Placement of Children Looked After and Care Leavers Aged 16 and 17 in Semi-Independent Placement - Other Arrangements/Suitable Accommodation
See LCS User Guide
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
'Other Arrangements' and 'suitable accommodation' is the term used for accommodation and placements for children looked after and care leavers (usually aged 16 & 17, in some circumstances care leavers aged 18 and older)) which is not regulated under the Care Standards Act 2000 and as a result is not inspected by Ofsted. Within this manual they are referred to as semi-independent placement.
These range from shared and supported placements with 24 hour onsite support, to shared placements with different levels of day time support (private providers and registered landlords) to independent accommodation with floating / visiting support.
This chapter will be read in conjunction with:
Semi-Independent Placement - 'Other Arrangements' Service Standards and Expectations of Semi-Independent - Supported Accommodation Providers (Contract Requirements and Inspection Requirements) Procedure
AMENDMENTHyperlinks in this chapter were revised and updated in March 2014.
2. The Care Planning Process for Semi-Independent Placement
An assessment of the young person's needs, undertaken to inform his or her Care Plan or Pathway Plan, may conclude that for some young people, these needs will be best met by a placement in semi-independent provision. The young person's needs must be matched to the services provided by the placement and that the provider and placement be safe and suitable.
The decision that the young person may be placed in such a placement must be scrutinised in a Child Looked After Review and requires a change in the Care Plan.
Suitable accommodation is accommodation:
- Which, so far as reasonably practicable, is suitable for the young person in light of his/her needs, including:
- His/he wishes and feelings;
- His/her health needs;
- Location and access to training or employment needs;
- Location and access to family support networks, and move on opportunities;
- Risk and safeguarding issues, both to and from others and relating to the physical environment;
- Facilities and services provided;
- Support available;
- The character and suitability of the landlord/provider, and other household/family members, provider staff and any other resident young people;
- Tenancy status;
- The financial commitments involved for the young person and their affordability.
- In respect of which the Brokerage Accommodation Team (BAT)has satisfied itself as to the character and suitability of the landlord or other provider including other household/family members, provider staff and other resident young people;
- Which complies with health and safety requirements related to rented accommodation and the Hertfordshire accommodation standards as set out in the 'Other Arrangements' framework.
Prior to a move to the young person should have viewed the placement/accommodation. S/he should understand the level of self-responsibility that the placement will require. The arrangements for the provision of support and monitoring must be set out in his/her Placement Plan and Pathway Plan.
A Placement Plan must be completed prior any such move, (when this is not possible it must be within 5 working days). The meeting to complete this must include the young person and the person who will have the most day to day contact with him/her for example their 'key worker', support worker or landlord/landlady. It must state:
- How the provider will support the young person;
- Under what circumstances their bedrooms or their independent accommodation will be entered. This must only be done with two members of staff present, after giving adequate warning to young people, when staff are trying to ascertain if a young person is missing or if there is reason to consider a welfare check is required;
- In circumstances where a lone worker is present in the shared supported accommodation and it is important to enter a young person's room, authorisation and agreement should be sought from a manager or supervisor within the organisation. In circumstances where a lone visiting/floating support worker needs to gain entry to an independent property this should only be undertaken following agreement from a manager or supervisor within the organisation;
- A 'Checking In Procedure' that enables floating support and accommodation based support staff to verify the well-being of a young person. See section below;
- Agreements, if any, to overnight stays, with whom, for how long and how often.
The provider organisation/registered landlord, Brokerage Accommodation Team (BAT), Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) and the Social Worker must be satisfied that the young person is sufficiently mature and able to manage the increased level of independence that this placement offers.
3. Moving to Semi-independent Placement
There may be a change in the young person's circumstances that are difficult to anticipate. These young people will have less support than those placed with full time carers. A CS Factsheet 034 Key contacts and Basic Information Checklist should be completed for this entire group of young people in the event they go missing. See HSCP Children Missing from Home and Care Protocol.
4. Monitoring Arrangements - Missing
To support making decisions about a young person being 'Missing' or that they have other safeguarding needs.
4.1 Floating Support Workers (FSW)
The 'Checking in Procedures' agreed in the Placement Plan to enable FSWs to verify the well-being and whereabouts of a young person. It should build-in:
- Regular contact times (daily to weekly) with the young person;
- The minimum floating support will be a weekly visit/session;
- Be flexible for young people who may be working irregular shifts, having regular overnight stays at parents or with extended family members or where they are not engaged in a positive activity and are more active in the evenings and at night time when staff members are less available.
At the end of each FSW visit/session young people must be given a written record of the date, time and location of their next scheduled session. A consistent FSW must be provided who, wherever possible, who avoids cancellation
If a young person is not there/doesn't attend the FSW must ring the young person to verify their well-being and arrange a new session.
FSWs must verify the well-being of the young person through personal contact or phone contact, a text message is not sufficient. The FSW must use the pre-arranged memorable or 'safe phrase' or 'word' (Check-In Procedure) to check that the young person is acting with free will. If there are any concerns about the his/her responses or concern's about their risk/vulnerability this should be reported to the FSW manager, BAT, Social Worker/Out of Hours Service (OOHS) and the police for a decision and/or action.
If the young person cannot be contacted by phone, a text message should be sent requesting that the young person contacts the FSW. If the young person does not respond within one hour the FSW must contact the key contacts in the Hertfordshire Key Contacts and Basic Information Form.
If there are any particular concerns about the young person and any risk issues relating to them the young person should be reported missing immediately. FSW should refer to Children Missing From Home and Care.
If after six hours (if there are no particular concerns or risks) from the time the FSW session/visit was scheduled the young person has not made contact, and it has not been possible to locate and verify the young person's well-being consultation with the HSCP Children Missing From Home and Care Protocol should be referred to, in order to reach a decision about whether the young person should be reported as missing to the police.
If a FSW has to cancel a visit/session the FSW provider must contact the young person and provide an alternative FSW (if the young person has positive relationships with a number of floating support workers) or arrange a future FSW visit/session. The well-being of the young person should be verified as above.
If the young person cancels the FSW visit/session his/her well-being should be verified and the session rearranged for a new date and time as soon as possible. FSWs must assess the young person's reason for canceling the session/visit and evaluate whether it is a valid reason, or the cancellation is an indicator of the young person's level of vulnerability and risk. An unscheduled visit may be required to verify the young person's well-being.
If a young person cancels two FSW visits/sessions, FSW must amend the programme of support appropriately.
4.2 Shared Accommodation with a) Limited Onsite/Visiting Support and b) 24 Hour Support
The placement plan must state:
- The hours that staff are available;
- How to access staff in an emergency and at night;
- What the 'Check in Procedures' are for the particular provision;
- Clarity about the monitoring arrangements that are approved to meet this young person's needs;
- Risk Assessment and Action Plan on LCS/Compass (when available) to be used, if appropriate.
Registered landlord supported accommodation provisions may have:
- Electronic entrance door and room door key systems that link to an office computer that provides information regarding which residents are present;
- A staff room located by the entrance which enables residence entering and leaving during office hours to be monitored;
- Sign in and/or CCTV systems to monitor young people entering and leaving.
The monitoring and 'missing' procedure of the independent provider must be realistic and possible to implement to meet both the needs of the young person and the supported accommodation provision.
Where individual supported accommodation provision's are entirely occupied by Children Looked After and care leavers aged 16 & 17 it is expected that the provision will have a monitoring and 'Missing' procedure covering the whole provision that acknowledges the potential vulnerability of the entire client group and will also have an individual monitoring and 'Missing' procedures for each young person contained within their Placement Plan.
Where children looked after and care leavers aged 16 & 17 are living in registered landlord supported accommodation with other young people aged 16 to 24, the provision as a whole will have a more flexible monitoring and 'Missing' procedure but will still work within the HSCP Children Missing From Care and Home.
Children looked after and care leavers aged 16 and 17 should only stay away overnight with permission of their social worker, or supported accommodation keyworker (SAK). The SAK can only give permission for overnight stays if this is in accordance with the Placement Plan.
The SAK must have face to face contact at least weekly, and up to daily. Contact may be at Keywork sessions held to monitor the well-being and any changing circumstances for the young person which may increase their vulnerability and therefore may make contact and behaviour more erratic
If a young person fails to attend their keywork session or 'Check-In' contact the SAK should carry out the same actions as the FSW above.
When developing 'Missing' procedures, registered landlords and private providers should use appendix two as a guide for formulating their own procedure that takes into account the specific circumstances of their service. Section 8, Example of Missing Procedure (Missing from High Oaks) was developed for a registered social landlord provision with sleep-in support from 10.30 pm to 8.00am and with at least one staff member providing on-site support from 8.00 am to 10.30 pm.
5. Monitoring Arrangements - Visiting Checklist - for Social Worker or Leaving Care Personal Adviser
This should be read in conjunction with the detailed expectations of providers in Semi-Independent Placement - 'Other Arrangements' Service Standards and Expectations of Semi-Independent - Supported Accommodation Providers (Contract Requirements and Inspection Requirements) Procedure. The aim of this checklist is to provide guidance to staff visiting young people placed in semi-independent supported accommodation.
Where individual staff have any comments or concerns regarding the areas set out below, they should raise these with their manager and inform the Brokerage Team. Depending on the seriousness of the issue, these should be raised immediately, or, via e-mail where issues are less significant.
- Overall condition of the property:
- Fixtures and fittings;
- Young person's room and furnishings;
- Access to kitchen and food storage facilities.
- What are the key tasks and activities expected of the provider;
- Does the young person have and engage in regular keywork sessions;
- What is being undertaken to encourage the young person to engage in activities.
- Provider staff support:
- Are staff present in the building;
- Are staff engaging with the young people;
- Are staff able to meet the cultural and linguistic needs of the young people;
- Are staff providing 'appropriate support and guidance';
- Are their any concerns regarding provider staff not having the appropriate skills and knowledge regarding the young people placed in the accommodation;
- Are their any concerns about the provider staff not acting as a 'positive role model'.
- Young people placed in the property:
- Is the young person you are responsible for appropriately matched to the level of need and risk of other young people placed in the property;
- Are there any risk issues which are not being addressed - to and from your young person;
- Do you have any concerns regarding the provider's ability to manage the young people's behaviour:
- Substance misuse;
- Contact with people putting the young person at risk.
- Does the provider have an up to date;
- Pathway plan;
- Placement plan;
- Health plan;
- Personal education plan;
- copy of the missing and key contacts checklist;
- Risk assessment.
- Does the provider have an up to date;
6. Roles and Responsibilities Table
7. Events and Notifications Procedure
Private Providers: The Events and Notification Procedure CS0307F7 (link to follow) defines when, how, about what private providers will inform Hertfordshire County Council. The Events and Notification Form Private Provider CS0307F9 (link to follow) will be used.
Registered Social Landlord Providers: The Events and Notification Procedure CS0307F8 (link to follow) defines when, how, what about private providers will inform Hertfordshire County Council. The Events Notification Form Registered Social Landlord Provider CS0307F6 (link to follow) will be used.
The Brokerage Accommodation Team will complete Events and Notifications - Outcomes and Actions CS0307F3 with the Accommodation/support Provider for Registered Social Landlord Providers.
8. Example of Missing Procedure - (Missing from High Oaks)
Young people referred to, and living at High Oaks have been assessed as capable of living in a semi-independent setting and as such, are able and required to take a high degree of responsibility for themselves, as part of their transition to adulthood and preparing for independent living.
Therefore young people are provided with a high degree of self determination and are required to take a significant level of self responsibility with appropriate guidance. Young people, in principle are expected to live at High Oaks and reside overnight on a full time, seven day per week basis. However, if young people are staying away from High Oaks on an occasional basis they should seek permission from their social worker and/or keyworker. Young people should provide an address and contact details in order that a risk assessment can be undertaken and permission given. This is required to ensure all 16 and 17 year olds are safeguarded and their whereabouts is known. Delegated responsibility for agreeing (limited) overnight stays and under what circumstances should be set out in the young person's Placement Plan.
Young people are expected to return to High Oaks by 10.30 pm. If young people wish to return later than this time they should inform staff what time they will return. If young people are delayed and will return after 10.30 pm they should contact staff and inform them of their anticipated return time.
High Oaks staff will explain the above rules when young people are considering a placement. This information should be provided at the initial interview.
High Oaks staff should be familiar with the CSF Protocol for Children Missing from Care - Document Number 33788.
The protocol sets out three key definitions in terms of young people who are absent from a placement without permission and who may be missing:
- Unauthorised Absence;
- Missing Child (Young Person).
Where High Oaks staff have any concerns regarding a young person who is absent from the placement and there are any risk issues regarding the young person (both to the young person and others) the protocol in its entirety should be followed.
In recognition of young people's semi-independent status, the nature of High Oaks and where young people do not have, or present any risk factors the following guidance should be followed:
Young people must always sign in and out when leaving and entering High Oaks, the official log and occupancy book is kept in the office.
The log will be monitored as the first task of the morning member of staff. Where a young person is absent without permission the following procedures will apply:
- If a young person is not accounted for at 8.30am when the first member of staff starts their shift they will be sent a text message requesting they contact High Oaks and confirm their location and that they are safe and well;
- In addition, the first member of staff on shift will check the CCTV system to identify if the young person returned between the hours of 10.30pm and 8.30am;
- If the young person is not accounted for by 9.00am the staff member will knock on the young person's door to check if they are present. In addition, the keyworker will telephone the young person and will inform the young person's social worker and/or the duty worker for the case holding team;
- If the young person is not accounted for by 12.00 noon the High Oaks member of staff will knock on the young person's door and if there is no response will enter their room. If the young person is not present a further text message will be sent to the young person requesting they contact High Oaks;
- If the young person is not accounted for by 1.00pm the High Oaks worker will telephone the young person, send a text message and telephone all of the primary contacts on the young person's primary contacts sheet and inform the young person's social worker and/or the duty worker for the case holding team of the situation;
- If the young person is not accounted for by 4.00pm the High Oaks worker will contact the young person's social worker and/or the duty worker for the case holding team, the case holding team should inform the police and relevant authorities that the young person is missing;
- Where young people have failed to return to High Oaks during the daytime as arranged, contacting then via their phone and subsequently via their key contacts should commence:
- If at any point during this process concerns are raised about the well-being of the young person the police and relevant authorities must be informed immediately;
- High Oaks and Children's Services staff will need to evaluate and appraise the situation on a constant basis and may need to follow up information from primary and key contacts which may suggest the location of young person, or who the young person might be with. All information should be verified.
Prior to formally reporting the young person as missing every effort should be made to contact the young person via known contacts such as workers and professionals, friends, family, school/college or work.
When young people move to High Oaks a recent photograph should be placed on their file in order to ensure all staff can identify young people and an accurate image can be provided if a young person goes missing. Use CSF DIRE 3814 "Consent form to use an image or photograph of a young person aged up to 18 years old" Form.