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3.1.2 Decision to Look After and Care Planning

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all decisions to Looked After children.

It should be read in conjunction with the Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline.

RELEVANT MATERIAL

Becoming Looked After Procedure

Ceasing to Look After a Child Procedure

Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 – A guidance note for parents and professionals

Section 20 Agreement Template

RELATED GUIDANCE

ADCS/Cafcass Practice Guidance for the Use of Section 20

NOTE

A child who is dealt with by a court by way of a Remand to Local Authority Accommodation or a Remand to Youth Detention Accommodation will be a Looked After Child. The care planning requirement will be amended in relation to such children - see Joint Protocol Between Children's Social Care, Targeted Youth Support - Youth Offending Service and Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.

AMENDMENT

Section 2.1, The Care Plan – Contents was amended in October 2018 to reflect the additional ‘permanence provisions’ of the Care Plan (s.8 Children and Social Work Act 2017 amends section 31(3B) Children Act 1989) which a court is required to consider when deciding whether to make a Care Order. Additional information was added in to Section 1.3, Section 20 Accommodation, in line with recent case-law.


Contents

  1. Decision to Look After Child
  2. The Care Plan
  3. Timescales for Completion of Care Plan
  4. Approval of the Care Plan
  5. Circulation of the Care Plan
  6. Other Required Plans, Documentation and Actions
  7. Becoming Looked After
  8. The Social Worker's Responsibilities

    Appendix 1: Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 – A guidance note for parents and professionals

    Appendix 2: Section 20 Agreement Template


1. Decision to Look After Child

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1.1 The Decision

A child may not come into care until a Legal Planning Meeting or Becoming Looked After meeting has been held and the case has been presented to the Access to Resources Panel (ARCP) In an Emergency agreement for a child to become looked after can be given by a Head of Service. The case should then be presented to the next available ARCP. (see Section 7.3, The Access to Resources Panel (ARCP)) and after a Legal Gateway Meeting (- definition to follow) for children under 5. Also see Section 7, Becoming Looked After.

Outside office hours, the Emergency Duty Team can make the decision to Look After a child.

Any decision to look after a child made outside office hours will be communicated by e-mail and a notification on ICS to the relevant team by the beginning of the next working day.

If a child is already looked after because s/he has been remanded into local authority care permission for the child to remain looked after at the end of the remand period can be given by a Head of Service, following an assessment by the Child Care team and having sought the opinion of the child’s Independent Reviewing Officer. The IRO should be consulted with about the plans for the child at the end of the remand period and if there is any disagreement this should be brought to the attention of the Operation Manager.

1.2 Considerations before a Decision to Look After is Made

The decision to look after a child will only be made where those making the decision are satisfied that:

  • Suitable appropriate alternatives have been fully considered;
  • Appropriate consideration has been given to the necessity of Accommodation, the purpose and nature of the proposed placement;
  • Whether the Accommodation provided should be via a Court Order or undertaken with Parental Consent using Section 20 (1989 Act). In considering this the local authority should:
  • Appropriate consultation has taken place.
However, where the circumstances constitute an emergency, opportunities for consultation may be limited e.g. where a parent/carer is not available.

Before a decision is made to look after a child, consideration should be given to making arrangements with other extended family members or friends who might be prepared to care for the child without the need for the child to come into care. Wherever possible a Family Group Conference should be convened. In these circumstances, care must be taken where the local authority has been involved in the arrangements for the child to be cared for by a relative or friend; the child may be viewed as within the definition of Looked After and a legal view may be helpful to clarify the status of the child and the placement. See Placement with Connected Persons Procedure.

Alternatively, the child may come within the definition of Privately Fostered after 27 days, in which case the Private Fostering Arrangements Procedure will apply.

Any arrangements where the child is not regarded as Looked After would have to be agreed with the parent or a person with Parental Responsibility, and the social worker must be satisfied that such an arrangement is sufficiently secure to meet the child's needs and is supported by a Child in Need Plan.

If no such arrangement can be identified or such an arrangement would not meet the child's needs, the child's social worker, with his or her team manager, should consider:

  • The child's immediate placement needs - including the child's views, the views of the parents, those with Parental Responsibility and any other person whose wishes and feelings the authority consider to be relevant - and whether a placement with a Connected Person may be possible;
  • The timescales for the child's placement;
  • A date for the child to return home or when the decision will be reviewed;
  • The actions of support and work to be included in the Care Plan to enable the necessary change for the child to return home wherever possible, see Section 1.3.1, Obtaining Parental Consent;
  • The obtaining of parental consent to look after the child and consent to medical care;
  • Any impact on educational arrangements;
  • The contact arrangements with birth parents, siblings, extended family and friends.

Where it is considered that Care Proceedings should be initiated to secure the child's placement, see also Care Proceedings Procedure - to follow.

N.B. Any decision that a child should be the subject of Care Proceedings should have regard to the requirements of the Public Law Outline, and in particular the Pre-Proceedings Checklist which is set out in Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline.

All decisions made should be recorded on the child's electronic record, including the reasons for reaching the decision. (See also Recording Parental Consent).

1.3 Section 20 Accommodation

There are many scenarios in which Section 20 is used positively and these include situations of family support (see Short Term Breaks Procedure) and where parents are unable to care for children, for whatever reason, and there are no agreed alternative family or friends to undertake this.

In accommodating a child under Section 20, it must always be borne in mind that the local authority does not have Parental Responsibility; only the parents/ those carers with Parental Responsibility can make decisions for the child. The parent/carer with Parental Responsibility can remove the child from Accommodation at any time (Section 20(8)) and any such request must be responded to promptly by the local authority, or it must otherwise take action through the court. A number of court cases have confirmed that a local authority failing to permit a parent to remove a child in circumstances within Section 20(8) acts unlawfully (see Herefordshire Council v AB [2018] EWFC 10 rtf). (See also: Ceasing to Look After a Child Procedure).

The parents/carers should be advised of any changes in the child’s circumstances whilst the child is in local authority care.

It is therefore important to ensure that the parents/carers have full information about their continuing responsibilities as well as those of the local authority and that this is enshrined in the Care Plan and a written agreement. All parents should be given a copy of the Section 20 guidance notes for parents and professionals and social workers should ensure that they understand this before obtaining consent.

The Head of Service CLA will review all Section 20 cases that have been open for 3 months or more on a quarterly basis.

1.3.1 Obtaining Parental Consent

A recent Court of Appeal hearing (L B Hackney v Williams & Anor [2017] EWCA Civ 26) confirmed that ‘Consent’ under any of the Section 20 provisions was not a statutory requirement as such. It stated that the local authority has a duty to provide accommodation for children, (subject to a parent being able to legally object and / or remove) where the person who had been caring for them was ‘prevented (whether or not permanently and for whatever reason) from providing them with suitable accommodation or care’.

This, therefore, supports the local authority in its duties towards children on those occasions where ‘parental consent’ cannot, for a variety of reasons, be obtained at the time of a child’s accommodation or parents cannot effect care of the child themselves.

Nevertheless, with regard to previous court judgments on ‘consent’, it reflected that they were, ‘in short, good practice guidance and a description of the process that the family court expects to be followed’.

Therefore, obtaining Parental Consent as a matter of good practice remains an essential part of Accommodating a child under this part of the 1989 Act. A number of court decisions have been particularly critical of local authorities’ actions with regard to consent and great care needs to be undertaken to ensure parents have the appropriate capacity to do this.

Social workers should read and be familiar with the Section 20 guidance notes for parents and professionals and Practice Guidance on the use of Section 20 in the context of child protection by His Honour Judge Clifford Bellamy (Appendix 1: Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 – A guidance note for parents and professionals).

Section 20 agreements are not valid unless the parent giving consent has capacity to do so, (in cases where the father also has Parental Responsibility, the consent of both parents should be sought). The consent needs to be properly informed and fairly obtained. Willingness to consent cannot be inferred from silence, submission or acquiescence - it is a positive action.

Detailed guidance on the obtaining of parental consent was given by the High Court in the case of Re CA (A Baby) (2012):

  • The social worker must first be satisfied that the parent giving consent does not lack the mental Capacity to do so. Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, a person is unable to make a decision if (s)he is unable:
    • To understand the information relevant to the decision;
    • To retain that information;
    • To use or weigh that information as part of the process of making the decision; or
    • To communicate his/her decision.

      The High Court in Re S (Child as parent: Adoption: Consent) [2017] EWHC 2729 (Fam) set out the relevant information that a parent would need to be able to understand, retain and weigh up in order to have competency to consent to the accommodation of a child:
      1. That the child will be staying with someone chosen by the local authority, probably a foster carer;
      2. That the parent can change their mind about the arrangements, and request the child back from accommodation at any time;
      3. That the parent will be able to see the child.
  • If there is doubt about Capacity, no further attempts to obtain consent should be made at that time, and advice should be sought from a manager;
  • If satisfied that the parent has Capacity, the social worker must be satisfied that the consent is fully informed:
    • Does the parent fully understand the consequences of giving such a consent?
    • Does the parent fully appreciate the range of choice available and the consequences of refusal as well as giving consent?
    • Is the parent in possession of all the facts and issues material to the giving of consent?
  • If not satisfied that the consent if fully informed, no further attempt should be made to obtain consent on that occasion and advice should be sought from a manager and legal advice sought if thought necessary;
  • If satisfied that the consent is fully informed, then it is necessary to be satisfied that the giving of such consent and the subsequent removal of the child from the parent is both fair and proportionate:
    • What is the current physical and psychological state of the parent?
    • If they have a solicitor, have they been encouraged to seek legal advice and/or advice from family or friends?
    • Is it necessary for the safety of the child for her to be removed at this time?
    • Would it be fairer in this case for this matter to be the subject of a court order rather than an agreement?

Whether a person has capacity can sometimes be difficult to determine, as some individuals have a learning disability or mental health problem but can present as being more ‘able’ than in fact they are. Equally, within the context of ‘assessing capacity’, social workers should approach with great care relying on Section 20 agreements from mothers after giving birth, (especially where there is no immediate danger to the child and where probably no order would be made).

Where there is any concern about a parent / carer’s capacity, the social worker should ensure they discuss this issue with their team manager, or that the parent has information from a legal adviser or professional advice (1). Note: In Coventry City Council v C, B, CA and CH (2012) EWHC2190 (Fam) it was identified that, ‘every social worker obtaining consent is under a personal duty (the outcome of which may not be dictated to by others) to be satisfied that the person giving consent does not lack the capacity to do so’.

Note that the High Court in Re S (Child as parent: Adoption: Consent) made clear that parental Capacity to consent to a child being accommodated under s.20 Children Act 1989, does not equate to their capacity to consent to an adoption order in respect of the child - the capacity to consent is decision-specific.

(1) Note: Unless a parent is subject to Proceedings, or Letter Before Proceedings, they will be unable to qualify for Legal Aid.

1.3.2 Recording Parental Consent

In Re N (Children) (Adoption: Jurisdiction) [2015] EWCA Civ 1112 good practice the President of the Family Division, Sir James Munby sets out his view in respect of good practice in the recording of parental consent to a Section 20 agreement:

  • Wherever possible the agreement of a parent to the accommodation of their child under Section 20 should be properly recorded in writing and evidenced by the parent's signature;
  • The written document should be clear and precise as to it terms, drafted in simple and straight-forward language that the particular parent can readily understand;
  • The written document should spell out, following the language of Section 20(8), that the parent can 'remove the child' from the LA accommodation 'at any time';
  • The written document should not seek to impose any fetters on the exercise of the parent's right under Section 20(8). Where the parent is not fluent in English, the written document should be translated into the parent's own language and the parent should sign the foreign language text, adding, in the parent's language, words to the effect that 'I have read this document and I agree to its terms';
  • Parents should be asked to sign the Section 20 agreement and given a copy of the Section 20 Guidance note for parents and professionals. Any additional written agreements should be written in plain language and not seek to impose any fetters on the exercise of parental rights.

1.3.3 The use of Section 20 prior to Court Proceedings

High Court Judgements have considered that in circumstances where the threshold criteria (for Care/ Supervision Orders) under Section 31 Children Act 1989 are met, (i.e. where a child is at risk of significant harm, or the likelihood of significant harm), then care proceedings should be issued without delay.

Nevertheless, Section 20 may, in an appropriate case, have a proper role to play as a short-term measure pending the commencement of care proceedings, but the Courts have strongly advised that this should not lead to an unnecessary delay in the issuing of proceedings and cases must not be allowed to drift, (including those cases when children are placed with relatives under a Section 20 agreement). Proceedings still need to be issued in a timely fashion. The ADCS/Cafcass Practice Guidance for the Use of Section 20 seeks to clarify good practice in this area.

Even where a parent/carer’s legal adviser has established an agreement regarding the use of Section 20 prior to either issuing Proceedings or progressing a timely plan and timetable of work for further assessment, these should be carefully adhered to by all parties. Any plan should be based on the child’s welfare needs and avoid delay.

All such agreements should be undertaken in conjunction with the local authority’s Legal Services and include a clear (written) agreement and Care Plan with the outcome considered at a Looked After Children’s Review to which the parents have been invited.

Where it is highly likely that proceedings will be required to determine a factual issue, or where complex medical evidence may become involved it is better for proceedings to be issued promptly allowing the court to manage the timetable of the case and the parents to be able to access effective legal advice.

1.4 Actions required after a Decision to Look After is made

In relation to children where Care Proceedings are being considered to secure the child's placement, see also Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline Procedure.

In all cases, if it is agreed that the child should become Looked After, the child's social worker will draw up a draft Care Plan (see Section 2, The Care Plan) with clear timescales and a statement as to whether the child's needs would best be met in a family placement or residential care.

If a foster or residential placement is required, the relevant procedure to be followed, including the need to hold a Placement Planning Meeting, will be found in the Placements in Foster Care Procedure or the Placements in Residential Care Procedure.

Where a decision is made to pursue a Looked After placement with a relative or friend (or the child's placement with a relative or friend is judged to be a Looked After placement), an immediate assessment of the relative/friend must be undertaken. See Placement with Connected Persons Procedure.

For secure placements, see Placements in Secure Accommodation on Welfare Grounds Procedure.

In the case of siblings, wherever it is in the best interests of each individual child, they should be placed together. Where they cannot be placed together, they must be supported to understand why they cannot live together, and there should be robust plans for contact between them, so far as this is consistent with their welfare.

In every case when planning permanent placements a sibling assessment must be completed. The reasons for separating siblings should be well evidenced and a written explanation should be on the children’s files, including who made the decision to separate the children (Sibling assessment policy – to follow)


2. The Care Plan

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See also Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People on Remand.

2.1 The Care Plan - Contents

In all circumstances where a decision is made to look after a child, the child must have a Care Plan completed by the social worker and signed by the relevant team manager, the contents of which include:

  • The child’s Placement Plan (Setting out why the placement was chosen and how the placement will contribute to meeting the child’s needs);
  • The Child’s Permanence Plan (Setting out the long term plans for the child’s upbringing including timescales);
  • The Pathway Plan (where appropriate, for young people leaving care);
  • The child’s Health Plan;
  • The Contingency Plan;
  • The child’s Personal Education Plan;
  • The name of the Independent Reviewing Officer;
  • Give the date of the child's first Looked After Review (within 20 days).

2.1.1 The Care Plan Where the Matter is Before the Court

In addition to the above, a Care Plan should reflect that the court is required under s.8 Children and Social Work Act 2017 amends section 31(3B) Children Act 1989 to consider the ‘permanence provisions’ of the Care Plan for the child: 

  1. The provisions setting out the long-term plan for the upbringing of the child - to live with a parent/family member/family friend; adoption; or other long-term care; and
  2. The plan’s provisions in relation to any of the following:
    1. The impact on the child concerned of any harm that he or she suffered or was likely to suffer;
    2. The current and future needs of the child (including needs arising out of that impact);
    3. The way in which the long-term plan for the upbringing of the child would meet those current and future needs.

2.2 The Care Plan - Process

Where there is no recent Single Assessment in relation to the child, the Care Plan must provide for a Single Assessment to be completed.

The child's social worker is responsible for drawing up and updating the Care Plan in consultation with:

  1. The child;
  2. The child's parents and those with Parental Responsibility;
  3. Anyone who is not a parent but has been caring for or looking after the child;
  4. Other members of the child's family network who are significant to the child;
  5. The child's school or the education service;
  6. The relevant health trust;
  7. The Youth Offending Service, if the child is known to them;
  8. Any other agency involved with the child's care.

The social worker should ensure that the child, those with Parental Responsibility and the carer understand the Care Plan and their role in contributing to its implementation.

One of the key functions of the Care Plan is to ensure that each child has a Permanence Plan by the time of the second Looked After Review. The Care Plan is subject to scrutiny at each Looked After Review. See Looked After Reviews Procedure.

The Care Plan should include the arrangements made to meet the child’s needs in relation to his or her:

  • Emotional and behavioural development;
  • The child’s identity in relation to religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background;
  • Family and social relationships; arrangements for contact with sibling(s) accommodated by the authority or another local authority; details of any Section 8 Order, in relation to a Looked After Child; details of any order in relation to contact with a child in care; arrangements for contact with parents/anyone with Parental Responsibility / any other Connected Person; arrangements for the appointment of an Independent Visitor for a Looked After Child;
  • Social presentation;
  • Self-care skills.


3. Timescales for Completion of Care Plan

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A Care Plan mist be prepared prior to a child’s first placement, or, if it is not practicable to do so, within 10 working days of the child’s first placement.


4. Approval of the Care Plan

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Any Care Plan taken before the Court within Care Proceedings must be endorsed and signed by the Team Managers). The Operation Manager will sign off any final care plan where rehabilitation home is the plan.


5. Circulation of the Care Plan

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The Care Plan must be circulated to the following people:

  • The child;
  • The parent(s);
  • Providers/Carers - if no Care Plan has been drawn up prior to the child's placement, the social worker must ensure that the providers/carers understand the key objectives of the plan, and how the placement will help achieve these objectives;
  • The Fostering Service, where the child is in foster care. N.B. The Care Plan should be filed in the confidential section of the foster carer's file and returned to the child's social worker when the placement ends;
  • The child’s Independent Reviewing Officer.


6. Other Required Plans, Documentation and Actions

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See also ICS Guidance.

6.1 Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record on ICS)

The child must have a Placement Plan at the time of the placement (this includes the parent's consent to the placement (if applicable) and the child's medical treatment). It should be completed as far as possible before the child is placed, or if not reasonably practicable, within 5 working days of the start of the placement.

The information to be included in the Placement Plan will include:

  1. How on a day-to-day basis the child will be cared for and the child’s welfare will be safeguarded and promoted by the appropriate person. This must include details of what day to day decisions will be delegated to the foster carer and keyworker;
  2. If there is a risk that the child may go missing the placement plan should contain a safety plan detailing what the carer needs to do in these circumstances and steps to prevent a child going missing;
  3. Any arrangements for contact between the child and parents/anyone with Parental Responsibility/any other connected person, including, if appropriate, reasons why contact is not reasonably practicable or not consistent with the child’s welfare; details of any Child Arrangements Order / Contact Order (under Section 8 or 34 of the Children Act 1989); the arrangements for notifying any changes in contact arrangements;
  4. Arrangements for the child’s health (physical, emotional and mental) and dental care, including the name and address of registered medical and dental practitioners; arrangements for giving/withholding consent to medical/dental examination/treatment;
  5. Arrangements for the child’s education and training, including the name and address of the child’s school/other educational institution/provider and designated teacher; the Local Authority maintaining any statement of Special Educational Needs;
  6. The arrangements for and frequency of visits by the child’s social worker; and for advice, support and assistance between visits;
  7. If an Independent Visitor is appointed, the arrangements for them to visit the child;
  8. The circumstances in which the placement may be terminated;
  9. The name and contact details of the Independent Reviewing Officer, the Independent Visitor if one is appointed, the social worker who will be visiting the child, and the Personal Adviser for an Eligible Young Person.

The Placement Plan will be recorded on the Placement Information Record on the child’s electronic database.

Copies of the Placement Information Record must be provided to the child (if of sufficient age and understanding), the parents and must be handed to the residential staff/carers before the child is placed. Where a child is placed in an in-house foster placement, one copy should also be sent to the Fostering Team - to be kept in the confidential section of the foster carer's file and returned at the end of the placement.

At the time of the placement, the residential staff/carers should also be given any additional information about details of the child's day to day needs which are not covered by the Placement Information Record but are important to ensure that the staff/carers are in the best possible position to help the child settle in the new placement, for example any particular fears at night-time or the child's favourite toys.

6.2 Chronology

Whenever a new placement is made or the child moves placement, the child's Chronology should be updated.

6.3 Arrangement of first Looked After Review

The child's social worker must notify the Independent Review Unit of the placement within two working days of the child becoming looked after, so that the necessary arrangements for the allocation of an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) (within five working days of the child becoming looked after wherever possible) and the child's first Looked After Review can be made. See the Looked After Reviews Procedure for the procedures relating to reviews, including the responsibility for invitations to reviews.

6.4 Health Care

Before or at the time of the placement, the social worker should request the parent to transfer the child's personal child health record. Where this is lost or not available, the social worker should ask for a replacement to be issued and ask the Designated Nurse for Looked After Children to assist with providing any information to complete the record.

The social worker should also contact the Designated Nurse for Looked After Children to arrange a Health Care Assessment before the placement or, if not reasonably practicable before the first Looked After Review (i.e. within 20 working days of the placement) so that the completion of a Health Care Plan in time for the child's first Looked After Review. See Health Care Assessments and Health Care Plans Procedure.

In addition, the social worker should inform the carer of any medication the child is taking, and ensure that a supply of medication is provided in a clearly labelled bottle with the child's name, required dosage and the time the medication is to be given - see Administration of Medication Procedure.

6.5 Personal Education Plan (PEP)

The social worker should also liaise with the Designated Teacher so that a Personal Education Plan (PEP) can be completed as part of the Care Plan before the child becomes looked after (or within 10 working days in the case of an Emergency Placement) and be available in time for the first Looked After Review. See Education of Looked After Children Procedure.

6.6 Provision of Information

The child's social worker must provide the child and parents with written information about the placement.

The child and parents must also be provided with information about the complaints process and the availability of advocates.

6.7 Changes in Legal Status

Any changes in a child's legal status as a result of court proceedings must be recorded on the child's electronic record.


7. Becoming Looked After

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7.1 Introduction

In all contacts between Children's Social Care (CSC) and families, the primary consideration is the welfare of the child and there is an assumption that for most children their welfare will be best secured through services that enable the child to remain safely living in their own family.

Only when there is clear evidence that this is not the case and that becoming looked after will be a positive advantage should entry into the looked system be considered. Evidence may be obtained from one or more of the following:

Whist it is recognised that requests may arise at any time from social workers for children to become looked after via voluntary agreement with the parents or via statutory intervention by the Local Authority, it is expected the day to day case management arrangements in Children's Social Care will mean the allocated social worker and their managers will be aware of those instances where there is possibility the child may need to become looked after.

7.2 Routes into Care

Disabled Children who are in receipt of a series of short breaks longer than 24 hours but no longer than four weeks at a time and less than 120 days in year are deemed to be looked after. Agreement for these children to become looked after is made by DCT Team Manager. The care episode can be commenced by the allocated social worker part completing the BLA notification on ICS reassigning the task to LACPT for authorisation.

An Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking child under the age of 18 who has made a claim for asylum and entered the UK without a parent, adult relative of adult house hold member will be assessed by the CLA service. Following a same day assessment of the child / young person the Team Manager can agree for the child to become looked after under Section 20. The care episode can be commenced by the allocated social worker part completing the BLA notification on ICS and assigning the task to LACPT for authorisation.

Young people remanded to Local Authority accommodation with or without a secure requirement by the Youth Court are also deemed to be looked after under Section 20 of the Children Act (1989) and should be referred straight away to the CLA service. Should advice be received of a remand from the Youth Offending Service, the child should be allocated a social worker. The social worker should open the case on ICS (if this has not already been done), and reassign the BLA notification part completed on ICS to LACPT for authorisation.

Children subject to police protection. Where a police constable has reasonable grounds to believe a child would otherwise suffer Significant Harm they may remove and seek to accommodate the child or ensure the child remains in his or her current location. Should the child be placed in regulated placement then the child will become looked after. This protection can last up to 72 hours and will in most instances be used outside working hours. Should the allocated social worker be advised of police exercising their powers of removal and placement then social worker can commence the care episode fro the child by part completing the BLA notification on ICS and reassigning the task for authorisation.

Local authorities must provide accommodation for children they are requested to receive under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), (see also PACE Transfer Policy). This accommodation will usually be overnight only or at weekends until the next available youth court date. Should the allocated social worker be advised of a placement of this kind the social worker can commence the care episode for the child by part completing the BLA notification on ICS and reassigning the task for authorisation.

The Operational Manager and Head of Service can authorise the seeking of an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) from the Court. EPOs give Parental Responsibility and the right to remove a child and last for up to 8 days with a possible extension of a further 7 days. The Operational Manager and Head of Service must be satisfied that the child is likely to suffer Significant Harm if not removed immediately to a care placement or to remain in their current location (e.g. hospital). Agreement to proceed with an application for an EPO can be as a result of a Legal Gateway Meeting chaired by the Operational Manager / Head of Service. Agreement must also be obtained by an Operational Manager / Head of Service not involved in the management of the case. Should the child become subject to an EPO then the social worker can commence the care episode for the child by part completing the BLA notification on ICS and reassigning the task to LACPT for authorisation.

Should the social worker wish to the child to remain looked after following expiry of the remand to local authority accommodation, police protection or emergency protection order the social worker will need to seek agreement from their manager and Team Manager to make a request to LACPT for the child to become looked after.

In all other cases where a social worker wishes to request that a child becomes looked after, the social worker must ensure the following:

  • There is a completed Single Assessment;
  • A family group conference has been held or least an FGC referral made;
  • The views of partner agencies have been sought;
  • The views of the parent(s) / carer(s) and child have been sought;
  • All other means for the child to be cared for in their kith / kin network have been explored and exhausted;
  • All support to ensuring the child can remain safe in their parents care have been explored and exhausted.

7.3 The Access to Resources Panel (ARCP)

This is a multi-agency panel, chaired by the Head of Service CIN with fixed membership consisting of senior managers from CIN, CLA, provider and placement services.

The purpose of the BLA Panel is to review the request made by the social worker for the child to become looked after or continue to remain looked after if that decision has been agreed in an emergency and agree resources. Resources include placements, FAS or FDAQ assessments and any other external assessments and family support services over and above 15 hours a week. Please see the ARCP Protocol.

The team manager, must attend the panel and present the case.

The social worker must also inform the parent(s)/carer(s) of the child concerned and, where the request concerns an older child, also inform the child that the case is being taken to ARCP to consider taking the child into care. The social worker should also seek the views of the parent(s)/carer(s) of the child concerned and of the child (where possible).

The social worker must ensure that the parent(s)/carer(s) of the child concerned and the child are made are of the outcomes of the ARCP meeting. The he minutes of the meeting are also sent to the parent(s)/carer(s) and to the child (where the child is considered old enough).

7.5 A Legal Planning Meeting or Becoming Looked After meeting (BLA)

A legal planning meeting will take place in circumstances where entering the PLO is being considered or the local authority is considering initiating care proceedings. All members of the Team around the child should attend these meetings. A lawyer would only be invited to the Legal Planning meeting.

These meetings are chaired by the Team Manager. Complex cases may be chaired by the Operational Manager.

The Operation manager must agree that a legal planning meeting can go ahead.

7.6 What Happens after it has been Agreed that a Child will Become Looked After?

The social worker will request a placement from the Children's Placement service and complete the CLA Risk Assessment and placement specification form.


8. The Social Worker's Responsibilities

Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline Procedure

IRO

To convene a Legal planning Meeting / planning Meeting and ensure that the following attend:

  • Allocated Social Worker;
  • DTM supervising the case;
  • Team Manager - chair of meeting;
  • Multi-Agency professionals;
  • Legal representative (if required).

Team Managers Responsibilities

To chair the Legal Planning meeting / Planning Meeting and make a recommendation to the Operation Manager e on whether or not a child should become Looked After or Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline should be initiated.

To record the Legal Planning Meeting / Planning Meeting.

To finalise the CLA request and state the reasons for their recommendation and decision by the Head of Service - if the decision is that a child needs to become Looked After before the case can be presented to ARCP.

To alert the IRO Manager and LACPT admin. team when the decision is that a child should become Looked After or PLO procedures are being initiated.

To present the case to ARCP for the child to become looked after and for any resources that may be required IRO Service's Responsibilities.

To allocate an IRO within 48 hours of a child becoming Looked After.


Appendices

Appendix 1: Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 – A guidance note for parents and professionals

Appendix 2: Section 20 Agreement template

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