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Amendments to the Children Act 1989 Guidance; Care Planning, Placement and Case Review - Implications for BwD Procedures

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Where a long-term foster placement is agreed this is recorded in a child’s Placement Plan; and that appropriate and flexible visiting and case review arrangements are made.

RELATED CHAPTERS

Placements in Foster Care Procedure

Social Worker Visits to Looked After Children Procedure

Looked After Reviews Procedure

This chapter was added to the manual in February 2016.


Contents

  1. Procedures
  2. Flexible Visiting and Case Review Arrangements


1. Procedures

Long term fostering

When as a result of the assessment process the most appropriate route to permanence is long term fostering, arrangements for making such a placement must include:

  • Long term  foster care is the ’plan for permanence’  which has been confirmed at the second  review or subsequent review and is recorded in the child’s Care Plan;
  • The foster carer has agreed to act as the child’s foster carer until the child ceases to be looked after;
  • The social worker has confirmed the arrangement with the foster carer(s), the birth parents and the child and the discussion is recorded as a case note;
  • The foster carer fully understands and explicitly agrees to the long term commitment they are making to the child. The social worker should record the discussion and the outcome as part of the assessment process;
  • The decision should then be recorded in the Placement Plan and agreed and signed by the foster carer;
  • As far as possible the matching should have taken place prior to placement but when this is not feasible (e.g. child already with carers as a short term placement) then timescale for matching must be agreed at the review);
  • Independent Reviewing Officer will provide oversight within the review period to ensure matching takes place within the agreed timescale.


2. Flexible Visiting and Case Review Arrangements

  • When the child is placed in a long term foster placement the child will be visited by the social worker within one week of the start of placement. Thereafter, the child must be visited at intervals of at least once every six weeks for the first year of the placement;
  • When a child has been matched and in placement for a year or more, consideration should be given to reducing the frequency of visits and whether it is necessary to hold a meeting as part of each review. The proposal would be to replace the six  month review with a paper review;
  • When it is agreed that the frequency of visits can be reduced, visits during the subsequent years must take place at intervals of six months if the child, carer and IRO have agreed to this minimum frequency of visits;
  • The agreed frequency of the visits must be determined by the circumstances of the case and visits must be arranged when reasonably requested by a child or foster carer;
  • Prior to instigating discussions or consultations the social worker must seek team manager agreement. This needs to be supported by direct evidence that the child will continue to be safeguarded despite reduced direct contact. The discussion needs to recorded and place on child’s file;
  • The social worker must consult with the IRO, carer and child (where appropriate to age and understanding) in order to reach a decision as to whether or not frequency of visits can be reduced;
  • The decision needs to be ratified at the fourth or subsequent review and recorded as a recommendation by the IRO. The social worker needs to ensure the care plan is updated to reflect this decision;
  • The decision to change the frequency of statutory visits must be ratified through completion of a case decision form and signed by the Service Lead;
  • Prior to instigating discussions or consultations on conducting the sixth month review as a paper review, the IRO must seek management agreement and be able to evidence that the child will continue to be safeguarded despite the review not being conducted as a meeting. The decision needs to be recorded and placed on the child’s file;
  • In circumstances where it is agreed that a meeting will not be held as part of every review, the review must be conducted as a meeting at least once a year;
  • The IRO needs to consult with the child and carer in respect of changing the sixth month review to a paper review;
  • When conducting a paper review the IRO must follow the review process and ensure that full consultation with all relevant individuals, including the child, takes place to inform the review;
  • The IRO must gather the views and wishes of the child through the child’s chosen method of communication as is reasonably practicable (phone, letter, email, Skype, visit etc.);
  • The social worker must provide a summary oversight of the case for the paper review, including an update on progress of the care plan. Therefore, the six month visit must take place before the paper review;
  • An accurate and comprehensive record must be provided by the IRO when a paper review is conducted instead of a review meeting. This should be saved to the child’s file;
  • The decision and supporting factors to hold review meetings on a less frequent basis needs to be recorded in the child’s care plan;
  • Consideration needs to be given as to whether the delegated responsibilities remain appropriate. This needs to be recorded within the placement plan;
  • For older young people the pathway plan and staying put arrangements need to be reflected in the planning and review cycle.

Changes to frequency of visits and case review arrangements should be considered with due regard to the circumstances of the child and the placement and should not be considered as an automatic decision once the child has been in placement for 12 months or more.

Should there be any significant changes impacting on the child, consideration needs to be given to increasing the frequency of the visits and whether or not a review meeting needs to be convened.

End