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2.5 Children Accessing Short Breaks

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter describes the process undertaken to assess the most appropriate way to support a disabled child receiving short break care through either Section 17 or Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 and how that support is monitored and reviewed.

This guidance applies to disabled children and young people who are accessing short break services and are not provided with more than 75 days provision per year for a single period of more than four weeks.

OTHER RELEVANT CHAPTER

Family Placement Service - Short Breaks for Disabled Children Procedure

USEFUL REFERENCES

IRO Handbook: statutory guidance for independent reviewing officers and local authorities on their functions relation to case management and review for looked after children March 2010

Short Breaks: statutory guidance on how to safeguard and promote the welfare of disabled children using short breaks March 2010

Friendship For All (The Children’s Society) - this online resource aims to increase friendships for children who are in foster care or who use short break services.


Contents

  1. Definitions
  2. Action

    Appendix 1: Flowchart for a Child Receiving a Package of Support Including Overnight Stays with a Foster Carer or in a Residential Unit


1. Definitions

Part 3 of the Children Act 1989 sets out local authorities' powers and duties to provide support services for children in need and their families. The definition of children in need includes children who are disabled within the meaning of the 1989 Act (section 17(11) states: '...a child is disabled if he is blind, deaf or dumb or suffers from mental disorder of any kind or is substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity...').

Short breaks can be provided by local authorities through the use of their powers under:

  • Section 17(6) of the 1989 Act, which grants local authorities a power to provide accommodation as part of a range of services in order to discharge their general duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of Children in Need; and
  • Section 20(4) of the 1989 Act, which grants local authorities a power to provide accommodation 'for any child within their area (even though a person who has parental responsibility for him is able to provide him with accommodation) if they consider that to do so would safeguard or promote the child's welfare'.

Local authorities should always be clear about the legal basis on which services are provided. Their decision to provide a short break under section 17(6) or under section 20(4) should be informed by their assessment of the child's needs and should take account of parenting capacity and wider family and environmental factors, the wishes and feelings of the child and his/her parents and the nature of the service to be provided.


2. Action

Action Person Responsible
When a child receives a package of support that includes overnight stays with a foster carer or in a residential unit, agreement must be reached about the level of support and frequency of overnight stays. Should the decision be made for a child to receive more than 75 days overnights the procedures for Children Looked After need to be followed. See Appendix 1: Flowchart for a Child Receiving a Package of Support Including Overnight Stays with a Foster Carer or in a Residential Unit Social Worker
Each child who is receiving less than 75 days will have had an assessment to determine need. The assessment will have considered:
  • Particular vulnerabilities of the child, including communication method;
  • Parenting capacity of the parents within their family and environmental context;
  • Wider family and environmental factors;
  • The length of time away from home and the frequency of such stays - the less time the child spends away from home the more likely it is to be appropriate to provide accommodation under section 17(6);
  • Whether short breaks are to be provided in more than one place - where the child spends short breaks in different settings, including residential schools, hospices and social care placements, it is more likely to be appropriate to provide accommodation under section 20(4);
  • The potential impact on the child's place in the family and on primary attachments;
  • Observation of the child (especially children who do not communicate verbally) during or immediately after the break by a person familiar with the mood and behaviour of the child (for example the parent or school staff);
  • Views of the child and views of parents - some children and parents may be reassured by, and in favour of, the status of a Child Looked After, while others may resent the implications and associations of looked after status;
  • Extent of contact between short break carers and family and between the child and family during the placement; and distance from home;
  • The frequency of social work visits to see the child in the overnight provision agreed with the parents.
In conjunction with the family and team manager a decision will be reached as to whether the support should be provided under s17 or s20 of the Children Act 1989.See Appendix 1: Flowchart for a Child Receiving a Package of Support Including Overnight Stays with a Foster Carer or in a Residential Unit
Social Worker/ Team Manager
When a decision is made to support a child under s17 a Child in Need Plan will be drawn up with the family and will be formally reviewed six monthly. The procedure from 2.5 applies in respect of reviewing this plan. Social Worker/ Team Manager
When a decision is made to provide support under s20 a Care Plan will be drawn up to include all the information necessary to ensure the welfare of the child in the short break and include all additional support being received. The procedure from 2.5 applies in respect of reviewing this plan. Social Worker
When a child begins to access a short break provision the social worker will contact the Integrated Safeguarding Unit to request a review. This request will take place within one month of the first placement day. Social Worker
The social worker and Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) should consult each other and agree on the date, time, venue and participants to be invited. Following this the social worker has responsibility for organising the review, the invitations and ensuring preparation of documents. Social Worker/ IRO
The following written information will be collated for the review by the social worker.
  • A copy of the most recent education review, or report from educational establishment on the Review Consultation Paper;
  • Contributions from relevant professionals, including health where appropriate, on consultation forms;
  • Contributions from parents or persons with Parental Responsibility on the Short Break Review Consultation form for parents or persons with PR;
  • Contribution from the child or young person using the Stop, Look and Listen Booklets.
Social Worker
The following should be invited by the social worker to attend the review:
  • Parents/ persons with parental responsibility;
  • Child/young person where appropriate;
  • Social Worker;
  • Carer/Residential Worker;
  • Relevant professionals.
Social Worker
The Social Worker will provide a written report, incorporating the Child's Plan, that will be available to all participants. Social Worker
The review will be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer and recorded using the appropriate documentation. The review will focus on a consideration of those matters that will ensure that the child's needs are fully met while the child is away from his/her parents and will include a consideration of any additional support being received. This will include consideration of:
  • The child's emotional and behavioural development;
  • How carers are meeting the disability and communication needs of the child;
  • The leisure interests and activities of the child;
  • The child's educational needs, if the child attends school on the day of or the day after the overnight stay;
  • The child's wishes and feelings;
  • Ensuring that the placement is promoting the child's welfare;
  • Any current health needs, changes in medication regimes.
The review will consider whether the assessment of the status of the short breaks as s20 remains appropriate using the criteria outlined in 2.2 above. If the review concludes that the short breaks should continue to be provided under s17 then a recommendation will be made to that effect. The IRO will continue to review the Child in Need Plan. The Independent Reviewing Officer will ensure that the completed review details are recorded on Mosaic including the method by which the child has participated in the review process.
IRO
A copy of the Review Decisions will be sent to the Children's Service Delivery Manager within 5 working days of the review being completed. Notification of any recommendations which are not accepted should be notified to the IRO in writing. CSDM/IRO
A record of the review will be completed within 15 working days, both the report and decisions will be circulated to those invited to attend or consult for the review process within 20 working days. IRO/Admin
The team manager to sign a copy of the report and decisions to indicate their endorsement prior to them being placed on the file. Team Manager
The second review of the short break provision will be held within six months of the first review. Reviews will continue at least six monthly intervals. Social Worker/ IRO


Appendix 1: Flowchart for a Child Receiving a Package of Support Including Overnight Stays with a Foster Carer or in a Residential Unit

Click here to view Appendix 1: Flowchart for a Child Receiving a Package of Support Including Overnight Stays with a Foster Carer or in a Residential Unit.

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