Dudley Logo

DudleyChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Placements with Connected Persons

RELATED GUIDANCE

Children Act 1989: Family and Friends Care: Statutory guidance for local authorities about family and friends providing care for children who cannot live with their parents.

Family Rights Group, Initial Family and Friends Care Assessment: A good practice guide outlines what a viability assessment for family and friend carers should look like, what social workers should consider and how to undertake international assessments.

LOCAL DOCUMENTS

The Placement Process Guidance - This sets out to full process for identifying and approving fostering and residential placements from both internal and external resources, including supported accommodation.

  • Access to Resources and Placements Panel: Travel and Transport;
  • Corporate Parenting Strategy;
  • Checklist: Full Approval of Family and Friends Carers.

These are all in the Dudley Practice Guidance.

AMENDMENT

In February 2018, Section 3, Approval of Immediate Placements of Looked After Children with Connected Persons was updated to include matters that should be considered when placing a child with a Connected Person should include an initial risk assessment of any pets, together with the environment in which the pet is kept.

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Situations Where these Procedures do not Apply
  3. Approval of Immediate Placements of Looked After Children Connected Persons
  4. The Placement
  5. Assessment and Approval of Connected Persons as Foster Carer
  6. Ending the Placement

1. Introduction

A Connected Person is defined as "A relative, friend or other person connected with a child. The latter is someone who would not fit the term 'relative or friend', but who has a pre-existing relationship with the child. It could be someone who knows the child in a more professional capacity such as (for example) a child-minder, a teacher or a youth worker".

Relative is defined as "a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step-parent."

The following procedure covers immediate placements of looked after children with a Connected Person, where the carers are not already approved as foster carers. Children's Services must be satisfied that the placement is the most suitable means to safeguard and promote the child's welfare, notwithstanding the Connected Person is not yet approved as a foster carer. They must also be satisfied that it is necessary for this placement to be made before the Connected Person's suitability to be a foster carer has been assessed in accordance with the Fostering Regulations. These provisions are to be used only in exceptional circumstances and where there are clearly defined reasons why a full foster carer assessment cannot be undertaken before a placement is made. There is a risk that if a child is placed before the full assessment of the carer as a local authority foster carer they may not be approved at the end of the process resulting in a further move for the child.

A Connected Person is defined as "A relative, friend or other person connected with a child. The latter is someone who would not fit the term 'relative or friend', but who has a pre-existing relationship with the child. It could be someone who knows the child in a more professional capacity such as (for example) a child-minder, a teacher or a youth worker".

Relative is defined as "a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step-parent."

The procedure sets out the checks that need to be made before such a placement can be made.

It also covers the procedure to be followed to carry out the required assessment and approval of the Connected Person as foster carers if the placement is to last longer than 16 weeks.

2. Situations Where these Procedures do not Apply

These procedures do not apply where a child (under 16 yrs) goes to live with a relative or friend and this is a private arrangement between the parent/person with Parental Responsibility and carer.

If this placement continues for 28 days or more, the child may come within the definition of a Privately Fostered child, in which case the local authority's duties in relation to the placement are set out in the Private Fostering Policy.

3. Approval of Immediate Placements of Looked After Children with Connected Persons

Before any placement with a Connected Person who is not already approved as a foster carer is made, the approval of the Nominated Officer is required.

Any such approval can only be given for 16 weeks from the date of the placement. After that period of time, further assessment must be carried out and further approval sought - see Section 5, Assessment and Approval of a Connected Person as Foster Carer.

Matters to be taken into account when assessing the suitability of a Connected Person to care for the child are:

  1. The nature and quality of any existing relationship with the child;
  2. Their capacity to care for children and, in particular in relation to the child (or children) concerned:
    • To provide for his/her physical needs and appropriate medical and dental care;
    • To protect the child adequately from harm or danger including from any person who presents a risk of harm to the child;
    • To ensure that the accommodation and home environment is suitable including, where relevant, an initial risk assessment of any pets, together with the environment in which the pet is kept;
    • In relation to the child's age and developmental stage, to promote his/her learning and development;
    • To provide a stable family environment which will promote secure attachments for the child, including promoting positive contact with parents and other connected persons, unless this is not consistent with the child's welfare.
  3. State of health (physical, emotional and mental), and medical history including current or past issues of domestic violence, substance misuse or mental health problems;
  4. Family relationships and the composition of the household, including:
    • The identity of all other members of the household, their age and the nature of any relationship with the connected person and each other including any sexual relationship;
    • Any relationship with the parents;
    • Any relationship between the child and other members of the household;
    • Other adults (not members of the household) likely to have regular contact with the child;
    • Any current or previous domestic violence between members of the household, including the connected person.
  5. Their family history, including:
    • Their childhood and upbringing, and the strengths and difficulties of their parents or others who cared for them;
    • Their relationship with parents and siblings and each other;
    • Educational achievement and any learning difficulty/disability;
    • Chronology of significant life events;
    • Particulars of other relatives and their relationships with the child and the connected person.
  6. Any criminal offences of which they have been convicted or in respect of which they have been cautioned;
  7. Past and present employment and other sources of income;
  8. Nature of the neighbourhood and resources available in the community to support the child and the Connected Person.

The home must be visited by the social worker as part of the assessment of the suitability of arrangements.

The child's wishes and feelings (subject to age and understanding) must be ascertained and recorded and wherever possible, an opportunity must be provided for the child to visit the home before the decision is finalised.

The views of parents/ those with Parental Responsibility must also be obtained.

The proposed carer should be given information about the fostering assessment process that is required if the placement is to last longer than 16 weeks, including Disclosure and Barring Service checks and other agency enquiries on all members of the household aged 16 and over, and interviews with referees, adult children and ex-partners.

Where the social worker is in any doubt as to the suitability of the placement, s/he should consult the Fostering Service for advice before the placement is agreed.

Where the placement appears suitable and is approved by the Nominated Officer a written Placement Agreement should be completed by the child's social worker with the proposed carer.

The prospective carers need to be made aware that any approval is only temporary and does not imply continued approval beyond the 16 (sixteen) weeks.

The Fostering Service should be alerted about the placement and about whether or not it is intended to continue beyond 16 weeks.

The placement may only continue after sixteen weeks if the carer is approved as a foster carer - see Section 5, Assessment and Approval of a Connected Person as Foster Carer - or in exceptional circumstances where the temporary approval is extended.

This temporary approval can be extended once only for a further period of up to 8 weeks (if it is likely to expire before the assessment is completed) or until the outcome of an Independent Review (if the outcome of the assessment is that the Connected Person is not approved, and s/he seeks a review of the decision - see Assessment and Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure). The IRO must also be informed. A decision to extend the temporary approval must be approved by the Nominated Officer.

As the Connected Person will be temporarily approved as a foster carer, s/he will be required to sign a foster carer agreement. A Connected Person approved in this way will receive weekly financial support from the District Social Work Team prior to a viability assessment being presented to the Fostering Panel 8 weeks after the child is placed. If the Fostering Panel grants "approval with conditions", the carers will be paid Level 1 Fostering Allowance backdated to the day of placement.

Before deciding whether to extend the approval beyond 16 weeks, Children's Services must consider if the placement is still the most appropriate placement available, and it must be considered by the Fostering Panel who must be satisfied that the Connected Person is suitable to be approved as a foster carer.

4. The Placement

A Placement Planning Meeting should be held before the placement or, where this is not possible because of the urgency of the placement, within 5 working days.

On the placement of the child, the child's social worker will ensure that the child's Care Plan and the Placement Plan are given to the carer.

If the child was not previously Looked After, the child's social worker will send a notification of the child's placement and a request for the child's first Looked After Review to the Independent Review Unit.

If the child was already looked after, the social worker will send notification of the placement to the child's Independent Reviewing Officer.

The child's social worker must visit and see the child in the placement (alone unless she/he refuses) at least once a week until the first Looked After Review and thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks during the period of temporary approval. The visits are to be fully recorded as statutory visits.

The child's social worker will update CCM with the details of the placement.

The team manager will trigger payments to the carer until the viability assessment is taken to the Fostering Panel (8 weeks after placement).

If the placement is outside the area of Dudley MBC the child's social worker will send notification of the placement to the relevant Children's Services Department.

The child's social worker will notify all family members who were consulted about the proposal to place the child. These notifications must be made in writing, advising of the placement decision and the name and address of the person with whom the child is to be placed. They must be sent before the placement wherever possible or within 5 working days of the placement.

The child's social worker should also notify - preferably in writing - all those involved in the day to day arrangements for the child, including nursery/school, GP and any health professional or YOS worker actively involved with the child.

The child's social worker will ensure the child is registered with a GP, Dentist and Optician, either retaining practices known to him or her (which is preferable) or in the area where they are placed.

If the child was not previously Looked After placement the social worker will arrange a Health Assessment - see Health Care Assessments and Plans Procedure.

The social worker must also arrange for the completion of a Personal Education Plan - see the Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children Procedure. Every effort should be made to enable the child to remain at the same school unless there are reasons which would be detrimental to his or her well being.

5. Assessment and Approval of Connected Persons as Foster Carer

If the plan is for the placement to last longer than 16 weeks, the child's social worker should make a referral to the Fostering Service immediately so that the fostering assessment process can commence as soon as possible. The pre-placement assessment should be sent to the Fostering Service as part of the referral.

This temporary approval can be extended for one further period of up to 8 weeks (if it is likely to expire before the assessment is completed) or until the outcome of the Independent Review (if the outcome of the assessment is that the Connected Person is not approved and s/he seeks a review of the decision - see Assessment and Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure).

Before deciding whether to extend the approval, Children's Services must consider if the placement is still the most appropriate placement available, and it must be considered by the Fostering Panel. The IRO must also be informed. A decision to extend the temporary approval must be approved by the Nominated Officer.

A file will be opened for the foster carer's assessment. The assessing social worker will immediately arrange for a slot to be booked on the Fostering Panel within 16 weeks of the child's placement for the assessment to be considered.

A checklist of the documents to be presented to the Panel is in the Dudley Practice Guidance.

The assessing social worker will check proof of identity from the proposed carers and arrange for the carers and members of the household aged 16 and over to complete applications for Disclosure and Barring Service checks and consent to other agency checks.

The signed consent form and Disclosure and Barring Service forms will be given to the administrative staff in the Fostering Service who will send off for the necessary checks as set out in Assessment and Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure, Checks and References.

The allocated worker will explain the assessment process to the carers and provide them with written information.

The procedure for the assessment and approval is as for all applicants - see Assessment and Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure.

If and when the carers are approved as foster carers, the procedures in relation to support, supervision and review of the foster carers are the same as for all approved foster carers.

6. Ending the Placement

When the placement ends, the child's social worker must update the child's electronic record on CCM and send notification to the finance section so that payments to the carer/provider will cease.

The social worker will also send copies to those notified when the placement was made.

Where appropriate, consideration may be given to holding a Disruption Meeting in which case the procedure set out in Placement Planning and Disruption Meetings Procedure should be followed.