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Placement Planning and Placement Reflections and Learning Meetings


In March 2021 Section 2, Placement Reflection and Learning Meetings was updated.


  1. Placement Planning Meetings
  2. Placement Reflection and Learning Meetings

1. Placement Planning Meetings

Placement Planning meetings should be convened as part of the process of identifying and placing a child - as set out in the Placements in Foster Care Procedure and the Placements in Residential Care Procedure. The first Placement Planning Meeting in relation to a placement should be held before the placement. Where this is not possible because of the urgency of the situation, it should be held in order that the Placement Plan is prepared within 5 working days of the start of the placement.

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

The social worker and home manager/foster carers supervising social worker will agree the best format and venue for the meeting and who will chair the meeting.

The people listed below should contribute to the meetings:

  1. The child’s social worker and/or other professional associated with the child e.g. Personal Adviser or advocate;
  2. The child;
  3. The child’s parents;
  4. For children in residential care, the child’s link worker/keyworker and, where appropriate the home manager;
  5. For children in foster care, the foster carers and their supervising social worker.
Before any meeting, the chairperson should obtain or be updated on the following, if available:
  • The child's Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record on ICS);
  • Any work which has been undertaken in supporting the child’s placement;
  • If relevant: the child’s Care Plan, Personal Education Plan and Pathway Plan.

Where the proposed placement has the effect of disrupting the arrangements made for the child's education and training - see Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children Procedure.

Where the proposed placement is out of area, see Out of Area Placements Procedure.

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.

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.

2. Placement Reflection and Learning Meetings

This section applies to Care Experienced Children and Young People whose planned placement has ended unexpectedly. This sets out the expectation and responsibility of NCC staff to ensure that action is taken to understand what had led to the breakdown and what lessons can be learnt to prevent future placements ending for the child/young person. 

Children in Care whose placement (whether this is foster care, residential care or supported accommodation) ends in an unplanned way will have a Placement Reflection and Learning Meeting held no later than four weeks after the placement ended. Placements will not be put on hold in the meantime; any concerns regarding individual placements will be discussed between Corporate Parenting and Resources and a plan will be formulated to ensure those concerns will be addressed through existing formal routes. There will be occasions where it is deemed that a meeting is not required, the circumstances for this are set out below.

What warrants a Placement Reflection and Learning Meeting?

  • Any child or young person that leaves a placement unplanned and permanency has previously been agreed;
  • Ending of a task centred placement prior to the planned end date;
  • Where the move to the placement that has ended was planned and well matched;
  • Where a young person, social worker (or manager), Independent Reviewing Officer, carer or placement setting has requested a Placement Reflection and Learning Meeting following a placement ending.

Where a Placement Reflection and Learning Meeting may not be necessary

  • Where placement is a short term/emergency and ends prematurely, this includes 6-day emergency placements and those that were sought in an emergency due to safeguarding concerns;
  • Where a parent voluntarily leaves a Parent and Child placement;
  • Where a parent withdraws s20 consent to a placement;
  • Where there is a change of personal circumstances for the carer, including but not limited to: marriage ending, illness, retirement, own children returning home for example;
  • Where a young person has left a placement in a planned way, including but not limited to joining a sibling in an alternative placement, returning to family or reaching independence;
  • For children who have had 2 or more unexpected placement endings within past 6 months, a full learning review for the SW Team and relevant professionals from fostering/residential, the IRO, IRM senior managers for both services and a representative from the Virtual School should be considered;
  • Where there is an active LADO and/or police investigation.

Any decision to not hold a Placement Reflection and Learning Meeting needs to be made in consultation with the child or young person’s IRO and the fostering/residential provider. The responsible team manager for the child will add a specific management overview to Liquidlogic reflecting the reason why a meeting is not required. This will then need to be agreed and finalised by the Head of Service. Should there be a disagreement about whether a meeting should be held, the Head of Service in conjunction with the Assistant Director for Corporate Parenting will make the final decision and the Head of Service should record their rationale for this on Liquidlogic although the IRO can use the usual routes for dispute if agreement cannot be reached as to whether a meeting is needed.

Who will chair the Placement Reflection and Learning Meeting?

A Head of Service will chair the meeting. This can be the Head of Service from the responsible area, however if this is not appropriate due to a conflict of interest, then a Head of Service from another area will be asked to chair. Service Managers from the Independent Statutory Services can also chair Placement Reflection Learning meetings if a Head of Service is not available, as can the Service Managers from Fostering, Adoption or Residential Services

Who will attend the Placement Reflection and Learning Meeting?

  • The child (if age appropriate and they choose to attend) and their approved advocate;
  • The child’s parents (if appropriate);
  • The child’s social worker and manager;
  • The foster carers and supervising social worker for the ended placement;
  • The child’s current carers (residential or fostering);
  • The residential worker/keyworker (for residential care) and residential home manager for the ended placement;
  • The child’s Independent Reviewing Officer;
  • The Virtual School and the child’s educational provider;
  • Relevant health professionals for example Health Visitor, School Nurse, GP, Psychologist, Child and Adolescence Mental Health Practitioner and any other professional not included above;
  • Commissioning / Access to Recourses Team if appropriate.

The precise agenda will depend on the child’s circumstances, but the chairperson should ensure the circumstances leading to the ending of the placement are properly reviewed, and that all concerned are provided with opportunities to express their views freely. The chair will follow a strengths-based approach formatting the meeting in line with NCC Vital Signs and Signs of Safety approach, with a view to establishing and learning, how and why the placement ended in an unplanned way.

To determine this the follow questions must be asked;

  • Can you describe what has happened which lead to this breakdown?
  • What were people thinking at the time?
  • How were people feeling at the time?
  • What are people’s thoughts now?
  • How are people feeling now?

To learn from what happened and avoid the same thing happening again – for the child or others in the placement – the following question must be explored:

  • What needs to happen to repair any harm and to prevent future breakdowns?
  • To contribute to the future planning for the child;
  • To identify work to be done and to ensure it is completed;
  • To ensure that appropriate notifications and other post placement arrangements have been undertaken.

When the Access to Resources team are aware there is an unplanned ending to a placement, they will alert Independent Statutory Services and the child’s Head of Service. The Head of Service will determine who will chair the meeting. The agreed Chair of the placement reflection and learning meeting will liaise with the child’s social worker to agree who will be invited to the Placement reflection and Learning meeting. The allocated social worker will then organise the meeting.

Minutes will be taken by Business Support staff from the locality that the child’s social worker is based, they will be recorded in the placement disruption form on Liquidlogic and will be signed off by the Chair of the meeting, before being shared with all attendees. The Chair will decide which themes related to the meeting should be ticked within the placement disruption form before authorising the minutes.

The form will capture themes regarding placement endings that can be reported on via LCS reporting and will be used to support additional learning and practice development across the county.