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2.2.37 Looked After Child / Child in Care

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Child Protection Enquiry and Children in Care(Kent) / Looked after Children (Medway)
  3. Following Immediate Action Taken to Protect a Child
  4. If Child is Subject to a Child Protection Plan and Care Proceedings Initiated
  5. Accommodated Children and Child Protection Plans
  6. Children Subject to Both 'LAC' System and Child Protection Plan
  7. Discontinuation of the Child Protection Plan


1. Introduction

1.1 Social workers must ensure, in fulfilling statutory visiting duties with Children in Care(Kent) / Looked after Children (Medway) that they create opportunities to see them on their own.
1.2 Children in Care(Kent) / Looked after Children (Medway) should also be offered the opportunity to speak to an independent advocate if they wish to do so.
1.3 When there are concerns about Significant Harm to a child, Section 47 Enquiries apply on the same basis as for children who live with their own families.
1.4 If a child is placed for adoption, s/he remains ‘looked after’ until the Adoption Order is made,and these procedures are applicable. The Allegations Against those Who Work with Children Procedure provides additional procedures relevant to these circumstances.
1.5 Health Services s should refer to the 'Statutory Guidance on Promoting the Health and Well-being of Looked After Children’ DoH 2009 in order to fulfil their responsibility in meeting health needs of a child.


2. Child Protection Enquiry and Children in Care(Kent) / Looked after Children (Medway)

2.1 In any situation in which there is reason to suspect that a ‘looked after’ child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm formal Section 47 Enquiries must be initiated and the social worker must inform the Performance and Quality Assurance Manager (CP/CIN)/ Operational Safeguarding Lead (Medway).


3. Following Immediate Action Taken to Protect a Child

3.1 If, following a Section 47 Enquiry, it is necessary to take immediate action to protect the child (i.e. Emergency Protection Order, child accommodated by agreement or placed elsewhere), consider convening an initial Child Protection Conference and consider what action, if any, should be taken to ensure the child’s continued safety.
3.2 If the conference recommends Care Proceedings should be instigated and that an Interim Care Order should be sought to prevent the child returning to the care of his/her parents (or the person from whose care the child was removed in order to protect his/her safety and welfare), a Child Protection Plan may not be needed for the child, if the child’s safety is already secured with alternative carers.
3.3 In these circumstances the conference must make a clear recommendation that if, at any time during the course of the Care Proceedings, the child returns to the care of his/her parents or carers about whom there are concerns, a further conference must be convened immediately, regardless of whether the care proceedings are to continue.
3.4

This will be necessary in the following circumstances:

  • An application for an interim or full order is refused;
  • The child is placed with parents / carers in an assessment setting and there are concerns that the child remains at risk of further Significant Harm;
  • The child remains  placed at home whilst care proceedings continue;
  • Any other situation where the child returns to the care of his/her parents or carers, without the local authority’s agreement and concerns about the likelihood of further Significant Harm.
3.5

The re-convened conference will:

  • Ensure that all professionals and agencies with the child and family will be fully aware of the changes to the child’s care and legal status;
  • Enable multi-agency consideration of the level of any continuing risk to the child; and
  • Decide if a Child Protection Plan or child and young person’s plan is appropriate to achieve the child’s continued safety and welfare.


4. If Child is Subject to a Child Protection Plan and Care Proceedings Initiated

4.1 In cases where a child has been subject to a Child Protection Plan for a period of time, but where the interagency Child Protection Plan has failed to achieve the required level of safety for the child, Care Proceedings may be initiated at a later stage. In these circumstances, once an order has been made which ensures the child’s safety (i.e. an interim care order); a review conference should be convened to consider whether a protection plan is still required.
4.2 Prior to any conference taking place when a child is, or is likely to be, the subject of Care Proceedings, legal services should be consulted and asked for advice in respect of legal issues and protection of the child.
4.3 If the protection plan is discontinued, other professionals and agencies involved with the child and family must be kept fully informed regarding the child’s care and legal status and the progress of the Care Proceedings. The ‘Children in Care(Kent) / Looked after Children (Medway)’ (LAC) procedure, which requires that regular reviews take place and clear plans are made for the child’s future care, should assist in ensuring this happens. In these circumstances the above apply (see paragraph 3.3 -3.5).


5. Accommodated Children and Child Protection Plans

5.1 When a Child in Care(Kent) / Looked after Child (Medway) is no longer living in the situation which gave rise to the decision to make her/him subject of a Child Protection Plan and there is no current plan for her/him to be returned, her/his Child Protection Plan may be discontinued, by means of a Child Protection Conference decision.
5.2 In these circumstances the LAC Care Plan must include any elements of the child protection plan that remain valid.
5.3 Should the Care Plan subsequently include returning the Child in Care(Kent) / Looked after Child (Medway) to the situation that previously resulted in a decision to make her/him subject of a protection plan the above apply (see paragraph 3.3 -3.5).


6. Children Subject to Both 'LAC' System and Child Protection Plan

6.1 Where a Child in Care(Kent) / Looked after Child (Medway) remains the subject of a Child Protection Plan, there should be a single planning and reviewing process, led by the IRO, leading to the development of a single plan.
6.2 Consideration should be given to the IRO chairing the Child Protection Conference where a Child in Care(Kent) / Looked after Child (Medway) remains subject to a Child Protection Plan. Where that is not possible, it will be expected that the IRO will attend the Child Protection Review Conference.
6.3 The timing of the Looked After Reviews should be scheduled to ensure that timescales for reviewing both the child protection and the care plan for the child meet both statutory timescales.
6.4 The Looked After Review, when reviewing the child protection aspects of the plan, should consider whether the criteria continue to be met for the child to remain the subject of a Child Protection Plan.
6.5 Consideration must be given to ensuring that the multi-agency contribution to the review of the Child Protection Plan is addressed within the review of the Care Plan.
6.6 When a child is subject to a Child Protection Plan and is removed from accommodation by parents or child is returned to parents or carers in court proceedings, against the recommendation of the local authority, a review child protection conference must be convened to consider the risks to the child and the implications for the protection plan.
6.7 If necessary the local authority must take action to protect a child prior to a conference. This must not be delayed until a child protection review is convened if an enquiry or assessment indicates it is required sooner.


7. Discontinuation of the Child Protection Plan

7.1 When a Looked After Child is no longer living in the situation which gave rise to the protection concerns and implementation of a protection plan, and there is no current plan for her/him to be returned, the protection plan may be discontinued by the decision of the Child Protection Conference. In these circumstances the LAC Care Plan must include any elements of the child protection plan that remain valid.
7.2 Should the Care Plan subsequently include returning the child to the situation that resulted in the implementation of a Child Protection Plan, IRO and professionals at the LAC review must consider whether a child protection conference must be held first to consider if a new Child Protection Plan is required.

End