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6.1.9 Placements with Connected Persons

RELATED 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.

AMENDMENT

In June 2017, Section 3, Approval of Immediate Placements of Children in Care with Connected Persons was updated to include that one of matters to be considered when placing a child with a Connected Person should include an initial risk assessment of any pets in the household, together with the environment in which the pet is kept.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Situations Where these Procedures do not Apply
  3. Approval of Immediate Placements of Children in Care with Connected Persons
  4. The Placement
  5. Assessment and Approval of a Connected Person as Foster Carer
  6. Ending the Placement


1. Introduction

This procedure covers immediate placements of Children in Care with a Connected Person i.e. where the carers are not already approved as foster carers. As with any placement, the responsible Authority must be satisfied that the placement is the most suitable means to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare, not withstanding the Connected Person is not yet approved as a foster carer. The Authority must be satisfied that it is necessary for the child to be placed with the Connected Person before the Connected Person’s suitability to be a foster carer has been assessed in accordance with Regulations. These provisions are to be used only in exceptional circumstances and where there are clearly defined reasons why a full foster carer assessment cannot be undertaken before a placement is made. There is a risk that if a child is placed before the full approval of the carer as a local authority foster carer they may not be approved at the end of the process resulting in a further move for the child.

A Connected Person is defined as "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; this 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."

Relative is defined as "a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step-parent".

The procedure sets out the checks that need to be made before such a placement can be made.

It also covers the process to be followed to carry out the required assessment and approval of the Connected Person as foster carers if the placement is to last longer than 16 weeks.


2. Situations Where these Procedures do not Apply

These procedures do not apply where a child (under 16 years) goes to live with a relative or friend and this is a private arrangement between the parent/person with Parental Responsibility and carer.

If this placement continues for 28 days or more, the child may come within the definition of a Privately Fostered child, in which case the local authority's duties in relation to the placement are set out in the Private Fostering – Practice Guidance.


3. Approval of Immediate Placements of Children in Care with Connected Persons

Before any placement with a Connected Person who is not already approved as a foster carer is made, the approval of the Agency Decision Maker is required.

The child's social worker needs to:

  • Contact the Practice Manager Fostering to inform them that they will be requesting Temporary Approval of a Connected Person and to arrange a joint visit to the family so that the Practice Manager (or team member) can explain the assessment process to family and outline the requirements and expectations of those approved as foster carers;
  • Visit the household to view the accommodation and meet with the prospective temporary foster carer(s). The purpose of the visit is to establish their capacity to care for children and the child (or children) concerned, 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;
  • Obtain a Police check via legal services on all adults in the household if there is no recent DBS result on them;
  • Start the process of obtaining DBS checks on everyone over 18 in the household:
    • There may be some individuals outside the household who play a significant role in providing support for those carers. These may be back-up carers, or regular babysitters for whom, in view of the regular, unsupervised access such individuals may have to fostered children, should have an Enhanced DBS checks ( don't put 'relative of child ' as reason for DBS check on the form as DBS will not accept this - instead put 'Foster Carer Support');
    • Provide the date the DBS form(s) were sent off in all cases.
  • Complete a suitability assessment using the Schedule 4 Report. You must answer all the questions on the form as fully as possible, or explain why you are unable to do so. The Agency Decision Maker will not be able to agree to temporary approval as a foster carer if they do not have this basic information (see below for a brief description of the areas covered in the schedule 4 report);
  • Check whether prospective foster carers already known to CYC (e.g. via Mosaic), and if they are, include all information held on them in the Schedule 4 assessment report. If they live outside the CYC the relevant local authority must be consulted as well;
  • Ask the unit practice manager to endorse the schedule 4 report before sending it, wherever possible;
  • Email Schedule 4 Assessment Report to Agency Decision Maker, copying in, Service Manager Family Placement, Practice Manager Fostering and Adoption and Fostering Admin.

Any such approval can only be given for 16 weeks from the date of the placement. During that period of time, a full CoramBAAF Form C Fostering Assessment must be completed and presented to the Fostering Panel within the 16 week period, and further approval sought - see Section 5, Assessment and Approval of a Connected Person as Foster Carer.

Matters to be taken into account when assessing the suitability of a Connected Person for Temporary Approval as a foster carer are set out in the Schedule 4 Report.

The home must be visited by the child's social worker as part of the assessment of the suitability of arrangements.

The child's wishes and feelings (subject to age and understanding) must be ascertained and recorded and wherever possible, an opportunity must be provided for the child to visit the home before the decision is finalised.

The views of parents/ those with Parental Responsibility must also be obtained.

In circumstances where the child is subject to ongoing care proceedings, the social worker must consult with the Children's Guardian and notify them prior to any change of placement.

Where the social worker is in any doubt as to the suitability of the placement, s/he should consult the Fostering Service for advice before the placement is agreed.

Where the placement appears suitable and is approved by the Agency Decision Maker, the child's social worker will:

  • Complete the Fostering Referral form and return this to the Adoption and Fostering team admin.
  • Fill in the details required in 'grey fields' on page 1 of Temporary Foster Carer Agreement;
  • Print out the Temporary Foster Carer Agreement and take out to the Connected Person(s) to sign and return;
  • Return the signed copy of the Temporary Foster Carers Agreement to Adoption & Fostering. Admin staff will obtain Agency Decision Maker's signature. Adoption & Fostering admin will send a copy to the foster carers. The original Agreement will be placed on a foster carer file and allocated to a supervising fostering social worker in the Placement Team;
  • Give the Information on Payments sheet to the foster carer for them to fill in the reply slip and return as soon as possible. If this does not happen, they will not receive any payment;
  • Complete a Change Form, or the foster carer will not receive any payment.

Complete Sections A and B re Child and Family of the CoramBAAF Form C (Fostering Assessment) and pass these to the fostering social worker who is carrying out the full assessment The prospective carers need to be made aware that any approval is only temporary and does not imply continued approval beyond the 16 (sixteen) weeks.

The placement may only continue after sixteen weeks if the carer is approved as a foster carer - see Section 5, Assessment and Approval of a Connected Person as Foster Carer - or in exceptional circumstances where the temporary approval is extended.

This temporary approval can be extended for a further period of up to 8 weeks (if it is likely to expire before the assessment is completed) or until the outcome of an Independent Review (if the outcome of the assessment is that the Connected Person is not approved and seeks a review of the decision - see Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure). The IRO must also be informed. A decision to extend the temporary approval must be approved by the Nominated Officer.

As the Connected Person will be temporarily approval as a foster carer, the Connected Person will be required to sign a foster carer agreement. A Connected Person approved under these regulations will be entitled to the same support and services including fees, allocation of social worker and allowances as a foster carer.

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 before the above approval is given. In these circumstances the child's social worker will be expected to attend the Fostering Panel with the fostering social worker.


4. The Placement

A Placement Planning Meeting should be held before the placement or, where this is not possible because of the urgency of the placement, within 5 working days.

On the placement of the child, the child's social worker will ensure the child's Care Plan and the written Placement Plan is given to the carer, and complete a Change Form, and pass this to their practice manager for approval.

If the child was already in Care, the social worker will send notification of the placement to the child's IRO.

The child's social worker must visit and see the child alone in the placement (unless she/he refuses) each week until the first Children and Young People in Care Review and thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks during the period of temporary approval. This also applies where the child is placed under an Interim Care Order. The visits are to be fully recorded as statutory visits.

Notification of the placement will also be sent by admin to the relevant local Children's Services Department if the placement is in a different local authority area.

The child's social worker will notify all family members consulted and involved in the decision-making process of the placement.

These notifications must be made in writing, advising of the placement decision and the name and address of the person with whom the child is to be placed. They must be sent before the placement wherever possible or within 5 working days of the placement.

The child's social worker should also notify - preferably in writing but it may be verbally - all those involved in the day to day arrangements for the child, including nursery/school, GP and any health professional or YOT worker actively involved with the child.

It will be necessary for the child's social worker to ensure the child is registered with a GP, Dentist and Optician, either retaining practices known to him or her (which is preferable) or in the area where they are placed.

If it is the child's first placement it will also be necessary for the social worker to arrange a Health Assessment - see Health Care Assessments and Plans Procedure.

The social worker must also arrange for the completion of a Personal Education Plan (see Education of Children in Care Procedure). Every effort should be made to enable the child to remain at the same school unless there are reasons which would be detrimental to his or her well being.


5. Assessment and Approval of a Connected Person as Foster Carer

If the plan is for the placement to last longer than 16 weeks, the fostering assessment process should commence as soon as possible after the placement is made and the child's social worker should make a referral to the Fostering Service immediately so that a Family Placement social worker will be allocated for this purpose. The pre-placement assessment should be sent to the Fostering Service as part of the referral.

A file will be opened for the foster carer's assessment. The allocated assessing fostering team social worker will immediately arrange for a slot to be booked on the Fostering Panel within 16 weeks for the assessment to be considered;.

The allocated assessing fostering team social worker will obtain consent to other agency checks.

The signed consent form will be given to the administrative staff in the Fostering Service who will send off for the necessary checks as set out in Section 3, Checks and References, of Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.

The allocated fostering worker will explain the assessment process to the carers and provide them with written information.

The procedure for the assessment and approval is as for all applicants - see Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.

If and when the carers are approved as foster carers, the procedures in relation to support, supervision and review of the foster carers are the same as for all approved foster carers.


6. Ending the Placement

When the placement ends, the child's social worker must update the child's electronic record and send notification to the finance section so that payments to the carer/provider will cease.

The social worker will also send copies to those notified when the placement was made.

Where appropriate, consideration may be given to holding a Disruption Meeting in which case the procedure set out in Placement Planning Meetings and Disruption Meeting Procedure should be followed.

End