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5.2.3 Medway Children in Care Placed in Other Local Authority Areas (POLA)

RELEVANT LEGISLATION

Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010

Arrangements for Placement of Children (General) Regulations 1991

Children’s Act 2004

AMENDMENT

This chapter was significantly amended in December 2014 and should be re-read in full.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Placements to which this Procedure Applies
  3. Approval of Placement by the Director of Children’s Services or a Nominated Officer
  4. Emergency Placements
  5. Responsibilities of Medway Council Children’s Services in Considering Distant Placements
  6. Data Recording Process for Medway Children in Care Placed in Other Local Authority Areas
  7. Requests from Other Local Authorities
  8. Notifications for Children Placed with Prospective Adopters
  9. Missing Children Protocol


1. Introduction

Amendments to the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 came into force in January 2014. These create new requirements for local authorities making distant placements to consult with children’s services in the area of placement, and for the Director of Children’s Services of the responsible authority to approve these placements. Placement planning should address specifically whether education and health needs can be met in the area of placement.

In April 2014, Ofsted published a report ‘From a Distance’ which looked at how well local authorities carried out their responsibilities for Looked After Children who lived away from their home community.

This followed a report in August 2013, on the Department for Education commissioned initiative, A Long Way from Home, which explored the impact on children of being placed more than 20 miles from their home area, specifically in relation to education, health and leaving care services


2. 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.


3. Approval of Placement by the Director of Children’s Services or a Nominated Officer

The decision to place the child out of area must be approved by the Director of Children’s Services or a Nominated Officer, unless it is a Placement at a Distance in which case the approval of the Director of Children’s Services is required. In practice, this is anywhere other than Kent.

In making this decision the Director of Children’s Services must be satisfied:

  • 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 area authority has been notified;
  • 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).


4. Emergency Placements

In the case of a placement made in an emergency, the approval of the Nominated Officer is still required and s/he must be satisfied that the child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration. The Nominated Officer must also take steps to ensure that within five working days: the IRO has been informed, relatives have been consulted (where appropriate) and the area authority notified.


5. Responsibilities of Medway Council Children’s Services in Considering Distant Placements

In considering a distant placement Medway Council Children’s Services should:

  • Consult with the children’s services in the proposed area of placement before placements are made (or within  five working days if an emergency) to ensure that appropriate health and educational services are immediately available. It is the responsibility of the local authority to make sure that health assessments are carried out. CCGs have a duty to comply with requests by local authorities for help in the exercise of their functions;
  • Ensure that IRO are consulted before a decision is made to place out of area, whether ‘distant’ or not;
  • Discharge their responsibilities as corporate parents properly, ensuring that they give high priority to the needs of looked after children living out of area and closely monitor the quality and impact of the care and support they receive;
  • Ensure that children’s educational progress and achievement is not compromised by a move out of area; virtual schools for Looked After Children should take the lead role in assessing the quality of out-of-authority education provision and supporting all children Looked After by the local authority, wherever they are living;
  • Establish full agreement for the funding of health provision in line with the responsibilities outlined in legislation and guidance, prior to children moving to their new home, so that there is continuity of health care for them when they live out of area;
  • Keep parents (where appropriate and safe to do so) fully informed about their children’s progress and ensure that contact for children with all friends and relatives who are important to them is not jeopardised by living out of area;
  • Ensure that workforce plans accommodate and prioritise time for social workers, IROs and other professionals to develop meaningful, trusting and lasting relationships with Looked After Children out of the area;
  • Ensure that IROs closely monitor, review and pursue good progress in the plans for children living out of area;
  • Ensure that commissioning and contracting arrangements with providers clearly focus on how the care and support provided to children can meet their needs and help them to make the required progress;
  • Develop a clear strategy to recruit carers based on an accurate analysis of current need, taking into account the known needs of children whose future needs may require care away from their families;
  • Ensure the sufficiency strategy to accommodate the need for children to be looked after close to home where this is safe for them;
  • Give children living at a distance from their home communities the same opportunities to influence the planning of services.


6. Data Recording Process for Medway Children in Care Placed in Other Local Authority Areas

The LAC Health Co-ordinator should be informed by the Social Work Teams of the following through the completion of the placement notification form (SS 7), alerting the LAC health coordinator and the POLA virtual worker in respect of:

  • New LAC;
  • All changes to placements, legal status, allocated social worker and team;
  • End of LAC episodes.

Notifications should be sent on either the day the placement is made or the next working day. 

All placements that are outside of Medway are to be identified and a notification and covering letter will be sent to the relevant Local Authority by the LAC Health Co-ordinator within  two working days of notification (Appendix 12-14). This should include as much information as possible from framework I and the placement notification form:

  • Child’s First Name and Surname;
  • Gender;
  • DOB;
  • Ethnicity;
  • Asylum Status;
  • Placement Address including Postcode;
  • Placement Type;
  • Carer’s Name;
  • Legal Status;
  • Placement Start Date;
  • Placing Authority;
  • Allocated Social Worker and Contact Details;
  • UPN;
  • NHS Number.


7. Requests from Other Local Authorities

Requests from other local authorities for details of all Medway children placed in their area are received by post or email, and managed by the LAC Health Coordinator. 

  • The report from Frameworki can be filtered to find the relevant information; 
  • Complete the form sent by the other local authority and return; 
  • If it is a nil return, a response should be sent informing them that this is the case.


8. Notifications for Children Placed with Prospective Adopters

Social Workers must inform the relevant local authority if a Medway Looked After Child is placed with prospective adopters outside of Medway. Emails/letters must be copied to the LAC Health Co-ordinator. (Appendix 17).

When other local authorities request that we check their list of Medway children in their area and it is found that the Looked After Child is placed with prospective adopters, a reminder email will be sent to the Social Worker.

Notifications of children from other local authorities placed with adopters in Medway will be sent to the Adoption Team.


9. Missing Children

Please see Medway’s Missing Children Protocol (Run Away and Missing from Home and Care Protocol (RMFHC)) for processes for those who are placed in Medway by other local authorities and Medway LAC placed outside of Medway.

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