A common misconception surrounding fostering is you won’t be allowed to foster if you smoke. As a children’s protection service, Compass are dedicated to ensuring all the young people in our care are provided with the highest quality of support; ensuring that they can lead heathy lives. If you are a smoker, you are considered eligible to foster although there will be restrictions in place.
Can I Foster If I Smoke?
Whether you smoke, use e-cigarettes or vape the answer to this will be yes. Smoking does not exclude you from being a foster parent, but it will come with certain restrictions.
Compass will not place the following with any foster family who have a smoker including adults who use electronic cigarettes, living in the household:
- Children under the age of 5 years.
- Parent and child.
- Child of any age with a respiratory illness which is known to be aggravated by smoke.
If you apply to foster with us, Compass will ask you whether you smoke, use electronic cigarettes or vape at the beginning of your application. We ask you to be honest about your usage, as this does not disqualify you from fostering with us- but will affect the types of placements you can have.
It is vitally important that a fostered child or young person has positive role models in their lives, so we will ask that if you must smoke you do so outdoors and not in your home or car.
What are the legalities around smoking near children?
The 2006 Health Act banned smoking in both the workplace and indoor areas which are used by the public, for example if you childmind in your home this would be illegal. Whilst smoking in your home would not be deemed illegal if you are a foster carer, it is strictly against our own policy.
In 2015, England and Wales made smoking in cars with children under the age of 18 illegal. Regardless of whether the car is moving or not, if windows are rolled down or doors open- it is a fineable offence.
Will smoking affect children in my care?
There is overwhelming evidence that children and young people are especially vulnerable to the effects of tobacco smoke which have serious long-term effects on their health. Their entitlement to a healthy, smoke free environment is paramount and therefore foster carers are expected to ensure that all household members do not smoke in the home during fostering placements.
Research has suggested that young people who live with parents, siblings, carers or authority figures who smoke are up to three times more likely to start becoming smokers themselves compared to children in non-smoking households.
We would encourage all our carers who smoke to stop, but we know that this is not something everybody can do overnight. Not only is our young people’s good health incredibly important to us, but we want to ensure that our foster parents feel healthy and fit- and smoking can greatly impact this.
If you would like help to stop smoking, we have pulled together some helpful resources for you:
- NHS SmokeFree: NHS’ free Personal Quit Plan to support you stop smoking
- British Lung Foundation: UK charity ‘looking after the nation’s lungs’ support and advice
- Cancer Research UK: UK charity advice and support to quit
- NHS Local Stop Smoking Services: trained advisors in your area for one to one or group advice.
If you are considering foster care and can provide a stable safe home for vulnerable children, please get in touch with us. Our friendly team of professionals are happy to take you through any questions that you may have.