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3.2.5 Placements with Parents

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to any placement of a child, on a Care Order or an Interim Care Order, with a parent or person with Parental Responsibility (or person who held a Child Arrangements Order immediately before the Care Order was made) for more than 24 hours, when either a short term or an immediate placement with parent is required.

Children may also be placed with parents having acquired Looked After status following a Remand to Local Authority Accommodation - see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.

RELATED CHAPTERS

Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure

Ceasing to Look After a Child Procedure

Reunification Guidance

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

  • The Children Act 1989 - Section 23, and Schedule 14: Para 17;
  • Arrangements for Placement of Children (General) Regulations 1991;
    Statutory Instruments No. 890
  • The Placement of Children With Parents Etc. Regulations 1991;
    Statutory Instruments No. 893
  • Reviews of Childrens' Cases Regulations 1991;
    Statutory Instruments No. 895
  • Guidance and Regulations Volume 3: Family Placements.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was substantially revised in June 2017 to reflect the adoption of the Reunification Framework by Children’s Social Work Services. It should be read in full.

Leeds Children’s Services have adopted the Department for Education, NSPCC and University of Bristol Reunification Practice Framework. The framework incudes: assessment; analysis of risk and protective factors; analysis of parental capacity to sustain change; decision making; planning; and support for reunification. The Reunification Procedures and Workflow (see Reunification Guidance) should be followed when assessing, and planning for a child to be placed in the care of their parents when they are currently in the care of the Local Authority.


Contents

  1. Principles
  2. Short Term Placements
  3. Immediate Placements
  4. Reviewing the Arrangement and Progress Updates
  5. Ending of Placements with Parents
  6. Discharging the Care Order


1. Planned Placements

The principles that should inform the decision to place a child with their parents under a Care Order include:

  • Children and young people are best placed with their families when it is safe to do so;
  • Family decision making and restorative practice will be central to our approach;
  • Placement with parents should be seen as a short term, temporary arrangement;
  • The decision to place with parents will follow a satisfactory safeguarding assessment;
  • There is stringent planning and oversight once the child is placed; and
  • There is continued assessment of risk and need.

The purpose should be to work with the parents to achieve agreed improvements with the overall aim of discharge of the Care Order.

The management of the placement should aim to enhance the parent’s role and support the family relationships with that aim in mind.

The placement should be continually reviewed to ensure that it continues to be in the child’s best interests; and that it is still appropriate and safe for the child to be placed with parents.


2. Short Term Placements

Where the relevant plan provides for a series of short term placements of a child with a parent, the requirements as to assessment, consultation, enquiries and checks can be carried out once only rather than needed to be repeated each time a placement is made, provided that:

  • All the placements take place within a twelve months period;
  • No single placement is for a period of more than four weeks; and
  • The total duration of the placements does not exceed 90 days.

Assessment and Consultation

A Child and Family Assessment should be undertaken to assess the suitability of short term placements and overnight stays, in addition to the Placement with Parents Approval Sheet (see Resources and Forms Library) should be completed.

For children who are subject to an Interim or a Full Care Order, the Social Worker will need to request Short Term Placement with Parents approval from the Service Delivery Manager. The required documents to support this request are the Return Home Assessment  (see Resources and Forms Library) and the Placement with Parents Approval Sheet (see Resources and Forms Library).

If a series of short-term placements or overnight stays are  part of a longer-term plan of reunification, the Reunification Procedures and Workflow (see Reunification Guidance) should be followed.


3. Immediate Placements

The Designated Manager (a manager who has the delegated responsibility – in Leeds this is a Head of Service for Children’s Social Work Service) can approve an immediate placement without the necessary consultation and checks having been made provided that:

  1. There are exceptional circumstances which justify an immediate placement and it is consistent with the child’s welfare;
  2. There has been an interview with the proposed carer who agrees to the placement;
  3. The accommodation has been inspected; and
  4. Information has been obtained as to the other people in the household; this includes carrying out checks with the police about them.

The reasons for a decision to place a child on this basis must be fully recorded, signed by the Designated Manager and placed on the child’s case record. In these circumstances, the Care Plan should be amended at the time or within a maximum of seven days of the placement.

Whenever practically possible, but within 48 hours, the Independent Reviewing Officer should be informed of the circumstances leading to the immediate placement with the parents.

A ‘Working Agreement’ should be completed by the practitioner with the parents to clarify the expectations of the parent(s) and ensure the child is safeguarded and their needs are met during this temporary phase before the Statutory Review.

A Reunification Assessment should be started immediately and completed within six (6) weeks of the child being immediately placed.


4. Reviewing the Arrangement and Progress Updates

Formal Review of the placement will follow statutory guidance and timescales. The placement of children in care with their parents is subject to the Review of the Child's Plan for Looked after Children.

Any change of placement should be discussed with the Independent Reviewing Officer to decide whether the date of the next Looked after Review should be brought forward.

In addition, two months before each six monthly review, the Social Worker will provide a progress update to the Designated Manager. This update will provide details of:

  • What is working well?
  • What is not working well?
  • Why the child should remain on a Placement with Parents arrangement;
  • Are there are any necessary changes to be made?
  • Do the original risks for the child or young person still warrant a Care Order?
  • If new problems have emerged, would these warrant a Care Order?

The Designated Manager will make a decision on whether placement with parents should continue or if a different arrangement is in the best interests of the child. This decision will be recorded on the child’s record.


5. Ending of Placements with Parents

Wherever possible the decision to end a placement with the parents should be made at a Looked after Child Review and the ending should take place in a planned way. In Re DE (A Child) [2014], the High Court stated that not less than fourteen days’ notice of a removal of the child should be given to the parents, save in an emergency.

The Court further stated that any removal of a child in circumstances where the child's welfare does not require immediate removal, or without proper consideration and consultation, is likely to be an unlawful interference with the rights of the parent and child under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In emergencies, the Social Worker must discuss the case with his/her manager, who will make the decision. Legal advice should always be sought. The Care Order gives the Local Authority power to enable the child to be removed by the Social Worker but this power should only be used after obtaining legal advice; the use of other orders (e.g. a Recovery Order Section 50 Children Act 1989) might be appropriate in some circumstances.

All those notified of the placement with parents starting should be notified, in writing, when it ends; preferably notifications should be made prior to the ending, or as soon as practicable thereafter.

A letter should also be sent to the parents and child explaining why the decision was made.


6. Discharging the Care Order

At the point where it is felt that the order is no longer required, this should be discussed and confirmed within the Looked After Child Review.

When it is agreed at the Review, the next step is to consider making an application to the court to discharge the Care Order. Initially, this should be discussed with Children’s Services legal section.

When seeking to discharge the Care Order, practitioners should follow the Ceasing to Look After a Child Procedure.

End