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5.1.5 Placement Planning

RELATED CHAPTER

Placement Planning and Disruption Meetings Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in September 2014 to reflect the Children and Families Act 2014 with regard to Child Arrangements Orders which has replaced the ‘Residence Order’.

This chapter is currently under review.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Placement Decision
  3. Placement with Siblings
  4. Accommodation Suitable to Meet the Needs of a Disabled Child
  5. Placement Plan
  6. Placement Plans for Placements Back with Parents
  7. Placement Plans for Short Breaks
  8. Notification of Placement
  9. Termination of a Placement


1. Introduction

Where a placement with the child’s parent is not possible Wirral Council has a responsibility to place a child in their care with suitable accommodation. They must provide the child with the most appropriate placement available that will best promote and safeguard the child’s welfare with one of the following:


2. Placement Decision

In determining the most appropriate placement the Social Worker must give preference to a placement with a Connected Person, i.e. a relative, friend or other person connected with the child, reflecting the principle that children should, wherever possible be brought up in their families and communities. Decision making about placements must be made in the context of the child’s longer term needs for stability and permanence. This applies to not only to placements with unrelated carers but also with parents, other persons with Parental Responsibility and persons in whose favour a Child Arrangements Order has been made before a child became Looked After. Placement decisions must be underpinned by an up to date assessment of the child’s needs and family circumstances.

Wirral Council must ensure that where possible the placement:

  • Allows the child to live near his/ her home;
  • Does not disrupt his/ her education (particularly key stage 4);
  • Enables the child and his/ her sibling live together if also being Looked After by the Local Authority;
  • Is within the Local Authority’s area.


3. Placement with Siblings

An important protective factor for Looked After children is being able to live with their Brothers and Sisters. However, there are a number of reasons why this cannot happen such as:

  • Siblings have entered care at different times;
  • Siblings may have different needs related to past experiences;
  • Emotional and behavioural development and age;
  • A child has been abused by a Brother or Sister;
  • Practical difficulties in accommodating large sibling groups together.

The Social Worker will be required to have a good understanding of family functioning and family history as well as listening to the wishes and feelings of children to allow them to make informed judgements.

If it is likely that Brothers and Sisters are not able to be placed together at the start of the care episode but will remain Looked After for the medium or long term, arrangements should be made as part of each child’s Care Plan which will enable Brothers or Sisters to live together.


4. Accommodation Suitable to Meet the Needs of a Disabled Child

Wirral Council is required to ensure that if a child is disabled the accommodation is suitable for his/ her particular needs. The needs of disabled children may be very different according to the nature of the disability, the impact of any disability on the child’s functioning and individual circumstances.

The Social Worker is required to carry out a thorough assessment of the child’s needs through the Single Assessment and any specialist assessments relating to the child’s disability. This is to ensure that any requirements for his/her accommodation are identified and arrangements are put in place to make certain that the accommodation is suitable. This will include working in partnership with other agencies.


5. Placement Plan

The Placement Plan provides clarity for the child and the child’s carer about how the day to day parenting tasks will be shared between the child’s carer and Wirral Council 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 the carer receives essential information about the child, their health, educational and behavioural needs and how these may affect the child day to day and appropriate strategies for responding to them.

The carer will also need to know about the child’s:

  • Routines;
  • Family;
  • Disabilities or special needs;
  • Religion;
  • Culture;
  • Language spoken at home;
  • Circumstances leading to them becoming Looked After and previous care experiences.

The Social Worker must complete the Placement Plan in advance of the placement and get it agreed and signed by the Practice Manager. If this is not possible it must be done within five working days of the start of the placement.

The Social Worker should also discuss with the carer the objectives of the placement and long term plan for the child and how this fits in with the Care Plan. The Social Worker should give the carer a copy of the Care Plan and ensure they are clear about their role in implementing it.

Before a child is placed the Social Worker must:

Prepare a Placement Plan which will set out in detail how the placement will contribute to the child’s needs and will include the following information:

  • How the child will be cared for on a daily basis:
    • Arrangements for contact;
    • Arrangements for the child’s health;
    • Arrangements for the child’s education and training;
    • Arrangements for advice, support and assistance for the child;
    • Arrangements for the Independent Visitor (if appointed) to visit the child;
    • Circumstances where the placement may be terminated and the child removed;
    • Name and contact details of Independent Reviewing Officer;
    • Name and contact details if an Independent Visitor has been appointed;
    • Name and contact details of the Social Worker;
    • Name and contact details of the Personal Adviser (if an Eligible child);
    • Additional information to be included where the child is placed with parents;
    • Additional information to be included where the child is placed with Foster Carers, in a children’s home or in other arrangements.
  • The child’s wishes and feelings have been ascertained;
  • The Independent Reviewing Officer has been informed.


6. Placement Plans for Placements Back with Parents

Additional information must be provided where arrangements are made to place the child back with his/ her parents. The Placement Plan must include:

  • Details of the support and services which will be provided to the parent during the placement;
  • The parent’s obligation to notify Wirral Council of any relevant change in circumstances;
  • The parent’s obligation to keep information about the child, family or other persons confidential;
  • Circumstances for obtaining approval for the child to live in a household which is not that of the parent;
  • Arrangements for requesting a change to the agreement;
  • Circumstances in which the placement will be terminated.


7. Placement Plans for Short Breaks

Where children are placed in short breaks it will be essential that the short break provider understands the arrangements that Wirral Council propose to put in place to make sure the child is supported. The Placement Plan must be specific about the roles and responsibilities of the placement provider, the Social Worker, Independent Reviewing Officer and other people contributing to the plan for the child’s care.

In the case of an accommodated child placed with a Foster Carer or in a children’s home the Placement Plan must set out the responsibilities of Wirral Council and the child’s parents. It is important for the Social Worker to discuss with parents those areas which they are willing to delegate to Wirral Council and those that they wish to retain.

The plan must include:

  • The safeguarding responsibilities of the provider and Wirral Council;
  • The frequency of visits the child can expect from Wirral Council;
  • Communication arrangements between the provider and Wirral Council;
  • The provider’s responsibility for notifying the child’s Social Worker of any significant changes in the child’s circumstances;
  • Arrangements for giving notice of intention to terminate the placement.


8. Notification of Placement

The Social Worker must give written notification of the arrangements of the child’s 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 to:

  • Child (subject to age and understanding);
  • Parent(s) and those with Parental Responsibility;
  • Any person who has a Child Arrangements Order with a child whether under Section 34 or Section 8;
  • Any person who was caring for the child immediately before the arrangements were made;
  • LAC Named Nurse (Clinical Commissioning Group for the area in which the child is living and if different for the area in which the child is to be placed);
  • GP;
  • LACES;
  • School, institution or person providing education or training;
  • Independent Reviewing Officer;
  • Local Authority where the child is placed, if placed outside Wirral.

The Social Worker may decide not to give notification to any person if to do so would put the child at risk of Significant Harm.

Content of the Notification

The written notification of the arrangements of placement should contain a summary of the proposed arrangements and the objectives covering:

  • Details of the placement;
  • Arrangements for contact;
  • Who is responsible for implementing the Placement Plan;
  • The role of the child’s parent(s) on a day to day basis;
  • The arrangements for enabling the child to live with his/ her parent(s);
  • Contingency arrangements if the placement is unsuccessful.

In the case of an Accommodated child the notification should also set out the agreed arrangements for the ending of the placement.

Child Benefit usually stops once a child has been looked after by a Local Authority for eight consecutive weeks. Therefore, once it is clear that the child will be looked after for longer than eight weeks it will be the Social Worker’s responsibility to notify the Child Benefit Office using the Child Benefit Notification Form which can be found on the Electronic Specialist Services Records System under the sub heading Monitoring and Review.


9. Termination of a Placement

A child’s placement can only be terminated following a review of the child’s case to ensure the views of everyone concerned have been heard, including the child, parents, the child’s carer and other people who were notified when the placement was made. Before terminating a child’s placement the Social Worker must:

  • Make arrangements for the child’s accommodation in accordance with section 22c of the Children Act 1989;
  • Inform the Independent Reviewing Officer;
  • Give written notification of their intention to terminate the placement to:
    • To all persons to whom notification of the placement was given;
    • The person with whom the child is placed;
    • The relevant authority where a child is placed outside the area.

The above does not apply where the Foster Carer or registered manager of the children’s home decide that they are no longer able to continue with the placement of a child, or where a parent of a voluntary accommodated child wishes the child to be returned to their care. If there is no time to conduct a Looked After Review before the child is returned to the parent consideration should be given to conducting a Child in Need review after the child returns home.

The review will provide the opportunity to consider what if any support services could be provided which would avoid the need to terminate the placement. It is the Social Workers responsibility to ensure other arrangements for the child’s placement are made before terminating the current placement.

Where there is an immediate risk of Significant Harm to the child or to protect others from serious injury the child’s placement should be terminated and in those circumstances:

  • The child’s placement does not have to be reviewed if it is not reasonably practicable to notify the relevant people about terminating the placement. It should be done within ten working days of the placement being terminated.

End