Overnight stays

Children who are looked after should not be discriminated against because they are in care. As such they should have the same opportunities to maintain friendships as their peers and this includes, where appropriate being able to stay at their friends homes without the need for any Criminal Record checks. This page sets out the procedures for allowing overnight stays.

When children are living at home, their parents are the ones who will decide whether they can sleep over at friends houses. The basis of this decision is not formal and does not need detailed assessments of the child and their family, nor looking at what information agencies hold about the family, but based in knowing the other child and their family and common sense.

Responsibility for agreeing ad hoc sleepovers will usually be delegated to the carers. The proviso to this is where the young person in care is known to present a risk to others (e.g. a sexual risk), where a higher level of planning will be required to ensure all children are safe.

Information required on placement Information on significant relationships (e.g. friendships) should be gathered when the child is initially placed in care.

The social worker should look to reach an agreement with the parents (in all cases where the child is accommodated and as a point of good practice in all other cases) about when the carer can agree to short stays without consultation.  Parental permission does not, however, absolve the department from their duty to ensure that the overnight stay does not place the child at any risk. If agreement cannot be reached then this should be noted on the Placement Plan and each occasion will require agreement from the parents.

Ad hoc sleepovers ...

Ad hoc arrangements include stays away from home of up to 3 days.

Examples include:

Regular sleepovers

If regular sleepovers are planned then these should be considered at the placement planning meeting or next LAC review. This allows for the views of all involved (including the parents) to be sought, as well as allowing the recording of consent (or otherwise).

Regular sleepovers do require checks to be undertaken by the social worker (including a Criminal Records check).

16 / 17 year olds

Young people aged 16 & 17 will occasionally request sleepovers with friends where there will be no adult supervision.

The arrangements must be checked and confirmed, but in such circumstances only the social worker's manager can agree to such sleepovers and only in exceptional circumstances.

If the young person has a history of risk taking behaviour (e.g. alcohol or substance misuse / offending behaviour) then consent is unlikely to be given.

Overnight stays with boyfriends or girlfriends

Young People will often seek increased responsibility in decision making about their lives. Those adults caring for them will want to help young people develop appropriate increased independence and it can become more challenging for adults to set boundaries. It is important for young people to be clear about the reasons for agreements, including those about overnight stays, and to be aware of the implications of their actions, including potential risks, and risk management/protection.

Underage relationships (under 16) are unlawful and require careful consideration and management by the child's social worker, their line manager and carers. Decisions about overnight stays at the home of a boyfriend or girlfriend must be made by the social worker for a child under 16 years old.


Where permission for an overnight stay is refused , the social worker or carer will explain the reasons for this to the child.

Looked after children will be made aware, and given information about, the department's complaints procedure.