Family and Friends/Connected Persons Policy and Placement Procedure (Including Regulation 24 Placements)
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter concerns the placement of children who are looked after by the local authority with relatives and friends / connected persons. Viability Assessments are undertaken.
Separate procedures apply in respect children who are looked after and placed with parents (see Placement with Parent(s) or Person who has, or has held Parental Responsibility Immediately Prior to Making of a Care Order or Interim Care Order Procedure).
Separate procedures apply in respect of children who, by private arrangement, are living with adults who do not have parental authority and who are not close relatives. Such children may be privately fostered (see Private Fostering Procedure).
Children may also be placed with Connected Person Carers having acquired Looked After status following a Remand to Local Authority Accommodation, see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.
For relevant forms see Friends and Family Section of Fostering Forms.
This procedure was revised in September 2018 and should be re-read in its entirety.This chapter is currently under review.
Children are entitled to grow up as part of a loving family that can meet their developmental needs. Where possible this should be with their birth family, or if this is not an option, with a relative or member of the child's social network. Where this is not consistent with the child's welfare, every effort will be made to secure an alternative stable home where the child will feel loved and valued.
An immediate placement can only be agreed (under Regulation 24 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (Amended 2015)) when the proposed carer is relative, a friend or a Connected Person with whom the child has a pre-existing relationship.
The approval of such placements can be given at Services Manager level only following the completion of an assessment as outlined in the Regulations (see Section 6, The Assessment of Connected Person Carers).
Family and friends/connected persons foster care is a formal arrangement where the child is looked after by the Local Authority, and placed with a relative, friend or connected person.
'Relative, friend or connected person' is defined as: a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership), step-parent or friend of, or other person connected with, a Child Looked After. A person in the last category may be someone who knows the child in a more professional capacity such as a child minder, a teacher or a youth worker although these are not exclusive categories.
A Family and Friends/Connected Person foster placement can therefore be defined as being an arrangement where:
- A child cannot live with their parents and is living away from the parental home with a relative, friend or connected person;
- The placement has in some way been assisted or initiated and/or is supported by Children, Schools and Families, often with a view to securing the placement via a Child Arrangements Order or a Special Guardianship Order;
- The child would otherwise be with foster carers, in residential care, independent living or adopted.
3. Decision to Accommodate
Before any child can be looked after, a Child and Family Assessment must be completed. Agreement must be sought from the Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel (HARP) (see Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel (H.A.R.P) and Delegated Authority for Resource Agreement Procedure) or a Head of Service, before the child becomes looked after or as soon as possible. Unless the child is subject to a court order or Police Protection, parents must sign a Section 20 agreement.
A Placement Agreement meeting must be held before any placement is made, or within 5 days of an unplanned placement. A Child in Need Planning Meeting (see Hertfordshire Multi-Agency Children in Need Protocol and Procedures), Family Group Conference (see Family Group Conferences Procedure) and/or Legal Planning Meeting (see Legal Planning Meetings Procedure) must be considered before any placement is made, or within 10 working days of an unplanned placement.
Family Group Conferences (see Family Group Conferences Procedure) can be particularly effective when used at an early stage to avoid or reduce the need for ongoing support and intervention by children's social care services. A Family Group Conference should therefore be considered as a valuable tool to engage families in planning as soon as it is thought possible that a child may need to become looked after.
When a decision has been made that a child needs to become looked after, whether by means of a Court order or accommodation, consideration must be given as to whether an appropriate family and friends /connected person placement is available. A Family Group Conference may be helpful in identifying a potential family and friends/connected person foster carer.
4. Legal Framework
The Children Act 1989 (as amended by the Children and Young Persons Act 2008) requires a local authority to seek first to place a Child Looked After with a relative, friend or Connected Person. This requirement is strengthened by the Public Law Outline (See Public Law Outline), which requires authorities to demonstrate that they have considered family members and friends as potential carers at each stage of the decision-making process. It is therefore important that any discussions held with family, friends and connected persons are recorded effectively, as details will be required by the Court.
Children Looked After may only be placed with a relative, friend or connected person if they have been approved as foster carers under the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011, or have been temporarily approved as foster carers under Regulation 24 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (Amended 2015). These Regulations, together with the Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011 (FNMS 2011), set out the requirements in relation to the assessment, approval, support and supervision of all foster carers, including those who are family members, friends or other connected persons.
Regulation 24 replaces Regulation 38 of the Fostering Services Regulations 2002, and has extended the temporary approval period for family and friends /connected person placements from 6 to 16 weeks. This time period has been set to allow sufficient time for the full foster care approval process to be undertaken and S30 of the Fostering National Minimum Standard (FNMS 2011) requires that the assessment must be completed in this period.
A Viability Assessment - CS0221F10 must be carried out, to ensure that the quality of care for the child is good enough. It must be signed off by the Services Manager, before the child can be placed with the carer.
5. Emergency and Planned Placements
It is preferable that placements should be planned as early as possible. Provisions relating to temporary approval (Regulation 24) are intended to be used exceptionally and in circumstances which could not easily have been foreseen, when it is not possible to undertake a full foster carer assessment prior to placement. The power will be most useful where it is clearly in the child's interest to be placed with or remain in the care of a familiar figure in reassuring surroundings. Before making such a placement the authority should satisfy itself as to the reasons for the carers coming forward to offer a placement, and that there is no obvious barrier to undertaking a foster carer assessment.
Where possible there should be a programme of introduction and contact arrangements should set up before the placement is made (taking into account the views of those involved) (S30 FNMS 2011).
The assessment requirements before the child may be placed with a family and friends /connected person foster carer under temporary approval are the minimum requirements for assessing the relative, friend or connected person's suitability within what may be a short time frame. Every effort must be made to maximise the level and quality of information available to support the decision as to whether the person should be temporarily approved.
Approval for an immediate placement can be given only where the Services Manager (on behalf of the authority) is satisfied that:
In all the circumstances and taking into account the services to be provided by the responsible authority, the proposed arrangements will safeguard and promote the child's welfare and meet the child's needs set out in the care plan and that the most appropriate placement for the child is with a connected person, notwithstanding that the connected person is not approved as a local authority foster parent, and it is necessary for the child to be placed with the connected person before the connected person's suitability to be a local authority foster parent has been assessed in accordance with the 2010 (Amended 2015) Regulations.
6. The Assessment of Connected Person Carers
Schedule Four of the Care Planning, Placement and Review (England) Regulations 2010 (Amended 2015) sets out the areas which must be addressed in the assessment of prospective Connected Person Carers as follows:
In respect of the connected person:
- The nature and quality of any existing relationship with the child;
- Their capacity to care for children and in particular in relation to the child to:
- Provide for the child's physical needs and appropriate medical and dental care;
- Protect the child adequately from harm or danger including from any person who presents a risk of harm to the child;
- Ensure that the accommodation and home environment is suitable with regard to the age and developmental stage of the child;
- Promote the child's learning and development; and
- Provide a stable family environment which will promote secure attachments for the child including promoting positive contact with the parents and other connected persons, unless to do this is not consistent with the duty to safeguard and promote the child's welfare.
- Their state of health including their physical, emotional and mental health and medical history including any current or past issues of domestic violence, substance misuse or mental health problems;
- Their family relationships and the composition of their household, including particulars of:
- The identity of all other members of the household, including their age and the nature of their relationship with the connected person and with each other, including any sexual relationship;
- Any relationship with any person who is a parent of the child;
- Any relationship between the child and other members of the household;
- Other adults not being members of the household who are likely to have regular contact with the child; and
- Any current or previous domestic violence between members of the household, including the connected person.
- Their family history, including:
- Particulars of their childhood and upbringing including the strengths and difficulties of their parents or other persons who cared for them;
- Their relationships with their parents and siblings, and their relationships with each other;
- Their educational achievement and any specific learning difficulty or disability;
- A chronology of significant life events; and
- Particulars of other relatives and their relationships with the child and the connected person.
- Particulars of any criminal offences of which they have been convicted or in respect of which they have been cautioned;
- Their past and present employment and other sources of income; and
- The nature of the neighbourhood in which their home is situated and resources available in the community to support the child and the connected person.
The home must be visited by the social worker as part of the assessment of suitability arrangements.
S30 of the FNMS 2011 specifically requires that the Child's wishes are taken into account by the Agency Decision and requires that the Decision Maker must be provided with this information.
The views of those with Parental Responsibility must also be obtained.
S30 also sets out that the following regarding the carer assessment:
That carers should be provided with information and support about the assessment and the potential placement.
The proposed carer should be given information about the assessment process which will start on day 1, anticipating that the placement may last longer than 16 weeks and ensuring information is collated to meet the legal requirements. This process includes the need for DBS checks and other agency enquiries on all members of the household aged 18 and over, as well as interviews with referees, adult children and ex-partners, which will be part of any such fostering assessment.
That carers should be asked about whether they know and understand about the child's background and behaviour and to be provided with information about this.
The assessment should recognise the likely length of placement and the family's ability to continue to meet the child's needs (where appropriate) on a long term basis.
The prospective carers need to be made aware that any approval is temporary and does not imply continued approval beyond the 16 (sixteen) weeks.
Family and Friends (Connected Persons) Carers
The Viability Assessment Regulation 24 (Emergency and Immediate Placement) CS0221F10 must be completed.
- A Regulation 24 placement must be approved by the Services Manager within the safeguarding team for a period of up to 16 weeks;
- The BAC's details of the carers should be obtained;
- The Brokerage Team need to be informed of the placement so that the first CLA review can be booked;
- A referral to the F&F Team should be made; that team will create a placement on LCS and begin payments to the carer;
- Book HARP to get formal agreement that the child remains looked after;
- Consider the need for a FGC.
If a potential carer decides to withdraw their application they should be asked to complete a Withdrawal Letter CS0252F16.
7. Social Work Visits to Children Looked After Placed with Connected Persons under Regulation 24
Where a child is placed with Connected Person carers on the basis of temporary approval under Regulation 24 the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations require that the social worker must visit the child at least once a week until the first Looked After Review. Thereafter the regulation requires that visits are made at intervals of not more than 4 weeks until the Carer is fully approved as a foster carer.
8. Extension of a Temporary Approval
Family and Friends Foster Carers may be initially approved, under Regulation 24, by a Services Manager, Safeguarding Team for a period of up to 16 weeks. A full Regulation 27 assessment (CS0221F14) should then be taken to the Fostering Panel, before they can be approved as foster carers.
If the full assessment is not completed the temporary approval may be extended for a further 8 weeks. The case was previously presented to the Fostering panel for its view, but now is considered by the Agency Decision Maker, only, for the decision. See Scheme of Delegation to Officers Procedure. A brief report set out on Complete Request for Extension of Temporary Family & Friends Approval CS0221F13 outlining the background to the case and the reasons for the extension should be presented. If agreed the case moves from being a Regulation 24 placement to a Regulation 25 placement.
9. Involvement of Child and Carers in Care Planning
S31 of the FNMS 2011 sets out the expectation that the views of the child and the foster carer will be canvassed as part of the placement planning process and that the carer has a copy of the care plan. The child is to be assisted to understand the Care Plan, to contribute to their reviews and help ensure that they get access to advocacy services where appropriate.
The fostering service should contact the child's social worker to request a review or visit if these are overdue or if there has been a significant change which warrants an early review.
10. Family and Friends / Connected Person Procedures
Where a Child and Family Assessment has been completed and a need identified that a child must be looked after, agreement must be sought from the Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel (HARP) (see Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel (H.A.R.P) and Delegated Authority for Resource Agreement Procedure) or a Head of Service, before the child becomes looked after or as soon as possible. Unless the child is subject to a court order or Police Protection, parents must sign a Section 20 agreement.
Family and Friends (Connected Person) Carers are also entitled to training and support in accordance with the Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011 (see Support, Training and Payment to Family and Friends (Connected Person) Carers).
Family and Friends /Connected Person Procedures Table
|Time||Situation / Description||Actions||By|
Child comes into care in an emergency. Agreement has been given by HARP or Head of Service for child to become looked after.
All Children Looked After must be cared for in a placement which has been approved and which is regulated. The social worker must therefore complete an immediate viability assessment of the relative, friend or connected person.
The key message at this point is that the placement should only be regarded as a temporary measure.
Complete Emergency and Immediate Placement Viability Assessment Form CS 0221F10
This assessment must include the following:
Home Environment: Initial visit to check that the suitability of home is acceptable, there is somewhere for the child to sleep, and there are no significant risks (including dangerous dogs). A home which is dirty and neglected, even if it is some improvement to the child's usual home, will not be considered to be suitable.
Members of the Household: Details of all members of the household (including frequent visitors) must be obtained.
Police Information Check: A Police Information Check must be carried out for all adults and frequent visitors before the child is placed. If any offences committed by adults or teenagers or any other concerns from the police are identified, these must be recorded on the viability assessment and on the child's file, and reported to the team and service manager.
Local Authority checks: The assessment must include a check of the local authority database covering the area in which the proposed carer lives to ascertain if there is any information of concern held on them.
Wishes and Feelings: The wishes and feelings of the child(ren) about the proposed placement must be ascertained, in line with their age and level of understanding.
Medical permissions: Permission must be sought in writing from the proposed carer to contact their GP in order to ascertain whether there are any medical reasons which might make the carers unsuitable in terms of physical or mental health issues or any substance/alcohol misuse issues.
Applicant's Bank Details: The carer's bank details must be obtained through the 'BACS Payment' form in order for the carer to receive payment.All of the checks described above must be completed before the child is placed or if not possible within 5 working days.
|Child's Social Worker|
|Within 5 days||Child has been placed with family and friends / Connected Person carer. Viability Assessment process is ongoing/complete.||
The viability assessment must be authorised by a Safeguarding Services Manager and the decision recorded on LCS by that manager with a copy of assessment attached in 'forms'.
The completed and signed viability assessment and copy of a Child and Family Assessment form to the Family and Friends Team to start full fostering assessment under regulation 27.
Send completed BACS payment form to Children's Services Finance Department East/West (address and fax number are provided on form).Inform Brokerage Team of placement.
|Child's Social Worker|
|Carer's details to be entered on LCS to initiate payments to Carer.||Family and Friends (Connected Persons) Worker|
|Notify Independent Reviewing Team of placement and book first CLA review.||Brokerage Team|
|Within 5 working days||Deadline for Viability assessment.||This is required before temporary approval of the carer for up to 16 weeks (Schedule 4, Regulation 24) can be given. If approval is not given, immediate arrangements must be made to move child (ren), as placement is then unregulated.||Child's Social Worker|
|Placement Agreement Meeting is held - see 'Making a Placement' section.||Child's social worker, parents, carer and F and F team worker.|
|Within 6 days||Child continues to be placed with family and friends carer.||
Visit the carer's household, and see the child alone.Make referral to HARP, if this has not already been done.
|Child's Social Worker|
|Week 2||The child continues to be Looked After and placed by the temporary Family & Friends Carer.||Visit the carer's household, and see the child alone.||Child's Social Worker|
|If child unable to return to birth family, the case must be presented to the Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel (HARP)||
HARP agrees or refuses further accommodation.
HARP may recommend a family meeting or Family Group Conference, depending on complexity of the case.A Family Group Conference is held to either seek support for current placement or to seek a viable alternative from within the family network. The family should try to nominate only one suitable carer for full assessment
|Child's Social Worker / HARP|
|If child is to remain Accommodated and viability assessment is positive, a full Family & Friends Fostering Assessment is required.||Work to complete full Family & Friends Fostering Assessment is allocated||Family and Friends (Connected Persons) Manager|
Family and Friends (Connected Persons) social worker to book Panel date to present Fostering Assessment.
Fostering application (CSF0221F14), letter regarding medical and consent for checks sent to carer/s.
DBS checks are initiated for all adults in the household and for regular visitors.
|Family and Friends (Connected Persons) Worker|
|Week 3||The child continues to be looked after and placed with the Family and Friends (Connected Persons) Carer||Visit the carer's household, and see the child alone.||Child's Social Worker|
|Week 4||The child continues to be looked after and placed with the Family & Friends Carer||Visit the carer's household, and see the child alone.||Child's Social Worker|
|Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 require that the first Statutory Review is held within 20 working days.||
First Statutory Review is held.Options for Special Guardianship Order or Child Arrangements Order should be discussed.
|Week 5 onwards||The child continues to be looked after and placed with the Family and Friends (Connected Persons) Carer||Every four weeks, visit the carers household, and see the child alone||Child's Social Worker|
|By week 12||If child is to remain with Family and Friends /Connected Person carer on a long term or permanent basis and rehabilitation has been ruled out.||Permanence Planning Meeting takes place - inviting Family and Friends Team worker to attend.|
|Complete 'Social Work Report to Panel' (CS0221F16) for presentation to Fostering Panel. Papers must be sent to the Panel Administrator 10 days before the Panel takes place.||Child's Social Worker|
|Prepare all documents for Panel - Full Fostering Assessment, including all DBS checks, Health and Safety, Medicals, Pet Assessments and References. Also complete a genogram and ecomap to support assessment documents to panel.||Family and Friends (Connected Persons) Worker|
|By week 16||The application must be presented to the Fostering Panel, who will make a recommendation.||
Family and Friends/Connected Person Fostering Assessment presented to Fostering Panel. The Panel considers the application and recommends whether or not it should be approved.Attendance is required by the Child's Social Worker, Team Manager, and Family & Friends Worker.
|The Agency Decision Maker makes the decision as to whether to approve the application.||Agency Decision Maker|
|A longer assessment period is required.||If the full assessment is not completed the temporary approval may be extended for a further 8 weeks. The case must be presented to the Agency Decision Maker for his or her decision. A brief report set out on the extension to temporary approval form CS0221F13 outlining the background to the case and the reasons for the extension should be presented. If agreed the case moves from being a Regulation 24 placement to a Regulation 25 placement.||Family and Friends (Connected Persons) Worker.|
Regulation 25 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010 sets out the circumstances in which, exceptionally, the period of temporary approval may be extended.
These circumstances are either where either:
- The approval process has taken longer than anticipated for reasons beyond your control. In these circumstances the temporary approval may be extended for a further 8 weeks; or
- The carer has not been approved following the assessment process and seeks a review of the decision through the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM). In these circumstances the temporary approval will continue until the outcome of the review is known.
Before deciding whether to extend the temporary approval the regulations require that the responsible authority must first:
- Consider whether placement with the connected person is still the most appropriate placement available;
- Seek the views of the fostering panel established by the fostering service provider; and
- Inform the IRO.
When these time periods expire and the carer has not been approved by the authority in accordance with the 2010 Regulations, the responsible authority must arrange for an alternative placement and remove the child from the carer in accordance with regulation 25 (6).