Placement Outside England and Wales
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter concerns any situation which involves a Child Looked After living for more than 28 days outside England and Wales.
A separate chapter covers requirements in respect of stays of 28 days or less outside the UK (see Holidays and School Trips In and Outside the UK Procedure).
AMENDMENTIn March 2023, a new section was added. Section 3, Placements in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Guernsey highlights the updated Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and a High Court case in relation to Placements in Scotland.
1. Moving to Live Outside England or Wales (Care Order)
In the case of a child/young person who is subject of a Care Order, the local authority must obtain the approval of the Court for them to live outside England or Wales (Sch.2 Para.19 Children Act 1989).
If (normally at a CLA review) it has been concluded that such a move is desirable the Social Worker must seek the written approval of the Operational Director Specialist services and draft a report for Court indicating:
- Why it would be in the child/young person's interests;
- That suitable arrangements have been or will be made for the child/young person's arrival and care;
- That (where of sufficient understanding) the child/young person has agreed and that everyone who has parental responsibility (where they can be found) has also consented.
The Social Worker must notify the CLU and seek advice about the process and timing of an application.
If the child/young person is to live with anyone who falls within the scope of the Placement with Parents Etc. Regulations, (see Placement with Parents or Person who has, or has held Parental Responsibility Immediately Prior to Making of a Care Order or Interim Care Order Procedure) arrangements must be made so that, as far as is practical, a comparable level of supervision is made available.
It should be borne in mind that the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers suggests that such a decision should not be made except where there are exceptional circumstances and adequate and realistic arrangements can be made to safeguard the child/young person's welfare and meet the requirements of the regulations and the stay is only for a definite and limited period.
2. Moving to Live Outside England and Wales (Accommodated Child/young person)
An accommodated child/young person may only be assisted to live outside of England or Wales if all those who have parental responsibility for them consent (Sch.2 Para. 19 (2) Children Act 1989).
If, (normally at a CLA review) it is concluded that it would be in the child/young person's interests to make such a move the Social Worker must:
- Write to all those known to have parental responsibility for the child/young person (and whose location is known) seeking their written confirmation that they consent to the proposal;
- Determine, in consultation with the Team Manager whether the ongoing supervision of the child/young person is to be provided by Hertfordshire County Council or whether the local authority within the area which the child/young person is to live will be asked to undertake (and charge for) the work;
- Provide written confirmation to all those who have parental responsibility of any actual move and new address.
3. Placements in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Guernsey
Where a decision is made to place a child/young person in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Guernsey, legal advice should be obtained as to the appropriate Court applications, notifications and consents required.
The High Court in Re H Interim Care Scottish Residential Placement  EWHC 2780 (Fam) set out, in relation to placements in Scotland, that:
Placement in Scotland of a child/young person looked after under Section 20 Children Act 1989 does not require the seeking of a specific free-standing order of the English court giving its formal approval. The duties in relation to placement planning under the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 must be complied with in the same way as if the placement were in England and Wales. The child/young person would not become a Looked After child/young person in Scottish law.
Temporary, short-term placement in Scotland of a child/young person looked after under an Interim Care Order does not require the seeking of a specific free-standing order of the English court giving its formal approval, as the temporary nature of the placement means that the local authority placing the child/young person is not causing the child/young person to 'live' outside England and Wales. A court would need - as it would in any public law case - to scrutinise the care plan. The duties in relation to placement planning under the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 must be complied with in the same way as if the placement were in England and Wales. Interim (as opposed to final) Care Orders are not automatically recognised in Scotland, and the Court suggested that, in order to achieve recognition in Scotland of an English Interim Care Order a petition would need to be made to the nobile officium of the Inner House of the Court of Session (akin to the English High Court exercising its inherent jurisdiction).
Where a final Care Order is in existence, the child/young person's care can be transferred to the relevant area. The effect of the transfer will be that the Care Order ceases to have effect in England and Wales and the child/young person's file can be closed. In Scotland, a final Care Order will take effect as if it were a Compulsory Supervision Order.
Once any necessary Court authority has been given, the detailed arrangements for the child/young person's placement, including continued contact with family members, must be included in a Placement Agreement and agreed in writing with the Social Services agency for the area where the child/young person will be placed.
The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review provides that out of authority placements in Scotland require effective planning, engagement and information sharing with the services likely to be responsible for meeting the child/young person's needs. In order to do this, placing authorities, placement providers, other professionals, and service providers must work together to share information and make sound decisions about the suitability of potential placements.
Local authorities must not place a child under 16 in an 'other arrangements' placement in Scotland except where the placement is in one of the exempted regulated settings:
- Residential establishments registered as a care home service equivalent to a children's home in England;
- Accommodation provided by the Scottish public fostering service;
- Accommodation provided by a registered care home service equivalent to a registered care home in England;
- A school care accommodation service equivalent to a residential special school or boarding school in England.
Under 16s cannot be placed in residential family centres in Scotland as these settings are not under an equivalent regulatory framework. It is essential that the responsible authority takes every step to establish that the child/young person's needs are matched to the services provided by the placement.
See also: Placements in Other Arrangements Procedure.