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1.1.1 Policies, Values and Principles

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter provides the context for all procedures.

It contains the overarching policy for the provision of services to children and families. It also sets out underlying values and principles for recording, confidentiality and consultation.

AMENDMENT

In December 2015, this chapter was updated to include a link to the Leeds Children and Young People’s Plan 2015-19.


Contents

1. Child Care Policy and Strategy
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Policy Statement
1.3 Our Strategy
2. Recording Values and Principles
3. Confidentiality Policy, Values and Principles
4. Consultation Values and Principles


1. Child Care Policy and Strategy

1.1 Introduction

This policy sets out the framework within which Children's Social Work Services work with children, young people and their families. It is underpinned by a range of legislation including, but not limited to:

  • Children Acts 1989 and 2004;
  • Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000;
  • Care Standards Act 2000;
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child;
  • Human Rights Act 1998;
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002;
  • Children and Families Act 2014.

The policy framework also has regard to and is consistent with a range of government guidance, particularly the principles set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015.

It is largely directed towards the work that Children's Social Work Services undertakes with Children in Need; which is carried out in partnership with all sectors of the Council and with other statutory, independent and voluntary sector services.

1.2 Policy Statement

In Children's Social Work Services, we will work to ensure that all children have the best chances in life to achieve their full potential.

For more information please see: Leeds Children and Young People’s Plan 2015-19 - from Good to Great and Leeds Children and Young People’s Plan 2015-2019 - Executive Summary - Plan on a Page.

Our Vision, Obsessions, Outcomes, Priorities and Indicators

  • Our vision is for Leeds to be a child friendly city.  As part of this vision we will minimise the effects of child poverty;
  • Our vision contributes to the wider vision for Leeds- By 2030 Leeds will be locally and nationally recognised as the best city in the UK;
  • We will drive change by using restorative practice, cluster and locality working and by extending the voice and influence of children and young people. The child is at the centre of everything we do.  We have a relentless focus on improved outcomes.

Click here to view the Our Vision, Obsessions, Outcomes, Priorities and Indicators table

Key Principles

Consideration of children's welfare and best interests will always be at the centre of our work.

Children's Social Work Services will work to ensure the above outcomes by working to maintain children within their own families, and facilitating services to support this arrangement, wherever this is possible and consistent with the child's safety and well-being.

Where a child cannot be cared for within his or her immediate family, we will make strenuous efforts to identify potential carers within the wider kinship network of the child who are able and willing to care for the child.

If continuing care within his/her family is not possible we will make every effort to identify suitable alternative carers, reflecting the child's ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background wherever possible and appropriate. We will seek to identify suitable local placements to provide educational and social continuity.

We will ensure that children who are looked after are placed in approved placements, suitable to meet their needs and that, wherever possible, siblings are placed together. For younger children, they will be placed in a family placement unless there are sound assessed reasons why residential care is the preferred option.

We will ensure that Permanence Plans are made for all Children Looked After within 4 months of their becoming looked after and enacted as quickly as possible. If a young person remains in care we will ensure that they are supported when they leave care at least until they are 21, to give them a positive start to independent living.

We will consult with children, their parents and other significant adults about plans for their care and these plans will be subject to independent review. We will also consult about the services we provide and ensure that children have access to advocacy services that will assist them in being heard.

1.3 Our Strategy

The strategy for Children's Social Work Services is to harness government policy and funding streams to improve performance, so that we can work with other agencies to ensure better outcomes for every child and his or her family through cost effective systems, structures and partnerships - through targeting services to prevent most children from becoming children in need, whilst concentrating specialist services on children most in need to give them the best possible life chances.

See Leeds Children and Young People’s Plan 2015-19 - from Good to Great and Leeds Children and Young People’s Plan 2015-2019 - Executive Summary - Plan on a Page.


2. Recording Values and Principles

This section is under review. Please refer to LCC Corporate Policy Leeds City Council Information Sharing Policy or contact the Information Governance Team for advice.


3. Confidentiality Policy, Values and Principles

This section is under review. Please refer to the Leeds City Council Information Sharing Policy or contact the Information Governance Team for advice.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives individuals the right to request any information from any public authority. It promotes openness and accountability among public sector organisations, so that everyone can understand how authorities make decisions, carry out their duties and spend public money.

Under the Act anyone may request information in writing or via e-mail from Leeds City Council, including Children’s Social Work Services. A response must be received promptly within 20 working days. All Freedom of Information requests are logged centrally by the Corporate Information Governance Team. Any requests which relate to children’s services are transferred to the Children’s Information Governance Team who will deal with the request.

The Act confers two statutory rights on applicants:

  • To be informed in writing whether or not the public authority holds the information requested; and if so;
  • To have that information communicated to him/her.

The Act applies to all information whether recent or old.

There are some exemptions to the general right of access which are known as ‘absolute’ and ‘qualified’ exemptions. An absolute exemption means the Council can withhold the information in full. If a qualified exemption applies, then it is subject to a public interest test. This means we must decide whether in each case it serves the public interest to withhold or disclose the information requested. Each exemption is applied on a case by case basis.

The Freedom of Information Act also states we must maintain a publication scheme which sets out what information we routinely make available, how the information can be accessed and whether we will make a charge to provide it. The idea of a publication scheme is to try and make as much information as possible and that this should be freely available and easy to access. Click here for further information.

The open data agenda is also an area where the public can access raw data in the form of a dataset. This data can be scrutinised and re-used by members of the public for their own purposes. Such information can be found at the Data Mill.

Freedom of Information requests can be made by post to:
Corporate Information Governance,
2nd Floor West,
Leeds,
LS1 1UR
or
Email: dpfoi@leeds.gov.uk.


4. Consultation Values and Principles

4.1 General Principles of Consultation
4.2 Management Consultation 
4.3 Legal Consultation

4.1 General Principles of Consultation

Everyone involved in the receipt and delivery of services should be consulted about decisions, which may affect them.

This includes children, their advocates, their parents, other significant family members and those charged with providing the service; including managers, staff, carers and professionals or colleagues from other agencies.

This means that people's views should be sought and taken into account in relation to all decisions, which are likely to affect their daily life and their future.

The older and more mature the child is, the more weight can and should be given to their wishes and feelings.

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, reasonable steps must be taken in all cases to consult parents. Exceptions will include where a child is placed for adoption and where older children with an appropriate level of maturity specifically request that their parents are not consulted and a decision is made to respect their wishes.

Consultation should take place on a regular and frequent basis with those who need to be consulted and assumptions should not be made about the inability or lack of interest of those who should be consulted.

Where people have communication difficulties of any sort, suitable means must be provided to enable them to be consulted, including arranging access to advocates or representatives who may speak on their behalf.

Consultation should be undertaken in a creative manner.

If consultation is not possible or is restricted for whatever reason, steps should be taken to ensure those affected are informed of decisions as soon as practicable after they are made, and an explanation for the decision given, together with the opportunity to make a comment and express their views.

If it is then felt that a different decision may have been appropriate, steps should be taken to reconsider the decision.

If decisions are made against people's wishes, they should be informed of the decision and the reasons for the decision should be explained. In these circumstances, the person should be informed of any rights they have to formally challenge the decision, and of the availability of the Complaints Procedure.

Children should also be informed of their right to appoint an Advocate, and if an advocate is appointed, he or she must be consulted in accordance with the principles set out in this section.

4.2 Management Consultation

Unless otherwise stated in specific procedures in this manual, it is assumed that people working in this organisation will take reasonable steps to keep their managers informed of their actions; and will consult and seek their approval where they do not have decision making responsibility delegated to them.

In order to facilitate this, managers must ensure that effective lines of communication are established and maintained.

If procedures in this manual require that managers are informed within specified timescales or their approval is sought before actions are taken, this must be complied with.

4.3 Legal Consultation

It is assumed that, in following these procedures, social workers and/or their managers will seek legal advice, as appropriate, before taking any action and/or making decisions which will or may change the legal status of a child or decisions which do not have parental consent. This is particularly so in cases where emergency action is being considered.

In order to facilitate this, managers must ensure that effective lines of communication are established and maintained between Children’s Social Work Services and the Council's Legal Advisers.

End