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3.8.11 Risk Assessments when Placing Children in Foster Care

Prior to a child's placement with foster carers, a Risk Assessment is to be completed by the child's social worker in conjunction with the foster carer's supervising social worker, and recorded on the Risk Assessment Pro forma SS2/260 (Held in Children's Services Core Forms, George).

In an unplanned placement this form is to be completed within 72 hours of the placement. However, some information regarding any potential risks must be identified when making unplanned placements.

Information for the Risk Assessment is to be obtained from case files including previous assessments and reports, from previous carers - whether family and friends or local authority foster carers, and from relevant professionals.

The child should also be involved depending on his or her age and level of understanding. This is an opportunity to engage the child in contributing to her or his own safety and that of others. It also allows the social worker to assess if the child acknowledges any problems and this will assist with any behaviour management issues.

The completed Risk Assessment must be countersigned by the social worker's Practice Supervisor and the Fostering Team Manager. This will then become part of the Care Plan and will be reviewed and updated at each Looked After Child Review. A copy of the risk assessment must be made available to the Independent Reviewing Officer at each review.

The Practice Supervisor's counter signature also acts as authority for additional resources required to ensure identified risks are effectively managed.

Safe caring guidelines in the fostering household may need to be revised in the light of the Risk Assessment. Please refer to Safe Care Policy for further information.

The Risk Assessment must be discussed with the foster carer at the Placement Planning Meeting and prior to the placement, a copy of the Risk Assessment should be given to the foster carer, any other professional who has a role to play in managing the risks and to the child's parent/significant family member where appropriate. A copy should also be placed on the child's file and the carer's file.

In an unplanned placement, verbal information regarding any risks and an initial action plan must be recorded on the Placement Plan.

Particular thought must be given to sleeping arrangements in the placement. If the child has been abused or has abused another child, then the child's needs and the needs of all other children in the home must be assessed before any decision is made to allow sharing of bedrooms. Please refer to the Bedroom risk assessment (Held in Children's Services Core Forms, George).

If a significant risk is identified that constitutes a serious threat to the life of a child, the Team Managers for the child's social worker and for the Fostering Service will be notified and they will advise on the risk management plan including, if necessary, any required change in placement.

If a significant risk to the health and safety of staff and carers is identified, this should be discussed with the Head of Service who will advise on whether the risk management plan will adequately meet the local authority's duty of care to its employees and carers.

The Risk Assessment and management plan must be reviewed and updated as necessary at each Looked After Child review.

It will also be updated following any significant incident where the child has placed her/himself or others at risk. If this has led to significant harm then the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board's Inter Agency Procedures should be invoked.

The incident will be reported to the police if necessary.

Where an incident meets the criteria for a Schedule 8 notification, OFSTED are to be informed without delay. Please refer to the Notifiable Events Procedure for further information.