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1.6.6 Visits to Children in Long Term Residential Care

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter takes account of the Visits To Children In Long-Term Residential Care Regulations 2011 (which came into force on 1 April 2011). It applies to children accommodated in residential special schools, hospitals or care homes for consecutive periods of three months or more.

This chapter was added to the manual in February 2014.


Contents

  1. Notification to Local Authority
  2. Visits
  3. Frequency of Visits
  4. Reports of Visits


1. Notification to Local Authority

When a child is accommodated in a residential special school, hospital or care home for consecutive periods of three months or more, the relevant local authority must, under sections 85 and 86 of the Children Act 1989, be notified of the fact. The Authority is then under a duty to take such steps as are reasonably practicable to determine whether the child's welfare is adequately safeguarded and promoted while they are accommodated, and to consider whether there is a need to exercise any functions under the Children Act 1989 with respect to the child.


2. Visits

There is a new requirement upon the Authority from 1 April 2011 (under the new Section 86A of the Children Act 1989, inserted by Section 18 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008)  to ensure that arrangements are made for the child to be visited by a representative of the Authority, to advise and assist the Local Authority in carrying out their duty under section 85 or 86 (as set out in Section 1, Notification to Local Authority).

Visits must be made to children in respect of whom notifications are made, and visits should be made by a qualified social worker.  

On each visit, the social worker must speak to the child in private unless:

  • The child, being of sufficient age and understanding to do so, refuses;
  • The social worker considers it inappropriate to do so, having regard to the child's age and understanding; or
  • The social worker is unable to do so.


3. Frequency of Visits

Where the child's  needs for the purposes of the 1989 Act have not been assessed by any local authority in the past twelve months, the social worker must visit:

  • Within seven working days of the notification; and
  • Thereafter, at intervals of not more than six months.

Where the child's needs have been assessed in the past twelve months, the social worker must  visit:

  • Within three months of the notification; and
  • Thereafter, at intervals of not more than six months.

In addition, the social worker must visit:

  • Whenever reasonably requested to do so by the child; and
  • Whenever satisfied that circumstances require the child  to be visited in order to safeguard and promote his/her welfare.


4. Reports of Visits

The social worker must provide a written report of each visit.

The  report must include the social worker's assessment of:

  • The child's wishes and feelings about the accommodation, so far as the social worker  has been able to ascertain them;
  • Whether the child's welfare is adequately safeguarded and promoted;
  • Whether further additional visits are required in order to safeguard and promote the child's welfare;
  • Any services which the social worker considers appropriate to be made available with a view to promoting contact between the child and his/her family; and
  • Any other steps that should be taken by the local authority exercising its functions under the 1989 Act to safeguard and promote the child's welfare.

The report must be copied to:

  • The child, unless it would not be appropriate to do so, having regard to age and understanding;
  • Any parent/person who has Parental Responsibility, unless to do so would place the child at risk of Significant Harm;
  • Where different from the responsible local authority, the local authority in whose area the child  is accommodated; and
  • Any other person with responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the child's welfare under the 1989 Act.

End