Former smokers would have to provide “evidence” that they had stopped for at least a year before being considered for foster care or adoption placements, while no child born in a non-smoking family would be placed in the care of a smoker.To this:
It was agreed that smokers will no longer be recruited to care for children who are under the age of five, have respiratory problems, are from a non-smoking birth family or have a disability which means they are unable to play outside. [emphasis added]I suppose that's some kind of progress. The basic difference is that Aberdeen Council no longer intends an outright ban, but still draws the line at allowing smokers to adopt or foster under-fives and children in certain other exempted groups described above.
What's this about smokers not being recruited to care for children from a non-smoking birth family? Of all the categories of children they wish to protect from smokers, this is the most bewildering. They actually register when a child (at whatever tender age) is taken into care whether either one or both its parents or carers smokes, for the purpose of deciding future care arrangements? Nothing would surprise me less, but how incredibly irrelevant to a successful outcome in fostering or adopting children can they get?
Not everyone welcomes the city council's slightly less draconian position: '... social work committee members were warned yesterday that the council could face legal action in the future if the health of youngsters who are placed with smokers is damaged'. Whoever issues these dire warnings (the news report doesn't identify them) clearly believes the council's first concern should be protecting itself against the future claims of children exposed to secondary smoking during their time in foster care. The city council's future liability drove the move towards a total ban: 'The move will be considered amid fears the council could be held liable if youngsters in care develop future health problems linked to passive smoking.' Is this really likely? Part of my letter to the Social Work convener said:
I simply cannot believe that neglected, abandoned or orphaned children would agree that institutional care is preferable to being placed with a family, provided the commitment was there to support them in that family, just because someone in the family smoked. Any decision about care, access or custody that considers smoking as any way relevant is a very poor judgement call for the vast majority of children.No child will thank the council for depriving it of a family home out of a fear of liability. This is absolutely not the criterion on which adoption policy should be judged. Those responsible for children's welfare must consider the overall suitability of those offering to adopt and foster children, not be driven by peripheral policy considerations that exclude many such people.
It's not as if Aberdeen City Council hasn't plenty of children on its hands.