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6.1.13 Placement Disruption Meetings (Foster Care and Residential Care)


See also Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 Regulation 17, and Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011, 15, 31.


In July 2015, this chapter was amended throughout following review. Also, new Appendix 2: Process for Placement Disruption Meetings was added.


  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose of Disruption Meetings
  3. Timing
  4. Format of Meeting
  5. Recommendations
  6. Learning from Disruption

    Appendix 1: Foster Care Disruption Meeting Questionnaire

    Appendix 2: Process for Placement Disruption Meetings

1. Introduction

The disruption meeting process will culminate in a formal meeting where all the information gathered can be discussed and conclusions arrived at with the regard to what the needs of the child/young person are going forward and to inform any future placement of children with carers. There will also be learning that can be used to further develop placement services.

There will be a core group of attendees with additional significant people being invited to contribute if required to attend by appointment for part of the meeting.

The meeting will follow the gathering of information through questionnaires (See Appendix 1: Foster Care Disruption Meeting Questionnaire) that will be sent to the social workers, carers, child or young person (in an appropriate manner), and others who may have relevant information.

In order to ensure that the meeting can be managed and kept focused, it is intended that the nominated Chair/facilitator will have an important role in preparing for the meeting, which will necessitate the reading of relevant documents  in advance of the meeting.

The importance of the role of the minute-taker must be acknowledged. A skilled minute taker will ensure that a full and accurate record is kept of the meeting.

For the purpose of this policy disruption is defined as follows:


“Any placement which ends in an unplanned way following placement. It would be usual for a disruption meeting to be held when long term placements break down however, this process could also be used in order to plan more appropriately for any child who may have experienced placement break down”.

Research informs us that there are four main causes of disruption:

  • The emergence of previously unidentified, misunderstood or unknown factors;
  • The mis-assessment of the family leading to an inappropriate match or the child’s readiness to make the move;
  • The appearance of unpredictable circumstances which have impacted on the process;
  • Lack of all available information about the child given to carers.

2. Purpose of Disruption Meetings

The purpose of this process (the disruption meeting) is to review the sequence of events leading up to the disruption and to identify learning points, the primary aim of which will be to assist in planning for the child’s future. The main aims are as follows:

  • To share information and identify factors which have led to the disruption;
  • To identify learning which will inform future planning for the child;
  • To enable the process of ‘healing’ for the child and the family/carer;
  • To develop and improve knowledge and practice in the field.

3. Timing

It is essential that a disruption meeting is held in a timely fashion. It is suggested that as a guide a period of 4 - 12 weeks after the placement has ended will be the most appropriate timescale. It is important to give people time to recover from the immediate trauma but if too long a period elapses, then memories become less reliable, and also, any conclusions/recommendations reached by the disruption meeting will not be available to inform the future planning process for the child.

4. Format of Meeting

It is agreed that the meeting should focus on the circumstances of the disruption and that whilst information about the child’s background is relevant, it should not become the focus of the meeting.

  • Preparation work and the appropriate documents would enable the meeting to be shorter and more focused;
  • Views should be sought in writing from all those who have a contribution to make. A disruption questionnaire will be sent to aid the information gathering process;
  • The Chair, in discussion with the child’s social worker, identifies those parties to whom the disruption questionnaire is to be sent;
  • The disruption process administrator  is responsible for sending out the disruption questionnaires with a return stamped addressed envelope (return address agreed with Chair), marked confidential, for the attention of the Disruption Chair (name of Chair);
  • All documents will be made available to the Chair two weeks prior to the meeting;
  • The Chair will identify key areas on which to focus and summarise for the meeting.

Areas for consideration in analysis of disruption:

  • Relevant background information on child;
  • Significant events in child’s life;
  • Matching process;
  • Planning for placement;
  • Preparation of child;
  • Introductions;
  • The placement;
  • The disruption.

Disruption Meeting Agenda:

  • Introduction;
  • Key factors;
  • Main summary;
  • Could anything have been different?
  • Future.

Attendance at Meeting

Core group:

  • Independent Chair (a manager or advanced practitioner who is independent of the case);
  • Child’s social worker;
  • Foster carer’s social worker;
  • Foster carers (may be invited for part of the meeting only);
  • Previous foster carers (if appropriate).


  • School/nursery;
  • Medical (i.e. Health Visitor; Community Paediatrician);
  • Current carers;
  • Reviewing officer;
  • CAMHS/therapist;
  • Psychologist;
  • Representative for child;
  • Older/adult children of foster carers;
  • Any other person with a significant contribution to make.

Child's Views and Feelings

It is essential that the views of the child are represented at the meeting. This may be via the child's social worker, the current carer or an independent worker. Older children should be given the opportunity to express their views in writing, either by completing a simple questionnaire or by writing a letter. Younger children should be assisted via an age-appropriate medium to share their feelings about the disruption and their views on what should happen in the future.

An older child may wish to attend part of the meeting or perhaps more appropriately to meet with the Chair/Facilitator prior to the meeting.

Documents Required:

  • Summary of the case provided by the child’s social worker;
  • Completed questionnaires;
  • Last review of the child;
  • Last PEP.


The role of the Chair is crucial. It is considered essential that the Chair should be independent of the child’s case and should have sufficient knowledge and expertise to be able to appropriately Chair the meeting, gather and analyse data provided and come to appropriate conclusions.

The Role of the Chair:

  • Identify disruption meeting invitation list and duration of attendance, identify who should be sent questionnaires, agree return address;
  • Liaise with all relevant persons to ensure that documentation as requested is received by nominated date;
  • To prepare a précis/summary to present to the meeting based on information received;
  • Pose questions/issues to be raised;
  • Summarise feedback from questionnaires;
  • To enable participants to share their views/feelings appropriately;
  • Summarise main findings/conclusions of meeting to inform future planning;
  • Produce written summary for circulation by date agreed;
  • Once concluded the Chair should agree the minutes within four weeks of receipt of the minutes from the minute taker.

Admin Support/Minute Taking

An administration process is at Appendix 2: Process for Placement Disruption Meetings. Dedicated administration support is available to support this process.

The minutes must be accurate and should provide a detailed record of the meeting. They should reflect the format of the meeting.

The minutes should be checked by the Chair and a copy sent to the child's social worker to place on file. A copy should also be sent to the foster carer's social worker.

The full minutes should not be available to anyone else.

The Chair’s summary should be made available to relevant panels and should be used to inform future placements.

5. Recommendations

The Chair should agree the minutes within two weeks of receipt of the minutes from the minute taker.

It is important that the conclusions and recommendations made by the meeting should be made available in a timely manner to those who are involved in planning for the child’s future.

6. Learning from Disruption

Chairs of disruption meetings will meet at least twice per year to collate learning from disruption meetings. The learning will be collated into a short report by the Head of Service – permanence that can then be used to improve future practise.

This report will be shared at children’s management  team and team meetings by way of dissemination.

Appendix 1: Foster Care Disruption Meeting Questionnaire

Click here to view 'Foster Care Disruption Meeting Questionnaire'.

Appendix 2: Process for Placement Disruption Meetings

Click here to view Appendix 2: Process for Placement Disruption Meetings