5.1.10 Out of Area Placements

RELATED GUIDANCE

Local Authority's Sufficiency Duty - Accommodation for Looked After Children Procedure

Note that different provisions apply to children who acquire Looked After status as a result of a remand to local authority accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation. In relation to those children, please see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People on Remand.

RELATED GUIDANCE

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015)

AMENDMENT

Section 2, Approval of Placement by Nominated Officer/Director of Children's Services, was revised and updated in June 2017. Links throughout the chapter were also revised.

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

Depending on the circumstances, the approval routes describes in sections a – e should be followed. This routes are illustrated in Appendix 1: Placement Approval Flowchart (Local Resources).

  1. For placements to be made inside of Northamptonshire for children/young people 13 years or less, approval is required as follows:
    • New, or additional, additional cost – Strategic Manager Sign Off;
    • No increased cost: Service Manager Sign Off.
  2. For any placement move in or out of County for a young person age 14 years or more which could have an impact on their Education then approval must be sought through the Assistant Director (AD) (or covering Officer). Child's social worker must complete Appendix 2: Placement Move For Young Person Age 14 Years and Over Form (Local Resources);
  3. For any new move Out of County (OOC) approval must be sought through the Director of Children's Services (DCS) (or covering Officer). Child's social worker must complete the Appendix 3: New Out Of County Move Form (Local Resources);
  4. For any subsequent move OOC, approval must be sought through the AD. Child's social worker must complete Appendix 4: Subsequent Out Of County Move Form (Local Resources);
  5. Any decision to accommodate a young person age 14 years or more for the first time must have approval from the AD. Child's social worker to complete the Appendix 5: First Accommodation of 14 Years Plus Young Person Form (Local Resources).

The decision to place the child out of area must be approved by the Nominated Officer, 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/ 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 Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) has been consulted (usually the IRO will discuss with the child after the child has visited the proposed placement);
  • 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 3, Placement Considerations).

3. 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 6: 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.

4. 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:

  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).

5. Emergency Placements

In the case of a placement made in an emergency, the approval from the appropriate Nominated Officer 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.

6. 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.

Appendix 1: Placement Approval Flowchart

Click here to view Appendix 1: Placement Approval Flowchart (Local Resources).

Appendix 2: Placement Move For Young Person Age 14 Years and Over Form

Click here to view Appendix 2: Placement Move For Young Person Age 14 Years and Over Form (Local Resources).

Appendix 3: New Out Of County Move Form

Click here to view Appendix 3: New Out Of County Move Form (Local Resources).

Appendix 4: Subsequent Out Of County Move Form

Click here to view Appendix 4: Subsequent Out Of County Move Form (Local Resources).

Appendix 5: First Accommodation of 14 Years Plus Young Person Form

Click here to view Appendix 5: First Accommodation of 14 Years Plus Young Person Form (Local Resources).

Appendix 6: 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).

Appendix 7: 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.

Click here to access the Out of Area Notification Protocol Form for use by children's homes in Wales*.

* This information has been reproduced from the Department for Education publication: The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015).