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Derby City Children's Social Care Procedures

6.1.5 Guidance on the Admission of Children to Care, Placement Planning and Review


Decision to Look After Procedure

Placement Planning and Disruption Meetings Procedure

Looked After Reviews Procedure

Legal Gateway Panel - Terms of Reference


The process of reform: the revised PLO and the local authority, Sir James Munby, President of the Family Division


In March 2020, this guidance was updated to note that a completed Viability Assessment should be included in the package of documents which are submitted for the Gateway Panel Meeting. See Section 3, Stage 2 - Gateway Panel for full details of the documentation required.

Derby City Council uses a Strengths Based Approach for all work with children and families.


  1. Introduction
  2. Stage 1 - Locality Case Management Meeting (Localities Social Care)
  3. Stage 2 - Gateway Panel

1. Introduction

The Children and Young Person's Act 2008 amended the Children Act 1989 and established new regulations, National Minimum Standards and guidance which came into force on 1st April 2011. This guidance should be followed when placing, planning for and reviewing Children in Care. Our ability to ensure that placements are fully supported in a manner that creates placement stability for our looked after children is highly dependent on our ability to meet, or exceed, expectations from this guidance in line with existing legislative frameworks.

For more information see The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015).

In 'The Process of Reform: the revised PLO and the Local Authority', James Munby, President of the Family Division, sets out the expectations of the local authority.

The approach that Derby use is designed to ensure that, as a local authority, we apply a consistent, quality assured, approach to accommodating children and young people in public care and to how we plan and review those plans to ensure best outcomes for those children.

Each meeting or panel involves a regular meeting of relevant managers and advisors who will endorse or challenge the proposed plan for the child.

2. Stage 1 - Locality Case Management Meeting (Localities Social Care)

This meeting discusses children where the assessment is indicating for a need to initiate the Public Law Outline (PLO) /commencement of proceedings.

A Single Assessment, accompanied by a chronology and genogram and completed viability assessments will have been completed prior to referral to the Case Management Meeting and the outcome of the assessment will inform the decision making processes. There should be clear evidence of the wishes and feelings of the child and family, as well as the views of multi-agency colleagues, where appropriate.

Prior to the case being considered at Case Management Meeting, consideration should be given to seeking legal advice.

The Case Management Meeting will be chaired by the Deputy Head of Service (Social Care). It is expected that the Team Manager and the case holding Social Worker will attend the Case Management Meeting. Representatives from Early Help Services, (Team manager or a Children Centre Manager) will possibly be expected to attend for part of the meeting, if appropriate to the case. This will be to ensure that the best, most appropriate early help has already been provided to the child or will be provided to the child in a timely manner to avoid admission into care.

There is an expectation that any case progressed to the Gateway Panel will have been discussed at the relevant social care Localities Case Management meeting and that the decision to progress has been endorsed by the Deputy Head of Service. They will also be responsible with the team manager for the quality assurance of casework documents presented to the Gateway Panel.

It will be expected that Family Group Conferences are considered and progressed prior to any child being received into care, except when children are likely to be suffering Significant Harm and there is an urgent need to place them elsewhere.

3. Stage 2 - Gateway Panel

This Panel meets weekly and is chaired by Heads of Service or other Senior Social Care Management with representatives from the management group encompassing both Localities and Specialist Services. See the Gateway Panel Minutes Template and Legal Gateway Panel - Terms of Reference for more information.

The panel is advised by a legal representative as to whether the Threshold Criteria for significant harm are met.

It is expected that the social worker will present the case with their team manager present. They should provide the following documents to the Gateway Panel Administrator two working days prior to the Gateway Meeting:

  • Minutes of the Locality Case Management Meeting;
  • Single assessment;
  • Chronology;
  • Genogram;
  • Completed viability assessments
  • Initial Care Plan.

The panel administrator will then circulate copies of the documents to panel members in advance of the meeting. The request will then be presented to panel by the relevant team manager and social worker.

The overarching aim of the Gateway Panel is to ensure robust and consistent decision-making in the following areas:

  • Where the Public Law Outline needs to apply or where the local authority intends to initiate Care Proceedings. The panel will consider the proposed initial care plan for the child and will endorse, challenge or develop plans proposing that proceedings need to be issued. The panel will consider the necessity for, and levels of, supervised contact and requests for any other assessments, including external specialist assessments. The panel may make recommendations about a range of resources.

The outcome of the panel discussion will be recorded on the Gateway Proforma by the Panel Administrator and circulated, where proceedings are to be initiated, to Panel Members, the Locality Deputy Head of Service and the Social Worker. There will be an expectation that a copy of the minutes will be placed upon the child's file, by the case holding Social Worker.

The Gateway Panel will receive an update on all cases where PLO or care proceedings have been agreed by the panel, and will expect to receive that update. When due the social worker will complete the Gateway Panel Update form and send to the panel administrator and attend the Panel if required. The outcome of the discussion will be recorded and circulated, as above.

All children subject to Emergency Protection Orders, or other urgent legal action, that has been agreed outside of the panel arrangements will need to be presented to the next available panel, with the same paperwork as above.