Placement in Residential Care
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to all placements of Children in Care in residential care.
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.
NOTE: from September 2021, looked after children under 16 years of age cannot be accommodated in unregulated independent or semi-independent placements (see Placements in Other Arrangements Procedure).
Risk Assessment (Forms/Practice Guidance)
Risk management scoping meeting (Forms/Practice Guidance)
Purposeful visiting report (Forms/Practice Guidance)
Inadequate Notification (Forms/Practice Guidance)
Safeguarding and Provision of Care Concerns (Forms/Practice Guidance)
AMENDMENTThis chapter was amended in August 2022 to add a link to the NYAS ‘My Things Matter’ Report – support and respect care-experienced children and their belongings when they move. (See Section 2.3, Placement Planning).
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:
- The child;
- The child's parents, or those with Parental Responsibility;
- Anyone who is not a parent but has been caring for or looking after the child;
- Other members of the child's family who are significant to the child;
- The child's school or education authority;
- The Youth Offending Service, if the child is known to them;
- Any other relevant person, e.g. nursery, health care professional, Children's Guardian.
The views of these people should be given by them, in writing, or should be recorded by the social worker.
2. Placements Process
Any request for a residential placement for a child or young person should be made via the relevant Resource Panel. In making this request, the social worker will be asked to provide information about the child, the type of placement sought, the Care Plan, the date by which the placement is required, the likely length of time for which the placement is required and the expected level of contact between the child and parents. The social worker should also outline any risks associated in making the placement.
The search will commence once an appropriately completed Placement Plan referral has been submitted and accepted. The Placement Plan referral has 3 sections; the referral request, the placement and the Placement Planning Meeting. The social worker should ensure that all parts of the referral request element are comprehensively completed to support and enable the best possible placement match for the child. This will also minimise disruption and potential unwanted placement moves. The Placement Plan referral must contain written authorisation from the Assistant Director to commence the search for a residential placement for the child. Exceptionally authorisation to search for a residential placement will need to be sought after a placement search commences, where this is the case the Total Placement Service will obtain the necessary authorisation and add it to the placement plan.
TPS will conduct a search of residential placements, initially within Kent, unless otherwise specified, to try to meet the child's identified needs. TPS will ensure that relevant checks and documents including: Statement of Purpose and Function, Location Assessment, most recent regulation 44 assessment, Ofsted certificate, Latest Ofsted Inspection report, Children's guide and in the case of Out of Local Authority placements the Local Authority Core offer letter are provided to the social worker on placement options.
All potential placements will be notified to the social worker via e mail. If a placement cannot be identified within Kent the search will be extended following liaison with the child's social worker and team manager.
Once a placement has been identified, the social worker should contact the relevant registered manager directly to discuss the available placement further.
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. The placement provider should be able to provide evidence that supports the appropriateness and effectiveness of any therapeutic approach or model of care they intend to use.
The child's social worker will advise their manager and the TPS placement officer of their views regarding the placements on offer and the placement they wish to propose to the Area Director for approval. The social worker will be required to give their rationale for placement choice and suitability in relation to matching in writing via e mail of the placements offered and the placement chosen. The provider is also required to clearly state in writing how they will meet the child's needs. TPS submit the social work choices. Provider meeting needs statement along with the costs to the Assistant Director for endorsement. The placement cannot commence without the Assistant Director authorisation. Once approved TPS will ensure a contract is provided for the placement which will include specific terms and conditions to be authorised by the Area Director and provider, please note that this is a generic contract and does not include details such as pocket money, staffing levels etc. such matters should be addressed by the child's social worker and included in the Placement Planning Meeting. TPS will update the Placement section of the Placement Plan referral which ensures the correct placement address is on the child's Liberi record, payments to providers are in place and the correct placement authorisation is recorded.
Where the residential placement is outside the local authority area, see Out of Area Placements Procedure.N.B. In addition to the above approvals, in order to avoid placements that disrupt a child's education, the Nominated Officer 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 Children with a Social Worker, Looked After and Previously Looked After Children Procedure. Equally, any placement made outside the local authority area should be able to meet the child's physical and mental health / emotional needs, particularly where ongoing treatment is being undertaken or is assessed as required.
Once the relevant manager(s) approves the placement, the placement planning process can start - see Section 2.3, Placement Planning Meeting. An understanding of the provider's therapeutic approach should inform the child's Placement Plan.
The social worker may then arrange visits to the proposed placement, with the child (if old enough) and parents (if appropriate).
NOTE: from September 2021, looked after children under 16 years of age cannot be accommodated in unregulated independent or semi-independent placements.
Before the child is placed, the child's social worker will liaise with the relevant registered manager to provide details of the child's immediate child care needs and to arrange a Placement Planning Meeting - see Placement Planning Meetings and Disruption Meeting (Fostering and Adoption) Procedure. The meeting will usually be held in the child's new placement.
Participants will include:
- The parent;
- The child (if appropriate);
- The key residential staff;
- Any other relevant professionals, e.g. a representative from the child's school;
- Anyone else considered appropriate or who will have a role in the placement.
The Placement Planning Meeting provides clarity for the child and the child's carer (whether a parent, a foster carer, registered provider as the person responsible for the child at the accommodation) about how the day to day parenting tasks will be shared between the child's carer and the responsible authority, including clarity about the financial arrangements for the child's upbringing.
The placement plan sets out in detail how the placement is intended to contribute to meeting the child's needs as set out in the Care Plan.
An effective placement plan will ensure that the carer receives essential information about the child, including his/her health, educational and emotional and behavioural needs, how these may affect the child day to day and appropriate strategies for responding to them. In particular, it is important to identify any behaviours which have been of concern to a child's previous carer and which have contributed to the breakdown of a previous placement. It is important that any Child Protection concerns relating to the child, including if the child has a history of being missing, concerns regarding child sexual exploitation, trafficking or radicalisation are fully explored along with risk management strategies within the meeting to keep the child or young person safe;
Discussion will include sharing information regarding the child's personal history, religious persuasion, cultural and linguistic background and racial origin, as well as the child's 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).
In addition the Placement Planning Meeting will consider the type of introduction process required, 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. Children should be able to visit the home and talk in private with the staff. If this is not possible, arrangements may be made for the care 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.
The purpose of the Placement Planning Meeting is to share the details of the child's needs in the placement including the daily routine, and discuss the Care Plan. The Placement Plan provides clarity for the child and carer about; how day to day parenting tasks will be shared between the carer and the responsible authority – including clarity about financial arrangements, e.g. (contact); the circumstances leading to the child becoming looked after; what the long term plan is for the child and its timeframe and what the objectives are for the placement being offered and how those reflect the Care Plan.
The Responsible Authority is required to draw up a Placement Plan before the child is placed, or if not practicable, within 5 working days from the start of the placement.
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:
- The type of accommodation to be provided and the address;
- Where the authority has, or is notified of, Child Protection concerns relating to the child, or the child has gone missing from the placement or from any previous placement, the day to day arrangements put in place by the appropriate person (placement provider) to keep the child safe;
- Any behaviours which have been of concern to previous carers and which may have contributed to previous breakdown of a placement and how the Placement Provider will seek to manage and respond to these;
- The child's personal history, religious persuasion, cultural and linguistic background and racial origin;
- 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;
- Delegated Authority issues 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 etc;
- The Local Authority's arrangements for the financial support of the child during the placement;
- Information concerning the child's health and education, Contact Arrangements/Family Time, visits by the responsible authority and any arrangements for visits by an independent visitor. The content of the child's Health Plan and PEP;
- The child's religion and culture and the manner in which these are reflected in their daily life and any help the child may need to keep these links;
- Arrangements for contact between children, birth parents and siblings and specified other friends and relatives.
The meeting also provides an opportunity to ensure that the registered manager has a copy of any relevant court order and that full information is shared about any behaviour management issues.
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.
If it is not possible to hold a Placement Planning Meeting before the placement, because of the urgency of the placement, it must take place within 5 working days of the placement commencing
The child's social worker will complete and arrange for the circulation of the Care Plan and Placement Plan to the child, parents and residential staff before or within 5 working days of the placement commencing.At the time of the placement, the residential staff must also be given any additional information about details of the child's day to day needs which may not covered by the Placement Planning Meeting Record but are important to ensure that the home is in the best possible position to help the child settle in the new placement, for example any particular fears at night-time or other emotional needs the child's social worker must provide the child with written information about care services, including information on using the authority's Complaints Procedure and information about how to access an Advocate.
The social worker should ensure that any Children's Guide and other information about the placement that is available for the child is also obtained and given to him/her.
In all cases, the child should be accompanied to the placement by the social worker and helped to settle in. Suitable luggage should be used and a child's belongings should never be transported in bin-bags or other inappropriate containers see NYAS, My Things Matter Report).
Where an emergency placement is unavoidable local authorities should always make available information that is vital to allow the Home to care safely for the child – e.g. medical information, Child Protection matters and information about any known serious behavioural issues which may place a child at risk of harm to him or herself or others.
The placement plan must be agreed and signed by the nominated officer. Where this is a Placement at a Distance this should be agreed by the Children's Services Director or Delegated Officer.
TPS will update the Placement Plan Referral on the child's record through completion of the 2nd part of the Placement Plan referral – Placement with the details of the placement.
Notification of the placement will also be sent by the child's social worker to the Designated Nurse for CIC, the relevant person in the education service, 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.
The child's social worker must also notify the allocated Independent Reviewing Officer or, if it is the first placement, the Independent Reviewing Officer Service of the placement. This notification will trigger the appointment of an Independent Reviewing Officer, if it is the first placement, and the setting up of arrangements for a Child in Care Review.
These notifications must be made in writing, advising of the placement decision and the name and address of the children's home where the child is to be placed.
The notifications should be before the start of the placement or within 5 working days.
The child's social worker should also notify - preferably in writing but it may be verbally - all those involved in the day to day arrangements for the child, including school and any health professional or YOS worker actively involved with the child.
It will be necessary for the home or the child's social worker to ensure the child is registered with a GP, Dentist and Optician, either retaining practices known to him or her (which is preferable) or in the area where they are placed.
In relation to a first Looked After placement it will also be necessary for the social worker to liaise with the Designated Nurse for CIC to arrange a Health Care Assessment - see Guidance on Health Assessments and Health Plans. The social worker must arrange for the completion of a Personal Education Plan (PEP) - see Education of Children with a Social Worker, Looked After and Previously Looked After Children Procedure.
For any new placement, every effort should be made to enable the child to remain at the same school unless there are reasons which would be detrimental to his or her well being. In order to avoid placements that disrupt a child's education, the Nominated Officer 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.
In the case of out of area placements, including Placements at a Distance, written notification must be given to the area authority of the arrangements for the placement before the placement is made or, if the placement is made in an emergency, within five working days of the start of the placement unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so.
The notification must include:
- Details of the assessment of the child's needs and the reasons why the placement is the most suitable for responding to these; and
- A Copy of the child's Care Plan (unless already provided in the case of a Placement at a Distance).
3. Support, Monitoring and Ending of Placements
The child's social worker must visit the child in the placement within one week of the placement and then at a minimum every six weeks; see Social Worker Visits to Children in Care Procedure.
Where there are concerns in relation to the progress of the placement, this must be discussed with the provider and consideration should be given to seeking additional resources to assist the placement.
Where there are any changes to the child's placement and/or legal status during the placement, the child's social worker must update the child's electronic records.
A Child in Care Review should be convened where:
- The child is, or has been, persistently absent from the placement;
- The placement provider, parents or area authority are concerned that the child is at risk of harm; or
- The child so requests, unless the Independent Reviewing Officer considers that the review is not justified.
See also Child in Care Reviews.
The child's social worker must notify the Total Placement Service (TPS) when a placement is likely to end in order that notice periods can be established and formal notice be served on the placement. Additionally, to arrange the cessation of payment of the placement. The social worker will also inform those notified when the placement was made of the ending of the placement.
Where the placement ends in an unplanned way, consideration should be given to holding a Disruption Meeting - see Placement Planning Meetings and Disruption Meeting (Fostering and Adoption) Procedure.