Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel (H.A.R.P) and Delegated Authority for Resource Agreement
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
The Role of the Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel is to make decisions on placements, Independent provision and support packages for Children and Young People Looked After or Children in Need.
Referrals to HARP should be made using the H.A.R.P Referral Form on LCS. Please do not complete Word version of form.
Please also see the MAP Panel Terms of Reference.
This chapter should be read in conjunction with Multi-Agency Panel Terms of Reference.
Please also read in conjunction with the PGN entitled Response to Emergency Referrals into Brokerage and Out of Hours Teams.
AMENDMENTThis chapter was updated in September 2021 to include a link to the Practice Guidance note entitled Response to Emergency Referrals into Brokerage and Out of Hours Teams.
The Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel replaced several earlier panels which considered and made decision on placements, Independent provision and support packages for Children and Young People Looked After or Children in Need.
The Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel is set up to ensure consistency of practice and decision making across the County and in response to acute budgetary pressures (see Section 16, H.A.R.P Terms of Reference).A second panel, the Hertfordshire Multi Agency Panel (M.A.P) is responsible for decision making in relation to provision where joint funding is requested from Education or the PCT.
2. Role of the Hertfordshire Access to Resource Panel (HARP)
- Ratification** of :
- Decisions to accommodate a child made in an emergency outside of HARP;
- Placements made out of hours.
- Decisions on:
- Section 20;
- Support packages into families for children on the edge of care;
- Additional support into placements;
- Post 18 agreement to remain in placement including all staying put arrangements;
- Care leaver support;
- Scrutiny of outcomes and exit planning.
3. Agreements that DO Require H.A.R.P
S20 Accommodation/children coming into care for the first time
- All under 12's must be referred directly to, and have the agreement of, the Operations Director Safeguarding (or the relevant Head of Service in their absence). Then referral must be made to HARP for ratification, normally at the next available HARP;
- All 12 years and over must be referred directly to, and have the agreement of, the Operations Director Specialist Services/HARP Chair (or the relevant Head of Service in their absence). Then referral must be made to HARP for ratification, normally at the next available HARP;
- Where children known to Children's Services are placed with a family member/family friend it must be ascertained at the earliest opportunity if this is a private arrangement or a family and friends arrangement. If it is the latter, agreement for section 20 must be sought at the earliest opportunity and the case brought to HARP for ratification.
ARC Residential Beds
- Referrals for ARC Families Together Programme must come to HARP for initial agreement;
- Referrals for Springs Short Break beds need to be agreed at HARP including beds available for adoption weekend.
Out of Hours
- Placements made out of hours to be agreed by the senior manager on call and then referred to the next HARP panel.
- All requests for residential placements must be made to, and have the agreement of, Operations Director of Specialist Services in discussion with the Chair of HARP;
- All Independent residential placements will be subject to 3 monthly reviews at HARP (or MAP where multi agency funded).
- All new referrals to come to HARP for a decision;
- Requests for Long Term agreement IFAs must be made to, and have the agreement of, the HARP chair. Prior to referral alternative options must have been explored – e.g:
- Carers to become HCC carers;
- Requests by in-house carers for Additional funding (e.g. for transport etc.) must first be discussed at HARP/with HARP chair and then referred to the Head of Fostering and Adoption who is the decision maker for funds.
- All decisions to agree agreements for 'Staying Put Supported' must be referred to HARP for ratification at the earliest possible opportunity. If agreed then HARP will review at 3 month intervals;
- All decisions to agree agreements for 'Staying Put Lodgings' must be referred to HARP for ratification at the earliest possible opportunity. If agreed then HARP will review at 3 month intervals.
Cases Moving Down the Care Continuum
- Where a child is moving back to family from foster care/residential and requires ongoing Sec 17 package, the case should be referred to HARP for agreement.
Care Leaver Support and Accommodation
- All new cases to be referred to HARP for agreement;
- Increases to agreed support packages need to be agreed by HARP;
- Supported Lodgings placements to be agreed by HARP;
- Placement moves from one semi-independent provision to another where there is additional cost need to be agreed by HARP.
Respite Care with IFA's
- To be referred to HARP for agreement (unless part of current funded package to IFA).
- Requests to fund taxis for children in placement to travel to school must be referred to HARP chair for agreement.
Section 17 Intensive Support Packages to Families
Agreement for intensive support packages must be sought from the relevant Service Manager/Head of Service in the first instance and can only be for a time limited period. The case should be brought to HARP.
- Changes to HARP decisions can be agreed by the chair outside of HARP if the change has a minimal impact on cost /care plan or in an emergency. Please copy in Duty Brokerage Accommodation Team and Panel Administrator into any request. (Please also see Section 7, Approval of Resources in an Emergency between Panels and Section 8, Email Agreements Outside of H.A.R.P).
MAP (Multi-Agency Panel)
Where it is deemed that there is potentially a health or education funded element to the placement cases may be referred to MAP. Prior to referral to MAP a professionals meeting must be held to gain agreement that therapeutic needs are identified and cannot be met by local CAMHS and/or there are education needs that cannot be met by HCC provision.
4. Agreements that are NOT Part of the H.A.R.P Remit
Children who will only be removed following a Court Order.
These placements can be sourced directly through brokerage and do not need agreement at HARP.
If the placement is residential or IFA then they will be subject to review by:
- Brokerage for foster placements;
- HARP for residential placements.
Residential Parenting Assessments
- All requests to the Director of Safeguarding;
- E mail confirmation of decision sent to Brokerage Accommodation team and entered on LCS;
- Legal advice must be sought regarding the status of the child in placement. Only in exceptional circumstances will the child not be subject to Section 20 agreement.
Review of all Independent Foster Placements
Legal Fees for UASC
- These will be agreed outside of HARP following advice from Legal on the Merits of the case.
Therapeutic Intervention for children
- HARP will not agree social care funding for therapy. The responsibility to deliver this service lies with CAMHS. Cases should be referred to CAMHS;
- Where treatment is needed for sexually harmful behaviours ARC can take initial referral and then pass to NCATS where there is no capacity to pick up work.
Treatment Packages for Parents
- Funding should be sought via GP/Universal Services.
ARC/Springs and Datchworth - Referrals for Outreach Support
- For outreach services-refer direct to ARC/Springs and Datchworth.
One off funding - for DNA testing
- One off funding of up to £500 can be authorised by a relevant Service Manager/TYS Head of Service.
Care Leaver support and Accommodation
- Changes to support package which incur no extra cost can be agreed by the Service Manager/TYS Head of Service.
5. Principles in Decision Making
The Panel will ensure a consistent approach, using the Threshold of Need, in managing the number of children and young people who access the Looked after system.
The Panel will consider the following principles and child care practice standards in reaching its decisions:
- A common understanding and decision making process that enables consistent and equitable practice;
- The identified needs and best interests of the child are effectively addressed through the effective use of resources;
- The care plan for the child with details of the plan for permanence with clear timescales for implementation;
- What resources may be deployed to avoid the need for the child to become looked after;
- Ensuring interventions achieve early success and good outcomes for the child or young person;
- That due consideration has been given to the child or young person's wishes and feelings with due regard to his/her age and understanding;
- Whether parents/carers' wishes and feelings have been ascertained and that they are willing or actively engaged in using treatment or support resources offered to resolve identified concerns/issues;
- The trends and patterns in the placement of children, together with information on those resources, producing the most successful outcomes for children;
- The targeting of resources where they can most effectively assist families, and enable children and young people to remain within families/carers and their local communities;
- In accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act the Panel will always seek to make provision for disabled children through the most appropriate service whether universal or specialist provision and seek to be creative in our approach to meet the assessed needs of the disabled child, young person and their family;
- That due consideration is given to the child or young person's race, religion/belief, gender, culture and linguistic backgrounds, disability and sexual orientation.
Failure to comply and present cases falling within the remit of the Panel will result in the Head of Service being notified.
In making decisions, HARP will need to consider any of the following information:
- What placement can best meet the child or young person's needs or how the child or young person can be safely returned home;
- How the necessary resources can be brought together from within the family's network and within all relevant professional agencies (family network meeting, family group conference and/or a meeting relevant professionals to address the issues and hence avoiding the need to accommodate the child or young person);
- What alternative interventions are available if the resources of choice cannot be secured;
- What placements/ services the child or young person has previously received;
- The location of the proposed placement in relation to the child's networks;
- The child or young person's education needs and whether it is appropriate to consider a school move;
- How long the child has been looked after by the Department and whether the child is in Legal proceeding on a Care Order/Interim Care Order or Accommodated under Section 20;
- The cost of the proposed placement, whether there is an existing Pan London contract, and the nature of the contractual arrangements in conjunction with advice from the Brokerage Service;
- Determining whether the child or young person is a child in need, who is also in need of protection.
6. Addressing Equalities Issues
Addressing Issues Concerning Disability, Race, Religion, Age and Gender
The Disability Discrimination Act requires us to take reasonable steps to ensure that we do not discriminate against disabled children. Therefore the Panel will always seek to make provision for disabled children through the most appropriate service whether universal or specialist provision and seek to be creative in our approach to meet the assessed needs of the disabled child, young person and their family.
The Panel will ensure due consideration has been given to the child or young person wishes and feeling with due regard to his/her age and understanding.
The Panel will ensure due consideration is given to the child or young person's race, religion/belief, gender, culture and linguistic backgrounds, disability and sexual orientation.
7. Approval of Resources in an Emergency between Panels
Requests may be considered in the interim between panel meetings in emergencies, i.e. where the decision to accommodate a child or young person, and make a placement cannot wait until the next panel meeting. The relevant Assistant Director or the Chair of Access to Resources Panel may give approval only until the date of the next panel.
These placements are not to be regarded as permanent and can only be considered further by the next panel meeting. Requests to the relevant Assistant Director or the Chair of Access to Resources Panel, in such circumstances must be made through completion of relevant referral form.
The Assistant Director, the Chair of Access to Resources Panel or delegated manager will notify (by email) the Brokerage Team of their decision and give permission for an emergency placement to be sought. A Referral form must be submitted to the Brokerage Accommodation Team. It is essential that all the relevant information about the child or young person is available to the Brokerage Team in order for an appropriate placement to be found. The Brokerage Team will not be in a position to find a placement if there is no information about the child or young person's needs and as much history as possible in order to find a suitably matched placement. Once the placement has been made the Brokerage Team will notify the finance officer and Panel Administrator who will book case into the next panel.
8. Email Agreements Outside of H.A.R.P
For the following, Service Manager/TYS Head of Service agreement from the relevant team and Service Manager agreement from Brokerage is needed:
- Exceptional spend for CLA;
- Rent Deposits for 18 plus;
- Extensions to placement post 18 where bidding is underway;
- Payment of arrears;
- Change of semi- independent placement with no additional cost;
- Change of foster placement where agreement has been given by relevant Head of service (Reviews at HARP will still apply);
- Legal fees for UASC to appeal leave to remain (these must also be agreed by Legal as having merit to appeal);
- Requests for ARC Sexually harmful behaviour assessments.
9. Referral Form to H.A.R.P
From April 2020 all referrals to H.A.R.P must be completed via the H.A.R.P Referral Form on LCS. Word versions will not be accepted.
10. Time and Venue
- The panel will meet weekly (Wednesdays) between 9.30am 5.00 pm;
- The panel should not be cancelled under any circumstances, without the prior agreement of the Chair of Access to Resources or Operations Director;
- Panel Venue – County Hall. Cases can be presented via video conferencing from Farnham House and Apsley;
- Dates and Venues of all panels will be available from the Panel Administrator.
11. Administration Process
The panel will be administered by Lucy Kerr Panel Administrator on Extension 55024.
All requests made to panel must be made via the H.A.R.P Referral Form on LCS (this form must be completed for any referral to the Panel). Once the form has been completed on LCS, send an email to MAP.HARP@hertfordshire.gov.uk with the child's name, LCS number and the day and time you are requesting and the administrator will match your email request with the LCS Referral Form.
The Panel Administrator will book a slot on the Panel date requested or the next available slot. The appointment date and time will then be sent to the manager via email
All referral forms must be signed and dated by the Social Worker and signed by the Team Manager. The worker will start the H.A.R.P Referral Form in the 'Forms' section on LCS, managers will need to authorise the form, and the form will be sent to the HA.R.P Group Tray, which will be managed by the Brokerage Accommodation Team.
The Panel Administrator must receive requests to panel on the Friday before the Wednesday panel meets. Referrals received on a Monday or Tuesday will only be accepted if there is an emergency request.
The Panel Administrator will act as a central information collection point for agenda planning, referrals, decision sheets and minutes.
The Panel Administrator will distribute papers to panel members at least 2 days before the panel meeting. Written applications submitted after this will not be considered, unless in exceptional circumstances.
The Panel Administrator will ensure decision sheets are recorded and distributed within the agreed timescales to all panel members and presenting managers.
Confidential minutes and decisions of the meeting will be recorded and distributed to all panel members and presenting managers. Copies will also be sent to relevant Group Managers and the Independent Reviewing Manager.
The majority of approvals will be for a specific time period; therefore a new application/ updated referral will need to be submitted, before the current placement/package agreement runs out. The panel will give a date when the new application will be required by. The Panel Administrator will book the date in the forward planner. The Panel Administrator will advise interested parties of the date. Failure to attend the review date will be recorded and may result in resources being stopped.If the panel is unable to reach a decision, on the information provided, the application may be deferred to the next available panel.
12. Roles and Responsibilities
- Chair HARP meetings, ensuring the views of all the members are brought to bear on how best to meet the assessed needs as outlined by the presenting officer;
- Agree the recommendations, proposals and action plans of the meeting;
- Promote best practice within the resources available and ensure timescales for actions are given;
- Agree the allocation of tasks to HARP members and /or practitioners that may facilitate the care plan or support package, and ensure completion within time scales;
- Ensure constructive questioning and challenge to the proposed care or support plan;
- Ensure that a record is made where the quality and timeliness of a referral falls below standard.
Presenting the Case
Prior to panel the Team Manager should ensure that:
- The referral is fit for purpose, signifying that a satisfactory assessment has been completed;
- All other alternatives and options have been explored.
The Social Worker should ensure that:
- S/he gives a clear summary of the case and what the Panel is being asked to agree;
- The case falls within the remit of the panel;
- When approval is sought for an external placement,(residential or fostering), evidence is submitted to the panel to demonstrate what alternatives have been sought and that an internal placement is either unavailable or inappropriate, and the reasons given for non-provision;
- The support plan includes a clear exit strategy.
The expectation is for the social worker and, in some cases the TM, to present cases to the panel. It is essential that relevant detail is provided to the panel on the referral form. Limited additional information may also be attached to this form; however this should not be a replacement of the referral form.
It should be noted that the Panel slots are 10 minutes for each case; therefore it is essential that all information is available in a concise form. The Panel is not a forum for long discussions, reassessment or care planning through panel.
The Social Worker/Manager presenting cases to panel will be part of the decision making process at panel, and will ensure decisions are explained to practitioners; guide them on how the decisions should be actioned and how the decisions are shared with children, young people and families.
Panel Members will:
- Contribute to the discussion of the assessment materials brought to the Panel;
- Provide expertise to HARP on the proposed child care plan, quality of service (current or planned) and how these will meet the child or young person's needs and how they will influence more successful outcomes;
- Advise HARP on the availability of in house services. Where options are limited, consider alternative, creative solutions and where appropriate take referrals for their service to ensure an early response;
- Ensure agreed recommendations/decisions which require action are completed within agreed timescales;
- Comment upon the quality of the services proposed/provided to Children Looked After or Children in Need;
- Feedback to presenting managers on their presentation and give them good practice examples to aid learning.
Education Representative will:
- Offer advice and guidance on the most appropriate route to ensure the best possible educational outcomes for children and young people.
Brokerage Team will:
- Challenge additional funding requests for existing external provision;
- Take forward for action/negotiation, any issues arising from current or future providers of service;
- Work with individual teams/workers to access resources agreed to ensure they meet assessed need;
- Update the system and inform relevant teams (e.g. finance) once the details of an external placement have been agreed and confirmed by the Panel;
- Source appropriate placements from in-house provision and, as a last resort, existing block/ framework contracts.
Information from HARP will be given to Strategic Commissioning who will:
- Monitor trends of CLA need and identify gaps in provision;
- Assist in the identification of suitable, new cost effective provision and manage the external market;
- Feedback from contract monitoring;
- Monitor quality of spot purchased provision;
- Review occupancy levels across all provision;
- Put in place block/framework contracts as appropriate.
13. Post Panel Authorisation
Once approval has been given by the panel (or by the Head of Service or Chair of Access to Resources Panel (in an emergency), the social worker/Team Manager should contact the Children's Placement Service who has the responsibility to investigate placement options.
Under no circumstances should social workers agree or negotiate any form of notice period, or additional therapies / support which have not been specified by the panel. If required these will be negotiated by Brokerage Accommodation Team.
As soon as a placement ends or changes, social workers must notify the Brokerage Service, who will update LCS/EHM. It is important that this information is also forwarded to the relevant finance officer. This is essential to avoid paying for placements that are no longer in use.If any placement or support package requires additional support or an increase in the support package, and incurs an additional cost, this must be formally requested using the above procedures with a referral to the Panel, (or to the Head of Service / Chair of Access to Resources Panel in an emergency) if agreed this will then be discussed and negotiated with the provider by the Brokerage Accommodation Team.
14. Links with other Panels
The Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel may recommend that a referral be made to the following Panels:
- The Hertfordshire Multi Agency Panel (where there may be a need for joint funding from Education or the PCT);
- Risk Management Panel;
- Adoption Panel (where the care plan for a child or young person is Special Guardianship Order / Residence Order the case should be presented to the Adoption Panel).
15. Membership of H.A.R.P
|Service Manager (CLA) (Rota Basis)||Core member|
|Brokerage Team||Core member|
|Service Manager Locality (Rota Basis)||Service specific slot|
|Service Manager / Head of Service Fostering||Core member|
|0-25 Together Service (Disabled Children)||Service specific slot|
|Education Representative||Core member|
|Service Manager (Targeted Youth Support)||Core member|
16. H.A.R.P Terms of Reference
Terms of Reference of Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel (HARP)
- To have a gate-keeping function and manage the threshold for access to the Children Looked After System;
- To agree specific placements or types of placement that will meet the care plan for the child in both the short and long term;
- To review the placement provisions made to children looked after by Hertfordshire County Council and where necessary to challenge current practice/plans and advise on alternatives;
- To agree funding for alternative intervention strategies or high cost support packages e.g. contact costs, additional support costs for residential or fostering placements, direct payments, range of short break services etc;
- To oversee the distribution of the Department's limited resources and ensure agreed packages represent best value for money;
- To assist in the controlling and monitoring of the Departments placement budgets, ensuring best value principles are adhered;
- To monitor exit and transition strategies;
- To ensure that where a child or young person has needs other than social care needs e.g. health inc mental health, or education needs that these cases will be referred to the Hertfordshire Multi agency panel (MAP);
- To review High Cost Placements 4 times a year (quarterly).
17. H.A.R.P Placement Stability Panel
To provide a forum for professionals to discuss placement stability and explore the use of additional support and resources to maintain placements deemed to be at risk of breakdown.
To improve placement stability for CLA
Head of CLA, Head of Fostering and Adoption and HARP Chair
Placement Stability Form - at least 2 days before panel date.
Agreement to Refer
Agreement of the Team Manager is needed prior to referral.
Length of Panel Slot
Maximum Cases Per Week