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6.2.23 Safety in the Home and Transport for Prospective Adopters Policy


This chapter was updated in August 2017, Section 3.2, Quick Guide to the Law, was updated with a link to information on GOV.UK.


1. Safety in the Home
2. The Social Worker’s Role
3. Safety in the Car
  3.1 In the Car
  3.2 Quick Guide to the Law
  3.3 Types of Car Seats
  3.4 Children with Disabilities
  3.5 Leaflets and Further Information

1. Safety in the Home

There can be so many risks inside and outside the home, it can be hard to keep track of them all. For instance, did you know that:

  • Falls are one of the most common causes of childhood accidents?
  • Six toddlers are admitted to hospital every day because they’ve been so badly burned?
  • Many accidents can be prevented in just one minute, by moving dangerous objects out of a child’s reach?

Every year around one million children are taken to hospital after an accident at home. The vast majority of these accidents happen to under-fives. Taking a few simple safety measures can make your home a safer place. But remember – friends’ and relatives’ homes may not be as safe for little ones as your home so be extra careful when visiting with your children.

Blackburn with Darwen BC as part of the preparation and assessment process highlight through the completion of a Health and Safety Checklist to identify immediate hazards and potential hazards in line with the age of child/children prospective adopters wish to be considered for. The checklist has been developed to comply with National Minimum Standards, and is for use within the assessment process for prospective adoptive parents.

The Health and Safety checklist covers the following general areas:

  • Electrical safety;
  • Slips, trips and falls;
  • Glass safety;
  • Safe storage;
  • Food hygiene;
  • Fire/fumes safety;
  • Garden/outdoor safety;
  • Vehicle safety;
  • Household hygiene;
  • Pet safety;
  • General safety.

Each subject area will have some relevance to all children but the extent to which the topics should be considered will depend on the age and ability of the children prospective adopters would wish to be considered for. For example stair gates will have more relevance for young children than for older children.

2. The Social Worker’s Role

It is acknowledged that adoption social workers are not trained health and safety inspectors, nor indeed are they specialised experts in fields such as electrical, gardening or plumbing maintenance. Therefore, the extent to which they are able to apply the checklist will be determined by their own experience and competency. Information to assist in the completion of the checklist is provided in this guidance; other material such as leaflets are available on websites as outlined later. This, together with a ‘common sense’ approach should be all that is needed to make appropriate judgements and offer useful advice/be able to discuss health and safety with the social worker or carer.


This enables a discussion to take place and is less patronising. If this is the approach which is taken, the social worker, following the discussion, is responsible for signing the checklist. The checklist is countersigned by the prospective adopter(s). The checklist is incorporated into the prospective adopters’ report which is scrutinized and signed by the adoption team manager.

It is important that all staff/carers become more aware of ‘safety’ and continue to look out for possible hazards. The role of the assessor is to ensure that a full check of the household premises, including the outside area, is undertaken as part of an assessment of the suitability of the prospective adopters home. All areas of health and safety that are highlighted as a cause for concern will need to be remedied by the time a child is matched with the prospective adopter(s) in line with the child’s age.

3. Safety in the Car

In-car safety can be a confusing area for parents and carers. They may find that they aren’t completely clear about the law, are unsure of the safest way for their child to travel, aren’t using the most appropriate restraint or have badly fitting child car seats or booster seats which put their child at risk. No car ride can ever be completely safe, but if a child is using the right safety restraint, the likelihood of being injured in an accident is reduced by two-thirds.

3.1 In the Car

  • Special baby seats, car seats, seat belts, booster seats, carry cot belts must be used. Check regularly for wear or fault;
  • When travelling in a car, children and young people will wear seat belts and wherever possible be seated in the rear of the car;
  • Carers have a responsibility for ensuring the car is regularly serviced, has appropriate insurance, tax and MOT certificates;
  • In line with legislation, carers should not smoke or allow others to smoke in the car when a child is present.

3.2 Quick Guide to the Law

The law applies to cars, vans and other goods vehicles.

See also: Seat belts: the law (GOV.UK)

3.3 Types of Car Seats

Children's car seats are designed for different weights - check the label on the seat, which shows the weight range the seat is suitable for. The weight ranges are divided into the following groups:

  • 'Group 0' and 'Group 0+' - these are rear-facing baby seats suitable for babies up to 13 kilogrammes;
  • 'Group I' - these are forward or rearward-facing baby seats for children between 9 and 18 kilogrammes;
  • 'Group II' - these are forward-facing child car seats (booster seats) for children from 15 to 25 kilogrammes;
  • 'Group III' - these are booster cushions for children above 22 kilogrammes.

Some seats cover more than one group and can be used as your child grows. Check on the seat label.

3.4 Children with Disabilities

Children with disabilities must use a child seat or seat belt, unless a doctor decides they are exempt on medical grounds. However, they may use disabled person's seat belts or child restraints designed for their needs. For more information about medical exemptions, see Medical Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing (Department for Transport).

3.5 Leaflets and Further Information

A range of leaflets can be obtained which outline various aspects of health and safety from the following websites:

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA)

The Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT)

Your Child's Health and Safety, Directgov

Food Standards Agency

The Department for Education, Publications