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11.2.12 Placements with Parents

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter relates to the child/ren, who are subject of an Interim Care Order or Care Order, and are to be placed with their parent(s), a person with Parental Responsibility for the child, or a person in whose favour a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship Order was in force prior to the Care Order being made for more than 24 hours. This includes periods of agreed contact that exceed 24 hours, a series of short term stays with their parents and where there is a plan of reunification.

For placements with any other relatives or friends see Placement with a Relative or Friend (Connected Persons) Procedure.

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

  • Section 23(2)a, (3), (4) and (5) of The Children Act 1989;
  • The Placement of Children with Parents etc Regulations 1991, Volume 3 of The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations;
  • The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in July 2018 to reflect that the DBS has no eligibility for a standard or enhanced check for birth parents or other adults living in the household. However, the Local Authority has a requirement under the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England Regulations) 2010 to obtain information about unspent convictions and cautions before placing a child back with parents. (See Section 3, Assessment and Checks before Placement).


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Legal Requirements
  3. Assessment of Checks before Placement
  4. Reviews
  5. Immediate (Emergency) Placements
  6. Support and Supervision of Placements
  7. Termination of Placement with Parents


1. Introduction

These procedures follow the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations) 2010, along with the Children Act 1989, Children Act 2004 and Children Act 2008.


2. Legal Requirements

2.1

Before making any decision with respect to a child whom they are looking after, or proposing to look after, the Authority must, so far as is reasonably practicable, ascertain the wishes and feelings of all concerned, namely:

  1. The child;
  2. Their parents;
  3. Any person who is not a parent of his but who has parental responsibility for them;
  4. Any other person whose wishes and feelings the authority considers relevant - this includes the statutory and voluntary agencies that are and have been previously involved with the child and the family.
2.2 In the case of a child who is subject to Child Protection Procedures, the views of a Child Protection Review Conference should be sought when the Local Authority is considering major changes in the plan for a child.
2.3

The Authority should notify the placement decision and given details of where the child is to be placed to all relevant agencies, principally:

  1. Clinical Commissioning Group for the area in which the child is living;
  2. The Education Department for the area in which the child is living;
  3. The child's registered medical practitioner;
  4. Any person, not being an officer of the Authority, who has been caring for the child immediately before the placement;
  5. Where there was a Child Arrangements Order in force with respect to the child immediately before the Care Order was made, the person in whose favour the Child Arrangements Order was made.
The Local Authority is not required to give notice to anyone whose whereabouts are either unknown to the Authority or cannot be readily ascertained. Equally, the Authority has no obligation to notify anyone of the placement decision where the Authority decides that to give such notice would be contrary to its primary duty to safeguard and promote the child's welfare.
2.4 The responsibility for any decision to place a child shall rest with the Corporate Director for the Children, Families and Culture Department, even where the Corporate Director nominates a responsible officer to make the decision.
2.5 There must be a placement agreement following a placement decision. The Authority must make a formal agreement with the person with whom the child is to be placed and the placement should not begin unless and until such an agreement has been reached and recorded in writing, with a copy being given or sent to the person (in this case the parent).
2.6 The Authority cannot consider removing a child/young person from parental care if the child/young person is already living with the parents prior to the placement decision being made.
2.7 The Authority cannot consider placing a child/young person with parents if to do so would contravene any court order under Section 34 of the Regulations.


3. Assessment of Checks before Placement

The suitability of the proposed placement should be assessed through:

  • Obtaining relevant information about the proposed main carer or carers and all members of the household;
  • Inspecting the accommodation;
  • Checking the proposed carer and all members of the household aged 16 and over with:
    • The Police (Public Protection Unit);
    • The parents and adult members of the household by them applying for a basic DBS check if they live in England and Wales, or Disclosure Scotland if they live in Scotland,(see DBS Basic Checks Guidance (GOV.UK).
  • The carer's GP, NSPCC and Children's Services records.

The assessment should take account of

  • The parents' capacity, and the capacity of other adult members of the household, to care for children. Where a child has suffered, or was likely to suffer, significant harm the assessment should address ‘what has changed in parental capacity and circumstances that indicate this placement will be in the child’s best interest and will promote safe care?’ 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 including where relevant, the need for a risk assessment of any pets and the environment in which they are kept;
    • 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 has;
    • 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;
    • To provide a stable family environment to enable the child to develop and maintain secure attachments to the parents and other persons who provide care for the child.
  • The parents' state of health (physical, emotional and mental), the parents' medical history, including current or past issues of domestic violence, substance misuse or mental health problems;
  • The state of health (physical, emotional and mental) of other adult members of the household and their medical history, including current or past issues of domestic violence, substance misuse or mental health problems;
  • The parents' family relationships and the composition of the parents' household, including:
    • The identity of all other members of the household, their age and the nature of their relationship with parents and one another, including any sexual relationship; their relationship with any parent of the child;
    • Other adults who are not members of the household but are likely to have regular contact with the child;
    • Current/previous domestic violence between household members including the parents.
  • The parents' family history, including:
    • The particulars of the parents' childhood and upbringing, including the strengths and difficulties of their parents/carers;
    • The parents' relationship with their parents and siblings, and their relationships with each other;
    • The parents' educational achievement, including any specific learning difficulty/disability;
    • A chronology of significant life events;
    • Other relatives and their relationships with the child and parents.
  • Criminal offences of which the parents or other members of the household have been convicted or cautioned;
  • Parents' past and present employment/sources of income;
  • The nature of the neighbourhood and resources available in the community to support the child and parents;
  • 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.
3.1 Many children who are placed back home with parents are returning to a household where there may be a new parental partner and children. The assessment must take account of parental and family history and wider family functioning of the new partner as well as the relationship between the child and the new partner.
  A formal assessment of suitability should be undertaken for all members of the household who are aged 18 or over. While it is only possible to obtain Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on young people over the age of 18, the assessment should address the history and current lifestyle of the other young people in the household who are under 18. It is also important to assess the relationships between the parent, with whom the child will live, and other adults who have a significant role in the child's life, such as other persons who may provide care to the child and other adults such as grandparents.


4. Reviews

If the child is on a Care Order the Authority has a statutory duty to first review the child's case within 20 working days of the date on which the child becomes 'looked after'.

For further guidance see Looked After Review.

An Independent Reviewing Officer will chair any meeting held as part of the review.


5. Immediate (Emergency) Placements

5.1

In exceptional circumstances where the Corporate Director/Nominated Officer considers it to be necessary and consistent with the child's welfare, the Authority may place a child with their parents before their assessment is completed provided that the Authority:

  1. Arranges for the parent(s) to be interviewed in order to obtain as much of the information specified in Schedule 3 (criteria 56 above) about the parent and the other persons living in the parental household who are aged 18 and over as can be readily ascertained at that interview;
  2. Ensures that the assessment and the review of the child's case are completed in accordance with regulation 17 within 10 working days of the placement commencing;
  3. Ensures that a decision to officially place the child with the parents is made and approved within 10 working days after that assessment is completed (i.e. 20 working days from the date the child goes to live with the parent);
    1. If the decision is to confirm the placement, review the Placement Plan and, if appropriate, amend it;
    2. If the decision is not to confirm the placement, terminate the placement as soon as possible.
  4. If the child is placed in these circumstances, social work visits must take place at least once a week until the first Looked After Review, and thereafter at intervals of not more than 6 weeks.


6. Support and Supervision of Placements

Where a child is placed, or is to be placed, with their parents, the Authority must:

6.1 Provide such services and support to the parents as appear to them to be necessary to safeguard and promote the child's welfare
6.2

Record details of such services and support in the child's Care Plan.

The Local Authority has a duty to satisfy itself that the welfare of a child in a placement with parents continues to be appropriately provided for, and to that end has a duty to give such advice and assistance to the person with whom the child is placed as is necessary. The minimum requirements for visiting are:

Where regulation 24 (Temporary Placement / approval relative or friend) applies, or where an interim Care Order has been made in relation under Section 38 (interim order) and Child is living with Parents, the responsible authority must visit

  • At least once a week until the first review carried out in accordance with Part 6;
  • Thereafter at intervals of not more than four weeks.

Where a Care Order has been made in relation under Section 31 (care and supervision orders) and child is living with parent, the responsible authority must visit:

  • Within one week of the making of the Care Order thereafter at intervals of not more than six weeks;
    1. Within one week of the beginning of the placement;
    2. At intervals of not more than 6 weeks during the first year of the placement;
    3. Thereafter, at intervals of not more than three months and whenever reasonably requested by the child or by the person with whom the child is placed.
On each visit, so far as is practicable, the child should be seen alone.


7. Termination of Placement with Parents

If it appears to a Local Authority that the placement of the child is no longer in accordance with the Local Authority's duty to safeguard and promote his/her welfare, it shall terminate the placement and remove the child. If possible, this termination should be agreed between all parties in the context of a Placement Plan Review, but it will be the decision of the Corporate Director to terminate the placement. In Re DE (A Child) [2014], 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.

If the child or parents (or other Parental Responsibility holders or significant persons) do not agree to the termination, the Corporate Director should still make the decision. However, the Corporate Director should consider, in arranging to remove the child that this decision may be subject to a representation or complaint. Consideration should be given to waiting for the outcome of any such representation or complaint before effecting the decision to remove the child from the placement, but it should not prevent removal of a child in urgent circumstances.

In urgent circumstances where a parent refuses to hand over the child, assistance from the Police and/or Legal Services (Child Care) to obtain a Recovery Order may be necessary.

In all cases, the child etc. should have explained to them in person and confirmed to them in writing by letter from the Corporate Director the reasons for the termination of the placement. Interpreting or translation services will be provided as necessary.

End