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3.2.3 Placements in Residential Care

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all planned placements of a Looked After Child who is being placed in a residential home including placements with external providers.

This chapter should be read in conjunction with Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure, Post Placement Arrangements Procedure and Notification to Other Authorities of Children Placed Out of County.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in June 2016 to provide additional specific detail with regard to Identification and Approval of Placement (see Section 2.3, Identification of Placement) and Placement Planning (see Section 2.4, Placement Planning) in line with DfE, Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015).


Contents

1. Consultation and Planning
2. Placements Process - Planned Placements 
2.1 Definition of Planned Placement  
2.2 Placement Request
2.3 Identification of Placement 
2.4 Placement Planning 
3. Support/Monitoring of Placements 
3.1 Support and Monitoring of Placements  
3.2 Ending of Placements 


1. Consultation and Planning

1.1 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 Team, if the child is known to them.

The views of these people should be given by them, in writing, or should be recorded by the social worker who should start to make arrangements for the Assessment and Progress Record Procedure.

1.2 Planning

See Section 2, The Care Plan of Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure or procedures relating to the initial decision to look after a child, and in relation to the drafting and approval of the Care Plan.


2. Placements Process - Planned Placements

2.1 Definition of Planned Placement 
2.2 Placement Request
2.3 Identification of Placement  
2.4 Placement Planning 

2.1 Definition of Planned Placement

A Planned Placement is the placement of a child in residential care following an assessment and planning process whereby, at the time of the placement, a Care Plan and Placement Plan are in place. Such placements can only be made once the required authority has been obtained from the Head of Service.

Where the above plans are not in place, the placement is deemed to be an Emergency. 

See Emergency Foster Placement Procedure.

2.2 Placement Request

Where a decision has been made that a child requires a residential placement, the child’s social worker should complete and send a Referral Form to the Lincolnshire Secure Unit Manager.

The Referral Form contains information about the child, the type of placement sought, 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 referral should be supported by the following documents:

The Secure Unit Manager will then forward the referral to one of the Residential Services Home Managers who will complete the referral assessment. If the assessment identifies that the referral is appropriate and the young person would benefit from a Residential Placement then the most appropriate placement is identified and the planned admission is organised.

The Homes Manager will then make enquiries about the availability of an appropriate in-house resource, and with the social worker as necessary for clarification or for more information, for example whether the child may be a risk to other children in the home.

2.3 Identification of Placement

If an in-house residential placement is identified, the placement planning process can start - see Section 2.4, Placement Planning below.

If a placement with an external provider has been authorised by the Head of Service, the Homes Manager will consult appropriate providers, identify possible placements and liaise with the social worker about their suitability and they should arrange for a copy of any brochure or written material that is available for the proposed placement to be forwarded to the social worker. 

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.

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. 

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 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.

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

NB In order to avoid placements that disrupt a child’s education, the Nominated Officer 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 Procedure and Education of Looked After Children/Personal Education Plans (PEPs) 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’.)

An understanding of the provider’s therapeutic approach should inform the child’s Placement Plan.

2.4 Placement Planning

The child, parents and any other significant family members and relevant professionals should also be invited to the Planning Meeting. 

The purpose of the meeting is to determine the Placement Plan and to make arrangements for the Assessment and Progress Record Procedure. The Child's Social Worker will make arrangements for the circulation of the assessments and records to those involved.

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:

  1. The type of accommodation to be provided and the address;
  2. 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;
  3. 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;
  4. The child’s personal history, religious persuasion, cultural and linguistic background and racial origin;
  5. 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;
  6. 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, etc;
  7. The Local Authority’s arrangements for the financial support of the child during the placement;
  8. 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;
  9. 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;
  10. Arrangements for contact between children, birth parents and siblings and specified other friends and relatives.

The social worker should ensure that any Children’s Guide or other information about the placement that is available for the child is obtained and given to him/her.

If the child is being placed with an external provider, the social worker must also ensure that the child is provided with information on using the authority’s Complaints Procedure and information about how to access an Advocate.

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.

In all cases, the child should be accompanied to the placement by the social worker and helped to settle in.

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 – eg 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.


3. Support/Monitoring of Placements

3.1 Support and Monitoring of Placements 
3.2 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 Visit to Children Guidance.

A Looked After Review should be convened where:

  • The child is, or has been, persistently absent from the placement;
  • The placement provider, parents or area authority are concerned that the child is at risk of harm; or
  • The child so requests, unless the Independent Reviewing Officer considers that the review is not justified.

See also The Review of the Child's Plan for Looked After Children.

If an external placement has been made in an emergency, the child's social worker will also liaise with health and education in relation to jointly funded placements with external providers, and will maintain contact with external providers in relation to the children placed with them, taking up with them any concerns or funding issues as soon as they are drawn to the Team’s attention and visiting at least every 6 months (with an unannounced visit at least annually). In any event the funding arrangements will be discussed at the Multi-agency Funding Panel.

Where the needs of the child in the placement will involve costs in addition to those approved, the approval of the Head of Service must be obtained.

3.2 Ending of Placements

The child’s social worker should inform all those notified of the placement when a placement ends and amend MOSAIC accordingly.

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.

End