Placement Support Meetings
AMENDMENTThis chapter was updated in March 2023.
1. Guiding Principles
The primary objective of all staff working with a child/young person looked after (CLA), including health, partners, school and education professionals (where applicable) is to ensure that the child/young person is appropriately placed and supported in order to maximise stability and to develop strong attachments lasting into adult life.
Placement stability is critical to the emotional wellbeing and overall outcomes of children/young people who are in our care. Educational progress will be impaired for CLA with multiple moves and exclusions from education is often a key factor in placement instability.
Regardless of placement type, as corporate parents we must do everything possible to work together to ensure placement stability and minimise the risk of multiple placement moves.
There are often warning signs before a placement reaches the point at which a breakdown may occur. The Placement Support Meeting (PSM) is a means to respond to these warning signs, by bringing together the foster carer and all other professionals involved to identify the right support to the placement. Placement Support Meeting can also be held on a regular basis to provide ongoing wrap around support when necessary.
It is essential that all placements have the required level of support at the outset, to mitigate against unplanned placement moves.
The Placement Planning Meeting, with delegated authority, must be held at the outset of the placement to consider the support needs of the foster carer. The needs should be recorded as part of the Placement Planning Meeting. This can be subsequently reviewed through a Placement Support Meeting.
2. Purpose of a Placement Support Meeting
The Placement Support Meeting (PSM) has a key role to play in ensuring that resources are identified and explored in order to develop creative responses / interventions to maintain placement stability.
The support may come from a range of services and be provided directly to the child/young person, the carers or both.
3. Convening a Placement Support Meeting
A Placement Support Meeting (PSM) should be convened by the Fostering Supervising Social Worker (or the child/young person's Social Worker if an in agency placement) at the earliest warning signs of placement instability.
Requesting a PSM
If warning signs are present, a foster carer, child/young person's social worker or supervising social worker can request a PSM at the earliest opportunity by raising it with a Team Manager (Fostering) or CLA Team Manager, if external carer.
For an in-house placement, the Fostering Team Manager should chair this meeting. The Foster Carers, Child/young person's Social Worker, Team Manager (or Consultant Social Worker with knowledge of case) and Supervising Social Worker (SSW) must attend.
Children and young people should always be invited to attend Placement Support Meetings. Any decision to not invite a child/young person to a Placement Support Meeting must be a shared professional decision and the reason for not doing so must be clearly recorded. If a child or young person does not attend the meeting then the child/young person's Social Worker should obtain the child/young person's views in advance and should ensure that they are considered and recorded at the meeting.
The SSW should ensure that the IRO is invited to the meeting. If the IRO is unable to attend, the SSW should ensure that their views are sought in advance and are considered and recorded during the meeting. The IRO can email their views if necessary. The SSW completes the PSM minutes and action plan and will notify the IRO by sending a case note notification on LCS once they are completed. Other professionals from health and education should also be invited to contribute to the support plan as required.
This meeting is mandatory and should be given priority.
When a child / young person is placed in an IFA, the Social Work Team Manager arranges the PSM and the Social Work Team Manager is responsible for chairing and minuting the meeting.
When there is imminent risk of placement breakdown, a PSM should be held within 5 working days of a request. The urgency should always be dictated by the fragility of the placement. Additional home visits and telephone consultations offering immediate assistance should be considered on these occasions. There will be occasions when the placement is not at immediate risk of breakdown but where regular Placement Support Meetings are required to monitor and improve the stability of placements. As above, these meetings will require the same professional attendance and are booked in a planned and timely manner in order to maximise support.
The Service Manager (Fostering), Family Safeguarding and CLA Service Managers will be alerted to all cases where a Placement Support Meeting is being held, to provide additional monitoring and oversight of placement instability.
The agenda for the PSM should include the following:
- Purpose of the Meeting;
- Analysis / identification of presenting problems, triggers;
- The views of the child / young person should be gathered in advance of the meeting by the children's social worker if the child/young person is not attending. Their views must be recorded in the minutes;
- Views of CSW, SSW, IRO and other Professionals including those in health and education;
- Consideration to whether the child/young person's cultural and identity needs are being met in placement;
- Outcomes of recent (termly) PEP / CLA review;
- Consideration to be given for a referral to CAMHS / ADASH for consultation;
- Direct support for the carers / child/young person via a range of services/interventions as detailed in the carer support offer;
- Respite and or day-care for the child/young person;
- Practical support for the carers - help with cleaning, transport (where applicable);
- Additional support from within fostering for the carers - buddies, peer intervention support, support groups (e.g. Carer's Support Line);
- Additional training needs of carers;
- Referral to East and West Practice and Resources Panel for placement stability consultation.
The child / young person looked after should be invited to attend all or part of the meeting as appropriate. Any decision to hold a placement support meeting without the child/young person present must be made between the children's social work team, and the fostering service or fostering agency. All children/young people looked after must be made aware of support plans to address issues arising in the placement.
Invitations must also go to any Children's Services staff and partner agencies believed to be relevant to contributing to knowledge around an appropriate support package for a child/young person.
These may include, dependent on age, existing needs and circumstances of the child/young person:
- Fostering and Residential Managers;
- CLA, Family Safeguarding;
- Targeted Youth Support Service;
- Advisory Teacher from Virtual School;
- Independence Support Service;
- Youth Offending Team;
- Placement Service;
- Foster carer(s).
4. Outcomes of a Placement Support Meeting
The outcome of the meeting is to establish a clear and effective Placement Support Plan, which offers targeted support. This should be regularly monitored and subject to review at subsequent PSM or CLA reviews.
The placement support plan on the child/young person's record (in Forms) will be regularly reviewed by the child/young person's Social Worker and Team Manager to ensure actions are being progressed.
The support plan will automatically be saved onto the Foster Carers record under the 'CLA forms' tab in the Foster Carer file by the Supervising Social Worker (SSW) and will be monitored by the SSW.
Service Managers (Fostering, Family Safeguarding, and CLA as applicable) will be made aware of placement stability issues to ensure that they have awareness of cases of instability that may require further intervention.
Service Managers (Brokerage, Fostering, CLA) will be tracking children/young people who have had 2 placements on a regular basis.
All professionals identified in the support plan will be responsible for agreed actions. The Fostering Supervising Social Worker should monitor actions agreed and escalate outstanding matters to the Fostering Team Manager and Fostering Service Manager as required. In most circumstances, a date will be set where the Placement Support Plan is reviewed. The Fostering Service Manager will escalate actions to Senior Management colleagues if delays are contributing to placement vulnerabilities.
Any support that requires significant extra resources will need to be approved by East and West Practice and Resources Panel (see East and West Practice and Resources Panel).
The Fostering Supervising Social Worker responsible for minute taking should use the Placement Support meeting template on LCS. This is located under forms on the child/young person's record. After completion on the child/young person's file it will automatically be saved to the relevant carer's file. IRO's will automatically receive a case note alert from the SSW upon completion.
If the placement is in the Independent Sector, the CLA Team Manager is responsible for minute taking and should use the Placement Support meeting Template on LCS.
The child/young person's social work is responsible for ensuring that the Placement Support Meeting record is on the child/young person's LCS Record.