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5.1.7 Out of Area Placements


Contents

1. Placements to which this Procedure Applies
2. Approval of Placement by Nominated Officer / Director of Children’s Services
3. Placement Considerations
4. Notification of Placements
  4.1 Notification to Local Authority
  4.2 Notification to Police
5. Emergency Placements
6. Placements in Wales
  Appendix 1: Suggested Core Information Items to be Shared when Making a Notification of Placement (or During Consultation Phase)
  Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol


1. Placements to which this Procedure Applies

This procedure applies to any placement of a Looked After child outside the area of the local authority, EXCEPT WHERE the placement is with a Connected Person, or a local authority foster carer approved by the placing authority.


2. Approval of Placement by Nominated Officer / Director of Children’s Services

The decision to place the child out of area must be approved by the Nominated Officer, unless it is a Placement at a Distance, (i.e. outside the area of the local authority and not within the area of any adjoining local authority), in which case the approval of the Director of Children’s Services is required. 

The Nominated Officer / Director of Children’s Services must be satisfied of the following:
  • That the child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
  • That the placement is the most appropriate placement available for the child and consistent with the Care Plan;
  • That relatives have been consulted where appropriate;
  • That the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) has been consulted (usually the IRO will discuss with the child after the child has visited the proposed placement);
  • That the area authority has been notified, or, for a  Placement at a Distance, the area authority have been consulted and have been provided with a copy of the child’s Care Plan (see Section 3, Placement Considerations).


3. Placement Considerations

Placements at a Distance will require effective planning, engagement and information sharing with the services likely to be responsible for meeting the child’s needs in the future. Consultation with the area authority must (except in an emergency) be undertaken in good time to enable a thorough assessment of appropriateness to be made. Appendix 1: Suggested Core Information Items to be Shared when Making a Notification of Placement (or During Consultation Phase) suggests information that might be discussed with the area authority.

Where the placement under consideration is in a children’s home, account should be taken of the information in the home’s Statement of Purpose and its location assessment (which should include details of the home’s safeguarding arrangements, including any measures taken by the home to manage safeguarding concerns arising from the neighbourhood where the home is located).

In assessing the suitability of an out of authority placement, consideration should be given to the arrangements which will need to be put in place to enable the child to access services such as primary and secondary health care. Where the child will require specialist health services such as CAMHS, the Clinical Commissioning Group (local health board in Wales) that commissions secondary healthcare in the area authority should be consulted, to establish whether the placement is appropriate and able to meet the child’s needs. The designated nurse for looked-after children in the area authority will also be a valuable source of advice and information.

Similarly, the Virtual School Head for looked-after children in the area authority, (Looked After Children Education Co-ordinators (LACE) in Wales) should be able to advise about access to school support.

For children vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, children’s services in the area authority will be an important source of intelligence and information about local arrangements for safeguarding children.


4. Notification of Placements

See also Appendix 1: Suggested Core Information Items to be Shared when Making a Notification of Placement (or During Consultation Phase).

4.1 Notification to Local Authority

Written notification must be given to the area authority of the arrangements for the placement before the placement is made or, if the placement is made in an emergency, within five working days of the start of the placement unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so. 

The ADCS has collated secure e-mail addresses for each host LA, accessible via an A-Z list on their website. (See ADCS website.)

4.2 Notification to Police

In collaboration with the College of Policing, the ADCS are trialling a pilot project which aims to encourage LA colleagues to also notify the relevant police force when a child is being placed out of area, based on the needs / risk of the child. It is hoped that this additional notification channel will assist in the safeguarding of some of the most vulnerable children in the care system.

When to notify the Police Force

The criteria for when to notify the Police Force is when any child is placed out of area and meets one or more of the following:

  • Is a victim of CSE;
  • Believed / suspected to be at risk of CSE;
  • Suspected / known to be a CSE perpetrator;
  • Has past episodes of missing / absent from care or home;
  • Has a gang involvement or association;
  • Is a trafficked child;
  • Is an unaccompanied asylum seeker.

It is recommended that the same information provided to local authorities be provided to the police force wherever possible. Additionally, it would be helpful if a digital photograph of the child could be shared with the police force.

Details regarding the information to provide and police force contact details have been added to the existing Out of Area Placements of Children in Care contact resources on the ADCS website:


5. Emergency Placements

In the case of a placement made in an emergency, the approval of the Nominated Officer / Director of Children’s Services is still required and s/he must be satisfied that the child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration and that the placement is the most appropriate placement available consistent with the Care Plan. Within 5 working days the IRO must be informed; relatives be consulted (where appropriate) and the area authority notified.


6. Placements in Wales

For placements in Wales, the Welsh Government has developed a protocol for notifying the local authority and the local health board when a child has been placed there from outside the area, and again when the placement ends. This protocol is attached at Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol.


Appendix 1: Suggested Core Information Items to be Shared when Making a Notification of Placement (or During Consultation Phase)

(This includes guidance taken from: The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015) and ADCS guidance on Out of Area Looked After Children Notifications.

Basic information about the child

  • Child’s full name (and names Also Known As), gender and date of birth;
  • Legal status (subject of a care order (s.31 Children Act); voluntarily accommodated (s.20) remanded (s. 21);
  • Number of previous placements – outline reasons for child leaving earlier placements.

Placing Authority

  • Placing authority;
  • Social worker name and contact details (particularly phone, e-mail);
  • Emergency details for home authority.

Placement

  • Whether this is notification of a new placement, a change or end of placement;
  • Date placement started or date due to change or end;
  • Carer / institution type (foster carer, children’s home or other);
  • What the carer has been contracted to provide, if specialist, for example;
  • Carer contact details including address.

Plans for the child’s care

  • Particular needs or risks to the child such as SEN, disability, youth offending, mental health needs etc – a copy of the care plan should be shared to highlight needs;
  • Details of the assessment of the child’s needs, with information about the child’s wishes and feelings, with reasons the planned placement is suitable;
  • Duration of placement (emergency / short-term / long-term / permanent). If it is not possible to assess the intended duration of placement – reasons for this and when this information will be available;
  • Arrangements for contact;
  • Details of who will be responsible for implementing plans for the child’s day to day care (the ‘placement plan’) including details of arrangements for delegating responsibilities to the child’s carer(s);
  • Details of any plans to offer the child care leaving support (as an ‘eligible child’) during the anticipated duration of the placement;
  • Contingency arrangements if the plan to support the child in the current placement does not succeed.

Services to support the child

  • Details of plans to meet the child’s educational needs – school name and address (old and planned new school if known); information about the school the child is expected to attend; details of plans for supporting the child if a school has not been identified;
  • Information about plans to meet the child’s health needs, e.g. whether the child requires secondary health care (including metal health and other specialist health care), including details about the CCG acting as “responsible commissioner"; GP details (old and new if known);
  • Details of any youth justice supervision order that would need to be overseen by youth justice services in the area authority.

Local authorities have a common interest in supporting high standards of corporate parenting for all looked-after children.

When approached for consultation about potential placements, area authorities should be able to offer a professional view about the benefits of a planned placement, the benefits of living in the neighbourhood where the placement is located and the potential for local services to respond appropriately to the needs of the child concerned.

Local authorities could also advise about other sources of information to assist social workers and commissioners in determining whether a distant out of authority placement is the most appropriate for the child concerned (e.g. the Virtual School Head or the Designated Nurse for looked-after children).


Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol

(This protocol was developed by the Welsh Government in conjunction with the children’s residential care sector in Wales).

Where a child who is looked-after is placed at distance the responsible authority has a statutory duty to notify the local authority and the health care provider, in the area in which the child is to be placed, of the arrangements for placement prior to placement and no later than 10 days thereafter.

Similarly, where a child is provided with accommodation by any Local Health Board, Special Health Authority, Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Trust or by a local authority in exercise of education functions for three months or more or with the intention of the placement lasting for this time the Accommodating Authority has a duty to notify the appropriate officer of the responsible authority.

Where a child is provided with accommodation in any care home or independent hospital for three months or more or with the intention of the placement lasting for this time the residential setting has a statutory duty to notify the lead Director of Social Services in the area in which the establishment is situated.

Notification should be sent to the Director of Social Services in the local authority in which the home is situated.

Click here to access the Out of Area Notification Protocol Form for use by children’s homes in Wales*.

* This information has been reproduced from the Department for Education publication: Out of authority placement of looked-after children Supplement to The Children Act 1989 Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review guidance.

See also the ADCS website for contact details in Wales.

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