Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Foster parents smoking in Essex

The Evening Standard reports that a couple's attempt to foster children has been foiled following the husband's revelation that he had smoked two cigars within an 18-month period.

The report states that the parents were told specifically that prospective parents must not have smoked for a year prior to fostering, and the two cigars rendered the couple ineligible to be foster carers. This information is not given in the Essex Adoption Service Policy Statement (2008):

It has been shown that children’s health is adversely affected by passive smoking. The adoption service will not exclude smokers as prospective adopters, but is very unlikely to place babies under the age of 2, or place any children who have asthma or respiratory conditions, with people who smoke.
(So passive smoking is very risky to children's health, but in most cases we won't let that stand in our way. We'll just make you feel bad about smoking.) Nor is it given in the relevant guidelines on becoming a foster carer (2010):
If you smoke, you will not be allowed to care for a child under the age of five or a child who has any kind of respiratory problem.
Nothing is stated in either document about not having smoked for at least a year prior to adoption or fostering.

Essex County is quoted: "We are not able to comment on individual cases but deciding not to pursue an application is not a decision that is taken lightly." 

This decision, based on two cigars, seems to have been made very lightly indeed. 


Xopher said...

A bit of smoke or children denied foster care - which is the greater harm?

handymanphil said...

We'll take it that foster children will be denied the pleasures of Bonfire Night whereas naturally raised children won't!

Belinda said...


it appears that Essex County Council had a different view of events and wanted to offer the family a child over the age of 5. All the same the conclusion that smoking two cigars constitutes being a smoker is 'far out'.

Perhaps the condition on smoking is in place so as to filter out many parents as there is not enough demand for children over 5. They can then lay a double guilt trip on smokers, both for smoking and for preferring to adopt a baby when there are so many older children in need. Too cynical?