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Bradford Children's Services Online Procedures

Placements with Connected Persons

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to any placement of a Child Looked After with a relative or friend who is not already approved as a foster carer at the time of the placement. This is often referred to as a Regulation 24 placement. Where relatives or friends are subsequently approved as foster carers, they are then referred to as Family and Friends or Connected Persons Carers.

If, during the Assessment of relatives and friends it becomes apparent that they will not be able to provide a suitable placement, the social worker should make arrangements for the assessment to be considered in the forum where it was commissioned e.g. a Child Looked After Review.

RELATED PROCEDURES

Family and Friends Care Procedure

USEFUL GUIDANCE

Initial Family and Friends Care Assessment: A Good Practice Guide (Family Rights Group, 2017)

Contents

  1. Viability Assessment
  2. Assessment and Checks before Placement
  3. Relevant Plans
  4. Approval of Placements  
  5. Notification of Placements 
  6. The Process for a Full Assessment of Connected Persons
  7. Support and Monitoring of Placement 
  8. Further Placements with a Connected Person
  9. Ending of Placements / Change of Legal Status


N.B. Where any placement of a Child Looked After with a Connected Person is proposed for a continuous period of sixteen weeks or more, in addition to the assessment and checks set out in Section 2, Assessment and Checks before Placement, the Connected Person will have to be assessed as a foster carer and the child's social worker should start this process as soon as practicable after the placement is made - see Section 6, Assessment of Connected Person below. Responsibility for the fostering assessment remains with the child's social worker until the placement is approved by the Fostering Panel, at which point the case can be transferred to the Family and Friends Long Term Team who provide on-going monitoring and support to such placements.

1. Viability Assessment

Bradford has devised a viability assessment which considers the likelihood of carers being able to meet the physical and emotional needs of the children now and throughout their childhoods, to provide children with stability and boundaries and to ensure their safety.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks and medical checks should be triggered at the point of the viability assessment, (See Section 2, Assessment and Checks before Placement). The social worker conducting the viability assessment will also need to consider information in past case files.

The purpose of the viability is to consider whether or not the applicants should be assessed as potential alternate carers for their family members, and to ascertain if there is anything which would rule them out at the viability stage.

The social worker carrying out the viability assessment has a lot of issues to consider. This is a guide to some of the areas to address and the implications, risk and protective factors. It is not an exhaustive list. These factors can also be considered when carrying out a full assessment.

Areas to be Examined Risk Factors Protective Factors

Family Composition

Existing major relationship problems with children. Presence of household members who have a negative or potentially abusive relationship with child.

This should include an initial risk assessment of any pets in the household.

Warm supportive family relationships. Positive well established relationships with the child.

Family Network

Discord and divided loyalties in the network. Evidence of collusive relationship with child's parents.

Understanding of parents difficulties which held to social services intervention. Awareness of the child's need to maintain links with family, significant people and an ability to manage contact.

Family history and current functioning

Lack of insight into own difficulties in past. Especially those that affected parenting of own children.

Ability to appreciate how personal experiences have affected themselves and their families. Resolution of past problems and evidence of this.

Health and DBS checks

Major current or chronic physical and mental health problems. Record of offences against children.

Ability to maintain effective functioning through periods of stress. Evidence of having moved on from any early offending behaviour.

Housing

Poor likelihood of obtaining adequate accommodation within a realistic time frame. Environmental health and safety concerns.

Adequate space for the families needs, including children to be placed. Good physical standards in the home.

Employment/Income

Evidence of persistent financial problems, heavy debts. Unrealistic notion of financial support available.

Adequate finances and good money management.

Family's social integration - access to community resources

Ability to provide the required personal references. Racial conflict and stereotyping in the family network.

Ability to develop support system within community and personal networks. Ability to work with professionals and be an advocate for the child.

Parenting capacity - physical needs

Carelessness about whereabouts of children and their safety. Poor standards of physical care. Difficult managing routines.

Ability to provide good standard of physical care and promote healthy development through out childhood.

Capacity to protect

Denial of child protection concerns and risks identified by social services.

Ability to protect children from people who have abused them. Ability to recognise the vulnerability of children to abuse and discrimination.

Emotional warmth

Lack of empathy for the child and persistent complaints about child's behaviour. Lack of understanding about how abuse, separation and loss affect children.

Enjoyment of child's company, liking the child. Ability to promote the child's self esteem. Accept the child as they are.

Stimulation

Lack of understanding of child's needs to play or learn. Inappropriate expectations, either too low or high.

Creating opportunities to play and learn. Good links with schools, supportive of after school activities.

Guidance/Boundaries

Rigid discipline, no time, patience. Regular use of physical punishments, threats or bribes.

Ability to set appropriate boundaries to manage children's behaviour.

Stability

High number of moves, or people involved in care of children.

Well settled. High commitment and dependability.

For more information please see: 'Relative Benefits - Placing Children in Kinship Care' Bob Broad and Alison Skinner - BAAF 2005.

2. Assessment and Checks before Placement

Before any placement with a Connected Person is made (whether the placement is planned or made in an emergency), the child's social worker must assess its suitability including the level of support likely to be required and the effect of the proposed placement upon the child's contact with parents, siblings and other relatives and friends who are significant to the child. The assessing social worker should also check the prospective carer/s willingness to work to the Fostering Training Support and Development Standards in due course.

In making such an assessment of suitability:

  • The proposed carer must be interviewed;
  • The accommodation must be inspected; and
  • Information must be obtained about other persons in the household; 
  • The proposed carer and all members of the household aged 18 and above must be checked with the Police Family Protection Team, the family's GP and Children's Social Care records for the area where they live including the List of Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan.

    The social worker must arrange for the carers to complete applications for Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks and obtain all the required documents to verify their identities and submit this as soon as practicable.

At the very start of the initial Viability Assessment, the child's social worker must arrange for the carers to complete an application for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, and  ensure the applicants have given consent for checks to be undertaken on them (including medical) by completing a Fostering and Adoption Registration form. The DBS application form and the Registration form must be returned fully completed to their Connected Person's admin key person to enable checks to be undertaken. N.B.: Any delay in completing these at the initial viability stage can impact on delay for the child as Bradford Fostering Panel cannot make a recommendation of approval without certain checks being received back into the Department.

If appropriate, the team manager in the Connected Person's Service can nominate a member of the team to accompany the child's social worker on a visit to the prospective carers. The purpose of the visit will be to explain the role of a Connected Persons carer, the role of the supervising social worker and the Fostering Training Support and Development Standards and National Minimum Standards to which the carer will need to adhere.

Once a positive Viability Assessment has been completed, the child's social worker must obtain the signed agreement of their Service Manager to grant temporary approval to the placement for up to 16 weeks for a Child Looked After under Regulation 24.

The placement can only continue for a maximum period of 16 weeks before a full recommendation must be sought from Fostering Panel. N.B.: To ensure a the Connected Person's Assessment Team undertake the full fostering assessment, the initial viability with confirmation of checks being started must be sent to the assessment team within the Fostering Service, no later than 7 working days from the start of the placement. See Section 6, Process for Full Assessment of Connected Persons.

3. Relevant Plans

The child's placement with a relative or friend must be part of the Care Plan, which should be drawn up before the placement begins or, in exceptional circumstances, within a maximum of seven days of the placement starting.

For the required documentation, see Decision to Look After, and Care Planning Procedure.

In addition, prior to the placement, a written agreement must be completed by the child's social worker for signature by the carer.

4. Approval of Placements

Following a positive Initial Viability Assessment, the Connected Persons Assessment Team can, in most circumstances, undertake the full fostering assessment if there is an 8/10 week timescale to do so. Therefore, pre planning especially prior to any care proceedings is key to ensure an early referral to the team. A Family Group Conference can also be of significant benefit (if time permits) not only to assess support networks within the family but also in being able to assist in identifying suitable Connected Persons.

The assessment team cannot accept multiple referrals for the same child, and it is the social worker's responsibility to determine which Connected Person has the greatest potential to meet the child's needs within the initial viabilities, whilst also ensuring they will meet fostering standards.

Where there are sibling groups then the child's social worker must undertake a sibling assessment to determine future planning and placements of children with Connected Persons.

5. Notification of Placement

In order to ensure the appropriate arrangements to pay carers are in place, the child's social worker must complete a CC250 within one working day of the placement to their admin department for processing, by sending the following information:

  • The child's name;
  • The date of the placement;
  • Reason for placement (e.g. risk of Significant Harm, breakdown of previous placement);
  • The child's legal status;
  • Name and address of new carer;
  • Bank details to initiate a fostering allowance.

In addition, the child's social worker must provide the necessary information to the relevant administrative staff so the child's records can be updated.

Notification of the placement must also be sent by the social worker to all those consulted and involved in the decision-making process. The notification must advise of the placement decision, the name and address of the new carers, details relating to the child's contact with parents and the arrangements related to the care and welfare of the child.

If the placement is outside Bradford, the social worker must notify the local authority for the area where the child is placed.

The social worker must also ensure that the child is registered with a GP, Dentist and Optician, and that a Health Care Assessment takes place.

6. The Process for a Full Assessment of Connected Persons

The placement may only continue after 16 weeks if the carer is approved as a foster carer at the Fostering Panel. If the placement is planned to be permanent, then the Team Manager in the Family and Friends Long Term Team will be notified to ensure a supervising social worker is allocated to provide ongoing support and monitoring. See Family and Friends Care Policy.

In exceptional circumstances following presentation at Fostering Panel before the 16 weeks expires, temporary approval can be extended. This temporary approval can be extended for a further period of up to 8 weeks (if it is likely to expire before the assessment is completed) or until the outcome of an Independent Review (if the outcome of the assessment is that the Connected Person is not approved and seeks a review of the decision - see Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure. The IRO must also be informed. A decision to extend the temporary approval must be approved by the Nominated Officer

As the Connected Person will be temporarily approval as a foster carer, the Connected Person] will be required to sign a Foster Carer Agreement. A Connected Person approved under these regulations will be entitled to the same support and services including fees, allocation of social worker and allowances as a foster carer.

Before deciding whether to extend the temporary approval, the Local Authority must consider if the placement is still the most appropriate placement available, and it must be considered by the Fostering Panel before the above 8 weeks approval is given.

If the Connected Persons Assessment Team are undertaking the full assessment then they will contact the Administrator to the Fostering Approvals Panel to arrange a time and date for presentation of the assessment, or in exceptional circumstances, as interim assessment report on the carers can be presented to the Panel to meet the sixteen weeks time-scale and the social worker is seeking a further extension (8 weeks). As much information as possible on the carers, and a brief report on the child, written by the child's social worker must be included in the assessment report. Copies of the report must be sent to the Fostering Panel Administrator ten working days before the Panel meeting.

The social worker, and the assessing social worker where applicable, should attend the Panel meeting when the report is considered and the carers should also be invite, thought they are not obliged to attend. Panel will consider either an extension to the temporary approval of the carers if applicable or pending their full assessment consider applicants full approval as Connected Persons Carers for the child. The Panel's recommendation will then be presented to the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) for a decision to be made of their approval.

Applicants will be notified in writing of the decision within 2 days. The carers will also be sent a letter outlining the terms of their temporary approval and the Foster Carer Agreement for their signature once formally approved.

The procedure for approving the assessment via the Fostering Approvals Panel is the same as the procedure for the approval of all local authority approved foster carers.

See Assessment and Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.

7. Support and Monitoring of Placement

The child's social worker must visit the child in the placement at least once each week during the period of any temporary approval until they are formally approved. Visits thereafter must be at intervals of no more than 4 weeks during the first year of the placement. The Family and Friends Long Term Team will appoint a supervisory social worker to offer guidance, support and training to the carer for the duration of the fostering placement. The child's social worker will continue to supervise the placement of the child.

In the second year of the placement and subsequent years, the child should be visited at least every three months and whenever reasonably requested by the child or the carer.

Wherever possible, the child must be seen with the carer and alone. If this is not possible, a further visit must be made at short notice in order that the child can be seen alone and observed with the carer.

The social worker must ensure that Placement Plan is reviewed.

8. Further Placements with a Connected Person

If any subsequent placements are proposed for a current Connected Person carer this should first be discussed with the family's supervising social worker. If there is agreement to proceed a joint report should be prepared for presentation to the Fostering Panel. Both the child's social worker and the family's supervising social worker should attend Panel.

If there is not an agreement over a proposed subsequent placement the matter should be passed to the relative line managers for resolution.

9. Ending of Placement / Change of Legal Status

All those notified when the placement was made should also be notified also when a placement is ended. The Connected Person will need to be de registered as a Foster Carer and a report presented to the Agency Decision Maker (ADM).

Where a placement does end or there is a change in the legal status of the placement i.e. SGO/CAO, then notification must be made to the fostering allowances department to ensure the correct financial support is being provided to the carers.