View Lincolnshire SCB Procedures View Lincolnshire SCB Procedures

3.2.1 Emergency Foster Placement

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all emergency placements of a Child in Foster Care and includes an Emergency placement with an external provider. The term 'emergency foster placement' as defined below does not include the immediate placement of a Looked After Child with a Connected Person - for the procedure relating to these placements; see Placements with Connected Person Procedure.

The placement of a child with foster carers can only take place once the Social worker has the required authority. See Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure.

This chapter should be read in conjunction with the Protocol for The Management of Independent Sector Residential and Foster Care Placement Contracts for Looked After Children.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in June 2014 in line with the Children's Homes and Looked after Children (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2013. Additional information was added to Section 2.2, The Placement relating to the inclusion of information agreed between the local authority and the placement provider about the arrangements to keep the child safe.


Contents

  1. Definition of Emergency Foster Placement 
  2. Placement During Normal Working Hours 
  3. Placement Outside Normal Working Hours


1. Definition of Emergency Foster Placement

An Emergency Foster Placement is the placement of a child in foster care made without the usual planning and/or thorough assessment process having taken place because of the need to ensure the safety and the welfare of the child immediately.

The following placements are deemed to be Emergency Foster Placements:

  • The unplanned placement of a child outside normal working hours;
  • Any placement where the necessary plans are not in place, i.e. where a child is abandoned, has suffered or is at risk of Significant Harm, or where there is an exceptional and immediate need to end an existing placement.


2. Placement During Normal Working Hours

2.1 Identification of the Placement

The decision and the authorisation that a child can be accommodated as well as the request made for a placement, has to be given by the Head of Service for the locality on the relevant form.

Where an Emergency Unplanned Placement is required, the social worker should liaise with and provide a completed referral form or ensure that the IA is comprehensive and addresses key issues essential for matching to a foster carer to the duty officer in the fostering team. This is vital to ensure optimum matching of child with foster carer.

Where an external placement has been identified as necessary, the referrer must obtain the authority of the Head of Regulated Services before making the referral. They must then send the completed referral form to the fostering duty officer.

The fostering duty officer will consult with staff/providers/carers in relation to the proposed placement, as necessary and as time permits, to ensure the identified placement is appropriate to meet the child's needs. The Duty officer is responsible for ensuring that matching detail is recorded in MOSAIC. In relation to requests for placements with Independent Fostering Agencies, the duty officer will have the responsibility to liaise with Independent Fostering Agencies to establish available placements, where the placement is made out of normal working hours only Independent Fostering Agencies that already have a contract in place with LCC should be used. The decision about the suitability of the placement will be made by the Social Work Team Manager.

Where the proposed placement is with an external provider, the contact will include a discussion about basic costs. Any services that would be deemed an extra cost, such as education or therapy, and the notice period would require further discussion and approval with the Head of Regulated Services.

If an Emergency placement with an external provider has been authorised by the Head of Service, the Social Worker will notify the Children’s Commissioning Team with the relevant details for them to use when checking for appropriate Providers, once they identify possible placements this information is given back to the Social Worker to make a professional decision on the best placement for the child.  

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.

It is important that the service area notifies the Children’s Commissioning team of their intention to place a child or young person in an independent sector placement, so that they can work with the service area to identify an appropriate provider and ensure a professional decision on the best placement for the child is made. Where the emergency placement has to be made out of normal working hours the Commissioning Team should be notified as soon as possible after the placement has commenced.

It is essential that at least three potential providers are contacted, and when one is finally selected an Independent Sector Placement Approval form CS2/255 ((which can be located in Children’s Services Core Forms on George) must be completed and signed by the relevant Head of Service. The form must detail which providers have been contacted and the rationale for choosing the selected one. A copy of the form must be sent to the Children’s Commissioning Team.

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

For placements made during normal working hours the Children’s Commissioning Team will establish whether the selected Provider currently has a contract in place with LCC. Where no contract is in place the Children’s Commissioning Team will complete the necessary quality assurance checks to confirm the Provider’s suitability and send out a contract for signature.

Refer to the Protocol for The Management of Independent Sector Residential and Foster Care Placement Contracts for Looked After Children for further information.

As long as no concerns have been raised in relation to a proposed external placement, the social worker may then arrange visits to the proposed placement, with the child (if old enough) and parents (if appropriate) and undertake the following:

  • The Social Worker will complete the Out of County Paper-work;
  • Complete Notification of Placement to relevant authorities;
  • The provider's admissions procedure will then be followed.

2.2 The Placement

In all cases, even where a child is placed in an emergency, the social worker must complete a Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record), (at a minimum Part 1 - Basic Details and Part 3 - Consents) and ensure that the child's Chronology is up to date, providing as much information as possible given the circumstances. Placement plan information must be provided in hard copy to the Foster Carer upon the making of the placement See Post Placement Arrangements Procedure.

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.

In order to ensure the appropriate arrangements to pay carers are in place, where the emergency placement is in foster care, the Fostering Duty officer must notify the Children's Finance Team of the placement within one working day, by completing the relevant form SS2.274 and by e-mail to the Softbox team and the relevant budget holder:

In addition, the child's social worker is responsible for ensuring that the child's record is updated on MOSAIC.

Although a meeting with the provider/carers to plan the placement will not be possible prior to the placement, this must take place within 5 working days for all placements. See The Review of the Child's Plan for Looked After Children Procedure (for placements in foster care).


3. Placement Outside Normal Working Hours

  1. When a placement appears appropriate, the Emergency Duty Officer will identify a suitable  placement using the available placements known to the Team; they may also contact the 'on call' Manager for more information if necessary;
  2. The Emergency Duty Officer should liaise as necessary with the provider/carers, seeking their view on the suitability of the proposed placement. If there is a significant difference of opinion, the 'on call' Manager should be consulted to make a decision;
  3. When a decision is reached, the Emergency Duty Officer should liaise with the provider/carers to agree the time and other suitable arrangements for the child's placement;
  4. Before a child is placed, the Emergency Duty Officer must ensure that the following records are completed as far as possible, depending on the information available, and hand copies to the provider/carers:

    Child's Chronology

    Placement Information Record ensuring that the Consent of a person with Parental Responsibility has been obtained.
  5. The Emergency Duty Officer where suitable should if possible arrange an emergency Health Care Assessment of the child;
  6. Having placed the child, the Emergency Duty Officer must pass the top copies of the referral and Information Record and the Placement Information Record and any other documentation to the relevant social work team and Fostering duty officer without delay. Placement information detail must also be provided to the foster carer upon placements;
  7. If the child is placed at beginning of a holiday period, e.g. Christmas Eve, the Emergency Duty Officer placing the child will arrange for the child to be visited at least once during the holiday period by the Emergency Duty Team to ensure the child's needs are being attended to and the provider/carers have all they require to meet the child's needs until the relevant social worker can follow the placement up.

The child's social worker will then complete the Placement Procedures as set out in the Post Placement Arrangements Procedure.

In order to ensure the appropriate arrangements to pay carers are in place, where the emergency placement is in foster care, the child's social worker must notify the Children and Family Finance Team of the placement within one working day, by completing the SS2/274 form available on Children's Services Core Forms. A copy must be sent to the Fostering duty officer:

In addition, the child's social worker must ensure that the child's record is up to date in MOSAIC.

Although a meeting with the provider/carers to plan the placement will not be possible prior to the placement, this must take place within 5 working days for all placements.

See The Review of the Child's Plan for Looked After Children Procedure (for placements in foster care).

End