SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to all placements of Children in Care in residential care.
Children may also be placed in residential care having acquired Looked After status following a Remand to Local Authority Accommodation, see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.
For an overview of the process for requesting an external Foster/Residential, Semi Independent Housing or Remand placements please contact the Placements Team.
NOTE: from September 2021, looked after children under 16 years of age cannot be accommodated in unregulated independent or semi-independent placements (see Placements in Other Arrangements Procedure).
This chapter was amended in September 2022 to add a link to the NYAS ‘My Things Matter’ Report – support and respect care-experienced children and their belongings when they move. (See Section 2.3, Placement Planning).
Derby City Council uses a Strengths Based Approach for all work with children and families.
- Placements Process
- Support, Monitoring and Ending of Placements
At the point that it is determined that a placement may be required, and throughout the subsequent process of identification, planning and placement, the social worker must consult and take account of the views of the following people:
- The child;
- The child's parents, or those with Parental Responsibility;
- Anyone who is not a parent but has been caring for or looking after the child;
- Other members of the child's family who are significant to the child;
- The child's school or education authority;
- The Youth Offending Service, if the child is known to them;
- Any other relevant person, e.g. nursery, health care professional, Children's Guardian.
Their views should be recorded by the social worker.
2. Placements Process
2.1 Placement Request
Where a decision has been made that a child requires a residential placement, the child's social worker should request a placement by sending a referral to the Placements Team. If the placement is required urgently, the referral should be followed up with a telephone call.
In making this request, the social worker will be asked to provide information about the child, the type of placement sought, the Care Plan, the date by which the placement is required, the likely length of time for which the placement is required and the expected level of contact between the child and parents. The social worker should also outline any risks associated in making the placement.
The Placements Team will forward the referral to the residential managers, who will check whether an in-house residential placement is available that appears to be appropriate to meet the child's needs.
If such a placement is available or if there is a possibility of a placement by the required date, the social worker will be advised accordingly.
If no appropriate in-house placements are available and the child requires a placement without delay, the social worker should seek the approval of the Head of Service, who will escalate to Service Director and DCS, for funding approval for an external placement to be made. A member of the commissioning team will assist with placement search and contracting.
2.2 Identification and Approval of Placement
Once a resource has been identified, the social worker should contact the relevant registered manager directly to discuss the available placement further.
Wherever possible, the child's social worker should visit potential homes and as required consult with other professionals, prior to a decision about the appropriateness of a placement being made. The placement provider should be able to provide evidence that supports the appropriateness and effectiveness of any therapeutic approach or model of care they intend to use.
Where the residential placement is outside the local authority area, see also Out of Area Placements Procedure.
N.B. In addition to the above approvals, in order to avoid placements that disrupt a child's education, the Virtual School Head must be informed of any change of placement affecting a child in Key Stage 4 except in an emergency/ where the placement is terminated because of an immediate risk of serious harm to the child or to protect others from serious injury Education of Children in Care and those Children with a Social Worker Procedure.
Equally, any placement made outside the local authority area should be able to meet the child's physical and mental health / emotional needs, particularly where ongoing treatment is being undertaken or is assessed as required (see also Health Assessments and Plans Procedure, Out of Area Placements).
Once the relevant manager/s approves the placement, the placement planning process can start - see Section 2.3, Placement Planning. An understanding of the provider's therapeutic approach should inform the child's Placement Plan.
The social worker may then arrange visits to the proposed placement, with the child (if old enough) and parents (where appropriate).
NOTE: from September 2021, looked after children under 16 years of age cannot be accommodated in unregulated independent or semi-independent placements.
2.3 Placement Planning
Before the child is placed, the child's social worker will liaise with the relevant registered manager to provide details of the child's immediate child care needs and to arrange a Placement Planning Meeting - see Placement Planning Meetings and Disruption Meeting Procedure. The meeting will usually be held in the child's new placement. After the first Placement Planning Meeting, all young people living in internal residential care will have an Enhanced Care Planning Meeting.
The child's social worker will complete and arrange for the circulation of the Care Plan and Placement Plan to the child, parents and residential staff.
At the time of the placement, the residential staff must also be given any additional information about details of the child's day to day needs which may not be covered by the Placement Plan but are important to ensure that the home is in the best possible position to help the child settle in the new placement, for example any particular fears at night-time or other emotional needs. Particular care must be taken to ensure that all medication is passed to the residential staff; see Medication Record.
The child's social worker must provide the child with any relevant information about the looked after service, the social worker profiles and information on using the authority's Complaints Procedure (see Complaints and Representations) and information about how to access an Advocate.
The social worker should ensure that any information about the placement/home that is available for the child is also obtained and given to them.
In all cases, the child should be accompanied to the placement by the social worker and helped to settle in. Suitable luggage should be used and a child's belongings should never be transported in bin-bags or other inappropriate containers (see NYAS, My Things Matter Report).
Where an emergency placement is unavoidable local authorities should always make available information that is vital to allow the Home to care safely for the child – e.g. medical information, Child Protection matters and information about any known emotional or behavioural needs which may place a child at risk of harm to themselves or others.
2.4 Notification of Placement
The child's social worker will update the child's electronic record with the details of the placement; ensuring that the LCS code accurately reflects the residential placement (K2 Homes and Hostels/PR4 Private Provision – external providers/PR1 own provision by LA).
Where the placement is within an external provider, the Placements Officer will notify the finance section so as to trigger payments as appropriate.
Notification of the placement will also be sent by the child's social worker to the LAC administrator in the Children's Health Team, the Virtual School, the local Children's Services (if the placement is in the area of a different local authority; using the Notification form) and the child's GP.
The child's social worker will notify all family members consulted and involved in the decision-making process of the placement.
The child's social worker must also notify the allocated Independent Reviewing Officer or, if it is the first placement, the Independent Reviewing Service of the placement. This notification will trigger the appointment of an Independent Reviewing Officer, if it is the first placement, and the setting up of arrangements for a Looked After Review.
These notifications must be made in writing, advising of the placement decision and the name and address of the children's home where the child is to be placed.
The notifications should be before the start of the placement or within 72 hours.
The child's social worker should also notify - preferably in writing but it may be verbally - all those involved in the day to day arrangements for the child, including school and any health professional or YOS worker actively involved with the child.
It will be necessary for the home or the child's social worker to ensure the child is registered with a GP, Dentist and Optician, either retaining practices known to him or her (which is preferable) or in the area where they are placed.
In relation to a first Looked After placement it will also be necessary for the social worker to liaise with the Designated Nurse for Children in Care to arrange a Health Assessment - see Health Assessments and Plans Procedure. The social worker must arrange for the completion of a Personal Education Plan (PEP) - see Education of Children in Care and those Children with a Social Worker Procedure.
For any new placement, every effort should be made to enable the child to remain at the same school unless there are reasons which would be detrimental to their well being. In order to avoid placements that disrupt a child's education, the Nominated Officer must approve any change of placement affecting a child in Key Stage 4 except in an emergency/ where the placement is terminated because of an immediate risk of serious harm to the child or to protect others from serious injury.
3. Support, Monitoring and Ending of Placements
3.1 Support and Monitoring of Placements
The child's social worker must visit the child in the placement within one week of the placement and then at a minimum every six weeks; see Social Worker Visits to Children in Care Procedure.
Where there are concerns in relation to the progress of the placement, consideration should be given to seeking additional resources to assist the placement.
Where there are any changes to the child's placement and/or legal status during the placement, the child's social worker must update the child's electronic records; including the placement code. The chronology should be updated with all changes. For any placement change; the single assessment should also be updated.
A Missing Strategy meeting must be convened where:
- The child is, or has been, persistently absent from the placement (indicators of significant harm e.g. CRE – see below S47).
A S47 Strategy Meeting must be convened where:
- The child is, or has been, persistently absent from the placement (there are indicators of significant harm e.g. CRE);
- The placement provider, parents or area authority are concerned that the child is at risk of harm; or
A Looked After Review may be brought forward where:
- There are concerns which do not amount to a risk of significant harm (as above). The IRO should be updated of any emerging concerns; and a LAC review may be brought forward as a result of this conversation;
- The child so requests, unless the Independent Reviewing Officer considers that the review is not justified.
See also Looked After Reviews Procedure.
3.2 Ending of Placements
It is the social workers responsibility to give notice to the placement provider; where it is anticipated that a child will move. A discussion with the placements team will inform of the relevant notice period for each placement.
The child's social worker must notify the Placements Team when an external placement ends who will arrange to inform the relevant finance officer so that any payments to the provider will cease. The social worker will also all relevant partner agencies involved in the child's care.
Where the placement ends in an unplanned way, consideration should be given to holding a Disruption Meeting - see Placement Planning Meetings and Disruption Meeting Procedure.