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5.2.3 Placements in Children's Homes

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all planned placements of a Looked After Child who is being placed in a residential home including placements with external providers.

This chapter should be read in conjunction with Decision to Look After Procedure.

Children may also be placed in Children’s Homes having acquired Looked After status following a Remand to Local Authority Accommodation - see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed and refreshed in July 2017 in line with current processes and to confirm that the Access to Resources Team should consult other neighbouring authorities for availability of placements and provide the outcomes with the searches outlined above, together with a Statement of the placement’s purpose.


Contents

1. Consultation and Planning
2. Placements Process - Planned Placements 
2.1 Definition of Planned Placement  
2.2 Placement Request
2.3 Identification of Placement 
2.4 Placement Planning 
2.5 Recording and Plans
3. Support/Monitoring of Placements 
3.1 Support and Monitoring of Placements  
3.2 Ending of Placements 


1. Consultation and Planning

1.1 Consultation

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:

  1. The child;
  2. The child’s parents or those with Parental Responsibility;
  3. Anyone who is not a parent but has been caring for or looking after the child;
  4. Other members of the child’s family who are significant to the child;
  5. The child’s school or education authority;
  6. The Youth Offending Team, if the child is known to them.

The views of these people should be given by them, in writing, or should be recorded by the social worker.

1.2 Planning

See Decision to Look After Procedure, Section 2 or procedures relating to the initial decision to look after a child, and in relation to the drafting and approval of the Care Plan.

If there is a plan for a child who is under 10 years to be placed in a Residential Children's Home a written report must be written by the child's social worker and it must be presented to the Head of Service for his/her approval. This could only be considered if the home is registered for the age group of the child.


2. Placements Process - Planned Placements

2.1 Definition of Planned Placement 
2.2 Placement Request
2.3 Identification of Placement  
2.4 Placement Planning 

2.1 Definition of Planned Placement

A Planned Placement is the placement of a child in residential care following an assessment and planning process whereby, at the time of the placement, a Care Plan and Placement Plan (with delegated authority) are in place. Such placements can only be made once the required authority has been obtained and the case has been discussed at the Resource Panel.

Where the above plans are not in place, the placement is deemed to be an unplanned placement. 

2.2 Placement Request

Where a decision has been made that a child requires a residential placement, the child’s social worker should complete and send a Placement request form to ART.

The Placement Request form contains information about the child, the type of placement sought, the date by which the placement is required, the likely length of time for which the placement is required and the expected level of contact between the child and parents. The referral should be supported by the following documents:

  • Single Assessment. It is expected prior to a child becoming looked after there will be a Single Assessment unless the provision of accommodation is to safeguard and protect their immediate safety/welfare in which case a Single Assessment should be commenced and the contributors to the assessment should be informed about the placement;
  • Any relevant medical reports;
  • The child’s Education, Health and Care Plan (where relevant);
  • The most recent minutes of the last Looked After Review (in relation to a child already looked after);
  • The most recent Strategy Discussion/Meeting or Child Protection Conference minutes (where applicable).

If satisfied that the referral is appropriate, the resource panel chair will then make enquiries about the availability of an appropriate in-house resource, and with the social worker as necessary for clarification or for more information, for example whether the child may be a risk to other children in the home.

The Resource Panel will authorise a placement if satisfied that there are no alternatives to the child being/remaining Looked After

The Panel will ensure that all internal resources have been explored before recommending a placement with an external provider. Such placements also require the approval of the Assistant Director.

2.3 Identification of Placement

If an in-house residential placement is identified, the placement planning process can start - see Section 2.4, Placement Planning.

If a placement with an external provider has been authorised by the Resource Panel and the Assistant Director, the Commissioning Manager (Procurement Contract Officer) via Placements Northwest will consult appropriate providers, identify possible placements and liaise with the social worker about their suitability and they should arrange for a copy of any brochure or written material that is available for the proposed placement to be forwarded to the social worker. The ART team should consult other neighbouring authorities for availability of placements and provide the outcomes with the searches outlined above.

At this stage initial discussions will be held with the providers as to the appropriateness of the referral, time-scales for vacancies and the basic costs of the placement. The Commissioning Manager will ascertain the services included in the basic cost, what would be regarded as extra cost and the conditions relating to the notice period, and liaise with the child’s social worker and relevant manager as necessary.

If an external placement appears suitable and a vacancy is available, the Commissioning Manager will undertake the following:

  • Request a copy of the provider’s registration certificate and the most recent inspection report;
  • Obtain at least verbal references from other local authorities who have placed children with the provider in the last 12 months;
  • Liaise with social workers who have previously used the provider;
  • Gain a copy of the Statement of Purpose.

As long as no concerns have been raised in relation to a proposed external placement, and where time permits, s/he will facilitate a visit to the placement (with the social worker if appropriate) and then discuss its suitability with the child’s social worker.

The social worker may then arrange visits to the proposed placement, with the child (if old enough) and parents (if appropriate).

When the placement has been agreed as suitable, the Commissioning Manager will negotiate the terms and conditions of the placement with the provider which will be contained within a formal contract between the authority and provider before the child is placed.

The provider’s admissions procedure will then be followed.

2.4 Placement Planning

Before the child is placed the Registered Manager for the home will need to complete an Impact risk assessment and agree that the child is a suitable match in the home. Following this the child's Social Worker will arrange a pre-placement planning meeting.

The child, parents and any other significant family members and relevant professionals should also be invited. 

The purpose of the meeting is to share information about the child and the Care Plan, plan the timing of the placement and ensure that a Placement Plan recorded is drawn up. This will include the child’s 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).

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 Look After and Care Planning Procedure:

  1. The type of accommodation to be provided and the address;
  2. Where the authority has, or is notified 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 put in place by the appropriate person (placement provider) to keep the child safe;
  3. The child’s personal history, religious persuasion, cultural and linguistic background and racial origin;
  4. Where the child is Accommodated, the respective responsibilities of the Local Authority and parents/anyone with Parental Responsibility; any delegation of responsibility by parents/anyone with Parental Responsibility to the Local Authority 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; where the child is aged 16 or over and agrees to being provided with accommodation under Section 20 Children Act 1989, that fact;
  5. 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;
  6. The Local Authority’s arrangements for the financial support of the child during the placement.

Following the meeting, the child’s social worker will complete and arrange for the circulation of the Care Plan, Placement Plan to the child, parents and home manager. The manager of the home will arrange for the Placement Plan to be drawn up and circulated as necessary within the establishment.

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.

The social worker should ensure that any Children’s Guide, accommodation pack or other information about the placement that is available for the child is obtained and given to him/her. This should include ensuring that the child is provided with information on using the authority's Complaints Procedure.

In all cases, the child should be accompanied to the placement by the social worker and helped to settle in. The Social Worker should ensure the child has with them all necessary belongings, medication (if applicable), Placement Plan, medical consent and risk assessment and that this is contained in a suitcase or holdall.

2.5 Recording and Plans

Once a placement has been identified, the Social Worker should update the Demographics and the Referral and Information Record.

A Care Plan and a Placement Plan should be drawn up. The Care Plan is in two parts. The first gives an overview of the reasons for the child being looked after, the aim of the Care Plan, and the type of placement the child requires. The Care Plan part 2 contains the detail of the child’s needs, what outcomes are to be sought for the child and the services that are to be put in place in order to achieve them.

Where the child is placed outside Knowsley the social worker should send standard notifications (found as letters in the forms tab in Demographics) to the social work team, and health and education representatives in the area where the child is placed, notifying them of the placement. If there is any difficulty in identifying who the responsible people are in these areas, consult Jane Powell, designated nurse for Children Looked After, or Chris Moore or Wendy Jarman in educational support at the Quality Assurance Unit. The notifications should be before the start of the placement or within 5 working days.

The responsibility for the child's health needs remains with the home CCG even when the child is placed in another area.

The Child's Personal Education Plan (PEP) and Health Care Assessment should also be updated.

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. In order to avoid placements that disrupt a child’s education, the Nominated Officer must approve any change of placement affecting a child in Key Stage 4 except in an emergency/ where 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:

  1. Details of the assessment of the child’s needs and the reasons why the placement is the most suitable for responding to these; and
  2. A Copy of the child’s care plan (unless already provided in the case of a Placement at a Distance).


3. Support/Monitoring of Placements

3.1 Support and Monitoring of Placements 
3.2 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 Procedure.

If an external placement has been made in an emergency, the ART team and social worker will also liaise with health and education in relation to jointly funded placements with external providers, and will maintain contact with external providers in relation to the children placed with them, taking up with them any concerns or funding issues as soon as they are drawn to the Team’s attention and visiting at least every 6 months (with an unannounced visit at least annually). In any event the funding arrangements will be discussed at the Multi-agency Funding Panel.

The Chair of the Resource Panel will ensure there is a review of the placement at regular intervals as agreed at the panel when the placement was agreed and provide an update report to the Assistant Director.

Where the needs of the child in the placement will involve costs in addition to those approved, the placement must be referred to the Assistant Director for authority for any such additional costs before they are incurred.

A 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 Child Looked After Reviews Procedure.

3.2 Ending of Placements

The child’s social worker should inform all those notified of the placement when a placement ends, including the Commissioning Manager and Finance Officer.

Where a placement with an external provider ends in an unplanned way, the Commissioning Manager and the Team manager will call a meeting to discuss the causes of the breakdown and inform further placement planning. The child’s social worker, the child, the child’s parents, a representative of the external provider and any other significant people (as agreed between the Commissioning Manager and the social worker) should be invited.

End