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5.1.6 Placements in Residential Care

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.

AMENDMENT

The chapter was updated in September 2017 with minor amendments to the process and terminology.


Contents

Caption: contents list
   
1. Consultation
2. Placements Process
  2.1 Placement Request
  2.2 Identification and Approval of Placement
  2.3 Placement Planning
  2.4 Notification of Placement
3. Support, Monitoring and Ending of Placements
  3.1 Support and Monitoring of Placements
  3.2 Ending of Placements


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 Responsibilty;
  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 / virtual school;
  6. The Youth Offending Service, if the child is known to them;
  7. 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

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

In making this request, the social worker will be asked to provide information about the child, the type of placement sought, the Care Plan, 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 social worker should also outline any risks associated in making the placement as well as identifying needs and specific outcomes to be achieved.

The child’s social worker or their manager will obtain the agreement of the Assistant Director for a residential placement to be sought via presentation of Placement request Episode from Framework at Complex Needs Panel or via email and once agreement has been confirmed the Placement Team will contact providers to identify a suitable placement.

2.2 Identification and Approval of Placement

Once a resource has been identified, the Placement Team 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. Using the service providers form, 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. Additionally to this the service provider will be required to provide, location risk assessment, Regulation 44 independent visitors report, statement of purpose, most recent Ofsted Report and two references from two placing Local Authorities.

The proposed placement will then be presented to the social worker's manager for approval who will then advise the Assistant Director.

The Placements Manager must approve the specific terms and conditions of the placement, which must be included in the contract with the provider.

Where the residential placement is outside the local authority area, 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 Assistant Director 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 - see Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children Procedure. Equally, any placement made outside the local authority area should 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 in Health Care Assessments and Plans Procedure, Out of Area Placements).

Once the relevant manager/s approves the placement, 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 Placement Team will liaise with the relevant registered manager to provide details of the child's immediate child care needs and to arrange an Introduction Planning Meeting - see Introduction 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 Introduction 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 the responsible authority – including clarity about financial arrangements, e.g. (contact); the circumstances leading to the child becoming looked after; what the long term plan is for the child and its timeframe and what the objectives are for the placement being offered and how those reflect 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.

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:
  • The type of accommodation to be provided and the address;
  • The child's personal history, religious persuasion, cultural and linguistic background and racial origin;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Delegated Authority issues 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;
  • The Local Authority's arrangements for the financial support of the child during the placement;
  • Information concerning the child’s health and education, contact arrangements, visits by the responsible authority 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 Introduction 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 an Introduction Planning Meeting before the placement, because of the urgency of the placement, the placement agreement meeting should be completed within 5 working days of the child and or young person being placed.

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 authority's Complaints 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.

Emergency placements

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.

The placement plan must be agreed and signed by the nominated officer. Where this is a Placement at a Distance this a principle approval should be agreed by the Divisional Director. It is essential that the social worker completes the out of borough 20 miles radius approval form.

2.4 Notification of Placement

The child's social worker will update the Placement Update Group (PUG) via email with the details of the placement.

This email will also serve to notify the finance section so as to trigger payments as appropriate.

The email to the PUG will also inform the specialist nurse for looked after children, the relevant person in the education service, the local Children's Services (if the placement is in the area of a different local authority) and the child's GP.

The child's social worker will notify all family members consulted and involved in the decision-making process of the placement.

The email to the PUG will also alert the allocated Independent Reviewing Officer or, if it is the first placement, the Independent Review Service of the placement. This notification will trigger the appointment of an Independent Reviewing Officer, if it is the first placement, and the setting up of arrangements for a Looked After Review.

These notifications must be made by email, advising of the placement decision and the name and address of the children's home where the child is to be placed.

The notifications should be before the start of the placement or within 5 working days.

The child's social worker should also notify - preferably in writing but it may be verbally - 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.

It will be necessary for the home or the child's social worker to 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.

In relation to a first Looked After placement it will also be necessary for the social worker to liaise with the Designated Nurse for LAC to arrange a Health Care Assessment - see Health Assessments and Health Plan 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. In order to avoid placements that disrupt a child’s education, the Assistant Director 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.


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 Procedure.

Where there are concerns in relation to the progress of the placement, consideration should be given to arrange a placement stability meeting where issues are discussed and needs assessed. As part of this meeting strategies needs to be identified to manage issues. Additional support can be access if required. This will be requested via CIC or Joint Complex Needs panel.

Where there are any changes to the child's placement and/or legal status during the placement, the child's social worker must update the child's electronic records.

3.2 Ending of Placements

The child's social worker must notify the Placement Officer when a placement ends who will ensure that notice is served on the placement and the Placement Officer will inform the relevant finance officer so that any payments to the provider will cease. The social worker will also inform those notified when the placement was made of the ending of the placement. Social worker to support the child and/or young person to complete the Placement Evaluation form.

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 Introduction Planning and Disruption Meetings Procedure.

Where the placement ends in an unplanned way, consideration should be given to holding a Disruption Meeting - see Introduction Planning and Disruption Meetings Procedure.

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