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4.5.1 Preparation for Placement with Parents

RELATED CHAPTERS

Decision to Look After Procedure

Placement Plans Procedure

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

Caption: Public Law Working Group Best Practice Guidance the Application and Case Management
   
NOTE: Public Law Working Group Best Practice Guidance: the Application and Case Management states that, whilst there may be good reason at the inception of care proceedings for a child to remain in the care of their parents and subject to an Interim Care Order pending the completion of assessments, there should be exceptional reasons for a court to make a final Care Order on the basis of a plan for the child to remain in the care of their parents.

AMENDMENT

In May 2022 a link to Public Law Working Group Best Practice Guidance was added.


Contents

Caption: contents list
   
1. Introduction
2. Key Issues
3. Procedure for Preparing for Placement with Parents
  3.1 Assessment of Parents’ Suitability to Care for the Child
  3.2 Additional Information
  3.3 Placement of Child with Parents before Assessment Completed
  3.4 Approval of Decision to Place Child with Parents


1. Introduction

The provisions of the placement with parents’ regulations only apply to a child or young person who is the subject of a Care Order or Interim Care Order. They do not apply to Children in Care with any other legal status, e.g. those who are accommodated, on remand or the subject of an Emergency Protection Order. Nor does it apply to children subject to Interim Care Orders where the placement is required by the court under Section 38(6) Children Act 1989 for the purposes of assessment, (and is therefore not subject to the Care Planning, Placement and Review Regulations 2010).

Note that where the parent with whom it is proposed to place the child is also a looked after child aged 16 or 17 years old who has been placed in an 'other arrangements' placement, Regulation 27A Care Planning, Placement and Case Reviews (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended) (prohibition on placing a child under 16 in 'other arrangements') does not apply to the child being placed, as the placement being considered for the child is a placement with parents under s.22C(2) Children Act 1989 rather than an 'other arrangements' placement for the child.

See also: Placements in Other Arrangements Procedure.


2. Key Issues

The regulations apply when a child who is the subject of a Care Order or interim Care Order is placed for more than 24 hours with:

In this, and all other procedures relating to the Placement of Children with Parents etc. Regulations 1991, any reference to a parent should be taken, where appropriate to include the categories of non parent carer listed above.

The regulations do not apply to the placement of a child with a relative or friend (unless the child was living with them immediately before the care or interim Care Order was made, and they have Parental Responsibility or a held a Child Arrangements Order specifying with whom the child is to live) as these placements are subject to the Fostering Services Regulations 2011.

A child must not be placed with parents if that would be incompatible with an order as to contact under Section 34 Children Act 1989.

In order to reflect the increasing degree of independence, and responsibility for making decisions about themselves that an older child should have, the regulations only partially apply to a young person aged 16 years or older. In these cases social workers should also refer to the Placement of Young People aged 16 and over with Parents Procedure.

The regulations apply to all placements of more than 24 hours, including short-term placements for the purpose of contact (but also see key point 7), but make provision for a series of short-term placements to be treated as a single placement in the following circumstances:

  • The placement is with the same person;
  • All the placements occur within a period which does not exceed 1 year;
  • No single placement is for a duration of more than 4 weeks;
  • The total duration of the placements does not exceed 120 days.

There are amended requirements for the supervision of such placement (see Support, Supervision and Review of Placement with Parents Procedure).

In circumstances when a court gives directions about contact in care proceedings the court’s directions will override these regulations where incompatible. The placement decision, for example, will not need to be taken by the designated manager. However, all other aspects of the regulations should be complied with as far as possible.

There are clearly a variety of circumstances in which placements will be made under these regulations. They may come into play at any stage in the placement, depending on the particular circumstances of the case. In some cases the proposed placement will represent a significant change in the Care Plan for the child. It may involve considerable disruption to the child’s living situation, for example when rehabilitation, or regular extended contact, is planned after a lengthy stay in care, or with a parent who may not have cared for the child for some time. In these cases the plans must be fully discussed at the child’s statutory review, and form part of the recommendations of the review. The placement will require careful planning and management, in order to provide continuity, and minimise disruption for the child.

In other cases the application of the regulations may effectively involve a process of confirming the suitability of living arrangements already in place, or of contact arrangements aimed at maintaining the child’s significant relationship(s). Whenever possible these arrangements should also be the subject of discussion and agreement at a statutory review.

In cases where the child or young person is the subject of a Child Protection Plan, the views of the child protection case conference should be sought at an early stage. Steps should be taken to reconvene the Child Protection Conference, as soon as it has been agreed to consider placing a child / young person with parents.

In exceptional circumstances it may be in the best interests to place the child or young person at very short notice. In the event of the unforeseen and sudden disruption of a foster placement, for example, it may be in the child or young person’s best interests to return to the care of a parent rather than move to an alternative placement. In this case the Immediate Placement with Parents Procedure must be followed.

If a child / young person is to be placed outside of East Riding of Yorkshire, in the area of another local authority, it is possible to arrange for that authority to undertake any or all of the supervisory duties required under the regulations. In any event, the local authority for the relevant area must be consulted about, and kept informed of the placement.

If the placement of the child or young person involves placing them outside of England and Wales, Legal Services should be consulted without delay as the approval of the Court will need to be obtained. All the requirements of the regulations will need to be met as far as is reasonably practicable.


3. Procedure for Preparing for Placement with Parents

Plans for a placement with parent should be discussed and agreed at the child’s statutory review. If appropriate, a Child Protection Conference should be reconvened.

Once the decision has been made to consider making a placement under these regulations, an initial visit should be made to the parent(s) to discuss the proposed arrangements. The social worker should ensure that the parent has a copy of the explanatory leaflet.

3.1 Assessment of Parents’ Suitability to Care for the Child

Before deciding to place a child with parents, the local authority must:

  • Consider whether, in all the circumstances and taking into account the services to be provided by the local authority, the placement will safeguard and promote the child’s welfare and meet their needs set out in the Care Plan;
  • Review the child’s case;
  • Assess the suitability of the parents to care for the child, including the suitability of the proposed accommodation and all other members of the household over 18.

The local authority must also take into account:

  1. The parents’ capacity to care for children and, in particular in relation to the child:
    • To provide for the child ‘s physical needs and appropriate medical and dental care;
    • To protect the child adequately from harm or danger, including any person who presents a risk of harm to the child;
    • To ensure that the home environment is safe for the child, including, where relevant, the need for a risk assessment of any pets and the environment in which they are kept;
    • To ensure that the child’s emotional needs are met and they are provided with a positive sense of self, including any particular needs arising from religious persuasion, racial origin, and cultural and linguistic background, and any disability the child has;
    • To promote the child’s learning and intellectual development through encouragement, cognitive stimulation and the promotion of educational success and social opportunities;
    • To enable the child to regulate their emotions and behaviour, including by modelling appropriate behaviour and interactions with others;
    • To provide a stable family environment to enable the child to develop and maintain secure attachments to the parents and other persons who provide care for the child.
  2. The parents’ state of health (physical, emotional and mental). This includes the parents’ medical history, including current or past issues of domestic abuse, substance misuse or mental health problems;
  3. The parents’ family relationships and the composition of the parents’ household, including:
    • The identity of all other members of the household, their age and the nature of their relationship with parents and one another, including any sexual relationship; their relationship with any parent of the child;
    • Other adults who are not members of the household but are likely to have regular contact with the child;
    • Current / previous domestic abuse between household members including the parents.
  4. The parents’ family history, including:
    • The particulars of the parents’ childhood and upbringing, including the strengths and difficulties of their parents / carers;
    • The parents’ relationship with their parents and siblings, and their relationships with each other;
    • The parents’ educational achievement, including any specific learning difficulty / disability;
    • A chronology of significant life events;
    • Other relatives and their relationships with the child and parents.
  5. Criminal offences of which the parents have been convicted or cautioned;
  6. Parents’ past and present employment / sources of income;
  7. The nature of the neighbourhood and resources available in the community to support the child and parents: 
    • In relation to other members of the parents’ household, the assessment must take account of the above considerations except d, f and g;
    • The assessment should include any available information about the parents’ previous experiences of looking after children. Where a parent has other children subject to care / adoption orders, earlier case records should be explored to ascertain the circumstances which led to social work involvement, and any indication that the capacity of the parent to bring up children has changed.

Azeus must be checked to determine whether any member of the household is or was previously known to Children’s Social Care, and information obtained about the nature of any involvement. If the parent lives in the area of another local authority, this enquiry must be made of the other local authority.

Information must be obtained about the outcome of any application that any member of the household has previously made to any local authority to:

  • Have a child placed with them;
  • To foster or adopt;
  • To be registered as a child minder.

Details must be obtained of any prohibition on:

  • Acting as child-minder;
  • Providing day care;
  • Caring for foster children privately;
  • Caring for children in a voluntary or registered children’s home.

Which has been made by any local authority in respect of any member of the household.

The designated social worker should seek the views of the child / young person regarding the proposed placement at an early stage. Their written views are required if they are of sufficient age and understanding. This will best be achieved by a meeting with the child in which they are assisted to complete this task. In the case of younger children, or those with a communication difficulty, appropriate communication techniques should be used, e.g. use of play materials; or an alternative medium, and care should be taken to record both the child’s views and how they were obtained.

The designated social worker must also seek the written views of any other person with Parental Responsibility. Unless it is demonstrably not in the interest of the child / young person, they should be actively involved in discussing and planning the proposed placement.

Enquiries of the following agencies should be made, and their views sought, regarding the proposed placement:

  • The Police;
  • Community Health Service;
  • The Child’s General Practitioner;
  • The Education Service;
  • Other local authority if the child is to be placed in their area;
  • Any other relevant person, i.e. anyone who has been involved with the child’s welfare immediately before or since the care / interim Care Order was made. This could include, for example, a grandparent or foster carer who has a significant relationship with the child or young person;
  • In addition, parents and adult members of the household can be asked to apply for a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check if they live in England and Wales, or Disclosure Scotland if they live in Scotland, (see DBS Basic Checks Guidance).

3.2 Additional Information

There is an obligation on the parents to notify the local authority of any relevant change in circumstances including any intention to change address, any changes in the household in which the child lives and any serious incident involving the child.

There's is an obligation on the parents to ensure that any information relating to the child, the child’s family, or any other person given in confidence to the parents in connection with the placement, is kept confidential and that such information is not disclosed to any person without the consent of the authority.

The circumstances should be made clear in which it is necessary to obtain the prior approval of the authority for the child to live in a household other than that of the parents.

The circumstances should be made clear in which the placement of the child with the parents, pending completion of the assessment of suitability, will be terminated if the decision following completion of the assessment is not to confirm the placement.

3.3 Placement of Child with Parents before Assessment Completed

Under the Care Planning, Placement and Review Regulations, 2010 there is a new provision that, where the Nominated Officer considers it necessary and consistent with the child’s welfare, the child may be placed with parents before the assessment of their suitability to care for the child has been completed, provided:

  • Arrangements are made for the parents to be interviewed to obtain as much of the assessment information as can be readily ascertained at that interview;
  • The assessment and the review of the child’s case are completed within 10 working days of the child being placed;
  • The decision on placement is made and approved within 10 working days of the assessment being completed; and
  • If the decision is to confirm the placement, the Placement Plan is reviewed (and if appropriate amended);
  • If the decision is not to confirm the placement, the placement is terminated.

Practitioners should also seek to meet with all other members of the household before placing the child. This is particularly relevant to identifying issues such as domestic abuse and substance misuse which may impact on the child’s safety.

The designated social worker should complete an assessment of the capacity of the parent to meet the needs of the child / young person and provide an adequate standard of care, including the suitability of the accommodation. The following points need to be taken into account:

  • All members of the household should be seen, and spoken to. Relationships with the child / young person to be placed should be explored, and views concerning the proposed placement sought;
  • All areas of the accommodation should be inspected. Particular attention should be paid to the sleeping arrangements for the child if a bedroom is to be shared with another member of the household;
  • The anticipated role of any adult who is not a parent will play in the day to day care of the child should be explored;
  • A full discussion should take place with the parent regarding the specific educational, health, and social needs of the child, as identified in the Single Assessment and action record, and how these will be met.

The support needs of the parent should be identified. The authority must provide such services and support to the parents as appear to be necessary to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare, and record details in the Care Plan and the Placement Plan (see above section on Placement Plans as to additional information to be provided).

Any concerns arising from the enquiries undertaken and written views received should be followed up with the parent as fully as possible.

The designated social worker should consider whether the child / young person needs to have a medical examination, unless one has been carried out within the 3 months preceding the placement decision.

Completion of the Single Assessment and Action Record will meet the requirement of the regulations for an assessment of the child’s health, educational and social needs. The social worker should ensure that the Record has been completed.

The designated social worker should compile an assessment report. The report should be countersigned by the social worker’s Team Manager and Area Manager. The report should be forwarded along with a draft Placement Agreement, and copies of all written comments received and any other relevant reports (e.g. medical reports on child and parent(s) if available) to the Service Manager in the area responsible for the child.

3.4 Approval of Decision to Place Child with Parents

In all cases the placement must not be made unless a placement decision has been made. The Service Manager for the area with responsibility for the child is the Nominated Officer under the regulations by the Director of Children’s Social Care to make the placement decision.

A decision to place the child with the parents must not be put into effect until it has been approved by the Nominated Officer and the Placement Plan prepared.

The Nominated Officer must be satisfied that:

  • The child’s wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
  • The assessment of parents’ suitability to care for the child has been completed;
  • The placement will safeguard and promote the child’s welfare;
  • The Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer has been consulted.

The local authority should consider whether the Care Order is still required. The authority and parents may agree to apply to discharge the Care Order; such an agreement must include the level of support and supervision by the local authority, and co-operation by parents.

The Service Manager will record their decision and return the record of this decision to the social worker to be placed on the child’s record.

End