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3.2.2 Placement with Connected Persons

If you are looking for any standard templates to use that are listed in these procedures, please click on this link below as this will take you to the Children's Social Care area of Izzi (the council's intranet).

N.B: This is only possible if you are logged into the Council's network.

There are a lot of template documents there but if there is any thing you cannot find, please contact the relevant Team or Operational Manager for the area of practice concerned.

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RELATED GUIDANCE

Family Rights Group – Initial Family and Friends Care Assessment: a good practice guide

AMENDMENT

In August 2017, Section 3, Approval of Immediate Placements of Looked After Children with Connected Persons was updated to incorporate the importance of an initial risk assessment of any pets, together with the environment in which the pet is kept, when placing a child with a Connected Person. A link was added into Related Guidance to the FRG Initial Family and Friends Care Assessment: a good practice guide. This resource outlines what a viability assessment for family and friend carers should look like, what social workers should consider and how to undertake international assessments.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Situations where these Procedures do not Apply
  3. Approval of Immediate Placements of Looked After Children with Connected Persons
  4. The Placement
  5. Assessment and Approval of a Connected Person as a Foster Carer
  6. Ending the Placement


1. Introduction

The following procedures cover immediate placements of looked after children with a Connected Person, i.e. where the carers are not already approved as foster carers. Placements made under this procedure should be made in exceptional circumstances. This could include 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. It could be someone who knows the child in a more professional capacity such as (for example) a child-minder, a teacher or a youth worker’.

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’.

This 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 if the placement is to last longer than 16 weeks.


2. Situations where these Procedures do not Apply

These procedures do not apply where a child (under 16 years) goes to live with a relative or friend and this is a private arrangement between the parent/person with Parental Responsibility and carer.

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 Arrangements Procedure.


3. Approval of Immediate Placements of Looked After Children with Connected Persons

Before any placement with a Connected Person who is not already approved as a foster carer is made, the approval of the Nominated Officer 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 a Foster Carer.

The Family Plus Team must be informed immediately a placement is made by the social work team. The matter must be presented to the children’s panel with two weeks to discuss and plan the assessment of carers suitability with a view to the current arrangements and also the permanence needs of the child. The Family Plus Team with the social worker will complete the assessment within 16 weeks and ensure an urgent completion of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) application.

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 including where relevant an initial risk assessment of any pets together with the environment in which the pet is kept; 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;
  3. State of health (physical, emotional and mental), and medical history including current or past issues of domestic violence, 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 violence 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;
  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 process which will follow if the placement is to last longer than 16 weeks, including the need for DBS 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 relevant Operations Manager Placements), a written Foster carers Agreement should be completed by the child's social worker with the proposed carer. If the carers are a couple, both partners should sign the Foster Carers Agreement.

The prospective carers need to be made aware that any approval is only temporary and does not imply continued approval beyond the 16 weeks. Arrangements should be made to complete the DBS applications as soon as possible and for a full medical for the prospective foster carers. Arrangements must also be made to interview 2 unrelated referees who have known the applicants over 2 years.

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 a Foster Carer or in exceptional circumstances where the temporary approval is extended.

This temporary approval can be extended for a further period of up to 8 weeks (if it is likely to expire before the assessment is completed e.g. if the DBS has not returned) 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 at the Independent review mechanism which reviews Fostering Suitability decisions - see Assessment, Approval and Review of Foster Carers Procedure).

The Family Plus Team must be informed immediately a placement is made by the social work team. The matter must be presented to the children’s placement panel within 2 weeks to discuss the plan the assessment of the carers suitability with a view to the current arrangements and also the permanence needs of the child. The Family Plus Team with the social worker will complete the assessment within 16 weeks and ensure an urgent completion of the DBS application.

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 5 working days.

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 will inform the Family plus team and the placements business and contracts team of the child's placement and a request for the child's first Looked After Review to the Independent Review Unit. The Placements Business and Contracts Team will notify the relevant authorities.

If the child was already looked after, 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 Looked After Review and thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks during the period of temporary approval. The visits are to be fully recorded as statutory visits.

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.

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.

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.

In relation to a first Looked After placement it will also be necessary for the social worker to arrange a Health Assessment - see Health Care Assessments and Health Care Plans 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 a Connected Person as a Foster Carer

If the plan is for the placement to last longer than 16 weeks, 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 Family plus team so that a social worker will be allocated for this purpose. after the first fostering panel hearing. The pre-placement assessment should be sent to the Fostering Service as part of the referral.

This temporary 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 Assessment, Approval and Review 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.

The allocated child's 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 Fostering panel will expect to see 2 referee discussions, local police check, medical enquiries, and that DBS's and medicals are in progress.

The panel will expect to see the dates of weekly visits.

The allocated assessing social worker will check proof of identity from the proposed carers a and consent to other agency checks.

The signed consent form will be given to the administrative staff in the Fostering Service who will send off for the necessary checks as set out in Assessment, Approval and Review of Foster Carers Procedure, Assessment of Carers.

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 Assessment, Approval and Review 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 Placements Business and Contracts Team, even if the carer goes onto becoming a Special Guardian.

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

End