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3.12.1 Social Worker Visits

Note that different provisions apply to children who acquire Looked After status as a result of a remand to local authority accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation. In relation to those children, please see Section 8, Care Planning for Young People on Remand of the Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was revised inn March 2019 to set out more clearly the circumstances where visiting requirements differ (the Exceptions) from those as set out in 'Section 1, Normal Frequency'.


Contents

1. Normal Frequency
2. Exceptions
  2.1 Children Placed with Parents
  2.2 Children Placed with Connected Persons
  2.3 Children Placed in a Young Offenders’ Institution or Health Care Setting (etc.)
  2.4 Notice of Concern by the Registration Authority
3. Who Should be Seen?
4. Purpose
5. Recording
6. Consequences of Visits


1. Normal Frequency

It is good practice that when a Looked After Child is placed they should be accompanied by the social worker to the placement. Following this the child's social worker must visit the child in the placement at the following intervals, subject to the conditions below:

  1. Within one week of the start of any placement;
  2. Then at intervals of no more than six weeks during the first year of any placement;
  3. Thereafter, at intervals of not more than 6 weeks (or 3 months if the placement is intended to last until the child is 18);
  4. Where a child is in a designated long-term foster placement, visits after the first year may take place at intervals of not more than six months. The child should be of sufficient age and understanding and has agreed to be visited at this minimum frequency.

This applies to all new placements where, for example, a child moves from one placement to another.

Some visits should be unannounced.

NB. During a child's placement in foster care, the foster carers will also receive visits from their fostering social worker - see section on the Role of the Fostering Social Worker in Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.

In addition, the child’s social worker should visit:

  • Whenever reasonably requested to do so by the child;
  • Immediately a complaint is received from the child or from another person relating to the child concerning the standard of care they are receiving; or
  • If there is any proposal to remove the child from placement where concerns have been raised about his/her welfare.


2. Exceptions

2.1 Children Placed with Parents

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 agreed in the review but not more than 6 weeks.

If the child is living with the parents under an Interim Care Order, visits must take place at least once a week until the first Looked After Review, thereafter at intervals agreed in the review but, as a minimum, four weekly until the final hearing has been completed in the care proceedings.

2.2 Children Placed with Connected Persons

If the child is placed with a Connected Person with temporary approval, visits must take place at least once a week until the first Looked After Review, thereafter at intervals agreed in the review but, as a minimum, four weekly until the carer is approved as a foster carer.

2.3 Children Placed in a Young Offenders’ Institution or Health Care Setting (etc.)

If the child is in the care of the Local Authority but another person/organisation is responsible for the child's living arrangements (for example where a child is placed in a Youth Offenders' Institution or a health care setting), within a week of the start/any change of living arrangements, at intervals of not more than 6 weeks for the first year; at intervals of not more than 3 months in any subsequent year.

2.4 Notice of Concern by the Registration Authority

Where a Registration Authority notifies a local authority in respect of a children’s home, a fostering agency, a voluntary adoption agency, or adoption support agency, that the Registered Manager:

  • Has had their Registration withdrawn, suspended or notice of this extended;
  • Has proceedings brought against them by the Registration Authority for an offence which it alleges has been committed in respect of the establishment or agency;
  • Has had notice served upon them by the Registration Authority to ensure no child is further accommodated (excepting a child that is already accommodated or continues to be accommodated);
  • Has served a Penalty Notice for allegations in respect of an alleged offence which the Registered Manager has then paid;

Then a visit must also be made within one week of receiving a notification made under Section 30A of the Care Standards Act 2000.

(See Reg 28 (7)(b), The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010)


3. Who Should be Seen?

It is important to be clear that the exceptions set out in Section 2, Exceptions apply only to the placement. Whatever the placement arrangements and irrespective of where the child is placed, the child must be seen in private and alone (unless the child is of sufficient age and maturity and refuses or the social worker considers it inappropriate to do so, having regard to the child’s age and understanding). 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 staff/carer.

If the child has particular communication difficulties, or if he/she requires specialist communication support (e.g a specialist advocacy service), the social worker will need to consider what specialist resources should be utilised to ensure the child is able to express his/her wishes and feelings, including a request for a visit. This should be considered at the outset and included in the child’s care and placement plan.

On some occasions, the social worker should also arrange to visit at times when all members of a household can be seen; or for children's homes, a significant number of adults and children.


4. Purpose

The purpose of the visit is to ensure the placement continues to promote the child's welfare and in particular:

  1. To give the child the opportunity to express his or her wishes, feelings and views;
  2. To advise, assist and befriend the child;
  3. To observe the child with the staff/foster carer/parent;
  4. To monitor the standard of care offered by the placement;
  5. To monitor how the contact arrangements are working;
  6. To provide support to the placement;
  7. To identify any areas where additional support is required;
  8. To evaluate whether the placement is helping to achieve the objectives of the child's Care Plan.

Placement Plan Reviews can be undertaken during social workers visits.


5. Recording

A written report on each visit must be made by the social worker and the child's electronic social care record updated. It should record the following details:

  1. Who was seen;
  2. Whether the child was seen and if not why not;
  3. Whether the child was seen alone;
  4. Any comments made by the child or the staff/carers/parents;
  5. Any matters of concern or difficulties;
  6. Any observations on the child's welfare and the success of the placement;
  7. Any requirements for action.


6. Consequences of Visits

Where a social worker has concerns about whether a placement is adequately promoting a child’s welfare, the IRO should be informed and the Authority must review the child’s case in accordance with Part 6 of the 2010 Regulations [Reg 30]. This includes reviewing the child’s care and placement plan and identifying actions which must be taken to ensure that the placement is able to meet his/her needs appropriately and, if not, to consider alternatives.

End