1. General Principles of Consultation
Everyone involved in the receipt and delivery of services should be consulted about decisions which may affect them.
This includes children, their advocates, their parents, other significant family members and those charged with providing the service; including managers, staff, carers and professionals or colleagues from other agencies.
This means that people's views should be sought and taken into account in relation to all decisions, which are likely to affect their daily life and their future.
The older and more mature the child is, the more weight can and should be given to their wishes and feelings.
Unless there are exceptional circumstances, reasonable steps must be taken in all cases to consult the parents. Exceptions will include where a child is placed for adoption and where older children with an appropriate level of maturity specifically request that their parents are not consulted and a decision is made to respect their wishes.
Consultation should take place on a regular and frequent basis with those who need to be consulted and assumptions should not be made about the inability or lack of interest of those who should be consulted.
Where people have communication difficulties of any sort, suitable means must be provided to enable them to be consulted, including arranging access to advocates or representatives who may speak on their behalf.
Consultation should be undertaken in a creative manner.
If consultation is not possible or is restricted for whatever reason, steps should be taken to ensure that those affected are informed of decisions as soon as practicable after they are made, and an explanation for the decision given, together with the opportunity to make a comment and express their views.
If it is then felt that a different decision may have been appropriate, steps should be taken to reconsider the decision.
If decisions are made against people's wishes, they should be informed of the decision and the reasons for the decision should be explained. In these circumstances, the person should be informed of any rights they have to formally challenge the decision, and of the availability of the Complaints and Representations Procedure.
Children should also be informed of their right to appoint an Advocate, and if an advocate is appointed, he or she must be consulted in accordance with the principles set out in this section.
2. Legal Consultation
In particular, views of children, parents and other connected persons should be obtained prior to:
- Referrals to other agencies;
- Child in Need reviews;
- Child Protection Conferences and Core Groups;
- Gateway meetings and placement panels;
- Looked After Child Reviews;
- Permanence planning meetings and adoption panels;
- Changes to a care or service plan;
- Service developments.
Their views should be represented by the worker and directly or via an advocate, or via appropriate consultation booklets.
Also, other agencies, professionals & carers should be consulted:
- Independent Reviewing Officer in relation to any significant event or change of Care Plan for a looked after child;
- Carer of a looked after child in relation to any significant event or change of care plan;
- Guardian if the child is currently subject to Court proceedings;
- All relevant agencies prior to any decision to initiate child protection processes, remove or accommodate a child.