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3.2.5 Placement with Parents

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to any placement of a child, 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 specifying with whom the child is to live immediately before the Care Order was made, for more than 24 hours, including a placement for residential assessment.

Children may also be placed with parents having acquired Looked After status following a Remand to Local Authority Accommodation - see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in March 2018 to reflect that the DBS has no eligibility for a standard or enhanced check for birth parents or other adults living in the household. However, the Local Authority has a requirement under the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England Regulations) 2010 to obtain information about unspent convictions and cautions before placing a child back with parents. (See Section 1.2, Assessment and Checks before Placement) Also to acknowledge the Care Plan should include support to the child together with possible therapeutic / counselling interventions to support the placement. (See Section 1.4, Relevant Plans).


Contents

1. Planned Placements
1.1 Consultation before Placement
1.2 Assessment and Checks before Placement
1.3 Placement of Child before Assessment Completed
1.4 Relevant Plans
1.5 Approval of the Placement
1.6 Short Term Placements
1.7 Notification of Placement
1.8 Support and Monitoring of Placement
1.9 Ending of Placement
2. Unplanned Placements
3. Children Who Go Missing from Care
  Appendix 1: Placement with Parents Report
  Appendix 2: Placement With Parents Agreement form 1 (for child on ICO as part of Care Proceedings)
  Appendix 3: Placement with Parents – model agreement with parents


1. Planned Placements

In exceptional circumstances a child may be placed without the immediate need for the following procedures; please see Section 2, Unplanned 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.

1.1 Consultation before Placement

Before a child is placed, the following people must be consulted and their views accounted for:

  1. The Child;
  2. Both Parents including a parent who is not the proposed carer of the child;
  3. Any other member of the family who is significant to the child;
  4. Relevant health practitioners including the child's GP;
  5. The child's school and the local education authority;
  6. The Foster Carer or manager of the children's home currently caring for the child;
  7. The probation provider if it has contact with the family;
  8. The Police;
  9. The Youth Offending Service;
  10. The child's Independent Reviewing Officer.

The views of these people should be given by them, in writing, or should be recorded in the case record by the social worker.

1.2 Assessment and Checks before Placement

See: Appendix 1: Placement with Parents Report

The suitability of the proposed placement should be assessed through:

  • Obtaining relevant information about the proposed main carer or carers and all members of the household;
  • Inspecting the accommodation; and
  • Checking the proposed carer and all members of the household aged 18 and over with:
    • The Police (Public Protection Unit);
    • The parents and adult members of the household by them applying for a basic DBS check if they live in England and Wales, or Disclosure Scotland if they live in Scotland, (see DBS Basic Checks Guidance);
    • The carer's GP, and the Social Services records.

The assessment should take account of:

  • The parents' capacity, and the capacity of other adult members of the household, to care for children. Where a child has suffered, or was likely to suffer, significant harm the assessment should address ‘what has changed in parental capacity and circumstances that indicate this placement will be in the child’s best interest and will promote safe care?’
  • In particular in relation to the child:
    • To provide for the child 's physical needs and appropriate medical and dental care;
    • To protect the child adequately from harm or danger, including any person who presents a risk of harm to the child;
    • To ensure that the home environment is safe for the child including, where relevant, the need for a risk assessment of any pets and the environment in which they are kept;
    • To ensure that the child's emotional needs are met and he/she is provided with a positive sense of self, including any particular needs arising from religious persuasion, racial origin, and cultural and linguistic background, and any disability the child has;
    • To promote the child's learning and intellectual development through encouragement, cognitive stimulation and the promotion of educational success and social opportunities;
    • To enable the child to regulate his/her emotions and behaviour, including by modelling appropriate behaviour and interactions with others;
    • To provide a stable family environment to enable the child to develop and maintain secure attachments to the parents and other persons who provide care for the child.
  • The parents' state of health (physical, emotional and mental), the parents' medical history, including current or past issues of domestic violence and abuse, substance misuse or mental health problems;
  • The state of health (physical, emotional and mental) of other adult members of the household and their medical history, including current or past issues of domestic violence and abuse, substance misuse or mental health problems;
  • The parents' family relationships and the composition of the parents' household, including:
    • The identity of all other members of the household, their age and the nature of their relationship with parents and one another, including any sexual relationship; their relationship with any parent of the child;
    • Other adults who are not members of the household but are likely to have regular contact with the child.
  • Current/previous domestic violence and abuse between household members including the parents;
  • The parents' family history, including:
    • The particulars of the parents' childhood and upbringing, including the strengths and difficulties of their parents/carers;
    • The parents' relationship with their parents and siblings, and their relationships with each other;
    • The parents' educational achievement, including any specific learning difficulty/disability;
    • A chronology of significant life events;
    • Other relatives and their relationships with the child and parents.
  • Criminal offences of which the parents or other members of the household have been convicted or cautioned;
  • Parents' past and present employment/sources of income;
  • The nature of the neighbourhood and resources available in the community to support the child and parents;
  • 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.

1.3 Placement of Child before Assessment Completed

Where the Nominated Officer - in Southwark, this is the Director, Children’s Social Care - 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 has been completed, provided:

  • Arrangements are made for the parents to be interviewed to obtain as much of the assessment information as can be readily ascertained at that interview;
  • The assessment and the review of the child's case are completed within 10 working days of the child being placed;
  • The decision on placement is made and approved within 10 working days of the assessment being completed; and
    • If the decision is to confirm the placement, the Placement Plan is reviewed (and if appropriate amended);
    • If the decision is not to confirm the placement, the placement is terminated.

It maybe that the child is subject of an Interim Care Order and the placement with parents is part of a longer assessment process ordered by the court. In these circumstances the same process will apply but the assessment may continue whilst the child is placed with parents under an ICO.

See Section 2, Unplanned Placements.

1.4 Relevant Plans

The child's placement with his or her parent must be part of the Care Plan upon the recommendation of a Looked After Review. Alternatively the placement may be court ordered as part of Care Proceedings where a child is subject of an Interim Care Order.

The Care Plan should be completed before the child is placed. If there are exceptional circumstances preventing this, the manager can authorise that the Care Plan is completed up to a maximum of seven days after the placement starts.

Prior to the placement, a Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record) must be drawn up by the child's social worker in consultation with the parent(s).

If the child has previously suffered Significant Harm when living with the parent and continues to be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, the placement must be in the Care Plan upon the recommendation of a Child Protection Review Conference.

The Placement Plan

  • As well as the usual contents of the Placement Plan (see Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure), the following must be included:
    • Details of the support and services to be provided to the parents and/or the child during the placement, including any therapeutic or counselling intervention;
    • The obligation on the parents to notify the Local Authority of any relevant change in circumstances including any intention to change address, any changes in the household in which the child lives and any serious incident involving the child;
    • The obligation on the parents to ensure that any information relating to the child or the child's family or any other person given in confidence to the parents in connection with the placement is kept confidential and that such information is not disclosed to any person without the consent of the Local Authority;
    • The circumstances in which it is necessary to obtain the prior approval of the Local Authority for the child to live in a household other than that of the parents;
    • The circumstances in which the placement of the child with the parents pending completion of the assessment of suitability will be terminated if the decision following completion of the assessment is not to confirm the placement.

N.B. The Local 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.

The social worker must ensure that the child is registered with a GP, Dentist and Optician; and that a Health Care Assessment takes place.

See: Appendix 2: Placement With Parents Agreement form 1 (for child on ICO as part of Care Proceedings)

Appendix 3: Placement with Parents – model agreement with parents

1.5 Approval of the Placement

Before the placement is made, approval must be obtained from the Designated Manager (Placement with Parents).

The Designated Manager must be satisfied that:

  • The child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
  • The assessment of parents' suitability to care for the child (see Section 1.2, Assessment and Checks before Placement) has been completed;
  • The placement address has been visited and is safe;
  • The placement will safeguard and promote the child's welfare;
  • The Independent Reviewing Officer has been consulted.

If approval is given, consideration should be given to whether the Care Order is still required. The Local Authority and parents may agree to apply to discharge the Care Order and if so, such an agreement must include the level of support and supervision to be provided by the Local Authority after the Care Order has been discharged, and the level of co-operation by the parents.

The manager will require evidence that the consultation, enquiries and checks required under this procedure have been carried out. The minutes of the Looked After Review or Child Protection Review Conference will be taken as evidence of the consultation with those present.

The manager must also be satisfied of the following:

  • That the Care Plan has been completed, or that it will be within seven days of the placement;
  • That a Placement Information Record has been drawn up and agreed by the parent who is the proposed carer.

1.6 Short Term Placements

Where the relevant Plan or Plans 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:

  • All the placements take place within a twelve months period;
  • No single placement is for a period of more than four weeks; and
  • The total duration of the placements does not exceed 90 days.

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 or the child is returned to the parent's full-time care.

1.7 Notification of Placement

Notification of the placement will be sent by the child's social worker to the Designated Nurse for LAC, the allocated IRO, the relevant person in the education service, the local Children's Services (if the placement is in the area of a different local authority) and the child's GP.

The child's social worker will notify all family members consulted and involved in the decision-making process of the placement, as well as all those involved in the day to day arrangements for the child, including school and any health professional or YOT worker actively involved with the child.

The notifications should be before the start of the placement or within 5 working days.

Where the child is to be placed with a parent who lives outside Southwark, notification should also be sent to Children's Social Care Services and the education service for the area where the parent lives, as well as the relevant health trust.

The notification must be made in writing, advise of the placement decision, the name and address of the person with whom the child is to be placed, details relating to the child's contact with others and the arrangements related to the care and welfare of the child.

1.8 Support and Monitoring of Placement

The child's social worker must visit the child in the placement within one week of the placement and thereafter at intervals of no more than 6 weeks.

If the child is placed with parents pending assessment, social work visits must take place at least once a week until the first Looked After Review, thereafter at intervals of not more than 6 weeks.

If there is a series of short-term placements, the child's social worker must visit the child at least once every week either during the placement or before the next placement occurs.

Wherever possible, the child must be seen with the carer and alone. If this is not possible, a further visit must be made at short notice in order that the child can be seen alone and observed with the carer.

The social worker must also ensure that Placement Plan Reviews are conducted; see procedures contained in Placement Plan Review Procedure.

1.9 Ending of Placement

All those notified of the placement should be notified also when a placement is ended.

In Re DE (A Child) [2014], 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.


2. Unplanned Placements

See also The Care Panning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010.

The Designated Manager (Placement with Parents) can approve an unplanned placement without the necessary consultation and checks having been made provided that:

  1. There are exceptional circumstances which justify an unplanned placement;
  2. There has been an interview with the proposed carer who agrees to the placement, and provides as much of the assessment information as can be readily ascertained at the interview;
  3. The accommodation has been inspected; and
  4. Information has been obtained about and the social worker seeks to meet the other people in the household. (This is particularly relevant to identifying issues such as domestic violence and abuse and substance misuse which may impact on the child's safety);
  5. The assessment and the review of the child's case are completed within 10 working days of the child being placed;
  6. The decision on placement is made and approved within 10 working days of the assessment being completed; and
    • If the decision is to confirm the placement, the Placement Plan is reviewed (and if appropriate amended);
    • If the decision is not confirm the placement, the placement is terminated.

The reasons for a decision to place a child on this basis must be fully recorded, signed off by the Designated Manager and recorded on the child's file.

In these circumstances, a Placement Plan should be completed at the time or within a maximum of five working days of the placement.

Social work visits must take place at least once a week until the first Looked After Review, and thereafter at intervals of not more than 6 weeks.

Thereafter, the full requirements of the procedure for planned placements must be completed within 6 weeks of the placement.


3. Children Who Go Missing from Care

It may happen that a looked after child or young person may go missing from care and return to stay with their parent for periods.

In these situations refer to Children Missing from Care Procedure.

All efforts must be made to work with the parent to return the child or young person to their placement. If these efforts are unsuccessful and the child or young person persists in returning to their parent’s home, the following actions should be taken:

  • A full risk assessment to be carried out in relation to the child or young person living with their parent;
  • If there is assessed to be a high risk of harm a Recovery Order to be considered with legal services under Section 50 Children Act 1989;
  • If there is assessed to be a high risk of harm from persons in the home, there could be discussion with the police about the parent or other persons being charged with e.g. Sexual Risk Orders (Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act or Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014);
  • If on completion of a risk assessment it appears that the placement with parents could be considered – the process above for unplanned placements to be followed.


Appendices

Click here to view Appendix 1: Placement with Parents Report

Click here to view Appendix 2: Placement With Parents Agreement form 1 (for child on ICO as part of Care Proceedings)

Click here to view Appendix 3: Placement with Parents – model agreement with parents

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