SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter reflects statutory guidance in relation to children who are placed by health authorities or local authorities for more than 3 months in residential establishments for educational purposes and children placed in care homes or independent hospitals (including hospices) by health authorities or local authorities (Sections 85 and 86 of the Children Act 1989).
Statutory visits and monitoring of these placements are undertaken by the Responsible Authority (see Section 1.2, The Responsibilities of Authorities – Definitions).
However, note that this guidance is not relevant for Looked After Children – who have their own statutory visiting requirements (see Social Work Visits to Looked After Children Procedure).
DfE/DoH, Statutory visits to children with special educational needs and disabilities or health conditions in long-term residential settings - Statutory guidance for local authorities, health bodies and health or educational establishments (2017)
DfE/DoH, Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years Statutory guidance for organisations which work with and support children and young people who have special educational needs or disabilitiesThis chapter was added to the manual in September 2019.
Children and young people who spend long periods of time living away from home in residential settings are a vulnerable group. They can be vulnerable to abuse, experience a range of poor outcomes and dwindling contact with their families. The likely impact of a placement in long term residential care away from home on children and young people and their families should be an important consideration when making a placement. The local authority or health body making the placement should look to make the placement close to home where possible.
The Children and Families Act 2014 built on measures provided in the Children Act 2004 by requiring local authorities and health commissioning bodies to make joint commissioning arrangements for education, health and social care provision for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Local authorities are also required to integrate education, health care and social care provision where they consider it would promote the wellbeing of such children and young people.
Local authority staff responsible for services for children in need under the Children Act 1989, should be involved in making decisions about residential placements which are being considered by education and/or health colleagues.
When arranging a residential placement, the accommodating authority should have regard to:
Many children who are likely to require residential placements for consecutive periods of more than 3 months will have had a holistic, multi-agency assessment or review of their needs – such as an Education, Health and Care (EHC) (for those who have special educational needs), or a Care and Treatment Review.
There may be exceptions to this where, for example, children or young people are admitted to learning disability hospitals or Assessment and Treatment Units quickly because of urgent mental health needs.
Where this is the case, such a multi-agency assessment must be undertaken as a matter of urgency.
The statutory guidance identifies that where a child is placed away from their parents for longer than 3 months it should be considered whether the child should become looked after within the meaning of the Children Act 1989, particularly Section 20 of the Act.
This decision is a judgment that can only be made after a Single Assessment has been undertaken by a social worker which has included the views of the parents, and others who have parental responsibility, together with the wishes of the child. The full facts and implications of consent should be fully discussed with the parents, and those with parental responsibility (see Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure).
'The Short breaks' chapter in DfE, Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015), 'Deciding which provision is most appropriate for the child' may provide a useful framework for making such a decision.
Accommodating authority: The health body or local authority which is arranging the placement for a child or young person.
Host authority: The local authority in which the institution providing the placement is situated.
Home authority: The local authority in whose area the child or young person is ordinarily resident.
Responsible authority: The local authority that is responsible for monitoring and reviewing the progress and well-being of a child or young person who is placed in long-term residential care, and for arranging visits in order to safeguard and promote their welfare.
|Responsibility for Visits to Children and Young People Placed in Long-Term Residential Settings|
|Placement is within the local authority area where child is ordinarily resident – the home local authority.||Placement is within the area of a local authority area where the child is not ordinarily resident – the host local authority.|
|Child or young person is placed in a residential setting
(Under section 85 of Children Act 1989)
|Home local authority is the responsible authority||Home local authority is the responsible authority|
|Child or young person is placed in a residential care home or independent hospital
(Under Section 86 of Children Act 1989)
|Home local authority is the responsible authority||Host local authority is the responsible authority|
From: DfE/DoH, Statutory visits to children with special educational needs and disabilities or health conditions in long-term residential settings - Statutory guidance for local authorities, health bodies and health or educational establishments (2017)
If the placement is in the area of another local authority, the responsible local authority will depend on whether the placement is in an educational or a health setting.
Where the host authority is the responsible authority as set out in the table above, it is considered good practice for the accommodating authority to ensure that the home local authority is also made aware of the placement without delay. The home local authority should consider whether any duties are owed to the child living in their area including providing services under Section 17 Children Act 1989.
Discussions should normally take place between the accommodating authority, the responsible local authority, education, social care and health professionals, and the child or young person and family, before a child or young person is placed in a residential setting. It is recognised that this may not be possible when an admission is as a result of a child's urgent health needs.
Formal notification of all placements should be made without delay so that the responsible authority can fulfil its statutory duty to visit the child or young person living in their area to ensure their welfare is safeguarded and promoted:
When a child or young person is placed in an educational establishment, the accommodating authority must ensure that the Director of Children's Services of the local authority where the child or young person is ordinarily resident (the 'home' authority) is notified of the placement.
Where it is not the accommodating authority, it is important for the relevant Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) also to be made aware of the placement so that it is prepared for any subsequent financial responsibilities for a health care element of the placement.
|Where the child or family have not been resident in any local authority area prior to the placement (where they have come from abroad for example) the accommodating authority must notify the host authority – which then also becomes the Responsible Authority.|
Parents or carers with parental responsibility who have children and young people with learning disabilities and/or autism who are in a 52-week residential school, should be offered the opportunity to have their child's name on the CCG 'at risk of admission' register (Care and Treatment Review Policy 2015) to assist with strategic planning and commissioning.
The responsible local authority should ensure that all children and young people in long-term residential placements have accessible means of requesting a visit.
Children and young people in long-term residential placements who have communication needs may require the support of an advocacy service which is skilled in methods of non-verbal communication.
When a child is provided with accommodation in a care home or independent hospital/hospice the Responsible Manager of the establishment must notify the local authority's Director of Children's Services where it is located.
The local authority then becomes the responsible authority for the child – irrespective of where the child or young person are ordinarily resident.
When notified of the placement, the local authority, (as the responsible authority), should inform the local authority where the child/young person is ordinarily resident, so that there is general awareness and can be properly involved in any element of the educational aspects of the placement.
Children detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 have the right to an independent advocate.
The responsible local authority must provide a representative who has the skills and experience to fulfil the statutory requirements and has the capacity to visit the child or young person on successive visits, in order to build and maintain a relationship with the child or young person and their family and develop a comprehensive understanding of their needs.
Nevertheless, whenever possible, the Responsible Local Authority should ascertain and take into account the views of the child or young person who they would prefer to carry out the visits.
In most cases this will be a social worker with whom the child has developed a positive relationship.
Where this is not possible, the skills and experience should include:
Visits to children must be in accordance with Long-Term Residential Care Regulations 2011.
The identified visiting local authority representative must be sensitive to the particular care circumstances of each child and care setting.
Before each visit:
During the visit:
 Communication Passports are a practical and person-centred way of supporting children, young people and adults who cannot easily speak for themselves and pull together complex information in an easy-to-follow format
From Year 9 onwards, (i.e. when the child is 14 years), the visiting representative should consider what preparation for adulthood is being made, including employment, independent living and participation in society.
The visit should also seek to ensure there are clear systems that are available to staff to for recording welfare and contact information and ensuring key issues are addressed and reviewed regularly during the placement.
|The local authority representative has the power to enter a care home or independent hospital to ensure they can meet their responsibilities and safeguard the well-being of the child. They should produce an authenticated document proving their identity and make clear that they have this authority.|
Contact from family and significant others for children and young people living away from home on a long term basis is important for them in the short and long term future, (unless there are contra-indicators that this is the case). It may also indicate what status the child should be placed in the establishment (see Section 1.1.1, Considering the Child's Status: Child in Need or Looked After).
The Responsible Authority must ensure that a child's needs are met where assessments identify safeguarding and welfare needs. This includes contact with parents, carers and other significant people for the child or young person. These services may include:
Under Regulation 5 of the Visits to Children in Long-Term Residential Care Regulations 2011, the representative of the responsible authority must provide a report of each visit. Reports must include the representative's assessment of:
The representative's reports of visits should highlight any matters of concern or difficulties so that action can be discussed with their supervisor and then, as necessary, with other agencies. It is important for action to address matters of concern or difficulties:
Where there are serious concerns about the child's or young person's welfare and there is dwindling contact with their family, the reasons for this should be fully explored and should consider:
The Visiting Representative should ensure that an appropriate existing report format is used, or is developed, to ensure that all the issues highlighted are covered and commented on, together with an evaluation of the child or young person's progress against the aims and objectives that have been established in the child's plan. The report should also identify / describe their relationship with the child or young person; how they were able to communicate with them and reflect whether they have made previous visits to them or their family or carers.
A copy of the report must be sent to: