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5.1.9 Placement Planning and Disruption Meetings (Fostering and Adoption)

Contents 

1. Placement Planning Meetings
2. Disruption Meetings
  2.1 A Process of Evaluating Disruption
  2.2 Format of Disruption Meetings
  2.3 Timing of Disruption Meetings
  2.4 Participants
  2.5 Record of Meeting
  2.6 Other Monitoring Processes
  2.7 Placement Breakdown Meetings
  2.8 Conclusion
  2.9 Flowchart


1. Placement Planning Meetings

Placement Planning meetings should be convened as part of the process of identifying and placing a child - as set out in the Placement in Foster Care Procedure and the Placement in Residential Care Procedure. The first Placement Planning Meeting in relation to a placement should be held before the placement. Where this is not possible because of the urgency of the situation, it should be held in order that the Placement Plan is prepared within 5 working days of the start of the placement.

Further Placement Planning Meetings should be held at intervals agreed with the manager of the residential home or the foster carers and their supervising social worker - or as required for example where there are issues to be resolved in relation to the day to day arrangements for the placement.

The social worker and home manager/foster carers supervising social worker will agree the best format and venue for the meeting and who will chair the meeting.

The people listed below should contribute to the meetings:

  1. The child’s social worker and/or other professional associated with the child e.g. Personal Adviser or advocate;
  2. The child;
  3. The child’s parents;
  4. For children in residential care, the child’s link worker/keyworker and, where appropriate the home manager;
  5. For children in foster care, the foster carers and their supervising social worker.
Before any meeting, the chairperson should obtain or be updated on the following, if available:
  • The child's Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record on ICS);
  • Any work which has been undertaken in supporting the child’s placement;
  • If relevant: the child’s Care Plan, Personal Education Plan and Pathway Plan.

Where the proposed placement has the effect of disrupting the arrangements made for the child's education and training - see Education of Children in Care Procedure.

The chairperson should also ensure that the child, parent(s) and others who have been asked to contribute understand the purpose of the meeting, how it will be conducted and are given the opportunity to put their views and suggestions.

If there are concerns about the suitability of the placement, consideration should be given to the following:

  • Whether it is possible to sustain the placement until the next Child in Care Review by, for example, providing additional support to the placement;
  • Bringing forward the date of the next Child in Care Review;
  • Ending the placement.


2. Disruption Meetings

2.1

A Process of Evaluating Disruption

2.1.1

The term ‘disruption is used to describe an event otherwise referred to as a ‘placement breakdown’ or a placement ending that was not part of the Child in Care’s Care Plan, either in the ending itself or in the timing of the termination. Placements rarely disrupt as a result of the action of one individual but usually through a combination of several factors. Therefore, the objective of a disruption meeting is to look at the sequence of events and to learn from the experiences in order that:

  • The child’s future needs can be met;
  • The carers can be appropriately supported to recover and learn from the experience;
  • Practice can be improved across relevant social work teams.
2.1.2 Participants need to know that the process is not an exercise to apportion blame. Disruption meetings are not used as a substitute for other decision making forums (i.e. Statutory Reviews, foster carer’s reviews, Child Protection Conferences etc) though the contents of a disruption meeting may be used to contribute to these meetings.
2.1.3

When held, disruption meetings are likely to be complex, detailed and time consuming if they are to be thorough. Therefore, a formal disruption meeting will only be convened in the following circumstances:

  • A permanent foster placement has ended in an unplanned way (In the majority of cases, permanent is defined by whether or not there has been a formal linking approved by the Fostering Panel or Adoption and Permanence Panel). There may be occasions where permanent linking has not been formalised. However, in the mind of the child, the carers and the professional teams, the placement has hither to been managed as if it were to be permanent. For the purposes of this policy, those cases will be treated as if linking had occurred;
  • An adoption placement has broken down.
2.1.4

In all cases, the child’s social worker and supervising social worker should always be alert to any evidence or suggestion that a placement is becoming unstable. In these circumstances, it may be necessary to convene an early review in order to re solve the difficulties or to instigate Stability Core Groups (see separate guidance). Where disruption occurs:

  • The supervising social worker will inform the Fostering Team Manager, of any disruption within fostering;
  • The adoption social worker will inform the Adoption Team Manager, of any disruption within adoption.
2.1.5 For adoption placements and permanent fostering placements, the decision that a disruption meeting is unnecessary would be in exceptional circumstances only. The Assistant Director or the relevant County Manager can only take such a decision.

2.2

Format of Disruption Meetings

2.2.1

The following format has been adapted from the recommendations format for disruption meetings outlined by BAAF in respect of adoption disruptions. Matters to be covered in a disruption meeting (in sequence) are as follows.

In discussing each issue equality and diversity issues should be given consideration (i.e. age, disability, gender, gender identity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy/maternity). This will include whether diversity issues were identified or not, and how this may have influenced or destabilized the placement.

  • Child’s care history;
  • The child’s identified needs (Child Permanence Report);
  • Selection process of the carers (including review of the Form F/PAR);
  • Introduction process to the carers;
  • Placement procedures (including the Risk Assessment, history of Stability Core Groups, Review recommendations etc and report from supervising social worker as to placement history);
  • Disruption and subsequent events;
  • Future plans.
2.2.2 The Chair of the meeting will be expected to have accessed and reviewed the foster carer or adopter’s file and reviewed both the Form F/PAR and Child Permanence Report used for matching purposes.
2.2.3 The supervising social worker or adoption worker should have completed a report into the circumstances surrounding the disruption. Reports should be factual and evidenced (i.e. not relying upon individual’s accounts or versions of events).They should also contain a professional analysis of what has occurred, which is again based on fact and evidence. In particularly difficult or complex circumstances, the Manager of either the Fostering or Adoption Team may commission an independent ‘investigation’ into the circumstances surrounding the disruption. In these situations, the investigating professional should take account of point 3.2 above.
2.2.4 Disruption meetings should be minuted and include any decisions about future actions and recommendations for the child and/or carer concerned and wider practice.

2.3

Timing of Disruption Meetings

2.3.1 It is important to strike a balance between the meeting taking place too soon when there may be a lack of clarity about key issues and too late, when issues may have become cloudy or distorted.
2.3.2 A disruption meeting would be convened by the supervising social worker within two to six weeks following the disruption.
2.3.3 The Chair should be off-line to ensure independence and objectivity and it would normally be a professional of appropriate seniority and relevant experience, this might be a Manager or Independent Reviewing Officer from within the Families, Social Care Directorate or may be an individual commissioned externally to undertake the work.

2.4

Participants

2.4.1 Consideration should be given to the amount of active participants and whether they need to attend the whole of the disruption meeting. The circumstances surrounding the child will also influence the number of people invited, i.e. age, health of child, parents(s) circumstances and other significant people. The following should be invited as appropriate:
  • Chairperson;
  • Supervising social worker;
  • Child’s social worker;
  • Other staff closely involved (and their supervisors, if appropriate);
  • The child’s current carers;
  • Prospective Adopters or Carers who have cared for the child;
  • The child (if it is in their interests). If not it is important that their views are accurately conveyed;
  • Parents (where appropriate);
  • The child should be asked whether they wish to have an advocate attend with them or on their behalf at the disruption meeting;
  • Independent Reviewing Officer.

2.5

Record of Meeting

2.5.1 The minutes of the meeting and decisions should be available for everyone who attends the disruption meeting. The minutes should also be sent to the relevant Service Managers and copies to be given to the panels (Fostering or Adoption and Permanence) for future learning and feedback. Recommendations should be circulated to the Corporate Parenting Operational Group for action where appropriate.
2.5.2 Where complaints against carers have been made or emerged as part of the disruption process, reference should be made to the ‘Allegations Against Foster Carers’ or ‘Allegations against Adopters” procedures and where necessary, a separate investigation instigated.
2.5.3 Any complaint against a carer must be noted both on their file and ICS.

2.6

Other Monitoring Processes

2.6.1

Assessment and Progress Records

A key theme in the literature pertaining to ‘disruptions’ is the necessity for accurate assessments of the child’s needs. A large number of placements are made on an emergency basis (although the majority have had ongoing social work involvement). The importance therefore of a ‘core’ assessment has to be stressed in informing placement planning. Assessment and Progress Records need to be completed within the specified time frames to continually update an assessment of the child’s needs and to aid planning. The social worker is responsible for completing the Assessment and Progress Record.

2.6.2

Placement Agreements

Placement Agreements must be completed within 5 days of placement. It is the responsibility of the supervising social worker to facilitate these meetings.

2.6.3

Children in Care Statutory Reviews

The DfE regulations highlight the relevance of convening a review meeting if there are difficulties in implementing the Care Plan. Reviews should always be held within the statutory time frames but an earlier review could be arranged if needed. It is the social worker’s responsibility to arrange a CIC Review Meeting.

2.6.4

Review of Foster Carers

A foster carer review should take place annually or following a major change in circumstances or following a serious incident or complaint. The Fostering Service is responsible for undertaking these reviews. If, following a disruption, a review of the foster carer(s) is deemed necessary; this assessment should be presented to the Fostering Panel within eight weeks of the disruption meeting.

2.6.5

Stability Core Groups

Stability Core Groups will be convened whenever a placement is fragile and should be used to achieve stability or make decisions about planned endings when appropriate.

2.7

Placement Breakdown Meetings

2.7.1 For the purposes of clarity, it is important to distinguish between a foster placement breakdown and the disruption of what has previously been considered to be the child’s permanent placement.
2.7.2 Where short or medium term foster placements have to end outside a planned move, review will still be required. This will not however constitute such a detailed investigation as implied by the formal disruption process.
2.7.3 Any unplanned placement breakdown should be taken very seriously because it represents a trauma for the child concerned and a less than positive experience for the foster carer.
2.7.4 The supervising social worker should convene a placement breakdown meeting as quickly as possible following the breakdown.
2.7.5 A Team or Practice Manager will generally chair a placement breakdown meeting.
2.7.6 The purpose of the meeting is to determine the reasons for the breakdown and whether there are practice issues relating to the original matching process or post placement support.
2.7.7 In all cases the chair should consider the carers Form F/PAR, previous placement history, the child’s referral information and risk assessment and Placement Agreement.
2.7.8 There will need to be brief written reports or comprehensive verbal accounts from the supervising social worker and child’s social worker as to the circumstances surrounding the placement and the breakdown.
2.7.9 Meetings need to be recorded and findings sent to the County Managers and relevant Head of Service. Copies of meeting minutes with the findings must be kept on the carers file for future reference.

2.8

Conclusion

2.8.1 Disruptions in childcare placements need to be carefully reflected upon in terms of learning and future care planning. A ‘disruption’ meeting must always be arranged in line with this policy and the Directorate should act on the lessons to be learnt from them.
2.8.2
  1. Assistant Directors should have access to any recommendations made from placement disruptions in order to develop learning across the Directorate;
  2. Minute takers will ensure that summaries and recommendations are put on the agenda for Kent Corporate Parenting Group.

2.9

Flowchart

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