South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

5.1.9 Placement with Connected Persons


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Situations Where these Procedures do not Apply
  3. Approval of Immediate Placements of Children in Care Connected Person
  4. The Placement
  5. Assessment and Approval of Connected Persons as Foster Carer
  6. Ending the Placement


1. Introduction

The following procedure covers immediate placements of Children in Care with a Connected Person i.e. where the carers are not already approved as foster carers. Placements made under this procedure should only be made in exceptional or unforeseen circumstances. This could include following a court remanding a child to local authority accommodation - see (Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure).

A Connected Person is defined as "A relative, friend or other person connected with a child. The latter is someone who would not fit the term 'relative or friend', but who has a pre-existing relationship with the child." Experience from a Serious Case Review in Plymouth is that there are risks making such placements without full consideration. Relative is defined as "a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step-parent."

The procedure sets out the checks that need to be made before such a placement can be made.

It also covers the procedure to be followed to carry out the required assessment and approval of the Connected Person as foster carers.


2. Situations Where these Procedures do not Apply

These procedures do not apply where a child (under 16 years old) goes to live with a relative or friend and this is a private arrangement between the parent/person with Parental Responsibility and carer. Great care must be taken by the social worker and their manager in these circumstances because if Children's Social Care are prompting this 'arrangement' it should be dealt with as a Connected person Placement.

The status of a private arrangement or connected carer should be agreed with the team manager and the service manager and clearly recorded on the child's file with the reasons for the decisions. Carers should be clearly informed in writing of the status of the arrangement.

If this placement continues for 28 days or more, the child may come within the definition of a Privately Fostered child, in which case the local authority's duties in relation to the placement are set out in the Private Fostering Procedure.


3. Approval of Immediate Placements of Children in Care Connected Person

Before any placement with a Connected Person who is not already approved as a foster carer is made, the approval of the Head of Service is required.

Any such approval can only be given for 16 weeks from the date of the placement. After that period of time, further assessment must be carried out and further approval sought - see Section 5, Assessment and Approval of a Connected Person as Foster Carer.

Matters to be taken into account when assessing the suitability of a Connected Person to care for the child are:

  1. The nature and quality of any existing relationship with the child;
  2. Their capacity to care for children and, in particular in relation to the child (or children) concerned, to provide for his/her physical needs and appropriate medical and dental care; to protect the child adequately from harm or danger including from any person who presents a risk of harm to the child; to ensure that the accommodation and home environment is suitable; in relation to the child's age and developmental stage, to promote his/her learning and development; to provide a stable family environment which will promote secure attachments for the child, including promoting positive contact with parents and other connected persons, unless this is not consistent with the child's welfare. In particular, the carer's ability to understand any safeguarding issues and work in partnership with the local authority in the best interests of the child should be clearly addressed;
  3. State of health (physical, emotional and mental), and medical history including current or past issues of domestic abuse, substance misuse or mental health problems;
  4. Family relationships and the composition of the household, including particulars of all other members of the household, their age and the nature of any relationship with the connected person and each other including any sexual relationship; any relationship with the parents; any relationship between the child and other members of the household; other adults (not members of the household) likely to have regular contact with the child; any current or previous domestic abuse between members of the household, including the connected person;
  5. Their family history, including their childhood and upbringing, and the strengths and difficulties of their parents or others who cared for them; their relationship with parents and siblings and each other; educational achievement and any learning difficulty/disability; chronology of significant life events; particulars of other relatives and their relationships with the child and the connected person;
  6. Any criminal offences- police checks should be undertaken of all adults in the household prior to placement;
  7. Past and present employment and other sources of income;
  8. Nature of the neighbourhood and resources available in the community to support the child and the Connected Person.

The home must be visited by the social worker as part of the assessment of the suitability of arrangements.

The child's wishes and feelings (subject to age and understanding) must be ascertained and recorded and wherever possible, an opportunity must be provided for the child to visit the home before the decision.

The views of parents/ those with Parental Responsibility must also be obtained.

The proposed carer should be given information about the assessment, including the need for Vetting and Barring Scheme checks and other agency enquiries on all members of the household aged 16 and over, as well as interviews with referees, adult children and ex-partners, which will be part of any such fostering assessment.

Where the social worker is in any doubt as to the suitability of the placement, (s)he should consult the Fostering Service for advice before the placement is agreed.

Where the placement appears suitable and is approved by the Head of Service a written Placement Agreement should be completed by the child's social worker with the proposed carer.

The prospective carers need to be made aware that any approval is time limited and does not imply continued approval beyond the 16 (sixteen) weeks.

Finance forms need to be completed to ensure payments are made to the Connected Carer by the Social Worker.

The placement may only continue after sixteen weeks if the carer is approved as a foster carer - see Section 5, Assessment and Approval of a Connected Person as Foster Carer - or in exceptional circumstances where this initial approval is extended.

This initial approval can be extended for a further period of up to 8 weeks (if it is likely to expire before the assessment is completed) or until the outcome of the Independent Review (if the outcome of the assessment is that the Connected Person is not approved and seeks a review of the decision - see Recruitment, Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure).

Before deciding whether to extend the approval, the Local Authority must consider if the placement is still the most appropriate placement available, and it must be considered by the Fostering Panel before the above approval is given.


4. The Placement

A Placement Planning Meeting should be held before the placement or, where this is not possible because of the urgency of the placement, within 72 hours. Refer to Placement Planning and Disruption Meetings Procedure

Payments to the connected carer are to start as soon as we are aware that a child has been placed by the local authority.

On the placement of the child, the child's social worker will ensure the child's Care Plan and the written Placement Plan is given to the carer. The child's social worker is to update the electronic record with the details of the placement and complete the necessary forms for the finance section to trigger payments to the carer. Consents for medical treatment, arrangements for contact including level and expectation of supervision.

If the child was not previously in Care, a reminder will be given at the Placement Planning Meeting to request a for the child's first Child in Care Review to the Independent Review Unit.

If the child was already in Care, the social worker will send notification of the placement to the child's Independent Reviewing Officer.

The child's social worker must visit and see the child alone in the placement (unless she/he refuses) each week until the first Child in Care Review and thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks during the period of initial approval. The visits are to be fully recorded as statutory visits.

Notification of the placement will also be sent by the child's social worker to the relevant local Children's Social Care, Education and Health if the placement is in a different local authority area.

The child's social worker will notify all family members consulted and involved in the decision-making process of the placement.

These notifications must be made in writing, advising of the placement decision and the name and address of the person with whom the child is to be placed. They must be sent before the placement wherever possible or within 5 working days of the placement.

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 nursery/school, GP and any health professional or YOS worker actively involved with the child.

It will be necessary for 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 Child in Care placement it will also be necessary for the social worker to arrange a Health Assessment - see Health Care Assessments and Plan Procedure.

The social worker must also arrange for the completion of a Personal Education Plan - see the Education of Looked After Children Procedure. Every effort should be made to enable the child to remain at the same school unless there are reasons which would be detrimental to his or her well being.


5. Assessment and Approval of Connected Persons as Foster Carer

The fostering assessment process should commence as soon as possible after the placement is made and the child's social worker should make a referral to the Fostering Service immediately so that a social worker will be allocated for this purpose. The pre-placement assessment should be sent to the Fostering Service as part of the referral.

The initial approval can be extended for a further period of up to 8 weeks (if it is likely to expire before the assessment is completed) or until the outcome of the Independent Review (if the outcome of the assessment is that the Connected Person is not approved and seeks a review of the decision - see Recruitment, Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure).

Before deciding whether to extend the approval, the Local Authority must consider if the placement is still the most appropriate placement available, and it must be considered by the Fostering Panel before the above approval is given.

A file will be opened for the foster carer's assessment. The allocated fostering supervising social worker will immediately arrange for a slot to be booked on the Fostering Panel within 16 weeks for the assessment to be considered.

The allocated fostering supervising social worker will check proof of identity from the proposed carers and arrange for the carers and members of the household aged 16 and over to complete applications for Vetting and Barring Service checks and consent to other agency checks.

The signed consent form and Vetting and Barring forms will be given to the administrative staff in the Fostering Service who will send off for the necessary checks as set out in Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure, Criteria for Prospective Adopters.

The allocated worker will explain the assessment process to the carers and provide them with written information.

The procedure for the assessment and approval is as for all applicants - see Recruitment, Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.

If and when the carers are approved as foster carers, the procedures in relation to support, supervision and review of the foster carers are the same as for all approved foster carers.


6. Ending the Placement

When the placement ends, the child's social worker must update the child's electronic record and send notification to the finance section so that payments to the carer/provider will cease.

The social worker will also send copies to those notified when the placement was made.

Where appropriate, consideration may be given to holding a Disruption Meeting in which case the procedure set out in Placement Planning Meetings and Disruption Meeting Procedure should be followed.

End