Client Logo


Top of page

Size: View this website with small text View this website with medium text View this website with large text View this website with high visibility

5.1.2 Decision to Look After and Care Planning

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all decisions to Look After children.

Children may also acquire Looked After status following a Remand to Local Authority Accommodation - see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.

RELATED GUIDANCE

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

Children Missing Education - Statutory guidance for local authorities (DfE, 2015)

ADCS/Cafcass Practice Guidance for the Use of Section 20 Provision in The Children Act 1989 in England and the Equivalent S76 of the Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act 2014 in Wales

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in September 2016, to add a link to the ADCS/Cafcass Practice Guidance for the Use of Section 20 Provision in The Children Act 1989 in England and the Equivalent S76 of the Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act 2014 in Wales. (See Related Guidance above).


Contents

1. Introduction
2. Criteria for the Local Authority to Assume Responsibility to Provide Care for a Child or Young Person
  2.1 Corporate Parenting
  2.2 The Child’s Wishes and Feelings
  2.3 Obtaining Parental Consent to Look After a Child
  2.4 Decision to Look After a Child
  2.5 Considerations before a Decision is Made
  2.6 How the Integrated Children’s System (ICS) Supports the Recording of Information in Respect of Children in Care
  2.7 Summary of the Looked after Children (LAC) Documents That Must Be Completed and Given to the Carer(s) before a Child is Placed in Care
  2.8 Which Children are to be Included?
3. Care Planning
  3.1 The Purpose of Care Planning and Review
  3.2 Permanence Planning
  3.3 The Relationships between the Care Plan and Other Plans
  3.4 The Care Plan for a Voluntarily Accommodated Child
  3.5 The Care Plan for a Child Subject to Section 31A of the 1989 Act (Court Care Plan)
  3.6 The Content of the Care Plan
  3.7 Care Proceedings
  Appendix 1: The Revised Legal Framework For Looked After Children
  Appendix 2: Criteria for a Child / Young Person becoming Looked After
  Definitions


1. Introduction

Children in care are some of the most vulnerable children in society and Wirral Council has a duty to promote good outcomes for children; specifically for children to:

  • Be healthy;
  • Stay safe;
  • Enjoy and achieve;
  • Positively contribute;
  • Achieve economic wellbeing.

In order for children and young people to grow and develop, they need good placements with people who are kind, caring and committed to meeting their needs; they need to be listened to, to be involved and engaged in plans; to be surrounded by people who aspire for the very best for them, by people who do what they say they are going to do, and by people who constantly think “if this were my child".

Stable placements, good health and support during transition are all essential elements, but children will only achieve their potential through the ambition and high expectation of all those involved in their lives.

These procedures are designed to make sure that good plans are in place, that everyone who needs to be involved receives accurate and timely information to support the child or young person in care and that Care Plans are designed to make things happen and do not allow any actions to drift. The Social Worker will be responsible for ensuring the completion of the LAC documentation and provision of the documents to the care provider prior to a placement being made. The Practice Manager will be responsible for monitoring the completion of the LAC forms.

The involvement of the Social Worker and carer and the pace of the work with children and young people must take account of their age and ability. This will also be a factor in giving them copies of the forms.

It is essential that the Social Worker answers all questions unless specifically directed otherwise by these procedures. If information is not available prior to a placement being made, then a note as to the steps taken and when it is expected to be available should be entered in the appropriate question. If the information is unobtainable for whatever reason, again a note should be entered to this effect.


2. Criteria for the Local Authority to Assume Responsibility to Provide Care for a Child or Young Person

Children are best looked after within their families, with their parents playing a full part in their lives, unless compulsory intervention in family life is necessary. There are two ways the Wirral Council assumes the responsibility to provide care for children and young people, either through a voluntary arrangement Section 20 Children Act 1989 or through an Order made by the Court Section 31 (Care Order or Supervision Order) Children Act 1989 or Section 38 (Interim Care Order) Children Act 1989. The 1989 Children Act places a strong emphasis on Local Authorities working in partnership with parents when undertaking their statutory functions.

2.1 Corporate Parenting

The responsibility of Local Authorities in improving outcomes and actively promoting the life chances of children they look after is known as ‘Corporate Parenting’. As Corporate Parents Wirral Council has a legal and moral duty to provide children who are Looked After with the kind of loyal support that any good parents would give their own children to ensure that all aspects of their development are nurtured. This will be done by being powerful advocates for children and young people to ensure they receive the best of everything and to strive to help them to make a success of their lives.

2.2 The Child’s Wishes and Feelings

Wirral Council must, so far as reasonably practicable, ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child, having regard to the child’s age and understanding. Children should feel they are active participants and engaged in the process when adults are trying to solve problems and make decisions about them. If the child has been involved in the plans from the beginning he/ she will be less fearful as they will understand what is happening and will feel they have been listened to from the beginning.

The child’s views as expressed should always be discussed, recorded and given due consideration before a placement decision is made, at every review meeting and at case conference. The possibilities and options should be explained and discussed and if necessary, reassessed in the light of the child’s views. The Social Worker should be aware and acknowledge that there may be good reasons why the child’s views are different from those of his/ her parents or Wirral Council.

Where a child has difficulty in expressing his/ her wishes and feelings about any decisions being made about him/her the Social Worker should give consideration to securing the support of an advocate.

2.3 Obtaining Parental Consent to Look After a Child

Obtaining Parental Consent is a crucial part of Accommodating a child under this part of the 1989 Act. A number of court decisions have been particularly critical of local authorities’ actions with regard to consent and great care needs to be undertaken to ensure parents have the appropriate capacity to do this.

Section 20 agreements are not valid unless the parent giving consent has capacity to do so, (in cases where the father also has Parental Responsibility, the consent of both parents should be sought). The consent needs to be properly informed and fairly obtained. Willingness to consent cannot be inferred from silence, submission or acquiescence - it is a positive action.

Detailed guidance on the obtaining of parental consent was given by the High Court in the case of  Re CA (A Baby) (2012): 

  • The Social Worker must first be satisfied that the parent giving consent does not lack the mental Capacity to do so. Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, a person is unable to make a decision if s/he is unable:
    • To understand the information relevant to the decision;
    • To retain that information;
    • To use or weigh that information as part of the process of making the decision; or
    • To communicate his/her decision.
  • If there is doubt about Capacity, no further attempts to obtain consent should be made at that time, and advice should be sought from a manager;
  • If satisfied that the parent has Capacity, the Social Worker must be satisfied that the consent is fully informed:
    • Does the parent fully understand the consequences of giving such consent?
    • Does the parent fully appreciate the range of choice available and the consequences of refusal as well as giving consent?
    • Is the parent in possession of all the facts and issues material to the giving of consent?
  • If not satisfied that the consent if fully informed, no further attempt should be made to obtain consent on that occasion and advice should be sought from a manager and legal advice sought if thought necessary;
  • If satisfied that the consent is fully informed, then it is necessary to be satisfied that the giving of such consent and the subsequent removal of the child from the parent is both fair and proportionate:
    • What is the current physical and psychological state of the parent?
    • If they have a solicitor, have they been encouraged to seek legal advice and/or advice from family or friends?
    • Is it necessary for the safety of the child for her to be removed at this time?
    • Would it be fairer in this case for this matter to be the subject of a Court Order rather than an agreement?

Whether a person has capacity can sometimes be difficult to determine, as some individuals have a learning disability or mental health problem but can present as being more ‘able’ than in fact they are. Equally, within the context of ‘assessing capacity’, social workers should  approach with great care relying on section 20 agreements from mothers after giving  birth, (especially where there is no immediate danger to the child and where probably no order would be made).

Where there is any concern about a parent / carer’s capacity, the social worker should ensure they discuss this issue with their team manager, or that the parent has information from a legal adviser or professional advice (1). Note: In Coventry City Council v C, B, CA and CH (2012) EWHC2190 (Fam) it was identified that, ‘every social worker obtaining consent is under a personal duty (the outcome of which may not be dictated to by others) to be satisfied that the person giving consent does not lack the capacity to do so’.

(1) Note: Unless a parent is subject to Proceedings, or Letter Before Proceedings, they will be unable to qualify for Legal Aid.

Where it is highly likely that proceedings will be required to determine a factual issue, or where complex medical evidence may become involved it is better for proceedings to be issued promptly allowing the court to manage the timetable of the case and the parents to be able to access effective legal advice.

2.3.1 Recording Parental Consent

In Re N (Children) (Adoption: Jurisdiction) [2015] EWCA Civ 1112 good practice the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby sets out his view in respect of good practice in the recording of parental consent to a Section 20 agreement:

  • Wherever possible the agreement of a parent to the accommodation of their child under section.20 should be properly recorded in writing and evidenced by the parent's signature;
  • The written document should be clear and precise as to it terms, drafted in simple and straight-forward language that the particular parent can readily understand;
  • The written document should spell out, following the language of section 20(8), that the parent can 'remove the child' from the LA accommodation 'at any time';
  • The written document should not seek to impose any fetters on the exercise of the parent's right under s.20(8). Where the parent is not fluent in English, the written document should be translated into the parent's own language and the parent should sign the foreign language text, adding, in the parent's language, words to the effect that 'I have read this document and I agree to its terms'.

2.4 Decision to Look After a Child

Where a Single Assessment and/or Single Assessment have identified that a placement in Foster Care or Residential Care is required to meet the child’s needs, a request that a child be Looked After will be referred for a decision to the relevant Senior Manager.

The decision for a child to become Looked After will be made in the following circumstances:

  • All attempts at intervention to maintain and support the child with his or her family have broken down;
  • The child has been abandoned;
  • The child would be at risk of Significant Harm by remaining with the family;
  • The child is disabled and a series of short break placements is necessary to provide respite for his or her carers.

2.5 Considerations before a Decision is Made

The decision for Wirral Council to look after a child will only be made when the relevant Senior Manager within Children’s Specialist Services is satisfied that consultation has taken place and consideration has been given to the necessity, purpose and nature of the proposed placement.

Consideration should be given by the Social Worker to making arrangements with other extended family members or friends who might be prepared to care for the child. In these circumstances, the Social Worker must be clear from the onset whether it is a Private Arrangement between the parent(s), family or friends (See Private Arrangement Agreement) to provide care for the child which the Social Worker is assisting them with or whether Wirral Council is ‘placing’ the child with family and friends according to the Placement with a Relative, Friend or Other Person Connected with the Child approval (Regulation 24). For further information see Family and Friends Carers Policy.

Alternatively, where there is a Private Arrangement between the birth parents and a carer who is not a close relative the child may come within the definition of a Privately Fostered child. If the arrangement is for more than 28 days the Private Fostering Procedure will apply. This would have to be agreed with the parent and the Social Worker must be satisfied that such an arrangement is sufficiently secure to meet the child’s needs and is supported by a Child In Need Plan.

If no such Private Arrangement can be identified or such an arrangement would not meet the child’s needs, the Social Worker, with the Practice Manager should consider:

  • The child’s immediate placement needs;
  • The child’s views, the views of the parents, those with Parental Responsibility and any other person whose wishes and feelings the authority consider to be relevant;
  • Whether a Looked After placement with a relative or friend may be possible;
  • The timescales for the child’s placement;
  • A date for the child to return home or when the decision will be reviewed;
  • Obtaining parental consent to look after the child and consent to medical care;
  • Any impact on educational arrangements;
  • The need for Care Proceedings to secure the child’s placement;
  • The contact arrangements with birth parents, siblings, extended family and friends.

Wherever possible the above should be considered within a Care Planning Meeting and be attended by the child, parents and all relevant professionals. The Social Worker should record the actions of support and work to be carried out in the Care Plan.

2.5.1 The use of Section 20 prior to Court Proceedings

Section 20 may, in an appropriate case, have a proper role to play as a short-term measure pending the commencement of care proceedings, but the Courts have strongly advised that this should not lead to an unnecessary delay in the issuing of proceedings and cases must not be allowed to drift, (including those cases when children are placed with relatives under a Section 20 agreement). Proceedings still need to be issued in a timely fashion.

Even where a parent/carer’s legal advisor has established an agreement regarding the use of Section 20 prior to either issuing Proceedings or progressing a timely plan and timetable of work for further assessment, these should be carefully adhered to by all parties. Any plan should be based on the child’s welfare needs and avoid delay.

All such agreements should be undertaken in conjunction with the local authority’s Legal Services and include a clear (written) agreement and Care Plan with the outcome considered at a Looked After Children’s Review to which the parents have been invited.

(See also ADCS/Cafcass Practice Guidance for the Use of Section 20 Provision in The Children Act 1989 in England and the Equivalent S76 of the Social Services and Well-Being (Wales) Act 2014 in Wales).

2.6 How the Integrated Children’s System (ICS) Supports the Recording of Information in Respect of Children in Care

The Integrated Children’s System is designed to support social work practice to improve both the quality of public parenting and outcomes for all children and young people who are looked after by Wirral Council. Children and young people require that information is collected carefully, that it is rigorously recorded and used to make individual plans, which are acted upon. The ICS system supports the requirement that all aspects of the lives of children and young people, including education and health matters, are considered in the planning, provision and review of services that they receive.

Partnerships between those involved in providing direct care are very important i.e. carers, Social Workers, families, teachers and others involved with children and young people, as well as between Wirral Council and other agencies. The ICS documentation also provides the means for gathering valuable aggregate information to inform service planning and monitoring, as well as external reporting requirements. Where there are Wirral Council requirements not covered by the Integrated Children’s System (ICS) these have been included within this procedure.

2.7 Summary of the Looked after Children (LAC) Documents That Must Be Completed and Given to the Carer(s) before a Child is Placed in Care

The referral and assessment and progress record provides information needed immediately by carers looking after a child in any type of placement. The information should be updated whenever there is a significant change and before every review.

The Chronology asks for comprehensive information about the child or young person’s background, including both the legal and placement history and should be updated whenever there is a significant change and before every review. Whenever a new placement is made or the child moves placement the child’s chronology should be updated.

The Placement Plan contains parental agreements and consents and details the arrangements for a child’s upbringing where responsibilities are divided between a number of people, e.g. parents, Social Workers, Foster Carers, residential staff and young people themselves. The child must have a Placement Plan at the time of the placement (includes the parent’s consent to the placement if applicable and the child’s medical treatment). It should be completed as far as possible before the child is placed or, if not reasonably practicable, within 5 working days of the start of the placement.

The Care Plan ensures that all the children and young people in care have clearly stated objectives for their care and a strategy for achieving them. If a young person is 16 years old then the Care Plan must include a Pathway Plan.

These four documents must be updated and provided to carers before or on the day a child becomes Looked After or moves placement. If the required documentation is not provided or is incomplete this could result in delays with the placement being made or placement move.

2.8 Which Children are to be Included?

The documents are to be used for all children and young people who are Looked After by Wirral Council as listed below, which includes those, who are Accommodated or subject to a Care Order:

  • Children and young people placed by Wirral Council with Foster Carers both within and outside the borough including those Looked After and placed with relations, friends, etc;
  • Children and young people placed in Wirral Council Residential Care Units;
  • Children and young people placed out of the borough in Residential Placements;
  • Children and young people placed out of the borough where Children’s Specialist Services has been involved in the planning and decision making, and is funding the Specialist Services element of the placement;
  • Children and young people placed by Wirral Council with Foster Carers who are approved as adopters for the particular child / young person;
  • Children and young people who are receiving shared care;
  • Young people placed within secure accommodation;
  • Young people who are placed in Local Authority accommodation under PACE;
  • Young people remanded to Local Authority accommodation / Youth Detention Centre Accommodation;
  • Young people who are subject to Care Orders and living independently;
  • Young people who are subject to Care Orders who are living at home with parents;
  • Children and young people who are supervised by another Local Authority on behalf of Wirral Council;
  • Older young people who are subject to Section 20, but who may not be living in regulated accommodation; it is their legal status, determined by their level of assessed need, which determines that they are regarded as children in care, and not the type of provision in which they live.


3. Care Planning

3.1 The Purpose of Care Planning and Review

Wirral Council has a responsibility to set out the arrangements they must make for looking after a child in a Care Plan. The Care Plan will contain information about how a child’s developmental needs will be met as well as outlining the arrangements for the current and longer term care for the child. It ensures that there is a Permanence Plan in place for the long term arrangements for the child’s upbringing to which everyone is working, including the Team Around the Family and where appropriate the family. The Care Plan will clarify the desired outcomes for the child, the expectation from the services involved and any other actions identified. It must also identify adults such as wider family and friends or other Connected Persons who can provide continuing emotional support, particularly through periods of transition.

3.2 Permanence Planning

Achieving permanence for a child will be a key consideration for Social Workers from the day the child becomes Looked After. The objective of permanence is to ensure that children have a secure and loving family to support them through childhood and beyond. The Care Plan will ensure that each child has a plan for permanence by the time of the second Looked After Review. (See Looked After Reviews Procedure). A range of permanence options exist for a child but the planning process, informed by multi-agency contributions will usually identify which option is most likely to meet the needs of the child. The child’s Care Plan will set out details of the Permanence Plan and the arrangements for implementing it.

One of the key functions of the Care Plan is to ensure that each child has a permanence plan by the time of the second looked after review. The Care Plan is subject to scrutiny at each Looked After Review.

Regular Care Planning meetings should take place between Looked After Reviews to ensure the Care Plan remains appropriate and which will inform the plan presented at the Looked After Review.

3.3 The Relationships between the Care Plan and Other Plans

Health Plan and Personal Education Plan (PEP)

The Care Plan provides the overarching vehicle for bringing together information from the seven dimensions of the child’s development needs as identified in the Assessment Framework and from any other assessments of the child and his/her family. The health and education dimensions of the Care Plan will be populated by the Health Plan and the Personal Education Plan. For further information see Health Care Assessments and Plans Procedure and Procedure and Guidance: Personal Education Planning to Promote the Educational Attainments of Children in Care.

Placement Plan

When a suitable placement has been identified for the child the Placement Plan will set out in detail how the placement is intended to contribute to meeting the child’s needs as set out in the Care Plan. The Placement Plan will also set out what may need to happen in the placement to achieve the Permanence Plan and the way in which the child’s needs would be met on a day to day basis. The Placement Plan will be developed in partnership with the child, carer and parent. It will be the Social Worker’s responsibility to ensure that the contributions required from all parties is recorded.

Pathway Plan

When a young person becomes an Eligible child and it is envisaged that he/she will be leaving care a Pathway Plan will be completed by the Social Worker which must include the Care Plan. This will ensure the actions required by all parties are clearly recorded in order for the young person to make a successful transition from care.

Child Protection Plan

In most cases, where a child is subject to a Child Protection Plan and becomes Looked After it will no longer be necessary to maintain the Child Protection Plan. However, there are relatively few cases where safeguarding issues will remain and a child will also have a Child Protection Plan. These are likely to be where the Local Authority has obtained an Interim Care Order in family proceedings but the child who is subject to a Child Protection Plan remains at home, pending the outcome of the final hearing or where a young person’s behaviour is likely to result in Significant Harm.

Where a Looked After child remains the subject of a Child Protection Plan there should be a single planning and review process, led by the Independent Reviewing Officer. This will mean that the timing of the review of the child protection aspects of the Care Plan should be the same as the Looked After Review.

3.4 The Care Plan for a Voluntarily Accommodated Child

Most children who start to be Looked After have been known to Children’s Specialist Services for some time. Where a child is voluntarily accommodated it should be possible for the Social Worker to begin the Care Planning process in advance of the care episode by assessing the child’s needs for services to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development and prepare a Care Plan. Where this is not possible it should be prepared within 10 working days of the start of the first placement.

The assessment of the child’s needs must consider whether the accommodation to be provided for the child meets the requirements as set out in Children Act 1989 Part 3. The Care Plan will reflect the multi-agency contribution necessary to ensure it addresses the full range of the child’s developmental needs in order to improve his/ her outcomes. Where the young person who is to be accommodated is over the age of 16 the Social Worker should agree the Care Plan with the young person.

3.5 The Care Plan for a Child Subject to Section 31A of the 1989 Act (Court Care Plan)

Where an application has been made for a Care Order the Social Worker must within the timetable set by Court, prepare a Care Plan and no order can be made until the Court has considered that plan. An essential element of the Court Care Plan is the plan for permanence for the child. The quality and robustness of this plan will be critical in the Court making a decision on whether the Care Order is the most appropriate way to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare.

While there is no requirement for a formal agreement by the parent to the Court Care Plan the Social Worker must ensure that the parents have been appropriately consulted and that the reasons why their views have or have not been acted upon is recorded.

Where the Social Worker has identified Adoption as the planned permanence option the Placement Order application must be made as part of the Care Proceedings.

3.6 The Content of the Care Plan

The Social Worker must complete the Care Plan before a child becomes Looked After and in all circumstances a Care Plan must be completed by the social worker and signed by the relevant team manager. A Care Plan is not required for each period of a series of short-term breaks (respite) where the day to day arrangements are the same. In such cases the Social Worker will prepare the Care Plan for the first break. In drawing up the Care Plan a contingency plan should be put in place in the event that the Care Plan is not achievable.

It is important that the Care Plan records information which will help the child, parent or child’s carer understand why decisions have been or are being made. The Care Plan should set out:

  • Information about the long term plan for the child, including timescales (Permanence Plan);
  • Arrangements to meet the child’s needs in relation to:
    • Health (Health Plan);
    • Education and training (Personal Education Plan);
    • Emotional and behavioural development;
    • Identity with regard to religious persuasion, racial origin, cultural and linguistic background;
    • Family and social relationships;
    • Social presentation and self care skills;
    • Contact with a sibling who is also Looked After but not placed with the child;
    • Details of any Court orders made under section 8 or section 34;
    • Promoting and maintaining contact with a parent and anyone else with Parental Responsibility.
  • Details of the Placement Plan and why the placement was chosen;
  • Name of the Independent Reviewing Officer;
  • Details of the Health Plan and Personal Education Plan;
  • Wishes and feelings of relevant people about the arrangements for the child and any proposed changes to the Care Plan.

The Social Worker should make the Independent Reviewing Officer aware of any significant changes to the Care Plan which may mean bringing forward the date of the next statutory Looked After Review.

The Social Worker should agree the Care Plan with:

  • Parent;
  • Anyone with Parental Responsibility;
  • The person who was caring for the child immediately before being taken into care;
  • The child’s school or education service;
  • Relevant health CCG or Trust.

3.7 Care Proceedings

Where Local Authorities are seeking a Care Order, the Court will require a Care Plan.


Appendix 1: The Revised Legal Framework For Looked After Children

Click here to view Appendix 1: The Revised Legal Framework for Looked After Children diagram.


Appendix 2: Criteria for a Child / Young Person becoming Looked After

Section 31 Children Act 1989 (Care or Supervision Order)

The Court may make an order (Care Order or Supervision Order) that places a child in the care of the Local Authority when the child concerned is suffering, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm; and that the harm, or likelihood of harm, is attributable to:

  1. The care given to the child, or likely to be given to him if the order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give to him; or
  2. The child’s being beyond parental control.

No Care Order or Supervision Order may be made with respect to a child who has reached the age of seventeen (or sixteen, in the case of a child who is married).

No Care Order may be made with respect to a child until the Court has considered a section 31A plan.

The Local Authority designated in a Care Order must be:

  1. The authority within whose area the child is ordinarily resident; or
  2. Where the child does not reside in the area of a Local Authority, the authority within whose area any circumstances arose in consequence of which the order is being made.

Section 38 Children Act 1989 (Interim Care Order)

In any proceedings on an application for a Care Order or Supervision Order, the proceedings are adjourned; or the Court gives a direction under section 37(1), the Court may make an Interim Care Order or an Interim Supervision Order with respect to the child concerned.

The Court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for believing that the circumstances with respect to the child are as mentioned above for Section 31.

The Court will specify the period for an interim order, but will cease to have an effect on whichever of the following events first occurs:

  • The expiry of the period of eight weeks beginning with the date on which the order is made;
  • If the order is the second or subsequent such order made with respect to the same child in the same proceedings, the expiry of the relevant period;
  • The disposal of the application where the application for an order is adjourned;
  • The disposal of an application for an order where the Court gave directions;
  • Where the Court has given a direction but no application for a Care Order or Supervision Order has been made with respect to the child, and the expiry of the period fixed by that direction.

“The relevant period” means:

  1. The period of four weeks beginning with the date on which the order in question is made;

    or
  1. The period of eight weeks beginning with the date on which the first order was made if that period ends later than the period mentioned in paragraph (a).

Section 20 Children Act 1989

Every Local Authority shall provide accommodation for any Child In Need within their area who appears to them to require accommodation as a result of:

  1. There being no person who has Parental Responsibility for him;
  2. His being lost or having been abandoned; or
  3. The person who has been caring for him being prevented (whether or not permanently, and for whatever reason) from providing him with suitable accommodation or care.

Where a Local Authority provide accommodation for a child who is ordinarily resident in the area of another Local Authority, that other Local Authority may take over the provision of accommodation for the child within:

  1. Three months of being notified in writing that the child is being provided with accommodation; or
  2. Such other longer period as may be prescribed.

Every Local Authority shall provide accommodation for any child in need within their area who has reached the age of sixteen and whose welfare the authority consider is likely to be seriously prejudiced if they do not provide him with accommodation.

A Local Authority may provide accommodation for any child within their area (even though a person who has Parental Responsibility for him is able to provide him with accommodation) if they consider that to do so would safeguard or promote the child’s welfare.

A Local Authority may provide accommodation for any person who has reached the age of sixteen but is under twenty-one in any community home which takes children who have reached the age of sixteen if they consider that to do so would safeguard or promote his welfare.

A Local Authority may not provide accommodation under this section for any child if any person who:

  1. Has Parental Responsibility for him; and
  2. Is willing and able to:
    1. Provide accommodation for him; or
    2. Arrange for accommodation to be provided for him, objects.

Any person who has Parental Responsibility for a child may at any time remove the child from accommodation provided by or on behalf of the Local Authority under this section.

Section 34 Children Act 1989 (Parental Contact)

  1. Where a child is in the care of a Local Authority, the authority shall (subject to the provisions of this section) allow the child reasonable contact with:
    1. His parents;
    2. Any guardian or Special Guardian of his;
    3. Any person who by virtue of section 4A has Parental Responsibility for him;
    4. Where there was a Residence Order / Child Arrangements Order in force with respect to the child immediately before the Care Order was made, the person in whose favour the order was made; and
    5. Where, immediately before the Care Order was made, a person had care of the child by virtue of an order made in the exercise of the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction with respect to children, that person.
  2. On an application made by the authority or the child, the Court may make such order as it considers appropriate with respect to the contact which is to be allowed between the child and any named person;
  3. On an application made by:
    1. Any person mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d) of subsection (1); or
    2. Any person who has obtained the leave of the Court to make the application, the Court may make such order as it considers appropriate with respect to the contact which is to be allowed between the child and that person.
  4. On an application made by the authority or the child, the Court may make an order authorising the authority to refuse to allow contact between the child and any person who is mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d) of subsection (1) and named in the order;
  5. When making a Care Order with respect to a child, or in any family proceedings in connection with a child who is in the care of a Local Authority, the Court may make an order under this section, even though no application for such an order has been made with respect to the child, if it considers that the order should be made;
  6. An authority may refuse to allow the contact that would otherwise be required by virtue of subsection (1) or an order under this section if:
    1. They are satisfied that it is necessary to do so in order to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare; and
    2. The refusal:
      1. Is decided upon as a matter of urgency; and
      2. Does not last for more than seven days.
  7. An order under this section may impose such conditions as the Court considers appropriate;
  8. The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision as to:
    1. The steps to be taken by a Local Authority who have exercised their powers under subsection (6);
    2. The circumstances in which, and conditions subject to which, the terms of any order under this section may be departed from by agreement between the Local Authority and the person in relation to whom the order is made;
    3. Notification by a Local Authority of any variation or suspension of arrangements made (otherwise than under an order under this section) with a view to affording any person contact with a child to whom this section applies.
  9. The Court may vary or discharge any order made under this section on the application of the authority, the child concerned or the person named in the order;
  10. An order under this section may be made either at the same time as the care order itself or later;
  11. Before making a Care Order with respect to any child the Court shall:
    1. Consider the arrangements which the authority have made, or propose to make, for affording any person contact with a child to whom this section applies; and
    2. Invite the parties to the proceedings to comment on those arrangements.


Definitions

According to Children Act 1989 Section 31 (9):

  • “Harm” means ill-treatment or the impairment of health or development (including, for example, impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another);
  • “Development” means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development; “health” means physical or mental health;
  • “Ill-treatment” includes sexual abuse and forms of ill-treatment which are not physical.

Where the question of whether harm suffered by a child is significant turns on the child’s health or development, his health or development shall be compared with that which could reasonably be expected of a similar child.

For further details see Children Act 1989
http://www.workingtogetheronline.co.uk/resources.html

End