Placement in Residential Care
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to all placements of Looked After children in residential care.
See Decision to Look After and Care Planning for procedures relating to the initial decision to looked after a child, and the drafting and approval of the Care Plan and other essential documentation.
There are specific chapters relating to residential care in Hull Children's Homes Manual.
At the point that it is determined that a placement may be required, and throughout the subsequent process of identification, planning and placement, the child's social worker must consult and take account of the views of the following people:
- The child;
- The child's parent(s)/or those with Parental Responsibility;
- Anyone who is not a parent but has been caring for or looking after the child;
- Other members of the child's family who are significant to the child;
- The child's school or education authority;
- The Youth Justice Service (YJS), if the child is known to them;
- Any other relevant person, e.g. nursery, health care professional, Children's Guardian.
The views of these people should be given by them, in writing, or should be recorded by the social worker.
2. Placements Process
Before a child first becomes looked after all efforts will be made to ensure that support services have been put in place and all reasonable and timely alternatives explored. A request for a child to become Looked After will be considered at the weekly Legal Gateway Panel (see Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure). In case of an emergency request for a child to become Looked After, initial approval may be given by an Assistant Head of Service or via the Emergency Duty Team if out of hours, and the case will be presented to the next available Legal Gateway Panel.
Once the approval of the Legal Gateway Panel for the child to become Looked After has been given, a request for a foster placement; residential placement or agency placement can be made to the Placement Finding Team.
Where a decision has been made that a child requires a residential placement, the child's social worker should request a placement by contacting the Placement Finding Team after agreement has been obtained from the Legal Gateway Panel and recorded on the child's Liquidlogic record.
In making this request, the social worker will be asked to provide information about the child, the type of placement sought, the s, the objectives of the placement, 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 social worker should provide this information on the child's Placement Plan documents.
The Placement finding Team will discuss the options available to meet the needs of the child being referred including alternative family carers, foster care or for older children the potential of a referral to our partners such as Humbercare, Supported Lodgings and other commissioned services. The request will, once this has been discussed will be progressed to the Placement Finding Team to check whether an in-house residential placement is available that appears to be appropriate to meet the child's needs. The Supported Lodgings Team is an in-house provision and can be accessed directly by the Placement Finding Team. However consent to access Humbercare provision, Martindales or other commissioned services must be obtained from the Legal Gateway Panel.
If an in-house placement is available or if there is a possibility of a placement by the required date, the social worker will be advised accordingly.
If no appropriate in-house placements are available, the child's social worker will consider whether the request needs to be taken to the Legal Gateway Panel for an external placement consent.In cases of extreme urgency, the decision to seek placements outside of the authorities own resources must be agreed and recorded as such by an Assistant Head of Service and taken to the next available Legal Gateway Panel.
Once a placement has been proposed (in house), the child's social worker should make contact with Registered Homes Manager to discuss the care, education and health needs of the child. The child's Placement Plan documents should be shared with the Registered Homes Manager.
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 a 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.
The proposed placement will then be presented to the social worker's manager for approval.
A Decision Record must be entered on the child's Liquidlogic Record by the Registered Children's Homes Manager, which clearly evidences the considerations that have been taken when matching this child with this specific children's home, including any known risks to the children already placed by placing this child in the home and potential or known risks to the child of being placed in the proposed Children's Home.
The social worker may then arrange visits to the proposed placement, with the child (if old enough) and parents (if appropriate).N.B. In addition to the above approvals, in order to avoid placements that disrupt a child's education, the Group Manager 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 of Children Looked After and Previously Looked After Children 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,
Before the child is placed, the child's social worker will liaise with the relevant Registered Children's Homes Manager to provide details of the child's immediate child care needs and to arrange a Placement Planning Meeting - see Placement Planning, Maintenance and Disruption Meetings Procedure. The meeting will usually be held in the child's new placement.
Participants will include:
- The parent;
- The child (if appropriate);
- The key residential staff;
- The previous carer if appropriate;
- Any other relevant professionals, e.g. a representative from the child's school;
- Anyone else considered appropriate or who will have a role in the placement.
The purpose of the Placement Planning Meeting is to finalise the Placement Plan and to discuss the Care Plan and the details of the child's needs in the placement including the daily routine.
The meeting will involve a discussion of the child's needs, including their personal history, religious persuasion, cultural and linguistic background and racial origin, their health and education needs and how these are to be met. It will also include the arrangements for registering the child with local health professionals (GP, dentist and optician). The Responsible Authority is required to draw up a Placement Plan before the child is placed, or if not practicable, within 5 working days from the start of the placement.
The Placement Plan should provide clarity for the child and carer about the following:
- How day to day parenting tasks will be shared between the carer and the responsible authority – including clarity about financial arrangements and contact;
- The circumstances leading to the child becoming looked after;
- The long term plan is for the child and its timeframe; and
- The objectives for the placement being offered and how those reflect the Care Plan.
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:
- The type of accommodation to be provided and the address;
- 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;
- 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;
- The child's personal history, religious persuasion, cultural and linguistic background and racial origin;
- 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;
- Delegated Authority issues including 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;
- The Local Authority's arrangements for the financial support of the child during the placement;
- 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;
- 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;
- Arrangements for contact between children, birth parents and siblings and specified other friends and relatives.
The meeting also provides an opportunity to ensure that the registered manager has a copy of any relevant court order and that full information is shared about any behaviour management issues.
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.
If it is not possible to hold a Placement Planning Meeting before the placement, because of the urgency of the placement, it must take place in order that the Placement Plan is prepared within 5 working days of the start of the placement.
The child's social worker will complete and arrange for the circulation of the Care Plan and Placement Plan/Placement Information Record to the child, parents and residential staff.
At the time of the placement, the residential staff must also be given any additional information about details of the child's day to day needs which may not be covered by the Placement Information Record but are important to ensure that the home is in the best possible position to help the child settle in the new placement, for example any particular fears at night-time or other emotional needs.
The child's social worker must provide the child with written information about the looked after service, including information on using the authority's Complaints Procedure and information about how to access an Advocate.
When a child first becomes looked after, the Consent to Health Assessments, Medical Treatment and Immunisations form must be signed by parents or those with Parental Responsibility. If the child has become looked after under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989, the Parental Consent Section 20 Arrangements must be signed by parents or those with Parental Responsibility.
The social worker should ensure that any Children's Guide and other information about the placement that is available for the child is also obtained and given to him/her.
In all cases, the child should be accompanied to the placement by the social worker and helped to settle in. Suitable luggage should be used and a child's belongings should never be transported in bin-bags or other inappropriate containers.
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 – e.g. 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.
The child's social worker will update the child's electronic records with the details of the placement, and ensure that notification is sent to the Events Team to change the specific Placement address. Where the placement is within an external provider, the Commissioning Team will trigger payments as appropriate.
Notification of the placement will be sent by the Events Team to the IRO Team. This notification will trigger the appointment of an Independent Review Officer (IRO) if it is the first placement, and the setting up of arrangements for a Looked After Child Review. The Events Team will also notify the Designated Nurse for LAC, Virtual School for Looked After Children, the relevant local Children's Services (if the placement is in the area of a different local authority) and the child's GP.
The Decision Record for the placement is written by the Placement Finding Team worker and forwarded to the relevant Fostering Manager for the identified fostering household for authorisation. These notifications must be made in writing (through Liquidlogic), advising of the placement decision and the name and address of the children's home where the child is to be placed.
The child's social worker will notify all family members consulted and involved in the decision-making process of the placement. The child's social worker should also notify - preferably in writing but it may be verbally - all those involved in the day to day arrangements for the child, including nursery/school and any health professional or Hull Youth Justice Service - worker actively involved with the child.
It will be necessary for the home or the child's social worker to ensure the child is registered with a GP, Dentist and Optician, either retaining practices known to him or her (which is preferable) or in the area where they are placed.
In relation to a first Looked After placement it will also be necessary for the social worker to liaise with the Designated Nurse for LAC to arrange a Health Assessment (see also Health Assessments, Health Plans and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires).
The social worker must also contact the relevant school of, where the child does not have a school place, the relevant education officer with a view to the completion of a Personal Education Plan (PEP) see Education of Children Looked After and Previously Looked After Children Procedure.
For any new placement, every effort should be made to enable the child to remain at the same school unless there are reasons, which would be detrimental to his or her well being.
The notifications should be before the start of the placement, wherever possible, or within 5 working days.
In the case of out of area placements, including Placements at a Distance, written notification must be given to the area authority of the arrangements for the placement before the placement is made or, if the placement is made in an emergency, within five working days of the start of the placement unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so.
The notification must include:
- Details of the assessment of the child's needs and the reasons why the placement is the most suitable for responding to these; and
- A Copy of the child's care plan (unless already provided in the case of a Placement at a Distance).
3. Support, Monitoring and Ending of Placements
The child's social worker must visit the child in the placement within one week of the placement and then at specified intervals; see Social Worker Visits Procedure.
Where there are concerns in relation to the progress of the placement, consideration should be given to seeking additional resources to assist the placement.
Where there are any changes to the child's placement and/or legal status during the placement, the child's social worker must update the child's electronic records.
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 Review Officer considers that the review is not justified. See also Looked After Children Reviews.
The child's social worker must notify Events Team when a placement ends and arrange to inform the relevant finance officer at the Commissioning Team so that any payments to the provider will cease. The social worker will also inform those notified when the placement was made of the ending of the placement.
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.
Where the placement ends in an unplanned way, consideration should be given to holding a Disruption Meeting - see Placement Planning Meetings and Disruption Meeting Procedure.
The named link worker or Senior Care Officer should ensure that a Closure Summary is recorded on the child's electronic records to evidence the end of the placement and to summarise the children's home involvement in that child's Care Plan. All paperwork held within the children's home should be returned to the child's Social Worker, to be kept with the child's file in the team office.