Placement with Connected Persons
AMENDMENTThis chapter was extensively updated in June 2017 and should be read throughout.
A Connected Person can be a relative, friend or any other person with a prior connection with a child/young person who is looked after by the local authority. This includes grandparents, aunts and uncles, adult siblings, other adult family members friends, or someone who has known the child in a professional capacity such as a teacher or youth worker.
When a prospective Connected Person has been identified as being in a position to care for a child who is in the care of Kent County Council, they must be approved as a foster carer for that child. A Family Group Conference is a useful way to identify prospective connected person carers. The assessment and approval process for Connected Persons is the same as for any other non-related foster carer; other than the timescales for the assessment when a child is already placed.
2. Planned Placements
Wherever possible, full approval as a connected person foster carer should be made before the child is placed with them. However, if full approval cannot be gained in the child's timeframe then the child may only be placed following a temporary assessment and temporary approval (see Section 3, Placements in Exceptional and Unforeseen Circumstances). See Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Connected Person Flowchart for Child Already in Care and Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Decision for Fostering Regulation 24 Approval Flowchart for Child Placed in Exceptional and Unforeseen Circumstances Only (Forms/Practice Guidance).
The child/young person's wishes and feelings about any proposed placement should be sought, and taken into account. If at all possible, the child/young person should be given an opportunity to visit the family/friend carer being assessed as a connected person foster carer before any decision to place the child with them is finalised.
Arrangements to assess the prospective connected person for a planned placement must be agreed by the Service Manager responsible for the child and the Independent Reviewing Officer consulted.
The Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Initial Viability Assessment form (Forms/Practice Guidance) should be completed by the child's social worker (to evidence it has been agreed that the assessment should go ahead) and along with the child's Care Plan should be emailed to the County Fostering Assessment Team via the Connected Person Referral Mailbox (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request a Full fostering assessment.
The Fostering Team cannot accept multiple referrals for the same child. The child's social worker must undertake viability assessments to determine which Connected Person has the greatest potential to meet both the child's needs and satisfy the fostering standards. A consultation with the Fostering Assessment Team Manager or a joint one off visit with the child's social worker and a fostering social worker could be agreed to facilitate this.
The County Fostering Assessment Team will then initiate the completion and processing of enhanced disclosure forms (DBS checks) on all persons in the Connected Person's home aged 17 years or over as well as the multi-agency statutory check form (SS472). The Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Full Fostering Approval assessment (Forms/Practice Guidance) of the prospective connected person carers is completed jointly by the child's social worker and the fostering social worker.
3. Placements in Exceptional and Unforeseen Circumstances
Whenever possible the full fostering assessment and approval of a Connected Person as a foster carer to the child must take place before placement.
However, in exceptional and unforeseen circumstances, when an immediate placement of a child with a Connected Person is necessary, before the full assessment can be done, it is possible under regulation 24(1) of the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review for the local authority to grant temporary approval for the Connected Person to be the child's foster carer.
If the threshold to accommodate has been met and the Local Authority have been involved in the arrangements for the child to be cared for by a relative or friend this is a Connected Person arrangement and requires Temporary Approval prior to the child being placed.
If the Local Authority has not been involved in the arrangements and the Assessment under S17 Children Act 1989, this is not a connected Person arrangement and requires no further involvement.
This temporary approval can last for up to 16 weeks and in highly exceptional cases be extended by a further 8 weeks. During this time all the work necessary to complete the Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Full Fostering Approval assessment (Forms/Practice Guidance), to determine suitability to be the child's foster carer and establish full approval must take place.
It is the child's social worker's responsibility to start the assessment by completing the Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Initial Viability/ Temporary Approval Assessment form (Forms/Practice Guidance) and gaining signed authorisation from the Assistant Area Director prior to the child being placed.
When seeking temporary approval the child's social worker must make every effort to ensure that the Connected Person:
- Is likely to meet the standards for foster carers in all respects (apart from accommodation and literacy where there is some discretion. They should also take into account that the approval will be for a specific child known to the Connected Person rather than other children who are not connected to them;
- Is likely to meet the higher standard in relation to safe care.
The Initial Viability / Temporary Approval form signed by the Assistant Area Director should be immediately emailed to the Connected Person Referral Mailbox (email@example.com) to request a Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Full Fostering Approval assessment (Forms/Practice Guidance).
The Nominated Senior Officer for agreeing the temporary approval of a child's placement with a Connected Person is the Specialist Children's Services Assistant Director in the Area with responsibility for managing the child's case.
If you wish to consult with a County Fostering Assessment Team Manager please contact the relevant team on 03000 417474 or 03000 418570.
A referral to ART should be completed to request a Connected Person placement and initiate the Child Looked After status on Liberi.
The Immediate Placement Agreement (Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Appendix A: Initial Connected Person Assessment – Agreement) must be signed by the Connected Person being given temporary Approval and Child's Social Worker when the child is placed and sent to the County Fostering Assessment Team Manager to be placed on the Child and Connected Persons Liberi case file.
Once temporary approval for up to 16 weeks has been authorised the Fostering Assessment Team Manager will allocate for a Full fostering assessment to be completed and book a Fostering Panel date. The Fostering Assessment Team will initiate an enhanced Disclosure form (DBS checks) on all persons in the home who are 17 years or over, along with the multi-agency statutory check form (SS472).
The child's social worker to inform the IRO and update the Care Plan / Pathway Plan.
The Placement Planning Meeting should be completed within the statutory 5 days from the date the child is placed.
If the assessment fails to meet the deadline for approval at foster panel within 16 weeks of placement or the decision is deferred pending further work an extension period of up to 8 weeks can be granted. The Authorisation for Continued Approval (Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Appendix B: Initial Connected Person Assessment – Extension) should be presented to the fostering panel. The panel minutes and recommendation should be sent to the Assistant Area Director for a decision.
Authorisation for Continued Approval (Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Appendix B: Initial Connected Person Assessment – Extension) is only intended to be used in exceptional circumstances. Refusal of extension will lead to the child being moved from the placement immediately.
If the child's temporary placement with the connected person has exceeded the maximum 24 weeks without decision for full approval the Child's Social Worker completes Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Placements Outside of Regulations Form (Forms/Practice Guidance) and submits to the Assistant Area Director for agreement.
Assistant Area Director must give permission for the child to remain in an unregulated placement and record the reasons why this would be in the child's best interest.
At the end of the set time period, if the Connected Person has not been approved as a foster carer, then the child/young person must be moved from the placement.
During the time the child is placed with a Connected Person under temporary approval, the child must be visited by a social worker at least once a week prior to their initial statutory Child In Care Review and following this no less than every 4 weeks. The fostering social worker will undertake statutory supervision with the Connected Person Foster Carer.
Permanency Plan for the child is Special Guardianship Order (SGO)
With Local Authority involvement Section 20 and the child has been placed with a relative or friend (Connected Persons) with a permanency plan for Special Guardianship Order (SGO).
Placements must follow Regulation 24 process to ensure the placement is regulated prior to an SGO being granted. Follow and complete full Regulation 24 process where a child is in placement. Assessment completed jointly by fostering social worker and child's social worker. Fostering social worker is the lead and provides supervision to the placement.
Submission of the court report for the SGO remains the responsibility of the child's social worker. Regardless of the timescale for completion of the SGO a full Connected Person Full Approval assessment should continue to be completed to ensure placement remains regulated.
4. The Assessment of Connected Persons as a Family and Friend Foster Carer
Assessments of Connected Persons as family and friend foster carers (the full assessment) must be carried out jointly by the child's social worker and a fostering social worker from the County Fostering Assessment Team. This is because the assessment involves the child's social worker undertaking a risk assessment and identifying the child's specific needs, and the fostering social worker assessing the connected person's ability to meet those needs as a family/friend foster carer. The Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and KCC Connected Person Foster Carer Full Approval Assessment of Connected Persons as Foster Carers (Forms/Practice Guidance) should be used to write up the assessment. See Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Flowchart for Child Already in Care and Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure and Decision for Fostering Regulation 24 Approval Flowchart for Child Placed in Exceptional and Unforeseen Circumstances Only (Forms/Practice Guidance).
Schedule 4 of the Children Act 1989 regulations outlines the matters that must be taken into account when assessing the suitability of a Connected Person to care for the child.
Additional guidance is also provided under Chapter 5 of the Family and Friends Care: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities (DfE 2010).
Once the assessment has been completed the Full Approval Form will be presented jointly by the child's social worker and fostering social worker to the Fostering Panel to consider the carer's approval. The Agency Decision Maker makes a decision on Fostering Full Approvals (on the basis of recommendations of the Fostering Panel).
If Connected Person Foster Carer is approved the child can then be placed in a planned way. The Placement Planning meeting should be undertaken prior to the child being placed.
If the Decision Maker's decision is not to approve the relative or friend as a Connected Person Foster Carer representation can be made back to the Fostering Panel or the Independent Review Mechanism who will make a further recommendation prior to the Agency Decision Maker making a final decision.
The Kent Fostering Service Statement of Purpose and Policy sets out details of the panel process.