Disruption Meetings

This chapter was added to the manual in December 2020.

1. Definition of a Disruption Meeting

A 'disruption' is the premature ending of a foster or residential placement of a Looked After Child that has been in their permanent placement and that this placement had been ratified by the Agency Decision Maker. A Disruption Meeting must take place in this instance.

A disruption can be at the request of the foster carer, the placing authority or the child / young person.

2. Purpose of Disruption Meetings

The purpose of the Disruption Meeting is not to attribute blame; it is important that all participants are aware of this. When endings are unplanned, the welfare and well-being of children remain paramount. The needs and feelings of other children living in a foster/residential home will also be taken into account.

The purpose of Disruption Meetings are instead to:

  • Provide all participants with an opportunity to share information, feelings and views about the causes of disruption;
  • Agree the factors that have led to the disruption;
  • Reassess the needs of Looked After Children and carers involved. Information gained can be used to inform future levels of support;
  • Seek to identify learning opportunities, actions and areas of policy development for all agencies involved.

3. When Disruption Meetings should be Held

Disruption Meeting

A Disruption Meeting must take place:

  • If a placement breakdown occurs after a Looked After Child has been in a permanent placement that has been ratified as permanent;
  • If a Looked After Child has experienced a number of disruptions within a short space of time. A request for a Disruption Meeting in this instance will be at the discretion of the child's social worker/ team manager/ IRO.

Disruption Meetings are not appropriate when dealing with:

  • Bridging placements;
  • Short-term placements, unless there has been a breakdown in more than one of these placements and a pattern is emerging.

The timing of the Disruption Meeting may vary. It is important that the meeting is not held too soon after the placement breakdown when participants may be defensive, or too long after when participants may be less able to recall the contributing factors.

In order to allow sufficient time for analysis and reflection a Disruption Meeting should be held no earlier than 28 days and no later than 42 days after the disruption, unless a complaint is in process. In this instance, a Disruption Meeting should be held within 4-6 weeks of complaint resolution.

4. Participants in Disruption Meetings

Participants required to attend the Meeting will vary depending on the nature of the disruption. Careful consideration must be made by the Children's Team Manager and Fostering Team Manager in regards to who should be invited. The meeting will be chaired by an IRO or CP chair from the Safeguarding and Quality Assurance Unit.

In addition to the Team Manager, the current Childcare Social Worker and Supervising Social Worker, consideration will be given to inviting the following participants:

  • Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO);
  • Carers to the child/ren and their Supervising Social Worker;
  • Previous carers and their Supervising Social Workers for the duration of the Look After Child's placement;
  • Present carers;
  • Relevant Fostering Support Team Managers;
  • Fostering agency representative;
  • Looked After Child;
  • Child's advocate / representative;
  • Previous Childcare Social Workers, including child's social worker at the time of disruption;
  • Fieldwork Team Manager of current and previous Childcare Social Workers, including child's social worker at the time of disruption;
  • Designated Teacher from school currently attended, previously attended and at the point of disruption;
  • Health representatives e.g. Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services, or Health Visitor;
  • Birth parents / family;
  • Access to resources team.

Participants who decline an invitation or are unable to attend will be required to present their views in writing.

Consideration should be given as to whether or not it is appropriate to invite the Looked After Child. However this may not always be appropriate or possible. If a Looked After Child is unable to attend the Meeting, It is the responsibility of their current social worker to obtain their views and opinion.

The meeting should be arranged to facilitate the attendance of the carers involved in the disruption and current carers. If this is not possible the reasons why should be noted during the meeting.

5. Preparing for the Placement Stability and or Disruption Meeting

Disruption meeting

It is imperative that as much information is made available to the Chair in advance of the meeting to allow time for analysis. At the time of invitation to the Disruption Meeting only, a written report will be requested from the following:

  • Child's Social Work Team;
  • Carers' Adoption & Fostering Service;
  • Young People's Team;
  • Agency Adoption Fostering Service;
  • Education Service;
  • Other significant agencies.

The child's Social Worker will also provide the Independent Reviewing Officer with access to the file in order to inspect the following documents:

  • Child's Care Plan(s);
  • Carer's Form F;
  • Matching documents;
  • Placement Support Plan(s);
  • Children in Care Reviews.

6. Format of the Meetings

Meetings will cover the following areas:

  • Introductions;
  • Apologies;
  • Purpose of the meeting;
  • The reasons why the child came into care i.e. details of the child's early life experiences and the circumstances why the child came into care;
  • Child's history since being in care;
  • Selection process;
  • Child and carer introduction process;
  • Child's placement experience;
  • Carer's placement experience;
  • The plan for the child's future;
  • Vetting and Barring;
  • Learning points, recommendations and follow up actions.

7. Recording of Meetings

It is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that an accurate account of the Meeting is recorded. A minute taker should take minutes.

Minutes of the meeting should include a clear summary of the future needs of child and carers involved, as well as recommendations and follow up actions for agencies involved.

8. Meeting Process

Minutes of the meeting should include a clear summary of the future needs of child and carers involved, as well as recommendations and follow up actions for agencies involved.