Note that different provisions apply to children who acquire Looked After status as a result of a remand to local authority accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation. In relation to those children, please see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People Remanded to Local Authority or Youth Detention Accommodation.
Please note that throughout this procedure:
Placing Authority is the Authority with responsibility for the child.
Area authority is the authority into which the child will be placed.
- Placements to which this Procedure Applies
- Approval of Placement by Placement Panel/Director of Children's Services
- Placement Considerations
- Emergency Placements
- Placements in Wales
- Placements into Derby
- Annex 1: Suggested Information for Discussion Between Authorities when Planning Distant Placements
- Annex 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol
1. Placements to which this Procedure Applies
This procedure applies to any placement of a Looked After child outside the area of the local authority, except where the placement is with a Connected Person, or a local authority foster carer approved by the placing authority, and with any agency placement within the city. It also covers the notification requirements when another local authority places a child in Derby (see Section 7, Placements into Derby).
2. Approval of Placement by Placement Panel/Director of Children's Services
The need for an out of Authority placement must be agreed by Placement Panel prior to any placement search; additionally if it is a Placement at a Distance, (i.e. outside the area of the local authority and not within the area of any adjoining local authority), the approval of the Director of Children's Services is required. The Placement Panel / Director of Children's Services must be satisfied of the following:
- There is no suitable in-house or family placement available within an acceptable time frame;
- That the child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
- That the placement is the most appropriate placement available for the child and consistent with the Care Plan;
- That relatives have been consulted where appropriate;
- That the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) has been consulted;
- That the area authority has been notified, or, for a Placement at a Distance, the area authority have been consulted and have been provided with a copy of the child's Care Plan (see Section 5, Notifications);
- That the child's health, educational and contact needs can be met out of area.
The decision to place the child out of area must then be approved by the Out of Authority Panel and funding arrangements agreed. The Service Director has responsibility for taking to OOA panel.
3. Placement Considerations
Placements at a Distance will require effective planning, engagement and information sharing with the services likely to be responsible for meeting the child's needs in the future. Consultation with the area authority must (except in an emergency) be undertaken in good time to enable a thorough assessment of appropriateness to be made.
The ADCS website contains a list of Local Authority links which can be followed to obtain information about the services offered in that authority, and a contact for the submission of notifications. Annex 1: Suggested Information for Discussion Between Authorities when Planning Distant Placements suggests information that might be discussed with the area authority.
Where the placement under consideration is in a children's home, account should be taken of the information in the home's Statement of Purpose and its location assessment (which should include details of the home's safeguarding arrangements, including any measures taken by the home to manage safeguarding concerns arising from the neighbourhood where the home is located).
In assessing the suitability of an out of authority placement, consideration should be given to the arrangements which will need to be put in place to enable the child to access services such as primary and secondary health care. Where the child will require specialist health services such as CAMHS, the Clinical Commissioning Group (local health board in Wales) that commissions secondary healthcare in the area authority should be consulted, to establish whether the placement is appropriate and able to meet the child's needs. The designated nurse for looked-after children in the area authority will also be a valuable source of advice and information.
Similarly, the Virtual School Head for looked-after children in the area authority, (Looked After Children Education Co-ordinators (LACE) in Wales) should be able to advise about access to school support.
For children vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, children's services in the area authority will be an important source of intelligence and information about local arrangements for safeguarding children.
4. Emergency Placements
In the case of a placement made in an emergency, the approval of the Nominated Officer/Director of Children's Services is still required and s/he must be satisfied that the child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration and that the placement is the most appropriate placement available consistent with the Care Plan. Within 5 working days the IRO must be informed; relatives be consulted (where appropriate) and the area authority notified.
Written notification must be given to the area authority of the arrangements for the 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 unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so.
The notification must include:
- Details of the assessment of the child's needs and the reasons why the placement is the most suitable for responding to these; and
- A copy of the child's care plan (unless already provided in the case of a Placement at a Distance).
The process to inform other local authorities that Derby is placing a child in care within their area is triggered by the 'Change of Circumstance' form which must be completed in advance of the move. This is generated through Liquid Logic either by the social worker or support staff in localities and the CIC teams.
Following receipt of the Change of Circumstance form, support staff will then contact the relevant local authority using the specified contact details on the ADCS website, to inform of the new placement in their area, together with the assessment and care plan as above, They will also notify of any changes to or end of an existing placement. They should use the relevant notification form for that authority or the equivalent Derby form.
All new placements and changes to existing placements are also routinely communicated to the LAC Health Team who in turn will notify equivalent Health settings in other regions for children placed out of authority.
6. Placements in Wales
For placements in Wales, the Welsh Government has developed a protocol for notifying the local authority and the local health board when a child has been placed there from outside the area, and again when the placement ends. This protocol is attached at Annex 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol.
7. Placements into Derby
Where a Looked After child is placed by a local authority in the area of Derby, notification must be made by the placing authority to Derby's Children's Social Care Services.
The Education Service and the relevant Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for the area in which the Looked After child is placed must also be notified.
The notification will include the address where the child is placed.
The Local Authority where the child is placed must maintain a register of Looked After children for whom it is responsible and all looked after children placed in its area, including those children who are the responsibility of another local authority.
Under the Children's Homes and Looked after Children (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2013, the Manager of a children's home must notify without delay the area local authority (if different from the placing authority) of the admission to/discharge from the Home of any child.
The notification must state:
- The child's name and date of birth;
- Whether the child is Accommodated under Section 20 or subject to a Care Order or Supervision Order;
- The contact details for:
- The child's placing authority; and
- The child's Independent Reviewing Officer;
- Whether the child has an Education, Health and Care Plan, if so, details of the local authority which maintains the Plan.
7.1 The Register of Looked After Children
The Register should include the following information in relation to each child:
- The name, gender and date of birth of the child;
- The name and address of the person with whom the child is placed and, if different, the name and address of the child's parents and all those with Parental Responsibility;
- The name of the placing authority;
- Whether the child has a Child Protection Plan;
- Whether the child is disabled;
- The date on which the placement was made and the date when it terminated including the reason for the termination;
- The child's legal status;
- Where arrangements have been made by the host local Children's Social Care Services to undertake the duties of the placing local authority; what those arrangements are and the name of the person within the placing authority with whom they were agreed.
At all times case management responsibility remains with the placing authority.
In the event that the authority where the child is placed has to have an involvement in an emergency situation where the child is at risk of Significant Harm and the placing authority cannot be contacted, any action should be on the basis of the requirements of local Safeguarding Children Procedures. The area authority, i.e. Derby, has responsibility for any S47 Enquiry for children placed in the City, until the placing authority specifically accepts responsibility to complete the investigation. This should be confirmed in writing.
7.3 Procedure on Receipt of Notifications in Relation to a Looked After Child
Enquiries by the Placing Authority will be directed to First Contact who will answer queries and discuss any needs of the child to be placed in Derby.
The standard information letter and Derby's notification form can be sent to the placing social worker or is available on the Derby City Council website.
Notifications should be sent to: email@example.com.
This mailbox will be monitored by Business Support and children's details will be inputted onto the children's record system, together with care plans and assessments. They will also be entered onto the OOA register. Notifications will be acknowledged and a copy of the standard information letter sent. Where information is incomplete this will be followed up.
The Virtual Headteacher and LAC health team will be notified of the placement, using the notification form. Where appropriate, Police, Child Protection Manager (CSE) and YOS will also be notified.
Where Business Support (CiC placement notification inbox) are notified of the end or change to any placement, the record system and OOA register will be up-dated. A six-monthly check will be conducted of all known placements to establish if they are still current.
7.4 Maintaining the Register
The Corporate Parenting Lead Officer is responsible for maintaining the register of Looked After children. This register must include:
- Children looked after by the authority;
- Children looked after by another local authority but placed within the authority, where there has been agreement that the authority will carry out some of the responsibilities of the placing local authority;
- Children looked after by another local authority but placed within the authority, where the placing local authority continues to carry out all the functions in relation to the child.
The Corporate Parenting Lead Officer will ensure that the register is shared with the following teams /agencies:
- The LAC Health Team;
- The Virtual Headteacher;
- The Police.
The details of children placed in Derby by other authorities will be monitored by the Corporate Parenting Lead Officer and reported on annually to DSCB and Corporate Parenting Board.
Annex 1: Suggested Information for Discussion Between Authorities when Planning Distant Placements
Basic information about the child
- Name and date of birth;
- Legal status (subject of a care order (s.31 Children Act); voluntarily accommodated (s.20) remanded (s. 21);
- Number of previous placements – outline reasons for child leaving earlier placements.
Plans for the child's care
- Details of the assessment of the child's needs, with information about the child's wishes and feelings, with reasons the planned placement is suitable;
- Duration of placement (emergency/short-term/long-term/permanent). If it is not possible to assess the intended duration of placement – reasons for this and when this information will be available;
- Arrangements for contact;
- Details of who will be responsible for implementing plans for the child's day to day care (the 'placement plan') including details of arrangements for delegating responsibilities to the child's carer(s);
- Details of any plans to offer the child care leaving support (as an 'eligible child') during the anticipated duration of the placement;
- Contingency arrangements if the plan to support the child in the current placement does not succeed.
Services to support the child
- Details of plans to meet the child's educational needs – information about the school the child is expected to attend; details of plans for supporting the child if a school has not been identified;
- Information about plans to meet the child's health needs, e.g. whether the child requires secondary health care (including metal health and other specialist health care), including details about the CCG acting as "responsible commissioner";
- Details of any youth justice supervision order that would need to be overseen by youth justice services in the area authority.
Local authorities have a common interest in supporting high standards of corporate parenting for all looked-after children.
When approached for consultation about potential placements, area authorities should be able to offer a professional view about the benefits of a planned placement, the benefits of living in the neighbourhood where the placement is located and the potential for local services to respond appropriately to the needs of the child concerned.
Local authorities could also advise about other sources of information to assist social workers and commissioners in determining whether a distant out of authority placement is the most appropriate for the child concerned (e.g. the Virtual School Head or the Designated Nurse for looked-after children).
Annex 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol
(This protocol was developed by the Welsh Government in conjunction with the children's residential care sector in Wales).
Where a child who is looked-after is placed at distance the responsible authority has a statutory duty to notify the local authority and the health care provider, in the area in which the child is to be placed, of the arrangements for placement prior to placement and no later than 10 days thereafter.
Similarly, where a child is provided with accommodation by any Local Health Board, Special Health Authority, Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Trust or by a local authority in exercise of education functions for three months or more or with the intention of the placement lasting for this time the Accommodating Authority has a duty to notify the appropriate officer of the responsible authority.
Where a child is provided with accommodation in any care home or independent hospital for three months or more or with the intention of the placement lasting for this time the residential setting has a statutory duty to notify the lead Director of Social Services in the area in which the establishment is situated.
Notification should be sent to the Director of Social Services in the local authority in which the home is situated.
* This information has been reproduced from the Department for Education publication: Out of authority placement of looked-after children Supplement to The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review.