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Keys to the front door for foster children

(19 Posts)
Fosterangel Tue 02-Oct-12 16:23:19

I was just wondering at what age do other foster carers let their foster children have their own key to the front door? Before you report me I do teens lol!!

What house rules do you lay down?
What problems (if any) have you had giving foster children keys to the door?
I do give out keys to the front door btw but it is only on the odd occasion when the foster child is going out swimming at weekends and we do not know when they will be coming back. We have not yet given them out for every day use.

Gymbob Fri 05-Oct-12 22:28:21

My 12 yo has a front door key. I gave her it when she started secondary school. It's rare that she uses it as someone is usually at home, but it represents her maturity and being responsible.

Rules are that she is not allowed to bring anyone else home if there is no adult in the house. She is the first fc to have a front door key, but she has been with us three and a half years.

NotmylastRolo Fri 05-Oct-12 22:54:49

Thanks for your response. I know that it does depend on the child and how mature they are - ours are quite mature and sensible. Our foster teens have their own keys to the front door but don't need to carry them on school days as someone is always home and they don't really need them. SSW is not so happy and wants teens to carry keys to our house at all times on them. I wasn't sure what others were doing. I do wonder sometimes whose house it is!
Didn't fancy the cost of changing the locks if they get lost at school unnecessarily.

PigletJohn Fri 05-Oct-12 23:21:44

Looking at it in an entirely different way...

If you have a proper wooden door, I'd suggest you have a 5-lever BS mortice deadlock on the front door, and also a nightlatch like a Yale (though better ones are available)

You can hand out the "Yale" keys fairly freely, so people can come and go independently when there are people in the house, and if one gets lost you can learn to change the cylinder yourself in ten minutes or so, at modest cost.

If you have a plastic door, you're on your own.

Gymbob Fri 05-Oct-12 23:26:53

Oh dear, I'm afraid I'm one of the plastic door brigade....hmm

Fosterangel Sat 06-Oct-12 14:09:52

Hi PJ. Many thanks - we do acutally have a wooden door so just giving out the Yale (and not the dead lock key) would work much better and I would be happier. Gymbob - fitting the plastic door was our next job on the job-list of home improvements but will not happen now! I am still quite new to fostering and some of the things we are asked to do by the SW's are not what we are used to and take some getting used to. I want to make sure we do not get persuaded into things so the SW can tick a box! Thanks for your advice.

PigletJohn Sat 06-Oct-12 15:07:25


PigletJohn Sat 06-Oct-12 15:11:49


A good wooden door is actually stronger and longer-lasting than a plastic door, though it may need new draught-stripping if old. Plastic doors are inherently weak and flexible, which is why they are festooned with supplementary hooks and bolts in an attempt to compensate for their weakness.

You will often hear people complain that their plastic door has gone wrong. You very rarely hear that about a wooden door. There is no problem getting replacement hinges or locks, though neither usually goes wrong, even on a hundred-year-old door.

scarlet5tyger Sat 06-Oct-12 20:23:55

PigletJohn, excellent advice! I too was considering a plastic door and have now crossed it off my to do list!

PigletJohn Sat 06-Oct-12 20:30:33

apologies to people who have already bought one sad

LFCisTarkaDahl Sat 06-Oct-12 20:33:05

We're not allowed to give nearly 15 yr old dd keys.

And someone has to be there when she leaves in the morning and when she returns at 3.30.

I'm surprised (not about the keys) but the fact they're allowed to be in the house on their own confused

NotmylastRolo Sun 07-Oct-12 11:50:28

LFCitd I agree totally. Liking the front door. We also have wood.

The pressure has been put on our fostering family to give our foster ds teen keys.This is against our better judgement.the kid is fairly sound but would not have the foggiest what to if he left the grill on for a snack and it caught fire.Neither would my birth kids have done at that age and we were really lucky that my mum was able to be at our house to see them in when I worked. we know that mates will tag along home with our foster ds and foster kids are more vulnerable than our own kids at the same age.Also we have to account for any injuries or accidents if we are not home so am not happy.

They just say that the kid should have keys! SS don't seem to consider the risk to us as say if foster ds went out without locking up our insurance would be invalidated.

Gymbob Mon 08-Oct-12 14:36:47

LFCitd - why are you not allowed to give your 15 year old keys, and for she not allowed to be at home alone?

My LA encourages their foster carers to treat fc as their own. My birth dd has a key, so if my fc is responsible and reliable why should I deprive her of one? If she had behavioural difficulties etc, then of course that would be another matter.

Notmylastrolo - Neither my daughter or fd are allowed to use any kitchen appliances, they would never be left alone long enough to need them. Plus if either of them invite friends in when they're alone, they will forfeit the privilige of a key.

Fosterangel Wed 10-Oct-12 10:35:50

I am still sitting on the fence (or door!). The Yale is a good idea and we may go with that as the best option if pressed hard by our SSW. My husband pointed out last night that it means we cannot use both locks if we go out in case the child returns and cannot get in if they only have one key. I think until we are really pushed I will keep on giving out the whole set of 2 keys (Yale and mortice deadlock) at weekends according to the foster child's sports/leisure activities. It also means we actually speak to the foster children (we usually see the tail end of them as they whizz out the door to meet their mates) as it is in their interest to know our movements to ensure someone is in.
Remembering when we used to have foreign students (under 18's many years ago), we were never asked to give out keys but someone did have to be home when they returned from language college. That is what we have been doing with the foster children and it has worked well until our SSW decided things needed to change.
We are not allowed to give teenage foster children keys to their own bedrooms to lock them (although our upstairs rooms do have keys and locks fitted) but we must have a lockable bathroom and toilet (which we have anyway so did not need to be told!).
All these instructions over how we run our home is quite intrusive. Maybe the SSW would like to have the foster children come home with her and then we could pick her home apart!

LFCisTarkaDahl Wed 10-Oct-12 10:51:08

Gymbob - leaving a child in care home alone is seen as neglect according to the social worker.

You are definitely not allowed for there to be no one there in the morning before they go to school - so I can't take work that starts before 9.30, or that finishes after 3.

it's very limiting and has actually got worse over the years as more scandals have come to light, in general I think they are just trying to minimise risk everywhere it could possibly exist.

Gymbob Wed 10-Oct-12 16:29:00

Crikey Fosterangel and LFC, I'm glad my LA is rather more flexible than that. I do think though, that they are being OTT, but the risk of allegations I suppose makes them cover their backs rather thickly.

LFC - neglect?! WTF?! Surely you would give your own birth children a key at 15, so the same should apply to a fc providing they are mature and sensible. I would be offended if I were a mature and sensible 15 year old.

I do agree though that foster parents should be at home before school, and if not there when they get home, then very shortly afterwards.

Fosterangel Wed 10-Oct-12 21:36:44

Gymbob - I am just having a moan because Soc Serv have sprung a new "rule" for our home on us without consulting us first. Our system was working just fine and suited the foster children well.

You could be right about covering backs against allegations. If we did not give out keys and the foster children were abducted whilst hanging about outside the home ....... well it does not bear thinking about.

We are quite new to fostering and struggle with the contrast between the promises made in training and the reality of doing the job!

The foster children are a delight compared to the social workers who appear to need to "progress" things without thinking things through or consulting us.

Gymbob Wed 10-Oct-12 22:27:05

FA - I'm sorry to hear that the training and realities are so different for you, that's a real shame, as we need all the foster carers we can get, and the lack of support won't bring potential fc's banging on the door.

I shall consider myself very lucky, our fostering and adoption services were one of the top in the country in the last lot of Ofsted rounds.

Fosterangel Thu 11-Oct-12 15:05:28

Gymbob - Ok, you are boasting now!!!!

Our LA was good on some and satisfactory on other areas. I think that is a fair result with our experiences of how they support us and the children.

Looks like you have a goodun!

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