SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to all placements of Looked After children in residential care.
See Decision to Look After and Care Planning for procedures relating to the initial decision to look after a child, and the drafting and approval of the Care Plan and other essential documentation.
Children may also be placed in residential care having acquired Looked After status following a Remand to Local Authority Accommodation, see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.
- 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.
These are all in the Dudley Practice Guidance.
In August 2017, the chapter was amended in line with the local Placements Process Guidance, clarifying the roles of the Access to Resources and placements Panel (ARPP) and the Placements Team.
- Placements Process
- Support, Monitoring and Ending of Placements
At the point that it is determined that a placement may be required, and throughout the subsequent process of identification, planning and placement, the social worker must consult and take account of the views of the following people:
- The child;
- The child's parents, or those with Parental Responsibility;
- Anyone who is not a parent but has been caring for or looking after the child;
- Other members of the child's family who are significant to the child;
- The child's school or education authority;
- The Youth Offending Service, if the child is known to them;
- Any other relevant person, e.g. nursery, health care professional, Children's Guardian.
The views of these people should be given by them, in writing, or should be recorded by the social worker.
2. Placements Process
2.1 Placement Request
Note: The full process for identifying and approving placements is set out in the Placements Process Guidance in the Dudley Practice Guidance. Any emergency placement, outside the panel process described in this document and summarised below, must be approved by the Head of Service.
When the need for a new placement is identified, the child's social worker must complete the Access to Resources and Placements Panel (ARPP) Referral Form and email it to the ARPPanel mailbox.
When the ARPP has granted approval to search for a placement, the social worker must complete a Placement Referral Form and email it to the placements duty mailbox.
The Placement Officer will check whether an in-house residential placement is available that appears to be appropriate to meet the child's needs.
If such a placement is available, or if there is a possibility of a placement by the required date, the social worker will be advised accordingly.
If no appropriate in-house placements are available and the child requires a placement without delay, the Placement Officer will obtain the agreement of the Designated Manager (Residential Placements) and contact other providers to identify a suitable placement.
2.2 Identification and Approval of Placement
Once a resource has been identified, the social worker should contact the relevant registered manager directly to discuss the available placement further.
Wherever possible, the child's social worker should visit potential homes and as required consult with other professionals, prior to a decision about the appropriateness of a placement being made. The placement provider should be able to provide evidence that supports the appropriateness and effectiveness of any therapeutic approach or model of care they intend to use.
When all pre-placement checks have been completed, the child's social worker will update the ARPP Referral Form with details of the proposed placement, including a clear breakdown of costs.
When the placement has been agreed by the ARPP (or in an emergency by the Head of Service), the child's social worker will:
- Complete a case note on CCM stating clearing what was agreed at the Panel; and
- Send an email to the placements duty mailbox, confirming the agreed costs and the start date.
A Placements Officer will then produce an Individual Placement Agreement and send it to the child's social worker. The social worker must check it, confirm or correct it, and return it within 7 days.
Where the residential placement is outside the area of Dudley MBC, see also Out of Area Placements Procedure.
N.B. In addition to the above approvals, in order to avoid placements that disrupt a child's education, the Nominated Officer (Disruption of Education) must approve any change of placement that would disrupt the education arrangements for a child in Key Stage 4 - unless the move is made in an emergency or the placement is terminated because of an immediate risk of serious harm to the child or to protect others from serious injury - see Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children Procedure.
Any placement made outside the area of Dudley MBC be able to meet the child's physical and mental health / emotional needs, particularly where ongoing treatment is being undertaken or is assessed as required (see also Health Care Assessments and Plans Procedure, Out of Area Placements).
When the placement has been approved, the placement planning process can start - see Section 2.3, Placement Planning. An understanding of the provider's therapeutic approach should inform the child's Placement Plan.
The social worker may then arrange visits to the proposed placement, with the child (if old enough) and parents (if appropriate).
2.3 Placement Planning
Before the child is placed, the social worker will liaise with the registered manager to provide details of the child's needs and to arrange a Placement Planning Meeting - see Placement Planning and Disruption Meetings Procedure. The meeting will usually be held in the child's new placement.
Participants will include:
- The parent;
- The child (if appropriate);
- The key residential staff;
- Any other relevant professionals, e.g. a representative from the child's school;
- Anyone else considered appropriate or who will have a role in the placement.
The purpose of the Placement Planning Meeting is to finalise the Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record) and the details of the child's needs in the placement including the daily routine, and discuss the Care Plan. The Placement Plan provides clarity for the child and carer about;
- How day to day parenting tasks will be shared between the carer and Children's Services;
- Financial arrangements for support of the placement;
- Arrangements for contact between the child and significant others (parents, siblings, extended family, friends);
- The circumstances leading to the child becoming looked after;
- The long term plan for the child and its timeframe; and
- The objectives for the placement and how they relate to the Care Plan.
This will involve a discussion of the child's needs, including their personal history, religious persuasion, cultural and linguistic background and racial origin, their health and education needs and how these are to be met. It will also include the arrangements for registering the child with local health professionals (GP, dentist and optician). The Responsible Authority is required to draw up a Placement Plan before the child is placed, or if not practicable, within 5 working days from the start of the placement.
The Placement Plan should be completed before the child is placed, or if that is not practicable, within 5 working days from the start of the placement.
For children placed in residential care, the Placement Plan should cover the following issues in addition to those for all placements set out in the Decision to Looked After and Care Planning Procedure:
- The type of accommodation to be provided and the address;
- Where Dudley Children's Services is aware of, Child Protection concerns relating to the child, or the child has gone missing from the placement or from any previous placement, the day to day arrangements that the placement provider should have in place to keep the child safe;
- Any behaviours which have been of concern to previous carers and which may have contributed to previous breakdown of a placement and how the Placement Provider will seek to manage and respond to these;
- The child's personal history, religious persuasion, cultural and linguistic background and racial origin;
- Where the child is Accommodated:
- The respective responsibilities of the Dudley Children's Services and the parents/anyone with Parental Responsibility;
- Any delegation of responsibility by the parents/anyone with Parental Responsibility to Dudley Children's Services for the child's day-to-day care;
- The expected duration of the arrangements and the steps to bring the arrangements to an end, including arrangements for the child to return to live with parents/anyone with Parental Responsibility; and
- Where the child is aged 16 or over and agrees to being provided with accommodation under Section 20 Children Act 1989, that fact.
- Delegated Authority issues such as the circumstances in which it is necessary to obtain in advance the Local Authority's approval for the child to take part in school trips or overnight stays, etc.
- Dudley Children's Services' arrangements for the financial support of the child during the placement;
- Information concerning the child's health and education, contact arrangements, visits by the social worker and any arrangements for visits by an independent visitor. The content of the child's Health Plan and PEP;
- The child's religion and culture and the manner in which these are reflected in their daily life and any help the child may need to keep these links;
- Arrangements for contact between children, birth parents and siblings and specified other friends and relatives.
The meeting also provides an opportunity to ensure that the registered manager has a copy of any relevant court order and that full information is shared about any behaviour management issues.
Wherever possible, the Placement Planning Meeting should be used to plan any introductions to the placement, for example whether arrangements should be made for the child, parents and the social worker to visit the home and/or whether it may be appropriate to have an introductory overnight stay. If this is not possible, arrangements may be made for residential staff to visit the child and parents; or for information about the home to be sent to the child and/or the parents, for example about routines in the home, bedtimes, meals, visitors, pocket money, school, privacy and the overall expectations in relation to the child's behaviour within the home.
If it is not possible to hold a Placement Planning Meeting before the placement, because of the urgency of the placement, it must take place in order that the Placement Plan is prepared within 5 working days of the start of the placement.
The child's social worker will complete and arrange for the circulation of the Care Plan and Placement Plan/Placement Information Record to the child, parents and residential staff.
At the time of the placement, the residential staff must also be given any additional information about details of the child's day to day needs which may not be covered by the Placement Information Record but are important to ensure that the home is in the best possible position to help the child settle in the new placement, for example any particular fears at night-time or other emotional needs.
The child's social worker must provide the child with written information about the looked after service, including information on using the Representations (Complaints and Compliments) Procedure and information about how to access an Advocate.
The social worker should ensure that any Children's Guide and other information about the placement that is available for the child is also obtained and given to him/her.
In all cases, the child should be accompanied to the placement by the social worker and helped to settle in. Suitable luggage should be used and a child's belongings should never be transported in bin-bags or other inappropriate containers.
Where an emergency placement is unavoidable local authorities should always make available information that is vital to allow the Home to care safely for the child e.g. medical information, Child Protection matters and information about any known serious behavioural issues which may place a child at risk of harm to him or herself or others.Where this is a Placement at a Distance it must be agreed by the Chief Officer for Children's Services.
2.4 Notification of Placement
The child's social worker will update CCM with the details of the placement.
Where the placement is with an external provider, the Placement Officer will notify the finance section so as to trigger payments as appropriate.
The child's social worker will notify:
- The Designated Nurse for LAC
- The relevant person in the education service;
- The local Children's Services (if the placement is in the area of a different local authority);
- The child's GP; and
- All family member who were consulted about the proposed placement.
These notifications must be made in writing, advising of the placement decision and the name and address of the children's home where the child is to be placed. They should be sent before the start of the placement or, where that is not practicable, within 5 working days after the placement.
The child's social worker must also notify the allocated Independent Reviewing Officer. If this is the child's first placement, the social worker will notify the Independent Review Unit and this will trigger the appointment of an Independent Reviewing Officer and arrangements for the first Looked After Review.
These notifications must be made in writing, advising of the placement decision and the name and address of the children's home where the child is to be placed.
The child's social worker should also notify - preferably in writing - all those involved in the day to day arrangements for the child, including school and any health professional or YOT worker actively involved with the child.
The child's social worker will confirm with the registered manager that 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 this is the child's first first Looked After placement the social worker will liaise with the Designated Nurse for LAC to arrange a Health Care Assessment - see Health Care Assessments and Plans Procedure. The social worker must arrange for the completion of a Personal Education Plan (PEP) - see Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children Procedure.
For any new placement, 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. The Nominated Officer (Disruption of Education) must approve any change of placement affecting the education arrangements for a child in Key Stage 4 (unless the placement was made in an emergency or the placement is terminated because of an immediate risk of serious harm to the child or to protect others from serious injury.
In the case of out of area placements, including Placements at a Distance, written notification must be given to the area authority of the arrangements for the placement before the placement is made or, if the placement is made in an emergency, within five working days of the start of the placement unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so.
The notification must include:
- Details of the assessment of the child's needs and the reasons why the placement is the most suitable for responding to these; and
- A copy of the child's care plan (unless already provided in the case of a Placement at a Distance).
3. Support, Monitoring and Ending of Placements
3.1 Support and Monitoring of Placements
The child's social worker must visit the child in the placement within one week of the placement and then at a minimum every six weeks; see Social Worker Visits to Looked After Children Procedure.
Where there are concerns in relation to the progress of the placement, consideration should be given to seeking additional resources to assist the placement.
Where there are any changes to the child's placement and/or legal status during the placement, the child's social worker must update CCM.
An early Looked After Review should be convened where:
- The child is, or has been, persistently absent from the placement;
- The placement provider, parents or area authority are concerned that the child is at risk of harm; or
- The child so requests, unless the Independent Reviewing Officer considers that the review is not justified.
See also Looked After Reviews Procedure.
3.2 Ending of Placements
The child's social worker must update CCM and notify the Placement Officer when a placement ends and arrange to inform the relevant finance officer so that any payments to the provider will cease. The social worker will also inform those who were notified when the placement was made that it has now ended.
Note: Where the placement is a commissioned resource from an independent or private provider, the social worker must ensure that the Placement and Finance Officers are informed immediately so that formal contractual notice can be given.
Where the placement ends in an unplanned way, consideration should be given to holding a Disruption Meeting - see Placement Planning and Disruption Meetings Procedure.