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3.8.12 Managing Disruption in Task Centred Foster Placements


This procedure explains the course of action required as a result of disruptions in the placement of a child in foster care.

It provides detail on placement planning and clarifies the responsibilities of the different parties to the placement in situations where it is no longer feasible to continue.


  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of Disruption
  3. Placement Planning
  4. Disruption Procedure

1. Introduction

All care is taken to ensure that foster placements are successful; it is inevitable that some placements will disrupt. Careful planning prior to placement will minimise the likelihood of disruption but if it does occur it is important that the situation is managed effectively to ensure the best outcome for both the child and the carer.

  • For the child it is essential to see if anything can be learned which will reduce the chances of future placement breakdown;
  • For the carer it is important to see if there are any development needs which should be addressed;
  • For the agency it is important to review practice to see if there is any aspect of support arrangements or childcare practice that needs review or if patterns and trend are emerging which needs a strategic response.

Below is guidance on how to manage the initial placement to minimise the likelihood of disruption and the actions to be taken when disruption occurs. It is not anticipated that all task centred placement moves will result in a disruption meeting but in all cases where disruption.

Note: Placement disruptions of children in permanent foster care will always require the application of the full disruption procedure.

2. Definition of Disruption

The unplanned ending of a foster placement. This can happen for a range of reasons and a disruptions meeting may not always be appropriate e.g. when a placement occurs because a foster carer falls ill. In all cases there should be discussion between the SSW and their line manager as to the need for a disruption meeting with the starting point being that a disruption meeting will occur. There is a clear expectation that a meeting will take place when the placement has exceeded six months, where there are concerns about the quality of the care given to the child or where the behaviour of the child is such that there have been a succession of placement breakdowns. This procedure is not a substitute for a formal review of the foster care status, the care planning process or actions taken under the procedures for managing allegations against foster carers although the outcome of this process may inform the other procedures. The unique focus of the disruption process is its emphasis of lessons learnt for the tripartite of child, carer and agency.

3. Placement Planning

Placing Social Workers and Family Placement staff should be mindful of good practice issues when placing children in task centred foster homes.

It is the practice of the Duty Officer to initially contact the designated SSW for the proposed foster carers or the SSW's manager when considering all placements. Direct contact with the carer may be subsequently undertaken but the carer should not be contacted directly in the first instance. Matching will be undertaken using the matching policy.

A written risk assessment must be undertaken jointly by the SSW and the child's SW prior to or in an emergency placement, within 72 hours following placement. At this point the family safe care policy should also be reviewed and amended if necessary. Their risk assessment should be signed off by the carers SW, SSW and their respective managers. A note that this has occurred should be made on the child's and the carer's record on MOSAIC.

It is the responsibility of SSW's to keep the Duty Officer updated in respect of any significant changes in circumstances of foster carers and any changes to their circumstances and terms of approval.

Except in emergency placements, all requests for foster placements should be made only when an Social Care Assessment has been completed. If the child is coming into care for the first time then the appropriate authorisation from HOS should be presented. When a placement is being made following the breakdown of a previous placement then a copy of the most recent review should be available to the Duty officer where this has not been possible the information should be presented within 72 hours.

Foster carers must be given the appropriate written information in respect of the child by their SW, on placement and this should recorded on the carer supervision record at the first supervision session following placement.

4. Disruption Procedure

When a disruption occur, no further foster placements will be made until a full understanding of the circumstances of the disrupted placement has been reached and the Team Manager has made a decision regarding the need for a formal Disruption Meeting. The Disruption meeting is to take place within 4 weeks of the placement ending. If a disruption meeting is required then no placements can be made until the meeting has taken place and the TM has agreed placements can be resumed.

The Duty Officer must be informed of this on the day of disruption.

All communications and actions relating to the disruption process should be recorded on MOSAIC.

The SSW must brief the Team Manager, Fostering, on the circumstances of the disruption including the views of the foster carers and if appropriate, the children of carers. The brief will include matters included in the chronology of significant events on the case file in order to set the event in the context of the foster carer's history.

When disruption will occurs due to an allegation i.e. the child will have been removed as part of a police or S47 investigations. In these instances the SSW, PP's and Team Manager will follow the procedures set out for managing allegations against foster carers as set out in the LCSB Safeguarding Procedures.

Where a disruption meeting is required, then the meeting will be chaired by a PP or TM not directly line managing the placement. The disruption meeting is to take place within 4 weeks of the placement ending. The appointed chair will discuss with the SSW the range of individuals who will be required to attend but these will always include the SSW, child's SW, foster carers and a minute taker. Dependent on the age of the child health visitors, GP, school representative will be invited along with any person providing a support service directly to the child or the carers such as CAMHS.

The meeting will normally be scheduled for 3- 4 hours and should be in a comfortable venue such as a family centre so that basic refreshments can be provided. Some more complex cases may require a longer meeting.

The purpose of the meeting is to enable participants to share info and feelings about the approval process, the matching, the placement and disruption without assigning blame:

  • To identify factors that lead to the disruption;
  • To interpret the current needs of the child, the carers, the birth family and the agency or agencies;
  • To formulate future plans for the child based on what has been learned from the disruption;
  • To highlight areas for development in policy and practice.

The emphasis of the disruption meeting will vary according to the age and care history of the child but all meetings will consider:

  • The child's progress in the birth family;
  • The child's progress in care;
  • The permanent family's progress from application to matching;
  • Agency Practice;
  • The birth family's involvement;
  • The introduction;
  • The Placement;
  • The disruption;
  • The present and the future;
  • The chairs summary and recommendations.

The minutes of the meeting will be approved by the chair and sent to all participants and the Team Managers of the SSW and SW.

Following this the TM will discuss with the SSW as follows:

  • Amendment of carers' approval;
    • Early completion of annual review.
  • Any additional support to be provided to the carers in future placements including the frequency of SSW visiting and allocation of PSW support;
  • Any period off line to enable the carers time for recovery and reflection;
  • Identify training for carers;
  • Identify any counselling needs for household members;
  • Consider any contact issues in respect of the child who has moved to discuss with the carers and placing social worker;
  • Consider whether the Fostering and/or Child's SW Team Manager should visit the carers to discuss the issues arising from the disrupted placement;
  • Consider whether information provided to the Duty Officer requires amendment;
  • Consider whether deregistration is to be progressed and how this is to be managed;
  • Consider whether a report is presented to the Foster Panel in liaison with the Panel Adviser;
  • Ensure that information relevant to the future placement and well-being of the child arising from the review of information, is shared with the Social Worker for the child;
  • Ensure progression of complaints by carers arising from the disruption.

A copy of the disruption minutes should be placed on the carers and children's files and recorded on MOSAIC.