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7.1.11 Placements with Parents


This procedure applies to placements of children accommodated by the local authority with parents/persons with parental responsibility.

Children may also be placed with parents having acquired Looked After status following a Remand to Local Authority Accommodation, see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.

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.

For further information, see the Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline Procedure.


Section 1, Planned Placements was updated in May 2022 to add information on placements in 'other arrangements'.


CAPTION: Contents list
1. Planned Placements
  1.1 Consultation before Placement
  1.2 Assessment and Checks Before Placement
  1.3 Recommending the Plan
  1.4 Approval of the Placement
  1.5 Short Term Placements
  1.6 Social Work Visits During the Placement
  1.7 Ending of Placement
2. Immediate Placements
3. Notifications of Placement

1. Planned Placements

In exceptional circumstances a child may be placed without the immediate need for the following procedures; please see Section 2, Immediate Placements. 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.

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.

1.1 Consultation before Placement

Before a child is placed, the following people must be consulted and their views accounted for:

  1. The child;
  2. Both parents (including a parent who is not the proposed carer of the child);
  3. Any person with Parental Responsibility;
  4. Any other member of the family who is significant to the child;
  5. Relevant health practitioners including any health visitor known to the child, the child’s GP, as well as the GP and any health visitor known to the person with whom it is proposed the child will be placed (with the person’s consent);
  6. The child’s school and the local education service where the child will live;
  7. The child's current foster carer and supervising social worker or the manager of the children’s home currently caring for the child;
  8. The Probation Service if it has contact with the family;
  9. The Police;
  10. The Youth Offending Service;
  11. The relevant Children’s Services Department if the child is placed in another local authority’s area;
  12. The child's Independent Reviewing Officer;
  13. Where Care Proceedings are ongoing, the Children’s Guardian.

The consultation should be formal. The persons being consulted should be written to, requesting their views on the proposed placement. It is important that those who are consulted should reply in writing; their written replies should be placed on the child's case record.

If appropriate a letter should also be sent to the child, as part of the consultation process with the child.

Minutes of the Children and Young People in Care Review which recommended the child's placement can be taken as a written record of the consultation with those in attendance.

1.2 Assessment and Checks before Placement

The suitability of the proposed placement should be assessed through:

  • Obtaining relevant information about the proposed main carer or carers and all members of the household;
  • Inspecting the accommodation;
  • Checking the proposed carer and all members of the household aged 18 and over with the Police Public Protection Unit. In addition, the parents and adult members of the household can be asked to apply for a basic DBS check if they live in England and Wales, or Disclosure Scotland if they live in Scotland, (see DBS Basic Checks Guidance);
  • The carer’s GP, NSPCC and Children's Services records.

The assessment should be recorded on the Schedule 3 report, using a separate form for each parent with whom the child is to be placed. A separate Schedule 3 ‘Other Adults’ report should also be completed for each person over the age of 18 years who is living in the household where it is proposed that the child should be placed. The social worker completing the assessment must visit the parent’s home where it is proposed that the child be placed.

The assessment should take account of:

  • The parents' capacity, and the capacity of other adult members of the household, to care for children. Where a child has suffered, or was likely to suffer, significant harm the assessment should address ‘what has changed in parental capacity and circumstances that indicate this placement will be in the child’s best interest and will promote safe care?’ In particular in relation to the child the assessment should consider the parent’s capacity:
    • 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, so they can develop and maintain secure attachments to the parents and other persons who provide care for the child.
  • The parents' state of health (physical, emotional and mental), the parents' medical history, including current or past issues of domestic abuse, substance misuse or mental health problems;
  • The state of health (physical, emotional and mental) of other adult members of the household and their medical history, including current or past issues of domestic abuse, substance misuse or mental health problems;
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Criminal offences of which the parents or other members of the household have been convicted or cautioned;
  • Parents' past and present employment/sources of income;
  • The nature of the neighbourhood and resources available in the community to support the child and parents;
  • 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.

1.3 Recommending the Plan

In normal circumstances, the child’s placement with their parent must be part of the Care Plan, upon the recommendation of a Children and Young People in Care Review. If the child has previously suffered Significant Harm when living with the parent, and continues also to be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, the Children and Young People in Care Review should actively consider the recommendation of a Child Protection Review Conference before itself recommending the child returns home.

The recommendations of the Children and Young People in Care Review (and Child Protection Review Conference where applicable) will then be sent to the Nominated Officer together with the Schedule 3 reports, copies of written responses to the consultation process, Care Plan and proposed Placement Plan, ensuring that the Care Plan and Placement Plan address:

  • Details of proposed placement with the parent/s including:
    • Any therapeutic input that may be required to assist the child and/or parents to acknowledge the reasons for the child being placed in care, to ensure there is no minimisation of previous actions and to assist in the process of coming to terms with any trauma that may previously have occurred.
  • The aims and objectives of the proposed placement (there needs to be great clarity about why this placement is being proposed) and long term plan for the child including, the anticipated duration of the Placement with Parents arrangement, and the criteria against which the decision to cease sharing Parental Responsibility will be judged, or the circumstance in which the child may be removed from the placement;
  • The support and services to be provided to the family and child to meet the child’s needs;
  • Details of supervision of placement;
  • Arrangements for the child's education;
  • Contingency plans in case of breakdown.

As well as the usual contents, the proposed Placement Plan must include the following:

  1. Details of the support and services to be provided to the parents and the child during the placement;
  2. The 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;
  3. The obligation on the parents to ensure that any information relating to the child or 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 local authority;
  4. The circumstances in which it is necessary to obtain the prior approval of the local authority for the child to live in a household other than that of the parents;
  5. The circumstances 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.

N.B. The local 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 Placement Plan.

1.4 Approval of the Placement

The placement can only be made after the approval of the Nominated Officer has been given and the Placement Plan prepared, except as set out in Section 2, Immediate Placements.

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 (see Section 1.2, Assessment and Checks before Placement) has been completed;
  • The placement will safeguard and promote the child's welfare;
  • The Independent Reviewing Officer has been consulted.

If approval is given, consideration should be given to whether the Care Order is still required. The local authority and parents may agree to apply to discharge the Care Order and if so, such an agreement must include the level of support and supervision to be provided by the local authority after the Care Order has been discharged, and the level of co-operation by the parents.

If approval is given the social worker must obtain the signature of the parent on the Parent’s Agreement form.

A notification must be completed in mosaic to confirm the change of legal status / placement status and placement address prior to the child changing placement.

1.5 Short Term Placements

Where the relevant plan provide for a series of short term placements of a child with a parent, the requirements as to consultation, enquiries and checks can be carried out once only rather than every time a placement is made, provided that:

  • All the placements take place within a 12 month period;
  • No single placement is for a period of more than 4 weeks; and
  • The total duration of the placements does not exceed 90 days.

If a series of short-term placements is part of a longer-term rehabilitation plan, further consultation and approval must be obtained before the rehabilitation plan is extended and/or the child is returned to the parent’s full-time care.

1.6 Social Work Visits During the Placement

The child's social worker must visit the child in the placement within 1 week of the placement and thereafter every 6 weeks - see Social Worker Visits to Children in Care Procedure.

If the child is placed with parents pending assessment (see Section 2, Immediate Placements), social work visits must take place at least once a week until the first Children and Young People in Care Review, thereafter at intervals of not more than 6 weeks.

1.7 Ending of Placement

Wherever possible the decision to end a placement should be made at a Children and Young People in Care Review and the ending should take place in a planned way. In Re DE (A Child) [2014], the High Court stated that not less than 14 days’ notice of a removal of the child should be given to the parents, save in an emergency.

The Court further stated that any removal of a child in circumstances where the child's welfare does not require immediate removal, or without proper consideration and consultation, is likely to be an unlawful interference with the rights of the parent and child under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In emergencies, the social worker must discuss the case with their manager, who will seek legal advice and notify the service manager. The Care Order gives the local authority power to enable the child to be removed by the social worker but this power should only be used after obtaining legal advice; the use of other orders (e.g. a Recovery Order) might be appropriate in some circumstances. The decision to remove the child will be made by the service manager.

All those notified of the placement starting should be notified (see Section 3, Notifications), in writing, when it ends; preferably notifications should be made prior to the ending, or as soon as practicable thereafter.

A letter should also be sent to the parents and child explaining why the decision was made.

2. Immediate Placements

The Nominated Officer can approve an immediate placement without the necessary consultation and checks having been made provided that:

  1. There are exceptional circumstances which justify an immediate placement and it is consistent with the child’s welfare;
  2. There has been an interview with the proposed carer who agrees to the placement and provides as much of the assessment information as can be readily ascertained at the interview;
  3. The accommodation has been inspected; and
  4. Information has been obtained about and the social worker seeks to meet the other people in the household. (This is particularly relevant to identifying issues such as domestic abuse and substance misuse which may impact on the child's safety);
  5. The assessment and the review of the child's case are completed within 10 working days of the child being placed;
  6. 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.

The reasons for a decision to place a child on this basis must be fully recorded, signed by the Nominated Officer and placed on the child's case record.

If the child is placed in these circumstances, social work visits must take place at least once a week until the first Children and Young People in Care Review, and thereafter at intervals of not more than 6 weeks.

The required consultation, assessment and enquiries for planned placements, as set out in Section 1, Planned Placements must then be completed and presented to the Nominated Officer as set out above.

A ‘Working Agreement’ should be completed by the practitioner with the parents to clarify the expectations of the parent(s) and ensure the child is safeguarded and their needs are met during this temporary phase before the Children and Young People in Care Review.

3. Notifications of Placement

The child's social worker will update complete the notification in mosaic.

If the placement is in the area of a different local authority, notification of the placement will be sent by the admin service to the Designated Nurse for Children in Care, the relevant person in the education service, the local Children's Social Care and the child's GP.

The child's social worker will notify all family members consulted and involved in the decision-making process of the placement, as well as all those involved in the day to day arrangements for the child, including school and any health professional or YOT worker actively involved with the child.

The child's social worker must also notify the allocated Independent Reviewing Officer and the Children’s Guardian (if in Care Proceedings).

These notifications must be made in writing, advising of the placement decision and the name and address of where the child is to be placed.

The notifications should be before the start of the placement or within 5 working days.