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5.1.16 Delegation of Authority Policy

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This Policy applies to all who are involved in planning and providing placements for children and young people in the care of Wirral Council either ‘in house’ or via Independent Fostering Providers.

RELATED GUIDANCE

AMENDMENT

This chapter was added updated in March 2017 by adding a link to BMA Consent Tool Kit, (see Section 10.1, Medical Consent and Treatment). Please reference as required.


Contents

1. Policy Statement
2. Scope
3. Definition of Delegated Authority
4. Objectives of Delegation of Authority
5. Legal Context
6. Involving Children & Young People in Decisions
7. Types of Consent
8. Key Principles of Delegated Authority
9. The Placement Plan
10. Guidance on Key Areas of Decision Making
  10.1 Medical Consent and Treatment
  10.2 Prescribed Medication
  10.3 Permission for Schools to Administer Medication
  10.4 Immunisations
  10.5 Testing for Blood Born Virus
  10.6 Emergency Treatment
  10.7 Planned Medical Treatment
  10.8 Medical Procedures Carried Out At Home
  10.9 Dental Treatment
  10.10 Routine Medicals/ Examinations by Community Paediatrician
  10.11 Opticians
  10.12 Education
  10.13 School Trips/ School Residential Holidays
  10.14 Meetings with School Staff
  10.15 Personal Health and Social Education
  10.16 Accessing Leisure Activities within the Community
  10.17 Participating in Adventurous Activities
  10.18 Sporting Activities (including Swimming) 
  10.19 Visiting Friends (Including Overnight Stays)
  10.20 Holidays in the UK
  10.21 Using Computers
  10.22 Photographs and Media Activity
  10.23 Mobile Phones
  10.24 Accessing Social Network Sites
  10.25 Part Time Employment
  10.26 Contact 
  10.27 Attendance at a Place of Worship
  10.28 New or Changes in Faith or Religion
  10.29 Gender Issues
  10.30 Haircuts
11. Areas Where Authority Cannot Be Delegated
  11.1 Name Change
  11.2 Holidays Abroad
  11.3 Passport Application
  11.4 Choosing a School
  11.5 Change of School
  11.6 Referral for a Child Access Another Service (e.g. CAMHS)
  11.7 Body Piercing
  11.8 Tattoos
12. Decisions Requiring Service Manager Clearance
  12.1 Physical Intervention
  12.2 Treatment Involving Anaesthetic
  12.3 Discontinuation of Medical Treatment
  Appendix 1: Definition of an ‘Adventurous Activity’
  Appendix 2: Delegated Authority - Placement Authority Checklist


1. Policy Statement

Local Authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of looked after children. If clear plans are not put in place decision making about who undertakes care related tasks becomes more complicated when a child or young person is in a Foster or Residential Placement Care. The balance of what is retained and what is delegated can change over time as the child’s needs and wishes change, so it is important that these plans are reviewed on a regular basis.

Wirral Council will work in Partnership with Foster Carers, Registered Managers, Residential Support Staff, Social Workers, young people, parents and Professionals to ensure that proper planning takes place from the start of a placement. This will help to clarify the responsibilities of individuals, identify what support they can expect to receive and establish how often the information in relation to delegated authority will be reviewed.

Wirral Council will work in Partnership to ensure that:

  1. Placements are strengthened to support placement stability by authorising Foster Carers and Residential Support Workers to make everyday decisions relating to children in care that are flexible and within safe and legal limits;
  2. Social Workers will make suitable arrangements for the delegation of authority within the Placement Plan or Individual Placement Agreement (IPA). They will work sensitively with parents to encourage and support their contribution and involvement in the planning processes for their children. They will also ensure that Foster Carers and Residential Support Staff are well prepared and clear about their responsibilities;
  3. Foster Carers are respected and treated as co-professionals in their undertaking to keep children safe and promote their life chances. They will be fully involved in Planning Meetings, given clear information about their responsibilities and offered appropriate training. Any skill gaps will be urgently addressed so that Foster Carers are able to carry out their parenting role effectively;
  4. Children and young people in care will be allowed the same opportunities to take part in normal everyday activities as would be reasonably granted by their parents. They will be central to care planning and have meaningful opportunities to be involved in the decisions about delegated authority within their day to day life.


2. Scope

This Policy applies to all who provide placements for children and young people in the care of Wirral Council either ‘in-house’ or via Independent Fostering Providers.


3. Definition of Delegated Authority

Delegated authority refers to the arrangement for all or some of the responsibilities held by a person with parental responsibility to be undertaken by someone else. When authority is delegated to a Foster Carer or a Residential Support Worker it does not mean that the child’s parents lose parental responsibility.

Parental Responsibility is defined in law as:

‘All rights, duties, powers and responsibilities and authority which a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his/ her property’.

A person with delegated authority can only make decisions and do what they are authorised to do; unless it is an emergency in which case the law states that a person who has care for a child may ‘do what is reasonable in all circumstances of the case for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child’s welfare.’

It is important that there is clarity around decision making so that:

  1. Foster Carers, Residential Support Staff and young people are clear about who can agree and make decisions on the behalf of looked after children so they are not stigmatised and do not miss out due to delay;
  2. Parents know that they are still relevant in their children’s lives and understand the decision making process;
  3. Social Workers can give consistent advice in relation to delegated authority to Foster Carers and Residential Support Staff.

Where the child is voluntarily accommodated under Section 20 of the Children’s Act 1989 the local authority does not have parental responsibility. The local authority does have Parental Responsibility where there is a Care Order or Emergency Protection Order. The Foster Carer never has parental responsibility.

If a child is being voluntarily accommodated the child’s Care Plan, which will include arrangements for the delegation of authority should be agreed with the child’s parents and anyone else who has parental responsibility, as far as it is reasonably practicable. If the young person is aged 16 or 17 the Care Plan must also be agreed with them. The Local Authority cannot restrict a person’s right to exercise parental responsibility unless there is a Care Order or an Emergency Protection Order in place.

Where a child is subject to a Care Order or an Emergency Protection Order, the Local Authority should, wherever possible and appropriate, consult parents and others with parental responsibility for the child. The views of parents and others with parental responsibility should be complied with unless it is not consistent with the child’s welfare.

It is important to build effective relationships between parents and others with parental responsibility so that they understand what is meant by delegated authority and are reassured that appropriate delegation is in the best interests of their child. If parents initially feel that they are unable to delegate responsibility it should be recorded in the Placement Plan and kept under review through the care planning process as it is possible that this may change as relationships and trust are established.

Where a parent is unable to engage in the discussions about delegation of authority for whatever reason, or refuses to do so, the Local Authority will need to take a view. If the Local Authority has a Care Order, then they can exercise their parental responsibility without the parent. Where the Local Authority does not have parental responsibility they can still do what is reasonable in the circumstances for the purpose of safeguarding and promoting the child’s welfare.


4. Objectives of Delegation of Authority

The main objectives of delegation of authority are:

  1. To normalise the experience of young people in foster care & residential settings;
  2. To reduce the delays in decision making;
  3. To give greater clarity about who is best placed to do what;
  4. To encourage more detailed discussions, forward planning and transparency regarding agreement and consent issues.


5. Legal Context

The Government is clear that Foster Carers and Residential Support Workers should be authorised to make everyday decisions about children in care wherever possible, within the legal framework. The key statutory guidance highlights the importance of Social Workers liaising closely with parents, children, Foster Carers and Residential Support Workers from the start of a placement to ensure proper planning takes place in relation to delegated authority.

Key Statutory Guidance that cites delegated authority includes:

  • The Children Act 1989 Statutory Guidance Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2010). Chapter 3 addresses the placement including the Placement Plan and shared responsibilities and consents;
  • The Children Act 1989 Statutory Guidance Volume 4: Fostering Services: Chapter 3 contains a section on Foster Carers’ delegated authority and also refers to delegated authority in sections on contact with family and friends; achieving healthy outcomes for looked after children and educational achievement;
  • The Children Act 1989 Statutory Guidance Volume 1: Court Orders. Chapter 3 contains a section on the effect of Care Orders;
  • The revised National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services (2011) address decision making in the following areas:
    • Standard 6 (decisions about health);
    • Standard 7 (decision-making about education, leisure activities, overnight stays, holidays and personal issues such as haircuts);
    • Standard 9 (delegation of decision-making about contact).
  • The IRO handbook: Statutory Guidance for Independent Reviewing Officers and Local Authorities addresses their functions in relation to case management and review for looked after children;
  • The National Minimum Standards applicable for providers of children’s homes together with the regulations such as the Children’s Homes Regulations 2001 form the basis of the regulatory framework under the Care Standards ACT 2000 for the conduct of children’s home providers.


6. Involving Children & Young People in Decisions

Day to day parenting of a looked after child involves lots of different decisions and actions; any decision about delegation of authority must consider the views of the child. In some cases a child will be of sufficient age and understanding to make decisions themselves. When deciding whether a child or young person has sufficient understanding to make a decision the following questions should be considered:

  1. Can the child or young person understand the question being asked of them?
  2. Does the child or young person appreciate the options open to them?
  3. Can the child or young person weigh up the pros and cons of each option?
  4. Can the child or young person express a clear personal view on the matter, as distinct from repeating what someone else thinks they should do?
  5. Can the child or young person be reasonably consistent in their view on the matter or are they constantly changing their mind?


7. Types of Consent

Signatures are required for some medical procedures and for children or young people to take some activities or access some services. Other activities involve an element of ‘informed consent’, but require no signature. Finally, in addition to these, there are the decisions about everyday personal care given by the Foster Carer or Residential Support Worker. Some examples of the different type of consents and delegation are:

  • Written/ Signed Consent is required in specific instances e.g. passports, medical consent or trips;
  • Implicit Consent is where no signature is required but consent issues exist concerning the young person’s care or about an activity which they wish to partake in e.g. optician appointments, overnight stays or Facebook;
  • Day to Day Decisions include decisions involving the Foster Carers’ own personal care of the young person, e.g. arrangements for pocket money, transport issues, bedtime routine, choices of food, etc.


8. Key Principles of Delegated Authority

  1. Effective delegation of authority should reduce delays in decision making and increase the child’s opportunity to enjoy their childhood and experience a full family life;
  2. Delegated authority is about everyone meeting to establish as far as possible, the areas in which decisions can be delegated before the need to take them occurs;
  3. Young people’s views and feelings should be taken into account when discussing the issues in relation to delegated authority;
  4. Parents must be supported and informed about delegated authority so that they can play as full a part as possible in their children’s lives;
  5. Foster Carers and Residential Support Workers should be enabled and supported to make everyday decisions about looked after children where appropriate. In long term placements this is even more important;
  6. Decisions about delegation of authority should be based on good quality assessments of needs and identification of risks involved for both the individual child and the carer;
  7. Foster Carers and Residential Support Workers should be trained and supported to assess risk in areas in which they are authorised to make decisions.


9. The Placement Plan

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 require each looked after child to have a Placement Plan which is recorded on the Placement Information Record on ICS. This is contained within the looked after child’s Care Plan. The Placement Plan must be drawn up by the Social Worker before the child is placed or if that is not possible, within five days of the start of the placement. It should clearly detail who has the authority to take decisions in key areas of the child’s day to day life, including:

  • Medical or dental treatment;
  • Education;
  • Leisure and home life;
  • Faith and religious observance;
  • Use of social media;
  • Any other areas of decision making considered relevant with respect to the particular child.

Placement Planning Meetings should be convened as part of the process of identifying and placing a child as set out in the Placements in Foster Care Procedure and the Placements in Residential Care and Principles in Matching Procedure.

The Placement Planning Meeting is a forum to share information about the placement and to establish who has the authority to make decisions about the child or young person that they are caring for. It should be focused on ensuring that the day to day needs of the child or young person are met with the minimum of disruption.

Social Workers, Foster Carers, Residential Support Workers, parents and children (subject to their age and understanding) should attend a Placement Planning Meeting to discuss the Placement Plan before the placement begins. Where this is not possible it should be done within five days of the start of the placement.

The Placement Authority Checklist has been created to support Social Workers in liaising with parents, children, Foster Carers and Residential Support Staff to ensure effective planning takes place from the start of a placement. The Placement Authority Checklist can be found on ESCR and will act as an aid to discuss and identify the permissions that each party will have and offer clarity about who will be responsible for carrying out which task. This should be signed and a copy given to all parties, including the Foster Carer’s Supervising Social Worker or the Residential Manager and Independent Reviewing Officer to ensure that everyone is aware of the permissions that have been given to the Foster Carer or Residential Support Worker (For further information see the Placement Planning and Disruption Meetings Procedure and the Placement Planning Procedure).

The Placement Plan is a living document and must be regularly reviewed. The Independent Reviewing Officer must consider the issues within delegated authority at every review along with the other plans within the overall Care Plan. Any changes must be incorporated into the Placement Plan by the child’s Social Worker.

The balance and distribution of responsibilities will differ in individual placements depending on factors such as:

  • The age and views of the child;
  • The experience of the carer;
  • The legal status of the placement;
  • The nature and length of the placement;
  • The role and involvement of the parent;
  • The training, experience and confidence of the Foster Carers.


10. Guidance on Key Areas of Decision Making

The following areas are some of the key areas where decisions or consents are required:

10.1 Medical Consent and Treatment

Medical consent for routine medical treatment to a child who is subject of a Care Order should be recorded in the Placement Plan and signed for by the Social Worker’s Manager.

Young people aged 16 or 17 are presumed to be capable of consenting to their own medical treatment, provided the consent is given voluntarily and they are appropriately informed regarding the particular intervention. If the young person is capable of giving valid consent, then it is not legally necessary to obtain consent from a person with parental responsibility. It is however, good practice to involve the young person’s family in the decision making process unless the young person specifically wishes to exclude them.

A child under 16 may be Gillick Competent to consent to medical treatment, i.e. they have sufficient understanding to enable them to understand fully what is involved in a proposed intervention. Deciding whether or not a child is Gillick Competent can be a difficult judgement and legal advice should be sought as necessary. The understanding required for different interventions will vary considerably. Thus a child under 16 may have the capacity to consent to some interventions but not to others. The child’s capacity to consent should be assessed carefully in relation to each decision that needs to be made.

In some cases, for example because of a medical disorder, a child’s mental state may fluctuate significantly, so that on some occasions the child appears Gillick Competent in respect of a particular decision and on other occasions does not. In such cases, legal advice may need to be sought.

If the child is Gillick Competent and is able to give voluntary consent after receiving appropriate information, that consent will be valid and additional consent by a person with parental responsibility will not be required. It is however, good practice to involve the child’s family in the decision making process, if the child consents to their information being shared.

Where a child under the age of 16 lacks capacity to consent (i.e. is not Gillick Competent), consent can be given on their behalf by any one person with parental responsibility. Consent given by one person with parental responsibility is valid, even if another person with parental responsibility withholds consent. However, legal advice may be necessary in such cases.

Where a young person of 16 or 17 who can consent to treatment or a child under 16 who is Gillick Competent, refuses treatment, it is possible that such a refusal could be overruled by a court if it would in all probability lead to the death of the child or to severe permanent injury. Legal advice must be sought.

For further information also see: Consent to Medical Treatment in Foster Carer Placements Procedure.

See also BMA - Consent Tool Kit.

Where necessary the courts can overrule a refusal to consent by a person with Parental Responsibility. For further Information see Department of Health’s Reference Guide to Consent for Examination or Treatment.

10.2 Prescribed Medication

The dosage of prescribed medication would normally be managed by the Foster Carer or Residential Support Worker and kept in a locked medicine cupboard. Foster Carers and Residential Support Staff must record all prescribed medication given to the child and make this information available to their Supervising Social Worker or Residential Manager. Where controlled drugs are used there are legal requirements for the storage, administration, records and disposal of controlled drugs. These are set out in the Misuse of Drugs Act Regulations 2001 and are applicable to Children’s Homes. A separate record of controlled drugs showing a running total of drugs held should be maintained.

10.3 Permission for Schools to Administer Medication

Foster Carers are able to sign forms that give information to schools of medication prescribed for foster children’s medical conditions e.g. asthma or medication to counteract an allergic reaction.

10.4 Immunisations

Foster Carers should have delegated authority wherever possible. Concerns about particular immunisations should be explored with parents at the start of the placement. Where consent has been refused by a parent, Health Professionals must be informed by the Social Worker.

10.5 Testing for Blood Born Virus

Testing for a blood born virus should be authorised by a District Manager or a Service Manager. Consent should be recorded in the Placement Plan (Placement Information Record) and signed by the Practice Manager

10.6 Emergency Treatment

The Placement Plan will consider who can give consent to emergency treatment. Foster Carers must seek consent from parents and District Manager/ Service Manager within the local authority. In exceptional circumstances Foster Carers can give consent in an emergency if senior staff are unavailable but they must seek the advice of medical staff. Medical staff can act in an emergency on the basis of a medical need. District Managers/Service Managers within the local authority must be informed at the earliest opportunity.

10.7 Planned Medical Treatment

Planned medical treatment involving surgery and general anaesthetic should be approved by the District or Service Manager. If the treatment poses significant risks then the Head of Specialist Services needs to be consulted.

10.8 Medical Procedures Carried Out At Home

Foster Carers and Residential Support Workers may at times need to offer specialist care for a child with a disability or illness. Training will be offered by a qualified professional and the Placement Plan will reflect this delegation. No one other than the trained carers can carry out these medical procedures.

10.9 Dental Treatment

Foster Carers should be able to consent to routine examinations and treatment wherever possible. This includes pain relief injections in routine dental work. Where a general anaesthetic is required permission must be given by a District Manager/ Service Manager.

10.10 Routine Medicals/ Examinations by Community Paediatrician

Foster Carers should be able to give and sign for consent. Foster Carers can consent to non-invasive examinations as long as this is in line with the child’s Health Action Plan (e.g. a weight management clinic). Invasive examinations should be agreed by the Social Worker beforehand.

10.11 Opticians

Routine eye tests and the ability to order glasses for children or young people if required should be delegated to the Foster Carer.

10.12 Education

The Education Act 1996 defines ‘parent’ as including a person who has care of the child in question. Therefore a child’s Foster Carer or Residential Support Worker is deemed a parent for the purposes of education law. This means, for example that a Foster Carer should be treated like a parent with respect to information provided by a school about the child’s progress; should be invited to meetings about the child and should be able to give consent to decisions regarding school activities.

Young people can sometimes apply in their own right for a place at sixth form or FE College. If they are of compulsory school age their application must also be signed by a parent (which in the context of education includes Foster Carers or Residential Support Workers) confirming their approval of the application. Once they are over compulsory school age they can apply in their own right without the need for parental consent. Young people can also appeal against the refusal of a sixth form place along these lines.

10.13 School Trips/School Residential Holidays

Decisions about activities where risk assessments have been routinely carried out by those organising/ supervising the activity, e.g. school trips, residential holidays or activity breaks, should be delegated to the child’s carer. Where further permissions are required, this will be stated in the Placement Plan (Placement Information Record). Where trips may require additional funding from the local authority, Foster Carers must gain prior agreement from the child’s Social Worker. Any implications for contact arrangements will need to be considered.

This policy applies regardless of whether or not the activities take place within or outside of normal working hours including weekends and holiday periods. Wirral Council has formally adopted Outdoor Education Advisor Panel (OEAP) ‘National Guidance’ as the source guidance for this policy from the OEAP National Guidance website.

10.14 Meetings with School Staff

These include parents’ evenings, Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings and unplanned meetings in response to incidents or immediate issues. The Foster Carer will usually meet school staff, but must keep the child’s Social Worker informed. Steps to keep the parents involved must be considered.

10.15 Personal Health and Social Education

A child or young person’s involvement in school provision for sex and relationship education should be discussed at the Placement Planning Meeting and the parents’ wishes identified. If it is agreed that the child or young person attends, the carer should be able to consent to any school documentation within the home. Unless parents have expressed particular wishes about what they want their child to be told, a Foster Carer should respond as any reasonable parent would by giving consent.

10.16 Accessing Leisure Activities within the Community

Children who are looked after should have the same opportunities as any other child or young person. It is important that the Foster Carer considers a child’s past experience so they can take full advantage of out of school activities (e.g. football, clubs, guides, youth provision and organized activities). 

Foster carers are delegated the task of providing annual consent for regular routine activities wherever possible. The Social Worker must discuss and agree the consent form for adventurous activities which will last for a period of three months at the Placement Planning Meeting. This will cover a child’s participation in activities organised by Wirral Council. These include residential holidays and all activities that take place at anytime (including during school holidays or at the weekend). Carers must be given full details of each activity or visit and provided with any other significant information such as risk assessments, etc. Prior to carers granting consent they must be given the opportunity to withdraw their child from any particular activity or visit covered by the form. Carers must ensure that they have robust means of ensuring that changes to contact and medical details are up to date. For Further Information see the Delegated Consents to Outings Procedure.

10.17 Participating in Adventurous Activities

Early anticipation and discussion about children participating in adventurous activities is important and prior consultation with parents and the local authority will usually be necessary. The local authority must ensure that the necessary insurance is in place to cover young people in the event of accident. If the Foster Carer is delegated to take decisions on activities which could cause an injury e.g. horse riding, skiing or climbing they need to ensure the young person has the appropriate safety equipment, proper supervision and insurance.

The definition of an adventurous activity (See Appendix 1: Definition of an ‘Adventurous Activity’) is one that takes place in a challenging environment that can present technical or environmental complexity in the organisation or delivery of the activity. Many adventure activities have well established National Governing bodies that train, assess and validate the competency of staff to lead in the activity (See Appendix 1: Definition of an ‘Adventurous Activity’).

10.18 Sporting Activities (including Swimming)

Foster Carers should be able to support and consent to these activities unless there are particular issues that prevent their involvement. Based on knowledge of the child’s needs an approach can be planned and recorded as part of carers Safer Care Policy.

10.19 Visiting Friends (Including Overnight Stays)

Statutory guidance is clear that unless there is good reason, the Foster Carer should be authorised to act as a good parent in decisions regarding visits to friends. They should take reasonable steps to get to know the parents and the benefits and risks involved in supporting the child or young person to develop social links. For further information see the Overnight Stays and Social Visits Procedure.

10.20 Holidays in the UK

Holidays will usually require discussion with the parent and consultation with the local authority for both funding and contact implications. Foster Carers should ensure that the local authority is given adequate notice and that both the parent and the local authority know the whereabouts of the child/young person. Wirral Council does not support Foster Carers taking children on holidays within the school term. Whilst arrangements should be in place to allow short notice holidays, (especially in relation to school trips, cheap holiday deals etc), carers should give notice of their intention to book as far in advance of actually doing so as possible. The planning of all holidays needs to take account of contact arrangements for the child. For further information see the Holidays and School Trips in the UK Procedure.

10.21 Using Computers

Computers can be used to support learning in and out of school. Awareness of issues in relation to children’s safety online needs to be considered. Procedures and advice can be found in the Internet Safety Procedure, Wirral LSCB Procedures Manual, E-Safety: Safeguarding Children and Young People using Digital and Interactive Technology Procedure and from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency ThinkUKnow on the parents and carers pages.

10.22 Photographs and Media Activity

Foster Carers can consent to school photos unless specifically excluded in the Placement Plan. This should be judged in relation to risk and any restriction on the child’s photo or name appearing in the media, based on good assessment and specified in the Placement Plan.

Foster Carers taking family photographs should be common practice although Wirral Council is clear that pictures including looked after children/young people cannot be posted on social networking sites. 

Other types of photos and media activity are more problematic as they may present with issues of confidentiality and safeguarding. The age and competency of the young person must be factored in. If Foster Carers are unsure they should speak to their Supervising Social Worker or the young person’s Social Worker.

10.23 Mobile Phones

Young people’s access to mobile phones should be specified in the Placement Plan and regularly reviewed.

10.24 Accessing Social Network Sites

Initially discussion with the child’s social worker is advisable in order to consider any specific safeguarding issues. The child must be 13 or over and foster carers need to perform a role in reviewing the usage. Foster Carers and Residential Support Staff will require ongoing training.

10.25 Part Time Employment

Young people are only allowed to work once they are 13 years of age. Young people are not allowed to work before 7am or after 7pm.

10.26 Contact

Contact arrangements will be formalised in the Placement Plan (Placement Information Record) and any changes must be agreed at a review meeting. In established placements Foster Carers may have a degree of decision making if parameters are clear and agreed in advance.

In most cases the Social Worker will arrange the contact and arrange for formal supervision if required. Foster Carers are routinely asked to transport children to contact and at times facilitate contact, especially between siblings. Over the course of a longer placement, these tasks may be delegated to the Foster Carers when the circumstances and any risks are well established. The decision to apply for an order authorising the authority to refuse contact must be made by a Senior Manager.

The District Manager/ Service Manager can make the decision to refuse parental contact with a child subject to a Care Order for up to seven days in an emergency when it is necessary to do so in order to safeguard or promote the child’s welfare. They must also set a date to review the decision and seek legal advice as to whether to return to Court for an order under Section 34(4) of the Children Act.

The Practice Manager/ Team Manager can authorise contact of a looked after child with parents. For further information see the Contact with Parents, Siblings, Relatives and Connected Persons Procedure.

10.27 Attendance at a Place of Worship

It should be specified in the Placement Plan if permission is required from a birth parent for a child to attend a place of worship.

10.28 New or Changes in Faith or Religion

Foster Carers cannot actively persuade a child or young person to change their faith or religion. If a fostered child or young person wishes to change their faith or religion, full consideration should be given to the longer term implications in a review. (This does not prevent children or young people being placed with a foster family of a different faith or religion).

10.29 Gender Issues

Children and young people have a right to explore their own identity and sexuality. It is therefore important for Residential Support Staff and Foster Carers to work with children and young people regarding their development and understanding of their own identity. They will provide information, support and guidance about health, development and sexuality.

If Residential Support Workers or Foster Carers feel unsure of the issues relating to equalities they should seek the advice of their managers, colleagues or Supervising Social Workers. They should also discuss the issues in supervision and seek training to help them recognise the dilemmas that young people experience and learn how to deal with them effectively.

10.30 Haircuts

This is often a sensitive issue and must be fully explored with parents at the outset of the placement. If possible, consent should be delegated to carers but cultural and religious significance must be taken into account.


11. Areas Where Authority Cannot Be Delegated

11.1 Name Change

The Senior Manager, Children In Care and Specialist Services can give permission for a child subject to a Care Order to be known by a new surname as long as they have had agreement of everyone with parental responsibility or the leave of the court. For further Information see the Change of Name of a Looked After Child Procedure.

11.2 Holidays Abroad

For a looked after child to travel overseas someone with parental responsibility must always give consent. Parental permission will be sought for a child who is voluntarily accommodated under Section 20 and where appropriate for a child on a care order. In all cases there should be clarity at the outset of the placement about consents and passports. The possibility of foreign travel should be discussed with parents in principle.

A District Manager/ Service Manager can give permission for a child to go abroad for a period of less than one month, including authorising and signing a passport application for a child who is the subject of a Care Order. For further information see the Holidays and School Trips Outside the UK Procedure.

11.3 Passport Application

Wirral Council has made an undertaking that all children should be equipped with a passport upon entry into care. If this has not already been arranged for children already being looked after, application should be made so that flexibility exists for children to take up opportunities within or outside of the fostering household. Obtaining a passport can create delay with travel plans.  If the plan for the child is long term it should be identified at the 4 month review that a passport application should be made for the child. For further Information see the Passport Applications Made on Behalf of Children in Care Guidance Notes.

11.4 Choosing a School

The choice of school should be discussed with, and agreed by the child and holders of parental responsibility. Foster Carers should then be able to accept the plan and sign relevant forms.

11.5 Change of School

This needs to be agreed at a review meeting as the impact on the child/young person may be significant.

11.6 Referral for a Child Access Another Service (e.g. CAMHS)

Social Workers must complete a referral to gain access to another service. This should be agreed in consultation with the Foster Carer, parent and young person.

11.7 Body Piercing

Young People should be assisted to understand the health and aesthetic implications of body piercing. There will be circumstances when Social Workers, Foster Carers or parents disagree but have to accept that the young person is of an age to make such a decision for themselves. There is no minimum age requirement for body piercing and Wirral do not currently register body piercers as we have not adopted the relevant bylaws. However, in Wirral most body piercers have registered as ear piercers and it is recommended that they do not pierce anybody under 16, particularly genital piercings, etc. as there may be a possibility of them being charged with assault (police enforced).

11.8 Tattoos

It is a legal requirement under the Tattooing of Minors Act 1969 that no one under the age of 18 can be tattooed. However, there are people who are illegally tattooing from their own homes. Getting a tattoo by an unregistered tattooist may give rise to health problems such as contracting hepatitis or HIV, etc as they have not been assessed for hygienic practices.


12. Decisions Requiring Service Manager Clearance

12.1 Physical Intervention

Services may at any time be required to provide support to a small number of children who may demonstrate anti social and or aggressive behaviour. The outcome of which may result in injury to themselves, other children receiving a service, staff or members of the public. The children may be supported in residential, short breaks provision or foster care.

Where physical interventions are a planned part of the child‘s support programme they will be used in conjunction with other strategies designed to help the child to acquire alternative methods of anger management and problem resolution. Where the child needs support with communication or behavioural approaches these will be identified in their Care Plan.

Guidelines produced by the Department of Health will assist services in deciding when and how to use a form of restrictive physical intervention.

Key philosophies are:

  1. That physical intervention should only be used as a last resort;
  2. A range of diversionary, reactionary and proactive strategies are to be used in advance of having to resort to physical intervention;
  3. The decision to use physical intervention and the circumstances in which it is to be used is to be made and recorded by a multidisciplinary team;
  4. All uses of physical intervention are to be recorded;
  5. Risk Management Plans, involving the use of physical intervention are to be regularly reviewed;
  6. Use of Physical Intervention Strategies should be agreed within a multi disciplinary meeting and authorised by a Service Manager where appropriate.

12.2 Treatment Involving Anaesthetic

Foster Carers must inform the Fostering Service who will seek advice from a Service Manager. In out of hours situations the Emergency Duty Team must be contacted who can contact a relevant manager. Parents will be consulted wherever possible. In exceptional circumstances which require immediate action, the Foster Carer would need to be guided by the medical practitioners and inform the social work service at the earliest opportunity. The Social Worker will work with the Foster Carer to consult with and liaise with the child’s parents. Where no agreement can be reached over whether the treatment is in the child’s best interest, a senior manager can make the decision to proceed if a compelling medical rationale has been established.

12.3 Discontinuation of Medical Treatment

Foster Carers must inform the Fostering Service who will seek advice from a Service Manager. In out of hours situations the Emergency Duty Team must be contacted who can contact a relevant manager. Parents will be consulted wherever possible. In exceptional circumstances which require immediate action, the Foster Carer would need to be guided by the Medical Practitioners and inform the Social Work Service at the earliest opportunity.


Appendix 1: Definition of an ‘Adventurous Activity’

The following activities are regarded as ‘adventurous’ and require local authority approval:

  • All activities in ‘open country’ (see below);
  • Swimming (all forms excluding publicly lifeguarded pools);
  • Water margin activities;
  • Camping;
  • Canoeing/ Kayaking;
  • Sailing/ Windsurfing/ Kite Surfing;
  • Rafting or Improvised Rafting;
  • Use of Powered Safety/Rescue Craft;
  • All other forms of Boating (excluding commercial transport);
  • Water skiing;
  • Snorkel and Aqualung Activities;
  • Hill Walking and Mountaineering;
  • Rock Climbing (including climbing walls);
  • Abseiling;
  • River/Gorge Walking or Scrambling;
  • Coasteering/ Coastal Scrambling/ Sea Level Traversing;
  • Underground Exploration;
  • Shooting and Archery;
  • Snow Sports (Skiing/ Snowboarding and related activities);
  • Dry Slope Skiing;
  • Air Activities (excluding commercial flights);
  • Horse Riding;
  • Motor Sports (all forms);
  • High Level Ropes Courses;
  • Off Road Cycling;
  • ‘Extreme’ Sports;
  • Theme Parks;
  • Other Activities (e.g. Initiative Exercises) involving skills inherent in any of the above;
  • Trampolining.

Open Country

Open country is normally defined as land above 300m or more than 1km from vehicular access. However, this is an arbitrary boundary and there may be occasions where this definition is inappropriate. Please contact the local authority if you think this might apply.


Appendix 2: Delegated Authority - Placement Authority Checklist

Click here to view Appendix 2 Delegated Authority - Placement Authority Checklist.

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