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3.2.9 Notifications to Other Authorities of Children Placed Out of Leeds

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure indicates the action to be taken when placing a child looked after by Leeds City Council in a placement which is geographically within the area of another local authority.

Other related procedures are:

Note that different provisions apply to children who acquire Looked After status as a result of a remand to local authority accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation. In relation to those children, please see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People on Remand.

RELATED GUIDANCE

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in December 2015 in line with the above guidance, and should be re-read. Section 3, Placement Considerations is new and sets out the key issues to be considered when assessing the appropriateness of a placement outside Leeds.


Contents

  1. Background
  2. Approval of Placement by Nominated Officer/Director of Children’s Services
  3. Placement Considerations
  4. Notification of Placements
  5. Emergency Placements
  6. Placements in Wales

    Appendix 1: Suggested Information for Discussion between Authorities when Planning Distant Placements

    Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol


1. Background

When one local authority places a child which it is looking after within the area of another local authority, regardless of the type of placement, it must notify that authority of the placement and provide certain information.

The primary purpose of this requirement is to enable the local authority within whose area the child is placed, to be able to maintain a register of all Children Looked After resident within its area.

This register should include details of:

  • Those children which it is itself looking after;
  • Those children looked after by another local authority, but where there has been agreement that it will carry out some functions;
  • Those children who are looked after by another local authority and where the other local authority continues to carry out all functions.

Where it is proposed to place a child within the area of another local authority and it is felt appropriate to request that that local authority should carry out certain functions on behalf of Leeds City Council Children’s Social Work Service (e.g. supervision of the placement), no presumptions may be made prior to agreement at a formal planning meeting, where representatives of the local authorities concerned are present, and an agreement to carry out the functions required has been made and an undertaking to this effect given in writing.


2. Approval of Placement by Nominated Officer/Director of Children’s Services

The decision to place the child out of area must be approved by the Nominated Officer, unless it is a Placements at a Distance, (i.e. outside the area of the local authority and not within the area of any adjoining local authority), in which case the approval of the Director of Children’s Services is required.

The Nominated Officer/ Director of Children’s Services must be satisfied of the following:

  • That the child’s wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
  • That the placement is the most appropriate placement available for the child and consistent with the Care Plan;
  • That relatives have been consulted where appropriate;
  • That the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) has been consulted (usually the IRO will discuss with the child after the child has visited the proposed placement);
  • That the area authority has been notified, or, for a  Placement at a Distance, the area authority have been consulted and have been provided with a copy of the child’s Care Plan (see Section 3, Placement Considerations).


3. Placement Considerations

Placements at a Distance will require effective planning, engagement and information sharing with the services likely to be responsible for meeting the child’s needs in the future. Consultation with the area authority must (except in an emergency) be undertaken in good time to enable a thorough assessment of appropriateness to be made. Appendix 1: Suggested Information for Discussion between Authorities when Planning Distant Placements suggests information that might be discussed with the area authority.

Where the placement under consideration is in a children’s home, account should be taken of the information in the home’s Statement of Purpose and its location assessment (which should include details of the home’s safeguarding arrangements, including any measures taken by the home to manage safeguarding concerns arising from the neighbourhood where the home is located).

In assessing the suitability of an out of authority placement, consideration should be given to the arrangements which will need to be put in place to enable the child to access services such as primary and secondary health care. Where the child will require specialist health services such as CAMHS, the Clinical Commissioning Group (local health board in Wales) that commissions secondary healthcare in the area authority should be consulted, to establish whether the placement is appropriate and able to meet the child’s needs. The designated nurse for looked-after children in the area authority will also be a valuable source of advice and information.

Similarly, the Virtual School Head for looked-after children in the area authority, (Looked After Children Education Co-ordinators (LACE) in Wales) should be able to advise about access to school support.

For children vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, children’s services in the area authority will be an important source of intelligence and information about local arrangements for safeguarding children.


4. Notification of Placements

Notification of Placements Made, or to be Made, Outside Leeds

Where it is proposed to use a placement for a child outside Leeds, agreement must first be obtained for the funding of that placement. In some circumstances, for example: Foster carers who are recruited from outside Leeds boundaries; Foster carers who move to live outside Leeds boundaries; placements with parents where the parents have moved outside Leeds; or placements with extended family or friends, the placement may be made in the normal manner but the requirement to notify the other local authority concerned remains.

In all cases, contact should be made with the local authority concerned prior to the move and within two working days if the placement is an emergency and therefore unplanned. The responsible officer should contact the local authority‘s Children’s Social Work Service and obtain the name and address of the person who should be notified of the placement. This is likely to vary from area to area. In some cases it will be sufficient to notify the local office. In others there will be a need to notify someone at the local authority's central office.

The responsible officer will undertake the notification activity and contact the other local authority will be determined by the child’s individual situation as noted below.

  Circumstances for placement outside the Leeds area Responsible officer
1 Child Looked After placed in pre-adoptive placement outside of the Leeds area. Adoption team
2

Child Looked After placed with:

  • In house foster carers;
  • Kinship carers / connected persons;
  • Independent fostering agency;
  • Parents;
  • Residential.

who live outside of the Leeds area.

Child’s SW
3 Child Looked After subject to Care Orders or ICO living in semi independent / supported lodgings or independent accommodation outside of the Leeds area Child’s SW
4 Child Looked After living in residential education establishments outside of the Leeds area. Child’s SW
5

Child Looked After placed within:

  • Independent residential home;
  • Secure accommodation;
  • Remand;
  • Hospital / health settings.

outside the Leeds area.

Child’s SW

The responsible officer must complete the Out of Leeds Notification Form which conforms to a standard agreed by the Association of Directors of Children and Families' Services for notifying other local authorities of a placement made within their area. 

The completed ‘out of Leeds notification form’ must be accompanied by the Out of Leeds Notification Letter indicating the name; address and telephone number of the social worker and their team manager and also contact details for Leeds emergency duty team (EDT).

The written notification should also provide:

  1. Details of the assessment of the child’s needs and the reasons why the placement is the most suitable for responding to these; and
  2. A copy of the child’s care plan (unless already provided in the case of a Placement at a Distance).

The responsible officer must also ensure that notification of the placement is also sent to the education service in the area in which the child is being placed. The responsibility for the child's health needs remains with the home health trust. The child should still be registered with a GP dentist and where appropriate, an optician where they are now living.

Where it is subsequently decided to terminate the placement, the other local authority should be separately informed in writing of this using the ‘out of Leeds notification form’ regardless of whether they attended a review meeting which decided on this course of action and / or whether they received the minutes of any meeting.

Placements Where the Other Local Authority are to Carry Out Certain Functions on Behalf of Leeds CSWS

Where a child is placed outside the boundaries of Leeds, it is possible to negotiate for the other local authority concerned to undertake some functions on behalf of Leeds CSWS. This is more likely to apply where the child is placed with foster carers and will usually extend to the other local authority supervising the placement on behalf of Leeds. For example, the other local authority would undertake to:

  • Supervise the placement and be satisfied that the welfare of the child continues to be suitably provided for;
  • Visit the placement regularly (e.g. the minimum would be that within the first year of placement, the first visit would be within one week and then at intervals of not more than six weeks; subsequently, at intervals of not more than three months). Circumstances may require more regular visits, particularly if requested by the child or carer;
  • Give advice to the carers as appears to be needed.

It would never be appropriate to request another local authority to supervise the placement of a child looked after by Leeds CSWS and placed in secure accommodation and/or subject to Section 53 of the Children and Young Person Act 1933.

Where it is agreed at a planning meeting, that another local authority are to supervise a placement on behalf of Leeds CSWS, the responsible officer must ensure that in addition to the information noted in the procedure above, the local authority concerned are supplied sufficient information to enable them to competently supervise the placement. This is likely to include copies of previous care plans, review minutes, key reports etc. 

In particular, the supervising local authority should be provided with the following documentation:

  • Placement information record;
  • Child care plan - Children Looked After;
  • Review of arrangements (most recent one - if applicable);
  • Assessment and action record (most recent one - if applicable).

Procedure

Where a significant incident arises in the placement, whilst the child is placed outside Leeds and another local authority is supervising the placement that local authority will be expected to respond to the presenting needs. However except in an absolute emergency (e.g. where it is not possible to contact the child's social worker or their team manager, or EDT. The supervising local authority should not take any significant action or remove the child without consultation with the child's social worker or team manager at Leeds. At all times case management responsibility remains with Leeds City Council CSWS.

The supervising local authority should be invited to attend all review meetings for the child whilst the child is placed within their area and they are supervising the placement.

Where it is decided to terminate the placement, the supervising local authority should be separately informed in writing of this, regardless of whether they attended a review meeting which decided on this course of action and/or whether they received the minutes of any meeting.


5. Emergency Placements

In the case of a placement made in an emergency, the approval of the Nominated Officer/Director of Children’s Services is still required and s/he must be satisfied that the child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration and that the placement is the most appropriate placement available consistent with the Care Plan. Within 5 working days the IRO must be informed; relatives be consulted (where appropriate) and the area authority notified.


6. Placements in Wales

For placements in Wales, the Welsh Government has developed a protocol for notifying the local authority and the local health board when a child has been placed there from outside the area, and again when the placement ends. This protocol is attached at Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol.


Appendix 1: Suggested Information for Discussion between Authorities when Planning Distant Placements

Basic information about the child

  • Name and date of birth;
  • Legal status (subject of a care order (s.31 Children Act); voluntarily accommodated (s.20) remanded (s. 21);
  • Number of previous placements – outline reasons for child leaving earlier placements.

Plans for the child’s care

  • Details of the assessment of the child’s needs, with information about the child’s wishes and feelings, with reasons the planned placement is suitable;
  • Duration of placement (emergency/short-term/long-term/permanent). If it is not possible to assess the intended duration of placement – reasons for this and when this information will be available;
  • Arrangements for contact;
  • Details of who will be responsible for implementing plans for the child’s day to day care (the ‘placement plan’) including details of arrangements for delegating responsibilities to the child’s carer(s);
  • Details of any plans to offer the child care leaving support (as an ‘eligible child’) during the anticipated duration of the placement;
  • Contingency arrangements if the plan to support the child in the current placement does not succeed.

Services to support the child

  • Details of plans to meet the child’s educational needs – information about the school the child is expected to attend; details of plans for supporting the child if a school has not been identified;
  • Information about plans to meet the child’s health needs, e.g. whether the child requires secondary health care (including metal health and other specialist health care), including details about the CCG acting as “responsible commissioner.”
  • Details of any youth justice supervision order that would need to be overseen by youth justice services in the area authority.

Local authorities have a common interest in supporting high standards of corporate parenting for all looked-after children.

When approached for consultation about potential placements, area authorities should be able to offer a professional view about the benefits of a planned placement, the benefits of living in the neighbourhood where the placement is located and the potential for local services to respond appropriately to the needs of the child concerned.

Local authorities could also advise about other sources of information to assist social workers and commissioners in determining whether a distant out of authority placement is the most appropriate for the child concerned (e.g. the Virtual School Head or the Designated Nurse for looked-after children).


Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol

(This protocol was developed by the Welsh Government in conjunction with the children’s residential care sector in Wales.)

Where a child who is looked-after is placed at distance the responsible authority has a statutory duty to notify the local authority and the health care provider, in the area in which the child is to be placed, of the arrangements for placement prior to placement and no later than 10 days thereafter.

Similarly, where a child is provided with accommodation by any Local Health Board, Special Health Authority, Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Trust or by a local authority in exercise of education functions for three months or more or with the intention of the placement lasting for this time the Accommodating Authority has a duty to notify the appropriate officer of the responsible authority.

Where a child is provided with accommodation in any care home or independent hospital for three months or more or with the intention of the placement lasting for this time the residential setting has a statutory duty to notify the lead Director of Social Services in the area in which the establishment is situated.

Notification should be sent to the Director of Social Services in the local authority in which the home is situated.

Click here to access the Out of Area Notification Protocol Form for use by children’s homes in Wales*.

* This information has been reproduced from the Department for Education publication: The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations - Volume 2: care planning, Placement and Case Review (2015).

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