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3.2.5 Placements with Connected Person Under Regulation 24

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in June 2017 to indicate that when considering placing a child with a Connected Person an initial risk assessment of any pets, together with the environment in which the pet is kept should be included, (see Section 4, Assessment and Checks before Immediate Placement).


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Situations Where These Procedures do not Apply
  3. Approval of Immediate Placements with Connected Person
  4. Assessment and Checks before Immediate Placement
  5. Relevant Plans 
  6. Approval of Placements
  7. Action required by the Child's Social Worker immediately following the Child's Placement
  8. Notification of Placements 
  9. Assessment of Connected Person
  10. Action required if the placement is to extend beyond the period of temporary approval
  11. Action if the placement is to extend beyond 6 months
  12. Action required if the placement needs to be approved for permanence
  13. Support and Monitoring of Placement
  14. Ending of Placements

N.B. Where any placement of a Looked After Child with a Connected Person is proposed for a continuous period of sixteen weeks or more, in addition to the assessment and checks set out in Section 4, Assessment and Checks before Immediate Placement the Connected Person will have to be assessed as a foster carer and the child's social worker should start this process as soon as practicable after the placement is made - see Section 9, Assessment of Relatives/Friends as Kinship Foster Carers.


1. Introduction

This procedure applies to the placements of looked after children with a connected person i.e. where the carers are not already approved as foster carers and it also covers the procedure to be followed to carry out the required assessment and approval of the connected person as foster carers if the placement is to last longer than 16 weeks. As with any placement the responsible Authority must be satisfied that the placement is the most suitable means to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare, notwithstanding the Connected Person is not yet approved as a foster carer. The Authority must be satisfied that it is necessary for the child to be placed with the Connected Person before the Connected Person’s suitability to be a foster carer has been assessed in accordance with the Regulations. These provisions are to be used only in exceptional circumstances and where there are clearly defined reasons why a full foster carer assessment cannot be undertaken before a placement is made. There is a risk that if a child is placed before the full approval of the carer as a local authority foster carer they may not be approved at the end of the process resulting in a further move for the child.

A Connected Person is defined as “A relative, friend or other person connected with a child. The latter is someone who would not fit the term ‘relative or friend’, but who has a pre-existing relationship with the child. It could be someone who knows the child in a more professional capacity such as (for example) a child-minder, a teacher or a youth worker.”

Relative is defined as “a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step-parent."

This procedure should be followed when:

  • A child who cannot remain within his or her birth family is assessed as needing to be Looked after by Lincolnshire County Council and is placed with a Connected Person;
  • A child is already living with a Connected Person and subsequently becomes Looked After by Lincolnshire County Council;
  • A child who is already Looked After is placed with a Connected Person;


2. Situations Where These Procedures do not apply

This Procedure does not apply when a child (under 16yrs) goes to live with a close relative and this is a private arrangement between the parent with Parental Responsibility and the relative. In these situations it is not necessary for Lincolnshire County Council to become involved unless there are concerns for the child's welfare or the family request help.

These procedures do not apply where a child goes to live with a less immediate relative or friend and this is a Private Fostering arrangement between the parent with Parental responsibility and the carer. If this placement continues for 28 days or more the situation must be assessed under the Private Fostering Regulations. Please refer to the Private Fostering Procedure.

In either of the above situations, Lincolnshire County Council may consider the child to be a Child in Need, in which case a Social Care Assessment should be undertaken by the FAST Team.


3. Approval of Immediate Placements with Connected Person

Before any placement with a Connected Person or kinship carer who is not already approved as a foster carer, the approval of the Nominated Officer (Head of Service) is required. Such a placement can only be approved for a period of 16 weeks from the date of placement. If it is intended that the placement continue beyond sixteen weeks it is a requirement that a full foster carer assessment is completed and presented to the Fostering Panel within sixteen weeks from the date the placement commenced.


4. Assessment and Checks before Immediate Placement

Before any placement with a Connected Person is made, the child's social worker must assess its suitability including the level of support likely to be required and the effect of the proposed placement upon the child's contact with parents, siblings and other relatives and friends who are significant to the child. The BAAF form C is the form adopted by Lincolnshire County Council to undertake this assessment. Prior to the placement, the Social Worker will complete an assessment using the relevant headings from Parts A1, A3 and B1, B4 and B7 in order to determine the initial suitability of the placement. Through necessity, these will be concise and will need to be developed further within the full assessment.

Matters to be taken into account when assessing the suitability of a Connected Person to care for the child are:

  • The carer’s capacity to look after a child;
  • The nature of the carers existing relationship with the child;
  • Their state of health;
  • Particulars of any criminal offence of which they have been convicted or cautioned. Prior to all placements a PNC must be completed.

The home must be visited by the social worker as part of the assessment of the suitability of arrangements and this should include, where relevant, an initial risk assessment of any pets, together with the environment in which the pet is kept.

The child’s wishes and feelings (subject to age and understanding) must be ascertained and recorded and wherever possible, an opportunity must be provided for the child to visit the home before the decision is finalised.

These details and a report based outlining any information held on the PNC must be presented to the relevant Head of Service who will determine the immediate suitability. The HOS will authorise on the frontsheet of the Form C.

Once authorised by the Head of Service, the frontsheet, together with assessment documentation must be sent immediately to the Team manager fostering for the area where the carers are. The Team Manager will arrange for a letter outlining the statutory requirements and application form to be sent to the carers. The Team Manager will allocate the assessment to a Supervising Social Worker for completion within 16 weeks from the date the placement commenced.

Upon receipt of the notification, the Fostering Team Manager will allocate a Supervising Social Worker and record their involvement on MOSAIC.

The placement may only continue after 16 weeks if the Connected Person or kinship carer is approved as a foster carer. See Section 9, Approval of Family and Kinship Carers as foster carers - or in exceptional circumstances where the temporary approval is extended.

This temporary approval can be extended for a further period of up to 8 weeks (if it is likely to expire before the assessment is completed) or until the outcome of an Independent Review (if the outcome of the assessment is that the Connected Person is not approved and seeks a review of the decision - see Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure. The IRO must also be informed. A decision to extend the temporary approval must be approved by the Nominated Officer. All requests for an extension need to be referred to the Fostering Panel under Any Other Business (AOB).

As the Connected Person will be temporarily approval as a foster carer, the Connected Person] will be required to sign a foster carer agreement. A Connected Person approved under these regulations will be entitled to the same support and services including fees, allocation of social worker and allowances as a foster carer.

Before deciding whether to extend the approval, the Local Authority must consider if the placement is still the most appropriate placement available, and it must be considered by the Fostering Panel before the above approval is given.


5. Relevant Plans

The child's placement with a Connected Person must be part of the Child's Care Plan, which should be drawn up before the placement begins or, in exceptional circumstances, within 10 working days of the placement starting.

For the required documentation, see Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure and Post Placement Arrangements Procedure.

The placement must be recorded on the child's case notes and an electronic record of the carer's details should be started.


6. Approval of Placements

Temporary approval for the connected person’s arrangement is provided on the Form C frontsheet by the relevant Head of Service. This is agreed for up to 16 weeks only. The Head of Service will make this decision based on the information provided in section 4 above.


7. Action Required by the Child's Social Worker Immediately following the Child's Placement

Immediately following the child's placement, the child's social worker must:-

  1. Provide the carers with the following documents relating to the child;-
    1. Copy of child and young person's MOSAIC care plan;
    2. Copy of IA and CA;
    3. MOSAIC Placement information record;
    4. Details of out of hours contacts, e.g. EDT;
    5.  Arrange for the full age related fostering payments to be paid to the carers. The child’s social worker will need to notify the Team manager Fostering as these payments will be made from the Fostering budget;
    6. Obtain the carers consent for statutory checks to be undertaken.
  2. Record the details of the child's admission to local authority care on MOSAIC;
  3. Visit the placement and see the child at least once a week until the first Looked After Child Review. Thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks

The Supervising Social Worker will;-

  • Provide support to the placement;
  • Book a Fostering Panel date. The Fostering Panel date must be within 16 weeks of the placement commencing;
  • Complete agency checks;
  • Undertake medical references;
  • Interview referees;
  • Complete the full BAAF Form C Assessment.


8. Notification of Placements

Once immediate approval of placement is given by the Head of Service, the social worker for the child will ensure that payments are in place for the carers, which is the full age related fostering allowance. The budget used is managed by the relevant Team Manager Fostering.

In addition, the child's social worker must provide the necessary information to the relevant administrative staff so the child's records can be updated.

Notification of the placement must also be sent by the child's social worker to all those consulted and involved in the decision-making process. Notification must be sent to other relevant Lincolnshire County Council Departments or other agency professionals. This must include written notification of the relevant health and education services. They must be sent before the placement wherever possible or within 5 working days of the placement.

Notification must be sent to the Independent Reviewing Officer of the child's placement. If involved, CAFCASS should also be notified of the placement.

The notification must advise of the placement decision, the name and address of the new carers, details relating to the child's contact with parents and the arrangements related to the care and welfare of the child.

If the placement is outside Lincolnshire, the child's Social Worker must notify the local authority for the area where the child is placed.

The child's social worker must also ensure that the child is registered with a GP, Dentist and Optician, and that a Health Care Assessment takes place.


9. Assessment of Connected Person

It may be that the court requires an assessment of Connected Person to be undertaken prior to placement in which case the carers should be assessed and approved whilst the child is with birth parents or with local authority foster carers. Planned placements of children with a Connected Person should enable sufficient time for the full assessment of the proposed carers. The Assessment and Approvals of Foster Carers Procedure should be followed.

Where the relatives of children who are the subjects of Court proceedings are to be assessed it is the responsibility of the child's social worker to undertake viability studies on relevant friends/family members. Once the Court directs a full assessment of identified family members the fostering assessment should be referred to the Fostering Team.

In all assessments involving a Connected Person, consideration should be given to specific practice issues both in working with black and minority ethnic families and grandparents. BAAF Practice Guide "Relative Benefits" offers useful guidance and practice principles.

Temporary Approval

A placement made under Regulation 24 of the Fostering Services Regulations 2010 can only continue beyond 16 weeks, if during that time the Connected Person is approved as a foster carer. However, if all of the statutory checks have not been completed within this timescale an interim report and documents as detailed below should be presented to the Fostering Panel.

This temporary approval can be extended for a further period of up to 8 weeks (if it is likely to expire before the assessment is completed) or until the outcome of the Independent Review (if the outcome of the assessment is that the Connected Person is not approved and seeks a review of the decision - see Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure). Fostering Panel will continue all requests for extensions.

Before deciding whether to extend the approval, the Local Authority must consider if the placement is still the most appropriate placement available, inform the child’s IRO and seek the views of the Fostering Panel before the above approval is given.

The Supervising Social Worker should contact the Administrator to the Fostering Panel (pre-approval) to arrange a time and date for presentation of an interim assessment report on the carers to the Panel to meet the sixteen weeks’ time-scale. The following information should be presented to the Fostering Panel:-

  1. Supervising Social Worker submits the following documents with the Interim report:
    • Copies of any medical reports;
    • Details of enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service criminal conviction checks;
    • Details of agency checks;
    • Records of interviews with referees;
    • Records of interviews with adult children.
  2. Child's Social Worker must submit a brief report on the child,

The child's social worker and supervising social worker should both attend the Panel meeting when extension to the temporary approval is considered. Panel will be requested to consider approval of the carers pending their full assessment. The Panel's recommendation will be presented to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision to be made.

Extension to temporary approval can only occur for a maximum of 8 weeks. During this period the full Form C assessment of the Regulation 24 carers must be completed and presented to the Fostering Panel for consideration of approval as foster carers. If the period of temporary approval and any extension to that period expires and the connected person has not been approved as a local authority foster parent, other arrangements for the child’s accommodation must be made and the placement terminated. The full fostering assessment should be submitted to panel by the end of the extension period. The procedure for the assessment and approval is as for all foster carer applicants.

The Agency Decision Maker will notify the carers in writing of the decision of the extension period.

The supervising social worker must complete the full assessment and present to panel by the end of the extension period.


10. Action required if the placement is to extend beyond the period of temporary approval

If the plan is for the placement to last longer than 16 weeks, the Supervising Social Worker must complete the full Form C assessment and continue to offer support to the carers. 

The placement may only continue after sixteen weeks if the Connected Person is approved as a foster carer - see Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.

The child's social worker must visit the child in placement on a weekly basis until the first Looked After Child Review and thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks.

The assessment will proceed on the basis of BAAF Form C for connected persons.

The following points must be included in the report to Panel:-

  • Reason for the child's proposed placement;
  • Carer's ability to meet the child's needs in the short/medium and long term;
  • Alternatives to placement with applicants, including details of searches and enquiries;
  • Parents views on the proposed placement;
  • Child/young person's views on the proposed placement;
  • Anticipated needs for post placement support;
  • Conclusion and Recommendations.

The child's social worker must prepare an updated report if there are any changes to the child's situation or additional information.

The child's social worker and supervising social worker will both attend Fostering Panel.

Having regard to the existing relationship between the child and the carers, the requirement for the carers to attend preparation and training groups prior to their approval may be waived in exceptional circumstances. The expectation shared with carers by the Supervising Social Worker on their initial visit to the carers should be that carers should attend the preparation and training groups.

The procedure for approving the assessment via the Fostering Panel is the same as the procedure for the approval of all local authority approved foster carers.

The timescale for the presentation of the full Form C assessment is 16 weeks from the date the placement commenced unless an extension has been agreed. If a connected person is being assessed as a local authority foster carer prior to the placement of a child the full assessment should also be completed and presented to the Fostering Panel within 16 weeks.

If and when the carers are approved as foster carers, the carers must sign the foster carer agreement, the procedures in relation to support, supervision and review of the foster carers are the same as for all approved foster carers.

See Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.


11. Action if the placement is to extend beyond 6 months.

Permanency Planning

In circumstances where a kinship carer is to provide a long term placement for the child and the permanence decision has been made, the optimum way for providing the child with legal security would be for the carers to apply for a Child Arrangements Order or a Special Guardianship Order.

In some cases there may be a need for supervisory involvement of Children's Services is required and for the carers to continue as approved carers.


12. Action Required if the placement needs to be approved for Permanence.

  1. Supervising Social Worker updates the Form C to include issues around:-
    • The child's birth family;
    • Child's wishes and feelings;
    • Attachment;
    • Identity issues;
    • Safeguarding;
    • Behaviour issues;
    • Contact.
  2. The child's social worker to prepare the Child's Permanence Report and the Permanence Placement Report in conjunction with the Supervising Social Worker;
  3. These reports to be presented at the Permanence Panel.


13.Support and Monitoring of Placement

For connected persons carers with temporary approval for immediate placement of a child the Child's Social Worker should inform the Fostering Team Manager to ensure that mainstream foster carer payments are being made to the carer until such time as the carers approval as local authority foster carers has been recommended by the Fostering Panel and this recommendation ratified by the Agency Decision Maker. The Supervising Social Worker will discuss with the carer any additional support needs during their initial and subsequent visits e.g. equipment. The provision of the mainstream foster carer rates and essential carer equipment will be provided from the Regulation 24 budget held by the Fostering Teams. Until such time as the connected persons are approved as local authority foster carers the child’s social worker is responsible for completing all the financial paperwork and forwarding this to the relevant Fostering Team manager for authorisation.

The child's social worker must visit and see the child alone in the placement (unless she/he refuses) each week until the first Looked After Review and thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks during the period of temporary approval. The visits are to be fully recorded as statutory visits.

The Full kinship approval will be subject to review on at least an annual basis. See Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedures.

In the second year of the placement and subsequent years, the child should be visited at least every three months and whenever reasonably requested by the child or the carer.

Wherever possible, the child must be seen with the carer and alone. If this is not possible, observations should be made of the interaction between the child and the carer and if necessary an unannounced visit should be undertaken at short notice. The social worker must ensure that Care Plan Reviews are conducted as set out in The Review of the Child's Plan for Looked After Children Procedure.


14. Ending of Placements

If a child(ren) moves from the care of the family member or friend, the approval of the family member or friend as a foster carer will need to be terminated by the Fostering Service. The child’s social worker must ensure that notification is sent to the Fostering Team Manger so that payments to the carer will cease.

All those notified of the placement should be notified also when a placement is ended.

If the placement recommendation is not ratified by the agency decision maker, immediate advice should be sought from the relevant Head of Service.

End