This procedure refers to children and young people who are subject to a Care Order under Section 31 of the Children Act 1989 and the Local Authority are looking to discharge the order because assessments confirm that the Local Authority no longer needs to share parental responsibility. These children and young people are likely to fall in to one of the following categories:
If the matter pertains to the latter group and the Care Plan is to make an application for a Special Guardianship Order (see Applications for Special Guardianship Orders Procedure) or a Child Arrangement Order then the procedure for such is to be followed in concurrence with this procedure.
All children who are subject to statutory involvement with the Local Authority should have a proactive Care Plan which seeks to promote progress to achieve positive outcomes. The Care Plan should be reviewed regularly by all the professionals who are involved with the child. This should be done during Planning Meetings in line within the framework of statutory guidance with the Independent Reviewing Officer and in supervision by a Manager and Social Worker.
If it has been decided at a Looked after Children's Review Meeting and ratified by an Independent Reviewing Officer that it is no longer necessary for the Local Authority to share the Parental Responsibility of a child or young person it must be recorded within the statutory review minutes. Plans are then to be considered and put in place to discharge the Care Order as soon as it is feasibly possible. This will only be done if it is in the child or young person's best interest and considered safe to do so.
If the recommendation of a Looked after Childrens Review supports the Care Plan to discharge a Care Order then a Multi-Agency Discharge Meeting is to be held within 15 working days of the Looked After Children's Review. If for some reason there is an unavoidable delay (for example school holidays or the case needs to be heard at Permanence Panel prior to the Discharge Meeting), the Social Worker is to inform the Independent Reviewing Officer of the reason for the delay. Their views regarding the delay and reasons for discharge are to be recorded and presented to the meeting.
If the Care Plan agreed at the Looked after Review is to make an application for a Special Guardianship Order or Assisted Residence Order then the matter and support plan is to be presented at Permanence Panel for approval prior to the Discharge Meeting being held. It is the responsibility of the Social Worker to ensure that the Wirral Fostering Service is aware of all the decisions agreed to enable them to complete any reports required.
The Discharge Meeting is to be chaired by a District Manager who will arrange for an administrator to take minutes, where possible this will be a trained minute taker. The Social Worker will immediately send the nominated Secretary and District Manager a list of who should be invited to the meeting using the invite template which can be found on the Electronic Social Care Records System (ESCR).
It is the responsibility of the Administrator supporting the District Manager who is Chairing the Discharge Meeting to send out the invites and request reports, from a named person in Education, Health and any other relevant professional involved with the child, young person, family or proposed carer. All professionals will be asked to complete a report which should be returned to the Administrator and be with the District Manager and Social Worker 5 working days prior to the Discharge Meeting.
The meeting will be attended by parents/ carers and professionals who are significant to the child and his/ her family, i.e. Social Worker, School and Health Professionals. If parents/carers and young people do not attend it is the responsibility of the Social Worker to represent their wishes and feelings in the report.
The purpose of the reports from other professionals is to demonstrate Wirral's Children and Young People's Department's ongoing commitment to multi-agency planning and provide the first hand opinion of the other professionals working with the child and his/her family. These reports will be made available to the Court.
5 working days before the meeting the Social Worker will provide the District Manager with the following documents:
The purpose of the Discharge Meeting is primarily to discuss the discharge of the Care Order and ensure that the Care Plan being proposed is in the child or young person's best interest.
A draft individual Care Plan following discharge from care is to be prepared prior to the meeting ready for all those present to approve. Information can be added to the Care Plan during the meeting as necessary and signed by all present at the meeting to approve or disapprove. Any disagreement to the Care Plan must be clearly recorded by the District Manager.
If the plan to discharge the order is not agreed a Care Plan containing the agreed tasks and timescales is to be put in place and where possible a further Discharge Meeting should be arranged within acceptable timescales. It is the Social Worker's Managers responsibility to ensure that the case does not drift.
It is the responsibility of the Administrator supporting the District Manager to provide the minutes of the meeting to consider the discharge of the application of a Care Order. The District Manager is to agree the minutes within 5 working days of the meeting and confirm with their Secretary that the minutes can be distributed. The Administrator supporting the District Manager is responsible for distributing the minutes and the individual Care Plan following discharge from care to all attendee's at the meeting, including the Social Worker. All parties have 5 working days from receipt of the documents to inform The Children and Young People's Department in writing about any discrepancy that they have with the minutes or the Care Plan.
It is the Social Worker's responsibility to inform the Independent Reviewing Officer, Legal Services and their Manager of the outcome of the "Discharge Meeting". This will ensure:
It will be the responsibility of the District Manger chairing the "Discharge Meeting" to ensure the following paperwork is in place:
Within ten working days of the meeting the above pack will go to the Agency Decision Maker who will consider the information and endorse/ not endorse the discharge of the Order. The Agency Decision Maker will inform the District Manager of their decision within 5 working days.
If the discharge of the Care Order is endorsed by the Agency Decision Maker then the Social Worker is to complete the Application for the Discharge of the Care Order on ESCR and file the application with the Local Authority's Legal Department within 10 working days along with the following documents:
The above timescales are not applicable to applications for Child Arrangement Orders or Special Guardianship Orders (see Applications for Special Guardianship Orders Procedure), please refer to relevant policy and procedure.
The Local Authority's Legal Department will paginate the pack and within 10 working days,
It is the Managers responsibility to liaise with the Legal Department and record any development or drift in relation to the application on Liquid Logic. This is to ensure the order is discharged in a timely manner.
Please see the Local Resources to view the Discharge of Care Order Process Map.