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5.1.10 Placements with Connected Persons (Regulation 24)

NOTE

Children may also be placed with Connected Persons as a result of being remanded – see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation.

This chapter should be read in conjunction with Family and Friends Care Policy.

REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS

See also Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 Regulations 17, 26, 27 and Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011 3, 10, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 26, 28, 30.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in February 2016.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Approval of Immediate Placements of Looked After Children Connected Person  
  3. Assessment and Approval of Connected Person as Foster Carers
  4. Ending the Placement

    Appendix 1: Form 1 - Assessment Report - compiled by supervising Social Worker

    Appendix 2: Form 2 - Assessment Report - to be completed by Placing Social Worker

    Appendix 3: Applicants Report

    Appendix 4: Form 3 - Matching Report

    Appendix 5: Flowchart


1. Introduction

Regulatory Framework

  • Care Planning Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010;
  • Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011;
  • Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Vol 2 and 4;
  • Friends and Family Care: Statutory Guidance for LAs (2011);
  • Fostering Services National Minimum Standards;
  • Children Act 1989 Section 22 C "rehabilitative duty" where consistent with child's welfare.

Is a family/friends/Connected Person the most appropriate placement available?

The following procedure covers immediate placements of Looked After children with a Connected Person, i.e. where the carers are not already approved as foster carers. The making of such a placement requires consultation with both the child care team managers and the fostering service. This is very much a joint collaboration between the two teams. A case decision form must be signed for the child to be Accommodated as a Regulation 24 placement.

Definition

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."

See Appendix 4: Simple Flowchart and Appendix 5: Flowchart and fostering templates for a guide to making a placement.

 "Every effort should be made to maximise the level and quality of information to support the decision as to whether the person(s) should be temporarily approved as foster carers."

Blackburn with Darwen's procedures are set out in Appendix 1: Form 1 - Assessment Report - compiled by supervising Social Worker and Appendix 2: Form 2 - Assessment Report - to be completed by Placing Social Worker. These forms are to be used by the placing social worker and the fostering social worker as a format for assessing the immediate suitability of the placement and subsequent approval of the placement.

Form 2 sets out the procedure for the placing social worker, who must complete this form prior to placing any child with a relative/friend/Connected Person. In form 2, the information as denoted by "m" is the essential information needed for the Nominated Officer (Head of Service, Permanence or Head of Service, Social Work Services) to agree temporary approval.


2.Approval of Immediate Placements of Looked After Children Connected Person

See:

A PC1 check on all household members needs to be completed before such a placement can be made.

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 Permanence (Agency Decision Maker) is required.

Any such approval can only be given for 16 weeks from the date of the placement.

Matters to be taken into account when assessing the suitability of a Connected Person to care for the child are: (see Form 2 for specific guidance re: Schedule 4 requirements)

Essential Information

  1. The nature and quality of any existing relationship specifically 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;
  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.

Duties during the initial sixteen week placement period

Regulation 24 requires that during this period the child must be visited at least once a week and seen alone, unless the child - being of sufficient age and understanding - refuses to be seen. Weekly visits are required until the first statutory review, subsequently no more than an interval of 4 weeks. Social workers should however bear in mind that inability to gain access and visit the child alone has been cited as dangerous practice and in breach of the Authority's duty of care to Looked After children. In all cases, the social workers should make every effort to see the child. These visits should form part of the assessment.

Form 1 sets out the guidance for the fostering social worker to complete the family / carer assessment.

The proposed carer should be given information about the assessment process, 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 fostering assessment. This is usually explained by the Fostering Support Officer at the initial stages of placement. A booklet is available to explain the process in more detail.

Where the social workers are in any doubt as to the suitability of the placement, they should consult the Fostering Service managers / team managers for advice before the placement is agreed, and during the placement if there are concerns.

Where the placement appears suitable and is approved by the Nominated Officer (Head of Service, Social Work Services) arrangements for finance and equipment should be agreed as soon as possible.

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

The placement may only continue after sixteen weeks if the carer is approved 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) 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 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.

The Care Planning Regulations state that the placing social worker must convene a placement planning meeting before or within five days of placement.

Within the timescales of the placement, the child's social worker should have:

1.

Identified the best options for permanence for the child. If care proceedings are being considered then the case needs to be evaluated by the Care Planning Meeting to decide on the best options for permanence.

Permanence options will include one or more of these:

Permanence options will include one or more of these:

  • Return home with a support plan where needed
  • Longer term placement in foster care, with the relative/friend/Connected Person with whom the child is currently placed or with other approved foster carers.
  • Placement until 18 years with the relative/friend/Connected Person with whom the child has been placed or with another family member, friend or Connected Person, by virtue of a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship Order.
  • Adoption

Preference must be given to placement with a Connected Person who is a foster carer.

Arranging a meeting with the Permanence Advisor can assist with consideration of possible permanence options within the wider family and any practical matters. The permanence option (including any parallel or contingency plan) which is most likely to meet the child's needs while growing into adulthood should be set out in the permanence plan for the child to be considered at the four month statutory review.

2. Obtained and recorded all the information required by the Form 2 Assessment Report: Children's Needs (in the main, transferable from the Child and Family Assessment).
3. Spend time with the child, listening to their concerns and offering age appropriate information about why the placement was made and what the options are for the future. For many children, especially younger children, this should be in the form of structured play / activity sessions aimed at sharing information and ascertaining their wishes and feelings about being separated from their parents and, where relevant, siblings and others about the placement that is being planned. The views of the parents and others with Parental Responsibility must be obtained before a placement is made.

The Authority's Permanence Policy states:

"Permanence is achieved when a child belongs legally to the family in which he or she lives and is the best way of ensuring that children have secure, stable and loving families to support them throughout childhood and beyond."

Planning for permanence should be a continuous process that begins when an immediate placement is made and continues so long as the child remains Looked After.


3. Assessment and Approval of Connected Person as Foster Carers

See:

Within sixteen weeks of the placement, the fostering team should have completed the full Assessment Report: Relative/Friend/Connected Person of a Child as Prospective Foster Carer with a view to full approval as foster carers.

Prior to the meeting of the fostering panel

It is essential that the two workers complete the matching form (Form 3) which clearly identifies the needs of the child being placed and the strengths / vulnerabilities of the placement and identified support needs.

The child's social worker and fostering team worker should collaboratively have completed all paperwork and submitted to the panel administrator. The panel administrator will advise on the time and date of the panel. It is essential the social workers attend the fostering panel. The carers will also be invited to attend. They will be advised of this by the social workers. The Fostering Support Officer is available to support the carers at panel.

The teams should agree who is to present the reports to panel and who is to arrange transport and support of the child and/or carers where they are attending the panel meeting for approval.

NB: There is some repetition in regard to information in the mandatory fields in Form 2. It would be prudent to discuss the assessment process with the friends and family fostering team to gather and collate this information.

Either before or at the 16 weeks, if the carers are approved as foster carers, the procedures in relation to support, supervision, training and review of foster carers are the same as for all approved foster carers.


4. Ending the Placement

If, or when the placement ends, the fostering social worker and the child's social worker must ascertain the reasons for the ending of the placement and update the record on ICS. Notification must be send to the finance section so that payments to the carer will cease.

Where 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.


Appendix 1: Form 1 - Assessment Report - compiled by supervising Social Worker

Click here to view 'Form 1 - Assessment Report - compiled by supervising Social Worker'.


Appendix 2: Form 2 - Assessment Report - to be completed by Placing Social Worker

Click here to view 'Form 2 - Assessment Report - to be completed by Placing Social Worker'.


Appendix 3: Applicants Report

Click here to view 'Applicants Report'.


Appendix 4: Form 3 - Matching Report

Click here to view 'Form 3 - Matching Report'.


Appendix 5: Flowchart

Click here to view 'Flowchart'.

End