SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to any placement of a child (for more than 24 hours) on a Care Order or an Interim Care Order*, with a parent or person with Parental Responsibility or person who held a Child Arrangements Order immediately before the Care Order was made.
*Note however that this procedure does not apply to children subject to Interim Care Orders where the placement is required by the court under Section 38(6) Children Act 1989 for the purposes of assessment, (and is therefore not subject to the Care Planning, Placement and Review Regulations 2010).
In exceptional circumstances a child may be placed without the immediate need for the following procedures; please see Section 2, Immediate Placements.
A child must not be placed with parents if that would be incompatible with an order as to contact under Section 34 Children Act 1989.
The Local Authority should consider whether the Care Order is still required. The Authority and parents may agree to apply to discharge the Care Order; such an agreement must include the level of support and supervision by the Local Authority, and co-operation by parents.
The Authority must provide such services and support to the parents as appear to be necessary to safeguard and promote the child's welfare, and record details in the Care Plan and Placement Plan.
Before a child is placed, the following people must be consulted and their views accounted for, all standard letters and a checklist can be found in Section 3, Forms. Please note that any form sent out must be accompanied by the Covering Letter.:
The consultation should be formal. The persons being consulted should be written to, requesting their views on the proposed placement. It is important that those who are consulted should reply in writing; their written replies should be placed on the child's case record. See Section 3, Forms for the templates to use.
If appropriate a letter should also be sent to the child, as part of the consultation process with the child.
Minutes of the Looked After Review which recommended the child's placement can be taken as a written record of the consultation with those in attendance.
The suitability of the proposed placement should be assessed through:
Before deciding to place a child with parents, the Local Authority must:
In relation to other members of the parents' household, the assessment must take account of the above considerations except (d), (f) and (g).
The assessment should include any available information about the parents' previous experiences of looking after children. Where a parent has other children subject to care/adoption orders, earlier case records should be explored to ascertain the circumstances which led to social work involvement, and any indication that the capacity of the parent to bring up children has changed.
Where the Nominated Officer (Assistant City Childrens Safeguarding Manager) considers it necessary and consistent with the child's welfare, the child may be placed with parents before the Assessment of Parents' Suitability to Care for the Child (see Section 1.2, Assessment and Checks Before Placement) has been completed, provided:
Practitioners should also seek to meet with all other members of the household before placing the child. This is particularly relevant to identifying issues such as domestic violence and substance misuse which may impact on the child's safety.In the case of an urgent placement, a request for a Police check of their systems should be made on all members of the household age 16 and over (see Section 1.2, Assessment and Checks before Placement above).
In normal circumstances, the child's placement with his or her parent must be part of the Care Plan, upon the recommendation of a Looked After Child Review. If the child has previously suffered Significant Harm when living with the parent and continues also to be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, the Looked After Review should actively consider the recommendations of a Child Protection Review Conference before recommending the child returns home.
The recommendations of the Looked After Child Review (and Child Protection Review Conference where applicable) will then be sent to the Nominated Officer (Assistant City Childrens Safeguarding Manager), together with the Care Plan and proposed Placement Plan and a written report covering the following:
A decision to place the child with the parents must not be put into effect until it has been approved by the Nominated Officer (Assistant City Childrens Safeguarding Manager) and the Placement Plan prepared.
The Nominated Officer (Assistant City Childrens Safeguarding Manager) must be satisfied that:
Where the relevant plan provide for a series of short term placements of a child with a parent, the requirements as to consultation, enquiries and checks can be carried out once only rather than every time a placement is made, provided that:
If a series of short-term placements is part of a longer-term rehabilitation plan, further consultation and approval must be obtained before the rehabilitation plan is extended and/or the child is returned to the parent's full-time care.
Once the child is placed, the child's social worker should undertake the notifications and other arrangements set out in Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure.
Wherever possible the decision to end a placement should be made at a Looked After Review and the ending should take place in a planned way. In Re DE (A Child) , the High Court stated that not less than fourteen days notice of a removal of the child should be given to the parents, save in an emergency.The Court further stated that any removal of a child in circumstances where the child's welfare does not require immediate removal, or without proper consideration and consultation, is likely to be an unlawful interference with the rights of the parent and child under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In emergencies, the social worker must discuss the case with his/her manager, who will make the decision. Legal advice should always be sought. The Care Order gives the local authority power to enable the child to be removed by the social worker but this power should only be used after obtaining legal advice; the use of other orders (e.g. a Recovery Order) might be appropriate in some circumstances.
All those notified of the placement starting should be notified, in writing, when it ends; preferably notifications should be made prior to the ending, or as soon as practicable thereafter.
A letter should also be sent to the parents and child explaining why the decision was made.
The Nominated Officer (Assistant City Childrens Safeguarding Manager) can approve an immediate placement without the necessary consultation and checks having been made provided that:
The reasons for a decision to place a child on this basis must be fully recorded, signed by the Nominated Officer (Assistant City Childrens Safeguarding Manager) and placed on the child's case record. In these circumstances, the Care Plan should be amended at the time or within a maximum of seven days of the placement.
A Placement Plan should also be completed prior to the placement, but the Nominated Officer (Assistant City Childrens Safeguarding Manager) may authorise that this be completed up to 7 days after the placement starts.
The required consultation, assessment and enquiries for planned placements, as set out in Section 1, Planned Placements must then be completed and presented to the Nominated Officer (Assistant City Childrens Safeguarding Manager) within six weeks of the placement.
A 'Working Agreement' should be completed by the practitioner with the parents to clarify the expectations of the parent(s) and ensure the child is safeguarded and their needs are met during this temporary phase before the Statutory Review.
The following forms can be located in Resources:
Only valid for 48hrs