Placement Outside Hertfordshire
See LCS User Guide.
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter applies to placements outside Hertfordshire which are either wholly funded by Children's Services or jointly funded with partner agencies. Each partner agency has its own separate procedures regarding placements funded on a single agency basis.
This chapter was updated in March 2015.This chapter is currently under review.
1. Introduction and Context
Hertfordshire County Council, Hertfordshire Health Authority and the Clinical Commissioning Groups provide a wide range of resources to support children to learn and be cared for in their communities. However, independent provider placements are vital resources in the overall network of services for children, which are only used when it is in the best interest of a child.
The principles underlying present agreements and arrangements are as follows:
- Corporate responsibility for disabled and Children Looked After;
- A greater consistency, ownership and joint problem solving at area and county level;
- Clear recognition of the Children Act requirement for:
- Children to be looked after in their families wherever possible;
- Family contact to be maintained by placements being made as locally as possible;
- Decision making with clear outcomes is better for children and parents;
- Decisions should be made on the basis of evidence of children's needs and effectiveness of proposed provision;
- The importance of joint strategic planning;
- An emphasis on consistency and equity within available resources;
- The effectiveness of placements should be kept under regular review.
All Hertfordshire children must be educated, cared for and have their health needs met through Hertfordshire County Council, Health Authority and Clinical Commissioning Group provision, unless it can be demonstrated that there are no appropriate local facilities. This will be the case for only a small number of children with multiple and complex problems.
Placements must be kept under review in the expectation that the children will return to Hertfordshire provision at the earliest appropriate opportunity.
Before making an independent provider placement Children's Services will need to be satisfied that:
- It is the most suitable way of performing our duties under the Act;
- The placement is the most suitable placement available for the child;
- The placement will meet the child's religious and cultural needs;
- In the case of a foster placement, they are registered and approved in accordance with the Fostering Services Regulations 2002;
- The Unit meets the requirements of the Care Standards Act.
3. New Requirements Regarding "out of area placements" established by the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010
These requirements apply except where the placement is with a Connected Person, or a local authority foster carer approved by the placing authority.
The decision to place the child out of area must be approved by the Nominated Officer, the Operations Director, Specialist Services or the Operations Director Safeguarding unless it is a Placement at a Distance, (i.e. outside the area of the local authority and not within the area of any adjoining local authority), in which case the approval of the Director of Children's Services is required.
The Nominated Officer or Director of Children's Services, must be satisfied of the following:
- That the child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
- That the placement is the most appropriate placement available for the child and consistent with the Care Plan;
- That relatives have been consulted where appropriate;
- That the area authority has been notified, or for a Placement at a Distance, the area authority have been consulted and have been provided with a copy of the child's Care Plan (see Section 5, Notification of Placements;
- That the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) has been consulted (usually the IRO will discuss with the child after the child has visited the proposed placement).
In the case of a placement made in an emergency, the Nominated Officer/Director of Children's Services must be satisfied that the child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration and that the placement is the most appropriate placement available consistent with the Care Plan. Within 5 working days, the IRO must have been informed; relatives been consulted (where appropriate) and the area authority notified.
4. Placement Considerations
Placements at a Distance will require effective planning, engagement and information sharing with the services likely to be responsible for meeting the child's needs in the future. Consultation with the area authority must (except in an emergency) be undertaken in good time to enable a thorough assessment of appropriateness to be made. Annex 1: Suggested information for discussion between authorities when planning distant placements suggests information that might be discussed with the area authority.
Where the placement under consideration is in a children's home, account should be taken of the information in the home's Statement of Purpose and its location assessment (which should include details of the home's safeguarding arrangements, including any measures taken by the home to manage safeguarding concerns arising from the neighbourhood where the home is located).
In assessing the suitability of an out of authority placement, consideration should be given to the arrangements which will need to be put in place to enable the child to access services such as primary and secondary health care. Where the child will require specialist health services such as CAMHS, the Clinical Commissioning Group (local health board in Wales) that commissions secondary healthcare in the area authority should be consulted, to establish whether the placement is appropriate and able to meet the child's needs. The designated nurse for looked-after children in the area authority will also be a valuable source of advice and information.
Similarly, the Virtual School Head for looked-after children in the area authority, (Looked After Children Education Co-ordinators (LACE) in Wales) should be able to advise about access to school support.
For children vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, children's services in the area authority will be an important source of intelligence and information about local arrangements for safeguarding children.
5. Notification of Placements
Written notification must be given to the area authority of the arrangements for the placement before the placement is made or, if the placement is made in an emergency, within five working days of the start of the placement unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so.
The notification must include:
- Details of the assessment of the child's needs and the reasons why the placement is the most suitable for responding to these; and
- A copy of the child's care plan (unless already provided in the case of a Placement at a Distance).
6. Criteria for making Independent Provider Placements
Independent placements are dealt with in exactly the same way as in-house placements i.e. they are subject to the same scrutiny in HARP Panel (see Authorisation for a Child to be Looked After and Funding Agreements Outside H.A.R.P. Procedure) and the same range of alternatives to accommodation must have been followed before there is any agreement to accommodate.
Independent placements are dealt with in exactly the same way as in-house placements i.e. they are subject to the same scrutiny in HAR Panel and the same range of alternatives to accommodation must have been followed before there is any agreement to accommodate.
However, where an independent placement is sought, the HARP can only make a recommendation for the decision. For all independent placement requests the explicit agreement of the Operations Director must be sought.
If the placement is agreed and joint funding is sought, the relevant Head of Service will arrange for the case to be considered at an inter-agency panel. For details of the inter-agency panel process staff should contact the administrative support for the Head of Inclusion Services.
The agreement of the Head of Service must also be sought for any requests for emergency accommodation (including remands into care) in independent provision. The Head of Service will then pass it to the relevant panel for the area to consider at the review date.
Where there is a HARP decision to agree placement the Minutes of HARP should be sent to the Brokerage Team.
7. Statutory Requirements for Children Placed Outside Hertfordshire
As the placing authority it remains the responsibility of Hertfordshire County Council to ensure that reviews and visits are appropriately carried out. The legal requirements as regards to frequency of visits and to the holding of statutory reviews are the same as those for any other child looked after. Statutory Reviews must be chaired by a Children's Services IRO.
If a child is to be placed outside Hertfordshire it may be possible to negotiate with, and request that the local authority, where the child is to be placed, undertake some of the following responsibilities.
- Supervision (visits to child/young person);
- Supervision of foster placement.
Any such arrangements must be confirmed in writing.
If a child is placed outside Hertfordshire the following must be notified in writing of the arrangements before the placement is made; if this is not practicable notification must be given as soon as reasonably practicable:
- Hertfordshire Health Authority and the Health Authority where the child is placed;
- The Education Authority of the area where the child is placed;
- The Social Services Department of the local authority in which the child is placed;
- Anyone who was consulted with prior to the placement;
- Any person who is caring for the child immediately prior to the placement;
- Anyone who has a Child Arrangements Order in respect of the child;
- Parent or anyone with parental responsibility;
- The child's registered medical practitioner.
8. Hertfordshire CLA who are Subject to Section 47 Enquiries Placed with Independent Providers
This section should be read in conjunction with Hertfordshire LSCP Procedures, Children Moving Across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure.
Under the terms of the residential and fostering contracts in relation to children and young people who are placed by Hertfordshire with independent providers such providers have a duty in the event a child protection issue to inform Hertfordshire County Council immediately.
9. Significant Harm to Hertfordshire CLA Placed Outside Hertfordshire
Where there is suspected or actual significant harm to a Hertfordshire child looked after placed outside of Hertfordshire there must be immediate contact between home (Hertfordshire) and host authorities, initiated by the authority that receives the referral and the home and host authority should agree initially:
- Any need for urgent action;
- Responsibility for any urgent action and enquiries;
- Responsibility and plans for a strategy discussion;
- Responsibility for liaison with other agencies;
- The following must be told, and sent written The Social Worker for the child/ren or the relevant manager where there is no allocated Social Worker;
- The Heads of Child Protection for both home and host authorities;
- (Where relevant) the placement officers of both authorities confirmation, of the referral:
- Other local authorities using the service or placement;
- (Where relevant) the regulatory authority;
- The local authority where an alleged abuser lives and/or works (subject to the guidance set out in the Hertfordshire LSCP Procedures, Children Moving Across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure).
If agreement cannot be reached within the same working day, Children's Social Care where the child is found has the responsibility to undertake the enquiry and take any protective action necessary.
The following managers should be included in the notification process.
- Manager of Brokerage Team;
- Out of County Education Manager.
This action will enable the managers or their appointed representative to attend the Initial Strategy Discussion and to be able to support the process.
10. Placements in Wales
For placements in Wales, the Welsh Government has developed a protocol for notifying the local authority and the local health board when a child has been placed there from outside the area, and again when the placement ends. This protocol is attached at Annex 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol.
Annex 1: Suggested information for discussion between authorities when planning distant placements
Basic information about the child:
- Name and date of birth;
- Legal status (subject of a care order (s.31 Children Act); voluntarily accommodated (s.20) remanded (s. 21);
- Number of previous placements – outline reasons for child leaving earlier placements.
Plans for the child's care:
- Details of the assessment of the child's needs, with information about the child's wishes and feelings, with reasons the planned placement is suitable;
- Duration of placement (emergency/short-term/long-term/permanent). If it is not possible to assess the intended duration of placement – reasons for this and when this information will be available;
- Arrangements for contact;
- Details of who will be responsible for implementing plans for the child's day to day care (the 'placement plan') including details of arrangements for delegating responsibilities to the child's carer(s);
- Details of any plans to offer the child care leaving support (as an 'eligible child') during the anticipated duration of the placement;
- Contingency arrangements if the plan to support the child in the current placement does not succeed.
Services to support the child:
- Details of plans to meet the child's educational needs – information about the school the child is expected to attend; details of plans for supporting the child if a school has not been identified;
- Information about plans to meet the child's health needs, e.g. whether the child requires secondary health care (including metal health and other specialist health care), including details about the CCG acting as "responsible commissioner";
- Details of any youth justice supervision order that would need to be overseen by youth justice services in the area authority.
Local authorities have a common interest in supporting high standards of corporate parenting for all looked-after children.
When approached for consultation about potential placements, area authorities should be able to offer a professional view about the benefits of a planned placement, the benefits of living in the neighbourhood where the placement is located and the potential for local services to respond appropriately to the needs of the child concerned.
Local authorities could also advise about other sources of information to assist social workers and commissioners in determining whether a distant out of authority placement is the most appropriate for the child concerned (e.g. the Virtual School Head or the Designated Nurse for looked-after children).
Annex 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol
(This protocol was developed by the Welsh Government in conjunction with the children's residential care sector in Wales).
Where a child who is looked-after is placed at distance the responsible authority has a statutory duty to notify the local authority and the health care provider, in the area in which the child is to be placed, of the arrangements for placement prior to placement and no later than 10 days thereafter.
Similarly, where a child is provided with accommodation by any Local Health Board, Special Health Authority, Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Trust or by a local authority in exercise of education functions for three months or more or with the intention of the placement lasting for this time the Accommodating Authority has a duty to notify the appropriate officer of the responsible authority.
Where a child is provided with accommodation in any care home or independent hospital for three months or more or with the intention of the placement lasting for this time the residential setting has a statutory duty to notify the lead Director of Social Services in the area in which the establishment is situated.
Notification should be sent to the Director of Social Services in the local authority in which the home is situated.