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3.2.3 Placements in Residential Care

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all planned placements of Looked After children in residential care including placements with external providers.

See Decision to Look After and Care Planning for procedures relating to the initial decision to look after a child, and the drafting and approval of the Care Plan and other essential documentation.

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


Contents

1. Consultation and Planning
1.1 Consultation
1.2 Relevant Planning
2. Placements Process - Planned Placements
2.1 Definition of Planned Placement
2.2 Placement Request
2.3 Identification of Placement
2.4 Placement Planning
2.5 Notification of Placement
3. Placement Process - Emergency Placements
3.1 Definition of Emergency Placement
3.2 During Normal Working Hours
3.3 Outside Normal Working Hours
4. Support, Monitoring and Ending of Placements
4.1 Support and Monitoring of Placements
4.2 Termination of Placements
5. Residential Placement Criteria


1. Consultation and Planning

1.1 Consultation
1.2 Relevant Planning

1.1 Consultation

At the point that it is determined that a placement may be required, and throughout the subsequent process of identification, planning and placement, the social worker must consult and take account of the views of the following people:

  1. The child;
  2. The child's parents;
  3. Anyone who is not a parent but has been caring for or looking after the child;
  4. Other members of the child's family who are significant to the child;
  5. The child's school or education authority;
  6. The Youth Offending Team, if the child is known to them;
  7. The child's Independent Reviewing Officer.

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

1.2 Relevant Planning

See Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure for procedures relating to the initial decision to look after a child, and the drafting and approval of the Care Plan.

See Paragraph 2.4, Placement Planning.


2. Placements Process - Planned Placements

2.1 Definition of Planned Placement
2.2 Placement Request
2.3 Identification of Placement
2.4 Placement Planning
2.5 Notification of Placement

2.1 Definition of Planned Placement

A Planned Placement is the placement of a child in residential care following an assessment and planning process whereby, at the time of the placement, a Care Plan and Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record) are in place.

Where the above plans are not in place, the placement is deemed to be an Emergency. 

See Section 3, Placement Process - Emergency Placements

2.2 Placement Request

The social worker's manager must agree the proposed Placement Request before seeking the authorisation of the Designated Manager (External Placements) for the placement to proceed.

If the proposed placement is authorised, the Designated Manager will inform the Brokerage Unit and request the child's social worker to make a referral to the Brokerage Unit to arrange the placement. If funding is granted, this may be for a limited period and with a maximum limit, with further funding subject to the Designated Manager's satisfaction that the placement is suitable.

The child's social worker will complete a formal Placement Request Form, and fax the Request Form to the Brokerage Unit. Other relevant written reports on the child may also have to be faxed, if appropriate and necessary. 

The Brokerage Unit will then register the referral and contact appropriate providers.

2.3 Identification of Placement

Unless it is agreed by the Designated Manager (External Placements) that the child clearly does not meet the criteria for a placement in one of the units run by Shaftesbury Homes & Aresthusa, the Brokerage Unit will contact the relevant Shaftesbury unit manager in the first instance to establish whether a suitable placement is available.

If a suitable vacancy is available, the Brokerage Unit will fax the Placement Request Form and additional information to the relevant unit manager, to confirm and agree the placement.

The Brokerage Unit will inform the child's social worker whether a suitable placement has been identified and agreed, and if so, the child's social worker will contact the relevant unit manager directly to confirm the timescales and provide any additional information required. 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.

Full discussion upon the proposed placement and its planning must also take place between the social worker and the CLA team manager.

Where no suitable vacancy is available with the Shaftesbury group, the Brokerage Unit will inform the Designated Manager (External Placements) and obtain approval to further consideration of external residential provision. 

The Brokerage officer will record approaches made to each provider, using agencies in the Pan London Directory initially and others if required, liaising with the child's social worker as necessary. All providers contacted should be requested to complete and return a Schedule Form of Quotation in relation to the proposed placement.

Once a possible option for placement has been identified, the Brokerage Unit will obtain and forward to the social worker a copy of any brochure or written material that is available for the proposed placement, including a copy of the home's Statement of Purpose and Children's Guide. They will also obtain confirmation that the agency concerned is registered with OFSTED

The social worker will share the proposed placement with the CLA team manager, who will discuss the options available with the Designated Manager (External Placements).

Where the provider is not previously known to the authority and this information is not already available on the authority's database, the registration certificate and last inspection report must be obtained and assessed by the Commissioning Team before the placement is confirmed.

As part of the identification process, the social worker may also arrange visits to the proposed placements to discuss how the child's needs can be met.

The team manager will confirm an option is suitable; the Brokerage officer will then contact the provider concerned to confirm the placement with the provider and any necessary arrangements, including the fees. The Brokerage officer will also inform other providers previously contacted that a placement is no longer required with them.

When a suitable placement has been identified and agreed by the Designated Manager (External Placements) and the provider, the placement planning process can normally start. 

Where the residential placement is outside the local authority area, see also Out of Area Placements Procedure.

NB In addition to the above approvals, in order to avoid placements that disrupt a child's education, the Nominated Officer - in Southwark, this is the Business Manager, Children Looked After - 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 Looked After Children Procedure.

2.4 Placement Planning

The social worker must ensure a Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record) is completed.

In addition, each home may have its own placement planning procedure, including drawing up a detailed Placement Plan for the child, and therefore the social worker should liaise direct with the provider to establish this.

Whenever possible, the social worker should arrange for the child and parent(s) to undertake at least one, pre-placement, visit.

Before the child is placed, the social worker should liaise with the provider to arrange a pre-Placement Planning Meeting.

The child, parents and any other significant family members and relevant professionals should be invited. The social worker's manager should also attend the meeting.

The purpose of the Placement Planning Meeting is to finalise the Placement Plan and the details of the child's needs in the placement including the daily routine, and discuss the Care Plan. This 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).

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:

  1. The type of accommodation to be provided and the address;
  2. The child's personal history, religious persuasion, cultural and linguistic background and racial origin;
  3. 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;
  4. 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;
  5. The Local Authority's arrangements for the financial support of the child during the placement.

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.

Following the meeting, the child's social worker will complete and arrange for the circulation of the LAC documentation, including the Placement Plan / Placement Information Record and Care Plan to the child, parents and provider.

The relevant administrative staff will record the dates when documents are circulated on the child's electronic records.

The social worker should ensure that the home's Children's Guide and any other information that is available for the child is given to him/her. The social worker must also ensure that the child is provided with information on using this authority's Complaints Procedure.

The Brokerage Unit will arrange to complete a Placement Agreement with the provider concerned. A copy of the Agreement will be sent to the child's social worker for the child's file.

2.5 Notification of Placement

Notification of the placement must be sent to all those consulted and involved in the decision-making process. Unless otherwise stated, the notifications should be before the start of the placement or within 5 working days.

In addition, the child's social worker must provide the necessary information to the relevant administrative staff in a LAC Change Report so the child's records can be updated. 

The social worker must also notify the following:

  1. The Quality Assurance and Safeguarding Unit. This notification must be made within one working day of the placement and must always be confirmed in writing. In relation to a child's first placement, the notification will trigger the appointment of an Independent Reviewing Officer, who will contact the social worker to make arrangements for a Looked After Review;
  2. The appropriate Health Trust, as well as the Education Service and Children's Social Care Services for the area where the child is placed. These notifications must be made within two working days of the placement and must be in writing advising of the placement decision and the name and address of the home where the child is to be placed;

    It will be necessary for the social worker to ensure the child is registered with a GP, Dentist and Optician, either retaining practices known to them or in the area where they are placed;

    In relation to a child's first placement it will also be necessary for the social worker to arrange a Health Care Assessment (see procedures contained in Health Care Assessments and Health Care Plans Procedure), and Personal Education Plan (see procedures contained in Education of Looked After Children Procedure);
  3. In relation to a child's first placement, it will also be necessary to notify the date of the first Looked After Review to the team manager who will be responsible for the case when it is transferred after the first Looked After Review. This notification can be made on a Transfer document via the team manager. It does not imply that the case will transfer but it will provide an early notification warning. See Protocol for Transfer between Practice Groups within Children’s Social Care.


3. Placement Process - Emergency Placements

3.1 Definition of Emergency Placement
3.2 During Normal Working Hours
3.3 Outside Normal Working Hours

3.1 Definition of Emergency Placement

An Emergency Placement is a Looked After placement made without the usual planning and/or thorough assessment process having taken place because of the need to ensure the safety and the welfare of the child immediately.

Therefore the following placements are deemed to be Emergency Placements:

  • The placement of a child out of normal working hours, made by the Emergency Duty Team;
  • Any other placements where the necessary plans are not in place, for example because of a Court decision to Remand the child to local authority accommodation.

3.2 During Normal Working Hours

Where an Emergency Placement is required, the social worker should still obtain the approval of the Designated Manager (External Placements), and complete a Placement Request Form (see Paragraph 2.2, Placement Request above).

The social worker should fax the Placement Request Form to the Brokerage Unit as for Planned Placements. The Brokerage Unit will attempt to identify a suitable placement by approaching Shaftesbury, using the Carebase Vacancy List.

In all cases, even where a child is placed in an emergency, a Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record) must be completed, providing as much information as possible given the circumstances.

An Emergency Review may be required within 72 hours of the placement. See Emergency Review Procedure.

3.3 Outside Normal Working Hours

See Out of Hours Protocol for Responding to Children and Adolescents who might present Outside Office Hours Procedure.

This summarises the procedures for Out of Hours Placements:

  1. The Emergency Duty Team is normally provided with a list of available placements;
  2. When a placement appears appropriate, the Emergency Duty Officer must identify a suitable placement using the available placements given to them;
  3. The Emergency Duty Officer should liaise as necessary with the placement staff, seeking their view on the suitability of the proposed placement;
  4. Before placing the child, the Emergency Duty Officer should take account of the procedures outlined in Paragraph 1.1, Consultation regarding Consultation, and should take all reasonable steps to ensure these procedures are followed;
  5. When a decision is reached the Emergency Duty Officer should liaise with the placement staff to agree the time and other suitable arrangements for the child's placement;

    Before a child is placed, the Emergency Duty Officer must ensure that the information available in relation to the child is provided to staff at the placement;
  6. Having placed the child, the Emergency Duty Officer must inform the relevant District team of the placement;
  7. The Designated Manager (External Placements) must also be informed in writing of the placement.


4. Support, Monitoring and Ending of Placements

4.1 Support and Monitoring of Placements
4.2 Termination of Placements

4.1 Support and Monitoring 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 procedures in Social Worker Visits Procedure.

Where a pre-Placement Planning Meeting has not been held, a planning meeting must be usually held within 5 working days of the placement being made. See Placement Planning Review Procedure.

Where a placement out of hours has been made, an Emergency Review must take place. See Emergency Review Procedure.

4.2 Termination of Placements

All those notified of the placement should be notified when a placement ends.


5. Residential Placement Criteria

Residential care is viewed as a positive resource and will be considered in the following circumstances:

  • Where a child indicates that he or she does not wish to be fostered; or
  • Where a child has had a negative experience of foster care; or
  • Where a child has suffered Significant Harm in a family setting and it is considered inappropriate that he or she be placed in another family; or
  • Where a child cannot otherwise be kept with his or her siblings.

This will only determine that the child is suitable for a residential placement, not for a specific Children's Home. Once the child seems suitable for a residential placement it will be necessary to seek a particular home to meet the child's needs.

The key principles in deciding whether to opt for residential care are:

  1. To identify placements to meet the individual needs of the child by negotiating contracts with homes reflecting value for money;
  2. To provide flexible accommodation arrangements for children whose parents are unable to cope at a certain point in time;
  3. To ensure that, unless the child's needs require it, no child should be placed outside their home locality if such a placement would damage continuity of family relationships, education and friendships;
  4. To maintain local community networks where practicable;
  5. To ensure that, wherever possible, work with Education, Health and Housing provide alternatives to residential care;
  6. To prepare children adequately for their next move, be it to fostering, adoption, a new residential home or independence;
  7. To ensure the proper identification and specialisation of placements to enable the best match of children's needs to resources.

End