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11.2.6 Out of Area Placements

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure details the action to be taken when placing a child looked after by this Local Authority in a placement which is geographically within the area of another Local Authority. Except where the placement is with a Connected Person, or a Local Authority foster carer approved by the placing authority.

See Decision to Look After and Care Planning for procedures relating to the initial decision to look after a child, and the drafting and approval of the Care Plan and other essential documentation.

See also Section 20 Accommodation Decisions Procedure

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

Children Act 1989

Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review

RELATED CHAPTER

The Sufficiency Duty in Relation to Accommodation for Looked After Children

AMENDMENT

In January 2022, Section 6, Placements in Wales was updated in line with updated Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review.


Contents

  1. Placements to which this Procedure Applies
  2. Approval of Placement by Nominated Officer/Director of Children's Services
  3. Operational Process
  4. Placement Considerations
  5. Notifications of Placements
  6. Emergency Placements
  7. Placements in Wales

    Appendix 1: Suggested Information for Discussion between Authorities when Planning Distant Placements

    Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol


1. Placements to which this Procedure Applies

This procedure applies to any placement of a Looked After child outside the area of the Local Authority, EXCEPT WHERE the placement is with a Connected Person, or a Local Authority foster carer approved by the placing authority.


2. Approval of Placement by Nominated Officer/Director of Children's Services

The decision is to place the child out of area must be approved by the Nominated Officer (Group Manager, Looked After Children, Leaving Care, Children with Disabilities & Fostering Services, or nominated deputy / acting up) 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 prior approval of the Service Director for Youth, Families and Social Work (or nominated deputy / acting up) or the Director of Children's Services is required. The approver must be satisfied that:

  • The child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
  • The placement is the most appropriate placement available for the child and consistent with the Care Plan;
  • Relatives have been consulted where appropriate;
  • The Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) has been consulted (usually the IRO will discuss with the child after the child has visited the proposed placement);
  • 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 3, Notification of Placements).


3. Operational Process

The colleagues involved in discharging the above PPG, and their respective roles and responsibilities in doing so, are set out below:

  • Placements service identifies placement options and sends these to the child's Social Worker;
  • The Social Worker will, in liaison with relevant colleagues, assess the options and come to a view on the most suitable placement for the child;
  • If the preferred placement option is out-of-county the Social Worker must seek to consult with the child's IRO wherever practicable and also obtain the written approval from the relevant senior officer, in line with the above PPG;
  • The Social Worker ensures the decision is recorded on Mosaic and confirms with the Placements Service that approval has been obtained for the preferred placement option;
  • The Social Worker alerts the Notifications Team that the child is moving out-of-county;
  • The Notifications Team alerts the host local authority of the placement and provides contact details for the child's Social Worker so that all relevant paperwork and information can be shared accordingly.


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. Appendix 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. Notifications 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:

  1. Details of the assessment of the child’s needs and the reasons why the placement is the most suitable for responding to these; and
  2. A copy of the child’s care plan (unless already provided in the case of a Placement at a Distance.


6. Emergency Placements

In the case of a placement made in an emergency, the approval of the Nominated Officer/ Director of Children’s Services is still required and s/he 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 be informed; relatives be consulted (where appropriate) and the area authority notified.


7. 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 Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol.

Local authorities must not place a child under 16 in 'other arrangements' out of authority placement in Wales except where the placement is in one of the exempted regulated settings:

  • Accommodation provided by a registered care home service equivalent to a registered care home in England
  • Hospitals
  • Schools providing accommodation that are not also registered as a care home service
  • Residential family centres

Other arrangement placements in Wales may also be used for residential holiday schemes for disabled children as long as the placement setting is one of the alternatively regulated exemptions listed above.

It is essential that the responsible authority takes every step to establish that the child's needs are matched to the services provided by the placement and that the notification protocol is completed by the responsible authorities and submitted to Care Inspectorate Wales and Ofsted.

See also Placements in Other Arrangements Procedure.


Appendix 1: Suggested Information for Discussion between Authorities when Planning Distant Placements

Click here to view Appendix 1: Suggested Information for Discussion between Authorities when Planning Distant Placements.


Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol

Click here to view Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol.

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