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3.7.2 Contact with Relatives and Friends


This procedure applies to every Looked After Child placed in foster care and residential care. 

The following procedure applies to contact which is agreed as part of the child’s Care Plan. This procedure does not apply to informal visits to friends. See Social Visits and Overnight Stays Procedure.


This chapter was slightly amended in September 2011 to take account of the term Connected Person.


  1. Planned Arrangements  
  2. Parental Consent
  3. Cancellation of Contact  
  4. Review of Contact Arrangements

1. Planned Arrangements

When the child’s placement is made, information regarding significant relationships and friendships should be obtained when completing the Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record). 

The parents’ views on contact with relatives, Connected Persons and friends should be obtained. For procedures on Section 2, Parental Consent, below.

The Placement Plan recorded on the Placement Information Record should include the planned contact (including overnight stays) for the child with relatives and friends both at and away from the home. Children who are subjects of an Interim Care Order or Care Order are not allowed to stay with a relative, Connected Person or friend for a period that exceeds 24 hours unless the carer has been assessed as a foster carer or is being assessed under Regulation 24 of the Fostering Regulations. See Placements with Connected Person Under Regulation 24 Procedure.

Any such contact arrangements set out in the Placement Plan recorded on the Placement Information Record must be consistent with the child’s Care Plan. The arrangements must also be consistent with any Contact Orders in force in favour of relatives and/or friends.

  • Arrangements for contact must take into account:
  • Whether contact can take place in the relatives or friends own home;
  • Whether a local authority venue should be provided even if contact is not supervised;
  • Transport to and from the contact venue;
  • The most appropriate time and duration of contact taking into account the child’s needs;
  • Any special needs of the child or those having contact.

Decisions to allow contact with relatives, Connected Person or friends should be made having regard to an assessment of any risks which the contact may pose to the child taking into account any relevant factors, including the need for the contact to be supervised. Such decisions should be included in the child’s Care Plan. Where an assessment identifies the need for contact with a relative or friend to be supervised, the social worker should follow the same procedure as for ‘Supervised Contact with Parents’, contained in Contact with Parents and Siblings Procedure.

2. Parental Consent

Wherever possible, parents’ views and Consent to contact with relatives and friends including any overnight stays away from the home should be obtained at the time of the placement. 

These views should be recorded including an indication of whether the parent wishes to be notified or their consent obtained every time an overnight stay takes place and if so, whether such consultation and prior consent is required before the contact can go ahead. 

It should also be clearly recorded if parents do not consent to any continuing relationships and the reasons for their lack of consent should be obtained.

If it is considered that contact is appropriate despite the parents’ views, legal advice may be required and any decision to allow such contact needs to be clearly recorded, together with the reasons, and explained to the parents.

3. Cancellation of Contact

Where contact does not take place in accordance with the Plan, there must be a good reason, for example that the child is too ill to attend. Wherever possible, the carer should consult the child’s social worker in advance if they consider there is a good reason to cancel the contact. 

If contact is cancelled, the social worker or, if the social worker is not available, the carer must ensure as far as practicable that the relatives or friends are informed in advance and that the reason for the decision is explained. The social worker or carer should also arrange an alternative contact. 

If contact does not take place and consultation has not been possible with the social worker, the carer must inform the child’s social worker as soon as possible and confirm in writing the decision to cancel and the reason.

Contact arrangements must not be withdrawn as a Sanction imposed on a child. If the relative or friend fails to attend contact without advising the social worker in advance, the social worker should ascertain the reasons for the lack of attendance and if necessary review the contact arrangements.

4. Review of Contact Arrangements

All contacts with relatives, friends and neighbours should be discussed at Planning meetings and Looked After Children Reviews.

Any contact arrangements, which are agreed as a result of new friendships formed during the child’s placement, should be included in the Placement Plan when it is reviewed.

The reasons for any change in the contact arrangements must be clearly recorded. 

Where contact arrangements are contained within a Contact Order, legal advice should be obtained before the changes are implemented. An application to the Court will be required where the changes are not agreed.