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5.3.1 Statutory Visits to Children Looked After

RELATED CHAPTER

Local Authority responsibilities for visiting former Children Looked After who are in custody are set out in Former Children Looked After in Detention Procedure.

Note that different provisions apply to children who acquire Looked After status as a result of a remand to local authority accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation. In relation to those children, please see Remand of the Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People on Remand or Youth Detention Accommodation.

Note: Social Workers acting on behalf of the Council are requested not to send Birthday or Christmas gifts to CLA. This is because their primary carer has an allocation of money for this purpose.

AMENDMENT

In August 2016, Section 7, Social Work Visits to Young People on Remand was added.


Contents

  1. Revised General Statutory Visiting Requirements
  2. Social Work Visits to Children in Foster Placements
  3. Social Work visits to Children Placed with Connected Persons
  4. Social Work Visits to Children Placed with Foster Carers for a Series of Short Breaks
  5. Social Work Visits to Children in Residential Placements
  6. Social Work Visits to Children Placed with Parents
  7. Social Work Visits to Young People on Remand

See LCS User Guide


1. Revised General Statutory Visiting Requirements

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010 set out common requirements for the visiting of all children looked supplemented by additional visiting requirements in respect of specific types of placement.

The general requirements which apply to all placements are that:

The Social Worker must visit:

  1. Within one week of the start of any placement;
  2. At intervals of not more than 6 weeks for the first year of any placement;
  3. Thereafter, at intervals of not more than 6 weeks (3 months if the placement is intended to last until the child is 18).

In addition, The Care Planning and Fostering (Miscellaneous Amendments)

(England) Regulations 2015 state in regulation 28 (3A) Where -

The child is in a long term foster placement (see definition) and has been in that placement for at least one year, and the child being of sufficient age and understanding, agrees to be visited less frequently than required by paragraph (2)(c), the responsible authority must ensure visits at intervals of no more than 6 months.”

Any decision to extent the frequency of visits as outlined above must be agreed by the IRO at a CLA review.

On each visit, the social worker must speak to the child in private unless he/she is unable to do so, considers it inappropriate or the child (being of sufficient age and understanding) refuses. The views and wishes of the child or young person in respect of their care must always be sought.

In addition the regulations also establishes further requirements in respect of visits to children placed with parents and with Connected Persons and these are set out below.

In Hertfordshire the general statutory visiting frequencies are regarded as a minimum and social workers should aim to see a child alone on a four weekly basis except where the regulations require a greater frequency.

Children should be visited more frequently when a new social worker is allocated in order to build up a relationship with the child.


2. Social Work Visits to Children in Foster Placements

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010 state that a child or young person must be visited within the first week of the start of the placement and then at 6 weekly intervals for the first year of placement. After the first year visiting at 6 weekly intervals should continue unless the placement has been formally agreed to be ‘long term’. Where a placement is intended to last until the child is 18 visiting intervals can be extended to 3 months.

Regulation 35(1) (b) states that a visit must also take place when reasonably requested by the child or young person or foster carer.

Regulation 35(3) (b) requires that a record of each visit is made. The record must include the Social Workers full name, the date of the visit and the date the recording was made. A copy of the report must be sent to the Supervising Social Workers for the foster carers.


3. Social Work Visits to Children Placed with Connected Persons

If a child is placed with a Connected Person with temporary approval visits must take place at least once a week until the first Looked After Review, thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks.

Regulation 35(1) (b) states that a visit must also take place when reasonably requested by the child or young person or Connected Person Carer.

Regulation 35(3) (b) requires that a record of each visit is made. The record must include the Social Workers full name, the date of the visit and the date the recording was made. A copy of the report must be sent to the Supervising Social Worker for the family and friend carer.

Once the family or friend carer has been approved as a foster carer the child must be visited at the frequency prescribed for children in foster placements.


4. Social Work Visits to Children Placed with Foster Carers for a Series of Short Breaks

A visit to the child in placement by a member of CS&SS staff must take place within the first 7 calendar days of placement (that is 7 days when the child is actually in placement) or before the first review, whichever is the sooner.

Thereafter, if the series of placements continues the child must be visited at intervals of not more than 6 months, or if the interval between placements exceeds 6 months, during the next placement.


5. Social Work Visits to Children in Residential Placements

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010 extend (for the first time) statutory requirements regarding visits to Children Looked After to those in residential placements. These requirements are the same as those placed in foster care as follows:

The Social Worker must visit:

  1. Within one week of the start of any placement;
  2. At intervals of not more than 6 weeks for the first year of any placement;
  3. Thereafter, at intervals of not more than 6 weeks (3 months if the placement is intended to last until the child is 18).

On each visit, the social worker must speak to the child in private unless he/she is unable to do so, considers it inappropriate or the child (being of sufficient age and understanding) refuses. The views and wishes of the child or young person in respect of their care must always be sought.

A visit must also take place when reasonably requested by the child or children’s home staff.

The views and wishes of the child in relation to their care must always be sought.

The Social Worker must seek to establish from the child that they do not wish to see them and the reasons for this rather than merely accepting the word of staff that the child refuses to see them.

Sometimes this may not be possible if the child has absented her or himself from the placement. In such circumstances the Social Worker must arrange to visit the child again as soon as possible. The failed attempt to see the child must be clearly recorded. If the Social Worker is still unable to establish direct contact with the child they must discuss the case immediately with their supervisor or line manager who must decide on what further action is needed.

A record of each visit must be made.


6. Social Work Visits to Children Placed with Parents

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010 set out new requirements regarding visits to Children Looked After placed with parents as outlined below:

Where a child is placed with parents pending assessment (Regulation 19)

Social work visits must take place at least once a week until the first Looked After Review, thereafter at intervals of not more than 6 weeks.

Where a child is placed with parents under an Interim Care Order

Social Work visits must take place at least once a week until the first Looked After Review, thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks

Where a child is placed with parents under a Care Order

Social Work visits must be made within one week of the Care Order, thereafter at intervals of not more than 6 weeks.

In all instances where a child is placed with parents a visit must also take place when reasonably requested by the child or the person with whom the child is placed.

At each visit the Social Worker must discuss the child’s welfare and progress with the caregivers and, in so far as is practicable, see the child alone.

The Social Worker must record the outcomes of each visit.


7. Social Work Visits to Young People on Remand

If a young person becomes ‘looked after’ even for a brief period of time, whilst on remand, they must be visited and the impact of offending regarding themselves and others is explicitly considered.

See also Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.

End