authorities are looking at the impact of smoking on young children. Unless we take proactive steps to stop smoking, local authorities, in theory, in the best interest of the child or young person, could withdraw the placement of the young person. We have to make carers aware that this is a live possibility."

The proposals will be put forward at Thursday's social work committee meeting.
 

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