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4.1 Safeguarding Looked After Children

1.1 The term Looked After refers to children and young people who are in the care of the Government or who are provided with accommodation for more than a continuous period of 24 hours. It places specific responsibilities on Government to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of the Child or Young Person.
1.2 In addition, children and young people who live away from home for other reasons, whilst not being ‘Looked After’, may still be vulnerable. Such settings include Private Fostering (see Safeguarding Children in Private Foster Care Procedure), healthcare, boarding schools (including residential special schools), the secure care home and the Armed Forces.
1.3 Children and young people, either ‘Looked After’ or living away from home, should be afforded the same essential safeguards against abuse, but practice needs to be framed on an understanding that there may be additional risks and vulnerabilities for children and young people living away from home.
1.4 Many agencies may be involved, but all should have policies and procedures that are in line with the SCB’s arrangements and ensure that children and young people have their general welfare promoted, are protected from harm and treated with dignity and respect.
1.5 When a referral is received concerning a child or young person who is Looked After, the same procedures should be followed as for any child or young person. The duty to undertake Section 46 Enquiries when there are concerns about Significant Harm is the same. See Referral to Social Services Procedure for more information.
1.6 In situations where an allegation is made against a member of staff or a volunteer or carer refer to Allegations of Abuse made Against a Person who Works with Children.
1.7 When a child or young person is subject of Child Protection Plan and he or she is Looked After, meetings and planning should be separate but co-ordinated. Reviews of the Care Plan should take into account the protection plan and vice versa.
1.8 For all Looked After children, any changes to the child or young person’s care arrangements, or circumstances such as a return to their birth parents, should be discussed and take into account the risks previously identified by a Child Protection Conference. In some instances it may be appropriate to convene a conference to evaluate risk. In all instances a full evaluation of any risks needs to be made by the allocated practitioner, authorised by a manager and recorded on the case file.
1.9 If a decision has been made by the court to return the child home, then the court’s directions should be clearly recorded in the care plan, particularly if the actions prescribed differ from those within that plan. All agencies must be notified in writing.
1.10 Professional disagreements between the Looked After care planning process and Child Protection Conference should be brought to the attention of the relevant senior manager and should be dealt with in line with the procedure for resolving professional disagreements. (See Resolving Professional Differences Procedure).