Placement with Parents or Person who has, or has held Parental Responsibility Immediately Prior to Making of a Care Order or Interim Care Order
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to any placement for more than 24 hours of a child, on a Care Order or an Interim Care Order, with a parent or person with Parental Responsibility or person who held a Residence Order or a Child Arrangements Order specifying with whom the child is to live immediately before the Care Order was made.
The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010 apply Section 23 (4&5) of the Children Act 1989. The Placement of Children with Parents Regulations 1991 are repealed and superseded by the 2010 regulations.
The assessment of suitability to care for the child is more specific and the regulations include parents, person who has PR for the child or person who had a Child Arrangements Order or Residence Order for the child immediately before the making of a care order. These people are known as 'P'.
Children may also be placed with parents having acquired Looked After status following a Remand to Local Authority Accommodation - see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure.
Children who are Children Looked After under S20 who return to their parents care are not placed with 'P' and cease to be Looked After. If 'P' is not a parent of the child then the child may remain Looked After and legal advice should be sought as to the appropriate assessment of 'P'.
See Links to all Placement with 'P' Forms.
NOTE: Public Law Working Group Best Practice Guidance: the Application and Case Management states that, whilst there may be good reason at the inception of care proceedings for a child to remain in the care of their parents and subject to an Interim Care Order pending the completion of assessments, there should be exceptional reasons for a court to make a final Care Order on the basis of a plan for the child to remain in the care of their parents.For further information, see the Public Law Outline Procedure.
AMENDMENTIn September 2022, this chapter was amended to include information from the Public Law Working Group Best Practice Guidance: the Application and Case Management.
If a child subject to a Care Order or Interim Care Order is to be placed with 'P', whilst that order is in place, this guidance must be complied with. The local authority should always seek to place a Child Looked After with 'P', when such a placement is the most suitable way of safeguarding their long term welfare.
The local authority has a primary responsibility to safeguard and promote the child's welfare, whilst at the same time enabling and encouraging 'P' to resume or to undertake care of the child, as soon as it is in the child's interest so to do.
2. Policy and Practice
2.1 Children Subject to Care Orders
A Care Order will only have been made if the court is satisfied that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm in the care of his/her parents. It is therefore important to be especially careful when such children are being returned to the care of 'P', (their parents or others with parental responsibility for them or who had a residence order / Child Arrangements Order prior to the making of the Care Order). Where the child is returned to 'P's care, this will be under the provisions of the Care Planning, Placement and Review Regulations 2010. Any return of a child to 'P' in these circumstances will usually be the first part of planned progress towards discharge of the Care Order.
When the local authority arranges for a child subject to a care order to live with 'P' its duty to consult, make plans and review a child's progress is not reduced in any way.
2.2 Care Planning
Any plan for the re-unification for a Child Looked After must be confirmed at Child Looked After Review and informed by Objectives that must be reasonable, with timescales guided by the child's needs and not too short or unachievable. Plans must not be dependent on resources which are scarce or unavailable. The plan must always be focused on the child. The commitment of all parties to the reunification plan is essential. Prior to placement a Placement Planning Meeting should be held. See Placement of Children Looked After Procedure and Section 2.4, Placement Plan below.
2.3 Looked After Children Reviews
Where there is considered to be a realistic prospect of re-unification of the child with 'P', the decision making process will be informed by the findings of the completed CS0251F14 The Placement with 'P' Assessment and Decision Form which will be presented at the CLA Review.
The Social worker should discuss with the IRO the necessity of bringing forward the CLA Review, as a CLA Review should be held before the child or young person is placed with 'P'.
The decision to place will be made on behalf of the local authority by the Nominated Officer. The Nominated Officers are the Operational Directors, who may consult with the Heads of Service, and who must be satisfied that s/he has sufficient information to make his or her decision.
When considering placement with parents consideration must also be given as to whether the Care Order is still required. Where appropriate an agreement may be reached with the parents that an application to discharge the Care Order may be made. Any such agreement must include details of the level of support and supervision to be provided by the Local Authority, and co-operation by 'P'.
2.4 Placement Pla
Planning must in all cases take account of the needs of 'P' for support, for help in dealing with problems that arise, to enable them to provide sound parenting. Before the placement with 'P' is put into effect, a Placement Plan will be drawn up with the person with whom the child is to be placed before the child is placed or if this is not reasonably practicable the Placement Plan must be in place within 5 working days of placement.
The Placement Plan and Placement With 'P' Addendum Placement Plan (see Links to all Placement with' P' page on Compass) will be given / sent. 'P' is/are required to sign the plan, and return to the Social Worker. The documents will set out the practical arrangements for sharing Parental Responsibility for the duration of the placement. The up-to-date Care Plan must also be distributed.
The signed Placement Plan that emanates from this and copy of the Placement with 'P' Addendum Placement Plan which is Placement with 'P' Agreement Form (completed on LCS) must be presented with the CSF0251F14 Placement with 'P' Assessment (Regulation 17 & 19) Decision Form to the Nominated Officer.
3. Procedures and Regulations
3.1 Assessment of 'P's Suitability to Care for the Child
A child or young person cannot be placed with 'P' if this would contradict any order made by the court under S34 i.e. regarding contact.
The Social Worker must complete a thorough, written assessment the CSF0251F14 Placement with 'P' Assessment (Regulation 17 & 19) Decision Form and before deciding upon whether to place the child, the Authority must:
- Consider whether, in all the circumstances and taking into account the services to be provided by the Local Authority, the placement will safeguard and promote the child's welfare and meet his/her needs set out in the Care Plan;
- Review the child's care and ensure the IRO has been consulted;
- Assess the suitability of 'P' to care for the child, including the suitability of the proposed accommodation and all other members of the household over 18;
- Ascertain the child's wishes and feelings and give them due consideration.
Take into account:
- 'P's capacity to care for children and, in particular in relation to the child:
- To provide for the child 's physical needs and appropriate medical and dental care;
- To protect the child adequately from harm or danger, including any person who presents a risk of harm to the child;
- To ensure that the home environment is safe for the child;
- To ensure that the child's emotional needs are met and he/she is provided with a positive sense of self, including any particular needs arising from religious persuasion, racial origin, and cultural and linguistic background, and any disability the child may have;
- To promote the child's learning and intellectual development through encouragement, cognitive stimulation and the promotion of educational success and social opportunities;
- To enable the child to regulate his/her emotions and behaviour, including by modelling appropriate behaviour and interactions with others; and
- To provide a stable family environment to enable the child to develop and maintain secure attachments to 'P' and other persons who provide care for the child.
- 'P's state of health including 'P's physical, emotional and mental health and medical history, including current or past issues of domestic abuse, substance misuse, mental health problems;
- 'P's family relationships and the composition of 'P's household, including:
- The identity of all other members of the household, including their age and the nature of their relationship with 'P' and with each other, including any sexual relationship;
- Any relationship with any person who is a parent of the child;
- Other adults who are not members of the household but are likely to have regular contact with the child;
- Any current or previous domestic abuse between members of the household including 'P'.
- 'P's' family history, including:
- Particulars of 'P's childhood and upbringing, including the strengths and difficulties of 'P's parents or other persons who cared for 'P';
- 'P's' relationship with 'P's parents and siblings, and their relationships with each other;
- 'P's educational achievement and any specific learning difficulty or disability;
- A chronology of significant life events;
- Other relatives and their relationships with the child and P.
- Particulars of any criminal offences of which 'P' has been convicted or in respect of which 'P' has been cautioned;
- 'P's past and present employment and other sources of income; and
- The nature of the neighbourhood in which 'P's home is situated and resources available in the community to support the child and 'P'.
In respect of members of 'P's household aged 18 and over, so far as is practicable, the assessment must take account all of the particulars specified above except those specified in d, f and g.
The assessment should include any available information about the parents' previous experiences of looking after children. Where a parent has other children subject to care/adoption orders, earlier case records should be explored to ascertain the circumstances which led to social work involvement, and any indication that the capacity of the parent to bring up children has changed.
Placement of the Child with P before the Regulation 17 Assessment is completed (only to be undertaken in exceptional circumstances).
There is provision under Regulation 19 that, where the Nominated Officer considers it necessary and consistent with the child's welfare, the responsible authority may place the child with 'P' before their assessment under regulation 17 is completed provided that they:
- Arrange for 'P' to be interviewed in order to obtain as much of the assessment information set out above about 'P' and the other persons living in 'P's household who are aged over 18 as can be readily ascertained at that interview which should include:
- Inspection of their accommodation;
- The support required and the agencies that will provide it.
- A risk assessment should be provided to the nominated officer. Use form CSF 3914 Viability Assessment, Decision and Agreement Part VII - to follow
- Consult with the IRO, and ensure that the full Regulation 17 assessment and the CLA review of the child's case are completed within 10 working days of the child being placed with 'P' and;
- Obtain Placement with 'P' Agreement CS0251F12 (LCS Form);
- The decision on placement is made and approved within 10 working days of the assessment being completed, and
- If the decision is to confirm the placement, the Placement Plan is reviewed (and if appropriate amended); and
- If the decision is not to confirm the placement, the placement is terminated.
The Social Worker should also seek to meet with all other members of the household before placing the child. This is particularly relevant to identifying issues such as domestic abuse and substance misuse which may impact on the child's safety.
The local authority must satisfy themselves that the placement of the child is the most suitable way of performing their duties under Section 22 (3) of the Children Act 1989 and that the placement is the most suitable having regard to all of the circumstances.
Before making any decision with respect to the child whom they are looking after, the local authority shall as far as reasonably practicable ascertain the wishes and feelings of:
- The child;
- His/her parents;
- Any person who is not a parent but who has Parental Responsibility;
- Any other person whose wishes and feelings the local authority considers to be relevant.
In making any such decision and considering the child's wishes and feelings the local authority must have regard to the child's age and understanding and the child's religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background.
Consultation must also take place with other voluntary and statutory agencies who are, or may have been, previously involved in the care of the child.
3.3 Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Disclosure
An enhanced DBS check must carried out on all adult household members where it is proposed the child will live. Discretion should be used as to whether this should include young people aged 16 to 18 years old. Their prior permission to obtain this information must be obtained for the authority to apply for disclosure on their behalf.
Any risks identified during the DBS checking process will be considered as part of the overall risk assessment process.
For Regulation 19 Assessments i.e. for immediate placements, Police PNC Checks must be undertaken immediately, with DBS checks to follow, and a CLA Review must be held at the earliest possible opportunity. All other provisions of the regulations should be carried out as soon as possible but at least within ten working days. The decision to place must be taken by the Nominated Officer who must be satisfied that this is the most suitable way of performing the local authority's duty.
3.4 Responsible Authority
The decision to place a child in care at home is the responsibility of the Nominated Officer subject to consideration of all relevant information.
The social worker must provide the Nominated Officer with:
- Placement with CS0251F14 'P' Assessment and Decision Form;
- Placement Plan;
- Placement with 'P' Addendum Placement Plan i.e. Placement with 'P' Agreement CS0251F12 (LCS Form).
The Nominated Officer, Operational Directors, who may consult with the Heads of Service, must be satisfied that:
- S/he has sufficient information to make his or her decision;
- That 'C's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
- The placement will safeguard and promote 'C's welfare;
- The IRO has been consulted;
- The requirements of regulation 17 have been complied with;
- A placement plan has been prepared;
- Placing the child with 'P' is the most suitable way of performing the local authority's duty.
S/he must record the decision on the CSF0251F14 Placement with 'P' Assessment (Regulation 17 & 19) Decision Form and give the reasons on the form and return to the child's social worker.
The child should only be placed after the placement decision has been made and after a placement plan has been prepared unless this is not reasonably practicable.
Where the child is placed or is to be placed with 'P' the responsible authority must provide such services and support to 'P' as appear to them to be necessary to safeguard and promote 'C's welfare and must record details of such services and support in the child's care plan.
3.5 Notification of Placement to Other Parties
The local authority shall, so far as practicable, give written notice to all persons whose wishes and feelings were sought in the decision making stage of the placement i.e. the child, his/her parents, any person with parental responsibility for that child, any other persons whose wishes and feeling the local authority had considered to be relevant. The local authority must also give notice to those listed below:
- The District Health Authority in the area the child lives;
- The local Education Authority in the area the child lives;
- The child's medical practitioner;
- Any other Local Authority; if the child is to be placed outside Hertfordshire;
- Any other person who has been caring for the child prior to the placement;
- Any person to whom a Residence Order / Child Arrangements Order was in force prior to the Care Order.
Notification shall include the main details of the placement decision and details of where the child is to be placed. Any exceptions to the requirements to give notice will be agreed and recorded by the Head of Service. Proforma letters to other agencies - Placement with "P" Notification Letter CS0323 and CS - Placement with "P" Termination of Placement Letter CS0324.
The local authority shall not be required to give notice:
- To persons whose whereabouts are unknown or cannot be readily ascertained;
- If the Nominated Officer agrees that to give such notice would not be necessary to safeguard and promote the child's welfare.
3.6 Support and Supervision of Placements
The purpose of supervision is to ensure that the welfare of the child continues to be appropriately provided for by the placement. The Social Worker's task is to monitor the child's progress, to give advice and assistance and to work with the child and carer towards the planned objective of the placement.
As emphasised in the guidance above, great care must be taken to assess what type and level of support is needed to assist the re-unification plan and safeguard the child's future. Support may well be needed for an extended period if the re-unification plan is to succeed.
Statutory Visiting Requirements
Where the child is living with P before the assessment is completed the Regulations require that visits shall be made as necessary but they should be made in any case no less than:
- At least once a week until the first review is carried out;
- Thereafter at intervals of not more than 6 weeks.
Where an Interim Care Order has been made in relation to the child under Section 38 of the Children Act 1989 and the child is living with P then visits must take place:
- At least once a week until the first review;
- Thereafter at intervals of not more than four weeks.
Where a Care Order has been made under Section 31 of the Children act 1989 and the child is living with P then a visit must take place:
- Within one week of the making of the care order; and
- Thereafter at intervals of not more than 6 weeks.
So far as is practicable arrangements should be made to see the child alone on each visit, his or her views obtained and a written report must be made of every visit and saved in LCS Framework.
3.7 Arrangements with Other Local Authorities
Where children are placed with 'P' in the area of another local authority all relevant information must be provided to enable that other authority to supervise effectively on behalf of this authority if they have agreed to do so.
Where Hertfordshire County Council supervises a placement on behalf of another authority, that authority must be sent copies of all reports of visits and reviews.
Consultation should take place as necessary with other authorities wherever action is required in relation to each child.
3.8 Termination of Placements
A placement must be terminated if it would no longer meet the needs of the child. Different degrees of planning will be possible for each situation, ranging from a carefully prepared planned move to immediate action. This decision should usually be made at a CLA Review.
In Re DE (A Child) , the High Court stated that not less than fourteen days notice of a removal of the child should be given to the parents, save in an emergency.
The Court further stated that any removal of a child in circumstances where the child's welfare does not require immediate removal, or without proper consideration and consultation, is likely to be an unlawful interference with the rights of the parent and child under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In exceptional circumstances a more immediate decision may be required to safeguard the child.
Where the above circumstances apply to a child whom Hertfordshire Council supervises on behalf of another authority and Hertfordshire Council has significant concerns for a child, then the social worker should consult with the other Local Authority, and agree a plan but may remove the child immediately if it is essential to safeguard the child from immediate danger, and if there is a legal framework so to do.
Written notification of the decision to terminate the placement must be given, so far as practicable, to:
- The child, having regard to his age and understanding;
- The person whose wishes and feelings have been sought in relation to the decision to terminate the placement;
- The person with whom the child is placed;
- Other authorities who were notified.
Any action Hertfordshire might make in relation to a child who is subject of a Care Order or Interim Care Order to Hertfordshire or another Local Authority, must be made within the law. See CS - Placement with "P" Termination of Placement Letter CS0324.
3.9 Placements Outside England and Wales
For placements outside England and Wales the Authority shall ensure as far as is practicable that the regulations are complied with as if this child were being placed in England and Wales. Hertfordshire must include in the care plan details of arrangements made to supervise the child or young person's placement.
3.10 Court Ordered Placements on an Interim Care Order
If a child, living at home, is made subject of an Interim Care Order, but the court does not agree removal, these regulations do not require the local authority to remove the child from 'P's care, before a placement decision is made.
If during care proceedings it is proposed that a child should live with 'P' under an Interim Care Order, Children Services must comply with Regulation 17 prior to placement. If exceptionally immediate placement is required then CS must comply with Regulation 19 before placing the child. In addition in these circumstances there should be consultation with the Child's Guardian.
If in court proceedings the Court decides that a child subject to an Interim Care Order should return to the care of 'P', CS must comply with Regulations 19 for immediate placement if time does not allow for Regulation 17 to be complied with. In these circumstances there should be consultation with the Child's Guardian.
Whilst this process is not explicitly covered in the Regulations in cases where a Court Orders that a child who is subject to care proceedings be immediately returned home on an Interim Care Order (ICO) this placement will be treated as an immediate placement under Regulation 19 and enquiries made accordingly. The enquiries may be subject to judicial direction or court timescales. In summary as well as complying with Regulation 19 the enquiries, should include:
- Consultation with the Child's Guardian;
- An appraisal of the case history and underlying factors;
- A search of relevant information about any other persons living in the household;
- An assessment of what type of support and monitoring package is needed to safeguard the child during this period, and which agencies should be involved.
Police PNC Checks must be undertaken immediately, with DBS checks to follow, and a CLA Review must be held at the earliest possible opportunity. All other provisions of the regulations should be carried out as soon as possible but at least within ten working days. The decision to place must be taken by the Nominated Officer who must be satisfied that this is the most suitable way of performing the local authority's duty.
3.11 Financial Arrangements for CLA aged under 16 years
- Wherever possible, 'P' should be financially responsible for their own children and should not be funded by the local authority to support their own children;
- Where financial allowances are provided to parents (or 'P'), these should be based on an assessment of need and on the basis of improving the transition to parental financial support;
- Where financial allowances are provided to 'P' these should not create inequalities with other siblings and children within the family/household who have not been looked after;
- Wherever possible, children subject to Care Orders should be returned to court with an application for revocation.
The Placement with 'P' Assessment (Regulation 17 & 19) and Decision Form CS0251F14, The Placement Plan and The Care Plan should set out how the child will be financially maintained within their family and what, if any, financial support will be provided by Children's Services.
Where a child under the age of 16 is resident with 'P', 'P'; will normally be eligible for child benefit. 'P' should also be eligible for child tax credit and/or working tax credit (depending on income), and any benefits arising from a child's disability. 'P' will be supported to maximise their income from child benefit, child tax credit or working tax credit in order to fully support the child/ren.
Where a child is placed with 'P' a transitional payment equivalent to the level of child benefit and child tax credit or working tax credit that 'P' would be entitled to will be provided for a period of up to six weeks. On average it takes four to six weeks to establish a child benefit and child tax credit and/or working tax credit claim.
During the claim period the social worker should liaise with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to check on the progress of the claim.
'P' who do not qualify for child tax credit or working tax credit because of their income will be provided with a transition payment equivalent to child benefit for a period of four to six weeks. This payment should be made whilst HMRC are assessing and establishing 'P' claim.
As part of the initial placement plan and the assessment of the suitability of the placement with P arrangement (Placement with "P" Assessment (Regulation 17 & 19) and Decision Form CS0251F14), an assessment should be undertaken regarding the need for any one-off payments, such as beds, bedding etc, which will be required to assist 'P' to care for their child. Requests for one off payments should be agreed by the Service Manager (case holding) and the Service Manager, Brokerage Service.
When 'P's child benefit, child tax credit and working tax credit claim is in payment and following any initial one off payments, no further payments should be made unless there is an exceptional need.
Where it is assessed that a one off/exceptional payment is required, or where ongoing exceptional funding is required to sustain a placement with 'P', a request should be submitted to the Service Manager (case holding team) and the Service Manager, Brokerage Service. Payments should be made on an exceptional basis and should be made to ensure sustainable parenting.
Social workers and 'P' should also be aware that a child returning to live with 'P' whilst living in social housing may have an impact on the need for additional bedrooms and/or may result in 'P' no longer being affected by the under-occupancy housing benefit rules. If 'P' is living in private rented accommodation a placement with 'P' may make the family eligible for a higher level of Local Housing Allowance.
Where a 'P' has/have a number of children they may already be subject to the Department for Work and Pensions benefit cap, or the return of the child may, in generating additional benefit, make the family come within scope of the cap. Having a child return to the family home where a benefit cap is in place may therefore not result in a higher benefit payment. Where a child is placed with a 'P' in such circumstances, the social worker will need to assess if the level of benefits are sufficient and whether a small additional allowance is required. Any payment should be made in line with the prevailing child tax credit rate.
'P' generally ceases to be eligible for child benefit (after eight weeks) in circumstances when a child becomes looked after. See Decision to Look After and Initial Care Planning Procedure, Stopping of Child Benefit to Parent. 'P' with a child placed with them are eligible for ongoing child benefit and child tax credit and/or working tax credit because the child 'ordinarily' lives with 'P', i.e. at least one day and two nights per week Monday to Sunday. 'P' remains eligible for child benefit as the child is resident with the parent. (Reg 16 (1) (b) (iv) Child Benefit Regulations).
Child benefit ceases after eight weeks, if the child is no longer resident with a parent/s and is in local authority care. Child benefit can continue, or be reinstated if the child is residing with a parent on a regular basis, generally on at least 2 nights per week from Monday to Sunday or is home for a complete week.
3.11.2 Benefit Cap
Where a 'P' has/have a number of children living with him/her. S/he may already be subject to the Department for Work and Pensions benefit cap or the return of the child may, in generating additional benefit, make the family come within scope of the cap. Having a child return to the family home where a benefit cap is in place may therefore not result in a higher benefit payment. Where a child is placed with a 'P' in such circumstances, the social worker will need to assess if the level of benefits are sufficient and whether a small additional allowance is required. Any payment should be made in line with the prevailing child tax credit rate.
For current benefit rates please see: Money advice factsheets (Hertfordshire County Council).
In circumstances where the family is subject to the benefit cap and it is deemed appropriate to provide a financial top-up to ensure the child's financial needs are met, the following figures should be used as guidance.
In principle the family will be provided with the equivalent of the child benefit at the youngest child rate and the child element of the Child Tax Credit rate.
- i.e. £13.55 per week, Child Benefit equivalent and £52.88 per week Child Element equivalent, total £66.43 per week. As the family are subject to the benefit cap, it is likely that they will be in receipt of the Child Benefit first child rate, (1st child) and the Family Element of Child Tax Credit (paid once) and therefore these additional rates would not apply. In exceptional circumstances a further £17.43 could be paid to cover this amount if there are no other children in the household.
Any funding from Children Services under Section 17, 23 or 24 is disregarded when calculating the parents means tested welfare benefits claim.
Please view the Quick Guide to Benefits leaflet to view the current rates for:
- Child benefit rate;
- Child Tax Credit per annum: Family element, Child element.
If a person / family is in receipt of the following Benefits or Tax Credit the benefits cap does not apply:
- Working Tax Credit per annum: Basic Element, Child Care costs: (weekly rate);
- If there is a disabled child or adult in the house and they are in receipt of Employment & Support Allowance with the support component, Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or a Personal Independence Payment;
- If there is no entitlement to housing benefit, or if an adult in the house is in receipt of Pension Credits.