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4.4.1 Placements with Family, Friends and other Connected Persons

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter was formerly known as Immediate Placements with Family and Friends (under Regulation 38). It has been changed under the Care Planning Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations, 2010.

The Regulations introduce the term ‘Connected Person’. This is someone who is 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. The term Connected Person is used throughout this chapter, but readers should remember this includes family or friends carers.

Please note: this chapter should be read in conjunction with East Riding Family and Friends/Connected Persons Policy and Arrangements Procedure Care Policy

USEFUL GUIDANCE

Children Act 1989: Family and Friends Care: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities about family and friends providing care for children who cannot live with their parents.

Family Rights Group, Initial Family and Friends Care Assessment: A Good Practice Guide outlines what a viability assessment for family and friend carers should look like, what social workers should consider and how to undertake international assessments.

RELATED CHAPTERS

Decision to Look After Procedure

Placement Plans Procedure

Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure

Please see relevant section of Forms Library to access the required template.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in November 2022 to add a link to the East Riding Family and Friends/Connected Persons Policy and Arrangements Procedure Care Policy. This should be read in conjunction with this chapter (see link above).


Contents

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1. Key Points
2. Procedure for Placement with a Connected Person
  2.1 Assessing the Suitability of a Connected Person
  2.2 Prior to Placement
  2.3 Decisions regarding a Placement with a Connected Person
  2.4 Action following Placement Approval


1. Key Points

  1. The Care Planning, Placements and Review Regulations 2010 allows for a child or young person to be placed with a Connected Person who is not an approved foster carer for a period of up to 16 weeks. Such a placement must only be made in the following circumstances:

    1. The person is 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;
    2. The provisions of Regulation 33 (a) are satisfied, i.e. that the placement is the most suitable way of performing the duty of the local authority under section 22(3) or 61(1)(a) and (b) of the Children Act 1989. Under section 22 or 61 the Local Authority is required:
      1. To safeguard and promote his welfare; and
      2. To make such use of services available for children cared for by their own parents as appears to the authority to be reasonable in his case.
    3. It has been agreed by the Service Manager that such a placement is necessary for the child's welfare;
    4. The Connected Person has been interviewed by the social worker and the home must be inspected and information obtained about other members of the household.

      There is also an obligation on the placing authority to work with other agencies (e.g. housing) to mitigate against the carer’s limitations to look after the child;
  2. A written agreement must be obtained and signed by the Connected Person. The areas to be covered by the written agreement are:
    1. To care for the child as if he were a member of that person's family;
    2. To permit any person authorised by the local authority of (if different) the area authority, to visit the child at any time;
    3. Where regulation 7 (1) or (2) applies (termination of placement), to allow the child to be removed at any time by the local authority or (as the case may be) the area authority;
    4. To ensure that any information which the foster carer may acquire relating to the child, or to his family or any other person, which has been given to him in confidence in connection with the placement is kept confidential and is not disclosed except to, or with the agreement of, the local authority; and
    5. To allow contact with the children in accordance with Section 34 of the Act (parental contact etc in relation to a child in care), with any court contact order and with any arrangement made or agreed by the local authority.
  3. The social worker must be satisfied that nothing is known which suggests that the Connected Person is not a suitable person to be entrusted with the child. This will involve undertaking a Police check, and making enquiries with the local health trust, probation and the Children Protection Plan List;
  4. The wishes and feelings of the child/young person should be sought (subject to age and understanding) and must be ascertained and recorded. Wherever possible, an opportunity must be provided for the child to visit the home before the decision;
  5. The views of their parents (or other person with Parental Responsibility) should also be obtained;
  6. A report should be completed by the social worker and submitted to the Area Manager, in the relevant Safeguarding Team and a copy sent to the Fostering Team Leader;
  7. Immediate placements are only intended to be used exceptionally, in unforeseen circumstances. For example, when contingency plans could not have been made for an admission to care, and it would clearly be advantageous to the child to be placed with or remain in the care of a familiar figure in reassuring surroundings;
  8. It is important that the local authority guards against inappropriate use of the powers in the Regulations. Whenever possible, steps should be taken to approve a Connected Person as a foster carer, prior to placing the child in a planned way;
  9. Where the child is to remain in the placement for longer than 16 weeks, an immediate referral must be made to the Fostering Team so that the assessment of the Connected Person as a foster carer can start. (See the Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure).


2. Procedure for Placement with a Connected Person

Potential carers should be provided with information and support about the assessment and the potential placement.

2.1 Assessing the Suitability of a Connected Person

The following should be considered as part of the assessment:

  1. The nature and quality of any existing relationship with the child;
  2. Their capacity to care for children and, in particular in relation to the child, 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 including, where relevant, an initial risk assessment of any pets, together with the environment in which the pet is kept; 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. Their state of health (physical, emotional and mental), and medical history including current or past issues of domestic abuse and abuse, substance misuse or mental health ill health;
  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 abuse 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 which they have been convicted or in respect of which they have been cautioned;
  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 assessment of the carers must recognise the likely length of placement and the family’s ability to continue to meet the child’s needs (where appropriate) on a long term basis.

2.2 Prior to Placement

Prior to a placement with a Connected Person, the following actions must take place.

  1. The Service Manager must agree that such a placement is necessary for the child's welfare;
  2. The person must be a Connected Person of the child;
  3. The Connected Person must have been interviewed by the social worker and the home inspected and information obtained about other members of the household;
  4. The Connected Person should be asked about their existing knowledge of the child’s behaviour and background and any concerns they have about the child, as well as being provided with information about the child that is held by the fostering service;
  5. A written undertaking must be obtained and signed by the Connected Person;
  6. The following checks must be made:
  7. Where possible the views of the child/young person and their parents (or other person with Parental Responsibility) should be sought.

The views of the child and the parents will be canvassed as part of the placement planning process. The carer should have a copy of the Care Plan and they should help the child to understand it, contribute to their reviews and help to ensure the child gets access to advocacy services where appropriate. The fostering team should contact the child’s social worker to request a review or visit if these are overdue or if there has been a significant change which warrants an early review.

A report must be completed by the designated social worker and submitted to the Team Manager to endorse and sent to the Area Manager, with a copy sent to the Fostering Team.

2.3 Decisions regarding a Placement with a Connected Person

Authorisation can only be given by the Service Manager. The Area Manager should countersign the report and forward it to the Strategic Development Manager, who will authorise the placement by completing the back page. The report should then be returned to the social worker and copies placed on the child and carer's files.

If the Service Manager does not agree that the placements is suitable for the child or young person the Connected Person must be informed in writing with details of the reasons for the decision. This should take place within a reasonable time period after the making of the decision.

2.4 Action following Placement Approval

  1. When approval has been given, the Connected Person should be provided with all of the information needed to care for the child, by the social worker;
  2. The child’s introduction to the new fostering arrangement should take account of the fact that, whilst the child may know the carer well, the carer’s role in the child’s life is now changing. This should be explained to the child, and the carer should be provided with the support they need to manage this transition;
  3. A medical in respect of the child should be arranged by the social worker within 48 hours of the placement, (or 72 hours if placed over a holiday period). When this took place and the outcome should be recorded;
  4. A Placement Plan must be completed and copies sent the LAC Health Team and Education Programme Worker;
  5. Upon placement the following information must be given by the designated Social Worker to the child's family or those with Parental Responsibility unless their whereabouts are unknown;
    1. The date of the placement;
    2. The name and address of the foster carers unless this is not in the child's best interest;
    3. Any arrangement made for contact, which should take into account the carer’s, parents’ and child’s views about contact before the start of the placement, or as soon as possible afterwards, and puts in place appropriate supports to help manage contact;
    4. Other appropriate information relating to the care and welfare of the child including the Placement Agreement.
  6. Financial and other support is provided to all foster carers according to objective criteria that do not discriminate against foster carers that have a pre-existing relationship with the child. A change of circumstance/payments notification form should be completed by the designated social worker/Administrative Section and forwarded to Finance. Delaying completing this form may result in delayed payment to the carer;
  7. The events form should be completed by the designated Social Worker / Performance Team;
  8. The Fostering Team Manager should be notified of the immediate placement by the designated social worker;
  9. If the placement is located outside of East Riding of Yorkshire, the local authority in whose area the foster are lives must be notified of the placement;
  10. The placement may last no longer than 16 weeks and the child must be visited by the designated Social Worker at least weekly until the child's first Looked After Review and thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks during the period of the temporary approval;
  11. The temporary approval can be extended for up to 8 weeks (if it is likely to expire before the assessment is completed) or until the outcome of the review (if the outcome of the assessment is that the Connected Person is not approved and seeks a review). Otherwise the placement may only continue beyond 16 weeks if during that period the Connected Person is approved as a foster carer. If approved, the procedures relating to 'placing a child' will apply;
  12. 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;
  13. Connected Person carers should have access to training available to other foster carers, but the fostering team should also offer training that addresses the particular needs and circumstances of such carers. They should have access to support groups that meet their particular needs;
  14. Supervising social workers who are supporting Connected Person foster carers should have training in the particular needs and circumstances of this group;

    It is the responsibility of the Fostering Support to ensure that, where it is intended that the child remains in the placement, the relative or friend is approved as a foster carer under the approval procedures. This approval will be achieved through a Viability Assessment prepared by a social worker from the Fostering Team. This should be shared with the child's social worker, potential carers and appropriate legal representatives. If the arrangement is to be continued a full Form C assessment carried out by the Fostering Team under the Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure will be pursued and presented to the Foster Panel.

End