Care and Placement Planning


  1. Principles
  2. Care Plans
  3. Placement Plans
  4. Working in Partnership with Others
  5. Changes to Care and Review
  6. Placement Planning Meetings
  7. Other Key Plans/Records
  8. Role of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

1. Principles

Children should receive well-planned care from the Home and have a positive experience of admission and transition processes.

The registered person must ensure:

  • That children are admitted to the Home only if their needs are within the range of needs of children for whom it is intended that the Home is to provide care, as set out in the Home's Statement of Purpose;
  • That arrangements are in place to:
    • Ensure the effective induction of children into the Home;
    • Manage and review the placement of children in the Home; and
    • Plan for, and support, each child to prepare to leave the Home or to move into adult care, in a way that is consistent with arrangements agreed with their placing authority.
  • That each child's relevant plans are followed;
  • That contact between each child and their parents, relatives and friends, is promoted in accordance with the child's relevant plans;
  • That the child's placing authority is contacted, and a review of that child's relevant plans is requested, when:
    • The registered person considers that the child is at risk of harm or has concerns that the care provided for the child is inadequate to meet their needs;
    • The child is, or has been, persistently absent from the Home without permission; or
    • The child requests a review of their relevant plans; and
  • That staff help each child to access and contribute to the records kept by the registered person in relation to the child.

Leaders and managers will:

  • Make child-centred decisions about children coming to live at the Home, including considering the needs of other children already living at the Home;
  • Have a clear understanding of the progress that children are making in respect of the plan for them and take effective action where necessary;
  • Understand the plans for the children and drive the achievement of important milestones, goals and permanence for their futures. Effective planning manages and minimises risks inside and outside of the Home;
  • Monitor the progress that individual children make and can demonstrate the positive impact that living at the Home has had on individual children's progress and life chances;
  • Ensure that plans for individual children comprehensively identify their needs, taking into account the local authority care plan for each child;
  • Work proactively and positively with other agencies and professionals;
  • Seek to build effective working relationships with parents and social workers from placing authorities and with the local authority where they are located to secure positive outcomes for children;
  • Ensure that when children are new to the Home, any risks are understood;
  • Challenge and take action when they are concerned that placing authorities are making decisions that are not in children’s best interests or when the statutory requirements for looked-after children are not met;
  • If children are not settling into the Home, ensure that children’s plans are reviewed promptly with the placing authority and the family (where this is appropriate). They will consider the best steps to take next, including, for example, whether any additional support might be necessary to keep children safe.

2. Care Plans

Every Looked After Child must have a Care Plan which is completed and updated by their allocated social worker.

The Care Plan must be prepared prior to a child's first placement, or, if it not practicable to do so, within 10 working days of the first placement.

The overall purpose of the Care Plan is to safeguard and promote the interests of the child, prevent drift and provide focus for work with the child and their family.

Under Regulation 5c, the registered person must challenge any placing authority who asks them to accept a child / young person in the absence of a current and relevant plan. It is essential to the provision of safe and appropriate care, and to avoid potential future disruption and instability, that the Home understands what will be required of them before they accept responsibility for a child’s placement.

The Care Plan contains information on the arrangements for the current and longer term care of the child (including, by the time of the second Looked After Review, how permanence will be achieved). It also summarises the child's current developmental needs and identifies the services required to meet those needs. The Care Plan must include the name and contact details of the child's Independent Reviewing Officer. It should also include information on the arrangements for on-going contact between the child and their family.

The Care Plan will be reviewed at the child's Looked After Review. Any changes or updates agreed must be made within 10 working days of the review.

3. Placement Plans

Every looked-after child will have a Placement Plan which sets out in detail how the current placement will contribute to meeting their needs as set out in the Care Plan. Before making a placement in the Home, it is essential that the placing authority fully understands the services the Home offers, and how the Home intends to care for the child. This understanding of the Home’s  approach should inform the child's Placement Plan, which should be drawn up in conjunction with the Home.

The Placement Plan is concerned both with both how the placement will meet the aims of the Care Plan and contributes to achieving the Permanence Plan, as well as covering how the child's needs will be met on a day to day basis.

Placement Plans must be agreed with the child and their carers, and are likely to be most effective when drawn up at the Placement Planning Meeting which involves everyone concerned in the care of the child.

For children placed in the Home, the Placement Plan should cover the following issues:
  • How the child will be cared for on a day to day basis, including how their welfare will be safeguarded and promoted by the appropriate person;
  • Arrangements for contact between the child and parents/anyone with parental responsibility/any other connected person, including, if appropriate, reasons why contact is not reasonably practicable or not consistent with the child's welfare; details of any Contact Order (under Section 8 or 34 of the Children Act 1989); the arrangements for notifying any changes in contact arrangements;
  • Arrangements for promoting the child's health (physical, emotional and mental), dental and optical care, including the name and address of registered medical and dental practitioners and opticians; arrangements for giving/withholding consent to medical/dental examination/treatment;
  • Arrangements for the child's education and training, including the name and address of the child's school/other educational institution/provider and designated teacher; the local authority maintaining any Education, Health and Care Plan;
  • Who has the authority to take particular decisions about the child, including reasons for any day to day decision making, which is not delegated to the Home’s staff;
  • The arrangements for and frequency of visits by the child's social worker; and for advice, support and assistance between visits (including from an Independent Visitor of Advocate);
  • If an Independent Visitor is appointed, the arrangements for them to visit the child, including the frequency of visits;
  • The circumstances in which the placement may be terminated;
  • The name and contact details of the Independent Reviewing Officer, the Independent Visitor if one is appointed, the social worker who will be visiting the child, and the Personal Adviser for an Eligible Young Person;
  • The type of accommodation to be provided and the address;
  • Where the authority has, or is notified of, safeguarding or child protection concerns relating to the child, or the child has gone missing from the placement or from any previous placement, the day to day arrangements to be put in place by the Home to keep the child safe;
  • Any behaviours which have been of concern to previous carers and which may have contributed to previous breakdown of a placement and details of how the Placement Provider will seek to manage and respond to these;
  • Details in relation to the child's personal history, religious persuasion, gender identity, cultural and linguistic background and ethnicity;
  • The local authority's arrangements for the financial support of the child during the placement.

The Placement Plan may incorporate a detailed Behaviour Management Plan for some children.

Prior to the placement, local authorities should always provide all information concerning the child which is necessary to allow the Home to provide appropriate care and to meet the requirements of the relevant children's homes regulations.

The Looked After Review should consider whether care is being provided in line with the agreed approach and whether this approach continues to be the most appropriate placement for the child. The Placement Plan should be reviewed in the light of a Looked After Review or any change to the child's Care Plan.

4. Working in Partnership with Others

Effective care planning and strong working relationships between the staff of the Home and the placing authority are essential to the success of placements.

For most looked-after children, many of these planning duties fall to the placing authority. The registered person should ensure that they and their staff engage proactively with the placing authority to contribute fully to the relevant plans for the child’s care on an ongoing basis. The Home should consider during the course of this engagement, seeking appropriate permissions for the person conducting independent visits to access the relevant parts of the child’s records, as agreed with the child.

The registered person should only accept placements for children where they are satisfied that the Home can respond effectively to the child’s assessed needs as recorded in the child’s relevant plans and where they have fully considered the impact that the placement will have on the existing group of children. The Statement of Purpose is an important document in the process of care planning as it sets out the needs of children the Home is set up and equipped to care for.

The registered person must challenge (under regulation 5(c)) any placing authority who asks them to accept a child in the absence of a complete and current relevant plan, as the expectation that a placement of a child without the necessary information would go ahead (in circumstances other than an emergency) is inadequate in relation to their role. It is essential that the Home understand what will be required of them before they accept responsibility for a child’s placement, to avoid disruption and instability for the child in future and for other children in the Home. For non-looked-after children, the Home should ensure they have sufficient information from the child’s ‘placing authority’ (usually their parents/carers) and other relevant agencies to effectively assess whether they can meet the child’s needs before agreeing to the placement.

5. Changes to Care and Review

Significant changes to a looked-after child’s care, such as a change of placement, should only take place following a statutory review of their Care Plan chaired by their Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). The child should be actively involved in these important meetings and supported to express their views, wishes and feelings.

For looked-after children, the registered person should seek to ensure that the local authority regularly consults the child and the Home about the child’s relevant plans. If the child raises concerns about the content of any of their plans, their implementation or the process of review, staff should advocate for the child and seek to ensure that their concerns are addressed.

Where the registered person considers that a child is at serious risk of harm, such as being persistently missing from their placement, they must contact the local authority to request a review of the child’s Care Plan. Local authorities must give serious consideration to such requests. Where a review does not take place, the registered person must escalate this concern.

If, in an emergency situation, the registered person has to move a child out of the Home to other accommodation, the accommodation must should be suitable and meet the child’s needs. The placing authority should be contacted immediately. If the child is looked-after, a statutory review should be convened as soon as possible after the emergency move has taken place.

See also Looked After Reviews and Disruption Meetings Procedure.

6. Placement Planning Meetings

6.1. Purpose of Placement Planning Meetings

A Placement Planning Meeting should usually be convened as part of the process of identifying the most suitable placement for a child (unless the child has been placed in an emergency). The meeting should involve everyone concerned with the care of the child, to develop the Placement Plan and ensure it is kept up to date.

6.2. Frequency of Placement Planning Meetings

The first Placement Planning Meeting in relation to a placement should be held before the placement or, where this is not possible because of the urgency of the situation, within 72 hours of the placement.

Further Placement Planning Meetings should be held at intervals agreed with social worker and the manager of the Home or as required for example where there are issues to be resolved in relation to the day to day arrangements for the placement.

6.3. Convening and Chairing Planning Meetings

The social worker and Home's manager will agree the best format and venue for the meeting and who will chair the meeting.

6.4. Who Should Attend or Contribute to the Meeting

The people listed below should contribute to the meetings (if the child has been placed on an emergency basis, it may not be possible to notify/invite all those listed. However, it is essential that the following people are invited/contribute and have their views represented):

  1. The child's social worker and/or other professional associated with the child e.g. Personal Advisor or Advocate.
  2. The child;
  3. The child's parents;
  4. The child's Keyworker/carer(s), and/or Home manager;
  5. The child's Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO);
  6. Other significant people/agencies.

The chairperson should also ensure that the child, parent(s) and others who have been asked to contribute understand the purpose of the meeting, how it will be conducted and are given the opportunity to put their views and suggestions.

Placement plans are likely to be most effective when drawn up in a Placement Planning Meeting which involves everyone concerned, including the carers.

6.5. Preparation and Conducting of the Meeting

Before the meeting the chairperson should obtain or be updated on the following, if available:

  • The child's Placement Plan;
  • Any work which has been undertaken by key professionals involved in supporting the child's placement;
  • The child's Care Plan, Personal Education Plan and, if relevant, Pathway Plan.

During the meeting, the chairperson should ensure the following:

  • The consideration is given to the appropriateness of the placement within the context of the child's Care Plan or Pathway Plan and the need for the Placement Plan to be amended as appropriate;
  • That the child's Placement Plan is updated if appropriate, and new or updated copies are circulated to those who were invited or contributed.

This does not mean that amendments to Placement Plans may only be made at Planning Meetings. When Placement Plans are formulated and at each Planning Meeting, the social worker and manager/chair should agree the extent to which they can be amended between Planning Meetings or without consultation.

The chairperson should consider whether the child requires an Advocate or the appointment of an Independent Visitor; if so, this should be raised with the Social Worker. See Advocacy, Independent Visitors and Independent Reviewing Officers Procedure.

If there are concerns about the suitability of the placement, consideration should be given to the following:

  • Whether it is possible to sustain the placement until the next Looked After Review by, for example, providing additional support to the placement;
  • Bringing forward the date of the next Looked After Review;
  • Ending the placement.

6.6. Recording of Outcomes

The chairperson must ensure the following is recorded at the end of the Placement Planning Meeting:

  • The updating or amendment of the child's Placement Plan;
  • Additional minutes of any discussions and decisions made at the Placement Planning Meeting.

Copies of these records should be circulated to those who attended or were invited to contribute.

6.7. Progress Chasing Outcomes

Where the chairperson is concerned about delay in implementation of aspects of the Placement Plan, they should progress chase those responsible and, if necessary, take matters up with relevant managers.

Where the chairperson is concerned that recommendations or agreements have not been incorporated into the child's plan, they may take this up with the relevant person/manager and/or consider whether to reconvene the Placement Plan Meeting.

7. Other Key Plans/Records

7.1 Education

For more detailed procedures and Guidance, see Education Procedure.

Personal Education Plans (PEPs) must be drawn up, by the child's social worker, before the child is placed (or within 10 working days in the case of an emergency placement) and be available for the first Looked After Review. The Personal Education Plan (PEP) will identify the educational needs of the child and how they should be provided for.

7.2 Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

An EHCP is for children and young people between 0 and 25 in education who have additional needs. The plan coordinates the child's educational, health and social needs and sets out any additional support they may need.

7.3 Health Care

All children who are Looked After should have a Health Care Plan incorporating a statement of the child's health care needs and how those needs will be addressed.

For more information see Health Care Assessments and Plans Procedure.

7.4 Leaving Care

The Pathway Plan sets out the ambitions and future plans for young people leaving care and how their needs will be met as they move to independence. The Pathway Plan must be reviewed at least every 6 months for care leavers up to age 25. When the care leaver reaches the age of 21, they will decide whether they wish to continue with the support of a Personal Advisor and have a Pathway Plan, although they can return at any time up to the age of 25 to seek support. The nature of this support will vary at this stage depending upon the complexity of the young person’s circumstances. The Pathway Plan will reflect this, and will need to be reviewed and updated as a minimum at least every 6 months.

7.5 Other key records

This summarises the other key records that children will have, it does not address specialist records or plans:

Single Assessment Record: The single assessment provides an in-depth assessment of the child's needs, using information gathered from a range of sources. The assessment is completed by a social worker who will use evidence gathered during the assessment to facilitate analysis, decision making and planning for the child. The Single Assessment will be regularly updated, and should be fully reviewed if there is a significant change in the child’s needs or circumstances.

Chronology: The Chronology is started as part of the process of Single Assessment. It records all significant events and changes in the life of a child or young person. The Chronology is an analytical tool designed to help social workers understand the impact, both immediate and cumulative, of events and changes on the child or young person.

Looked After Review Report: After each Looked After Review, the Chair (Independent Reviewing Officer) should produce and circulate a report within 20 working days of the Review.

8. Role of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

Under the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010, the IRO has a responsibility to monitor the child's care in between Looked After Reviews. They should be notified of significant changes / events in the child's life.

For example the IRO should be notified and consulted in the following situations:

  • Before a child is placed outside the area where the child normally lives;
  • If there are safeguarding concerns in relation to the child;
  • If a child runs away or goes missing from the Home;
  • If a child or their parent complains about their care;
  • If a child is charged with an offence;
  • If a child is excluded from school;
  • If the child has any significant health concerns or medical events, including accidents.

Children must be provided with information on how to contact their IRO if they have concerns about their care and / or placement.

Managers in the Home should also consult the IRO if they are concerned about the child's placement.