South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

4.1.7 Placement in Residential Care

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all placements of Children Looked After 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

This chapter was reviewed and updated in May 2016. There has been a number of amendments throughout the chapter emphasising issues such as the therapeutic input offered by Residential Placements and how these will be evidenced. The chapter should be read in its entirety.


Contents

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
  Appendix 1: National Residential Contract


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 Service, if the child is known to them;
  7. Any other relevant person, e.g. nursery, health care professional, Children's Guardian;
  8. Social Worker's Manager should be consulted;
  9. Access to Resources Panel (ATR) should be booked to agree placement and funding of placement. The views of these people should be given by them, in writing, or should be recorded by the social worker.

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

The Placements Co-Ordinator/Contracts Officer in Specialist Services will require authorization from Executive Head in Children’s Services through the Access to Resources Panel (see Access to Resources Panel (ATR) and the Access to Resources Panel Form) to search for a placement with an Independent Sector Provider to identify a suitable residential placement.

Where a decision has been made that a child requires a residential placement, and/or there are no suitable in house foster carers or Independent Foster Agency carers, the child's social worker should request a placement by contacting the Placements Co-Ordinator and Contracts Officer in Specialist Services.

In making this request, the social worker will be asked to complete a Parent and Child Needs and Outcomes Form. The needs and outcomes referral provides: information about the child, the type of placement sought, needs and risks, expected outcomes, 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.

If the child has Special Educational Needs the child’s social worker will need to contact Torbay’s Special Educational Needs Team to ensure that the child’s special educational needs (as outlined in their Statement), will be met in the prospective placement. Such placements may be jointly funded and procured by Social Care and Education.

The Placements Co-Ordinator/Contracts Officer will send out the Needs and Outcomes Referral Form to Pre-Qualified (approved, quality assured), residential providers who are on a framework contract with Torbay.

2.2 Identification and Approval of Placement

Once a resource has been identified and agreed as suitable with the Placement Co-ordinator/Contracts Officer 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.

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

If the proposed placement is with an external provider, the Executive Head must approve the specific terms and conditions of the placement, which must be included in the contract (see Appendix 1: Individual Placement Agreement (IPA) Form - Agreement with the Service Provider) with the provider. The Contracts Officer will negotiate costs and services to be provide.

NB In addition to the above approvals, in order to avoid placements that disrupt a child's education, the Executive Head of Safeguarding and Welling 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 Children Looked After 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 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 child's social worker will liaise with the relevant registered manager to provide details of the child's immediate child care needs and to arrange a Placement Planning Meeting - see Placement Planning Meetings and Disruption Meeting 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 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, see Holidays and School Trips in the UK Procedure;
  • 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 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 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 should be agreed by the Children’s Services Director.

2.4 Notification of Placement

The Placement Co-Ordinator/Contracts Officer will update the child's electronic record with the details of the placement.

Where the placement is within an external provider, the Placement Coordinator/Contracts Officer will notify the finance section so as to trigger payments as appropriate. The Contracts Officer will complete the contract which are signed and approved by Executive Head.

Notification of the placement will also be sent by the child's social worker to the Designated Nurse for CLA, 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 child's social worker must also notify the allocated Independent Reviewing Officer or, if it is the first placement, the Independent Review Unit 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 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 notifications should be before the start of the placement or within 5 working days.

The child's social worker should also notify in writing/email 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 CLA 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 - see Education of Children Looked After 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 Executive Head of Safeguarding and Welling 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 Work Visits to Children Looked After 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 the child's electronic records.

3.2 Ending of Placements

Any decision to cease looking after a child aged 16 or 17 who is Looked After other than by virtue of a Care Order, must be approved by the Director of Children's Services. The Director must be satisfied that:

  • The child’s wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
  • The child’s Independent Reviewing Officer has been consulted;
  • The child’s relatives have been consulted, where appropriate.

The child's social worker must notify the Placements Co-Ordinator and Contracts 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 notified when the placement was made that the placement has ended.

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

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.


Appendix 1: National Residential Contract

Click here to view Appendix 1: National Residential Contract.

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