Planning Placements


In March 2023, this chapter was updated to reflect the change from HARP to East and West Practice and Resources Panel.

1. Overview

The general duties of the Local Authority when looking after a child/young person include the:

  • Duty to safeguard and promote their welfare;
  • Duty to make use of services that would be of benefit to the child/young person and their family.

As far as is reasonably practicable and consistent with the welfare of the child/young person, the Local Authority should seek to place them:

  • As near to home as possible;
  • Together with any brother(s) or/and sister(s) unless there are reasons to do otherwise;
  • In accommodation that meets the needs of any disability they may have;
  • In accommodation that meets their cultural, religious, linguistic and identity needs.

If no appropriate county resource is available, consideration must be given to the extension of a suitable carers' approval (see Exemptions and Variations of Approval Procedure).

In accordance with the Assessment Framework, a Child and Family Assessment will take place before any child/young person can be looked after or, in the event of an unplanned placement, will be completed within 10 days.

Any request for a placement must be made to the East and West Practice and Resources Panel (see Authorisation for a Child to be Looked After and Funding Agreements Outside East and West Practice and Resources Panel Procedure).

If a placement is required at the point of referral, any placement provider will require copies of the Child and Family Assessment and Child's Plan.

Before any placement is made, the following forms must be completed and made available to the carers:

  • Placement Request Form;
  • Placement Plan (as far as possible);
  • Care Plan.

In the case of unplanned placements as much of this information as possible should be provided.

2. Planned Placements

Where a decision has been made by East and West Practice and Resources Panel for Children's Services to look after a child/young person, following a Child in Need Planning Meeting or Legal Planning Meeting (see Hertfordshire Multi-Agency Children in Need Protocol and Procedures and Legal Planning Meetings Procedure), the child's Social Worker must complete the Placement Request Form and make the referral to the Brokerage Team, attaching minutes of the Legal Planning Meeting and/or, Children in Need Planning Meeting when relevant.

Where a possible placement is identified, the Placement Service Social Worker must contact the carers, their Supervising Social Worker and the child's Social Worker to arrange a Placement Planning Meeting.

The child's Social Worker must complete LCS records:

  • Placement Plan (completed as far as possible);
  • Care Plan.

The child's Social Worker must chair the Placement Planning Meeting with the Supervising Social Worker, foster carer, young person, parents etc in attendance.

The Placement Planning Meeting must, whenever possible be held before the placement is made (see Section 4, Placement Planning Meeting).

3. Unplanned Placements

The child’s Social Worker is responsible for making a referral to the Brokerage Team in order to secure a placement. This referral must contain as much of the information required for planned placements as is possible.

The minimum requirements are completion of the Placement Request Form.

Children/young people need to be told they are moving as far in advance as possible. There may be exceptions to this which would need to be discussed with the relevant Head of Service.

All details available about the new placement should be given when the child/young person is told about the move including where possible names and profiles of new carers /household make-up/names of staff on duty when they arrive/what the house looks like etc.

A person known to the child/young person should accompany them to the new placement. This should be the social worker and where this is not possible a carer/safe family member. Where escorts are required due to risks of transporting a child/young person who is distressed, this should always include a known person or the driver should be known to the child/young person.

In exceptional circumstances (a breakdown at a weekend/late evening) out of hours service need to obtain as much information regarding the new placement as possible to give to the child/young person and ascertain if there is any known adult to facilitate the move.

Where a child/young person is recovered by the police from a missing episode to be taken to a new placement the police/Out of Hours service need to be aware that a person known to the child should be involved in the move if at all possible. Social Worker will need to provide details to the Out of Hours Service.

If there is a need to move at a weekend and this is known on the preceding Friday, Out of Hours service should be informed of the arrangements.

4. Placement Planning Meeting

A Placement Planning Meeting must be held within 72 hours of the start of the placement. The child's Social Worker must convene this meeting. The meeting must include:

  • The child/young person;
  • The parent(s) or those with parental responsibility;
  • Anyone else taking an active part in the welfare of the child/young person;
  • The foster carer/residential unit staff representative;
  • The foster carer's Supervising Social Worker.

The purpose of this meeting is to confirm that the placement meets the child/young person's needs and develop plans for the placement and set a date, within 28 days of placement, for the statutory review.

Following the Placement Planning meeting, the child’s Social Worker will be responsible for confirming the information already contained in the 'draft' Placement Plan and to complete the blank sections. This must then be recorded on LCS by the child’s Social Worker and sent to the relevant Team Manager for authorisation.

Copies of the fully completed and signed Care Plan and Placement Plan must be circulated to parent(s), child/young person and carer and recorded on LCS.

The case record must be updated at the soonest opportunity following the making of any placement.

5. The Avoidance of Disruption in Education

(This should be read in conjunction with the Education of Children Looked After Procedure).

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010 make it explicit that placement moves which disrupt the education of a Child in Key Stage 4 must be considered and approved by the Nominated Officer except in an emergency/where the placement is terminated because of an immediate risk of serious harm to the child or to protect others from serious injury.

For children not in Key Stage 4 any placement changes which result in disruption to a child's education must be accompanied by actions to ensure that the child's education and training needs (as set out in the PEP) continue to be met.