Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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6.2.21 Regulation 24 Placements

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter covers temporary placement of a child who needs to be looked after and the checks assessment and processes to be carried out.

RELATED CHAPTERS LEGISLATION / GUIDANCE

Friends, Family and Connected Persons Policy

2011 Fostering Service Regulations

2010 Care Planning Placement and Review Regulations

The 2011 Fostering National Minimum Standards

Regulations 24 of the 2010 Care Planning Regulations

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

AMENDMENT

In January 2017 this chapter was revised and updated throughout and should be re-read in full.


Contents

  1. Introduction and Overview
  2. Initial Process
  3. Friends, Family and Connected Persons Assessment


1. Introduction and Overview

When required to look after a child temporarily, Slough Children’s Services will always seek to place the child with a relative or someone known to them.

To care for a looked after child, relatives, friends or other connected persons must be approved as foster carers under the 2011 Fostering Service Regulations or temporarily approved as foster carers under the 2010 Care Planning Placement and Review Regulations. The 2011 Fostering National Minimum Standards (NMS) for Fostering Services apply.

Regulations 24 of the 2010 Care Planning Regulations set out arrangements for the temporary approval of a connected person as a foster carer in exceptional circumstances for up to 16 weeks to allow an immediate placement and sufficient time for a foster carer approval process to be undertaken, including any Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks required. Regulation 25 of the 2010 Care Planning Regulations gives an extension of 8 weeks to the original 16 weeks.

Standard 30 of the NMS 2011 relates specifically to family and friends foster carers. It clarifies that when a foster carer is being assessed for approval for a specific child or children only, there is no need to consider their suitability to care for other children.

Once approved, the family and friends foster carer must be notified in writing and of the terms of the approval which often include that they may foster only a specific named child or children.

All foster carers, including those who have been temporarily approved under the 2010 Regulations, must also enter into a foster care agreement covering the matters set out in Schedule 5 to the 2011 Fostering Regulations. In approving the foster carer the fostering service will need to be satisfied that there is adequate space to a suitable standard, as set out in Standard 10.6 of the 2011 NMS, or if this is not the case set out proposals as to how it will be met in the future. The childs social worker will arrange a Placement planning meeting within 7 days of the child being placed with the carers which also includes covering delegated authority. The SSW from the FPS will also attend this meeting to support the carers.

All Regulation 24 (emergency) family and friends/connected persons placements must be presented to the SCST Placement Panel for confirmation of this status of placement. It is at this point the prospective carers can be then paid a fostering allowance for the child in placement. A referral needs to be made to the Family Placement Service by the child’s social worker to inform them of a placement so a SSW can be allocated to assess and support the carers.

Once the Full family and friends foster carers assessment has been completed it must be presented to Slough Children’s Services Fostering Panel for recommendation. The Agency Decision Maker will make a decision as to whether they can approve these carers within 7 working days upon receiving the Fostering Panels minutes. (For both REG 24 and REG 25) The whole process has to be completed within 16 weeks of a child being placed. In the event that a REG 25 (an extension of 8 weeks) is requested this must be sought within the 16 weeks of a child being placed.

Once approved, the family and friends / connected persons foster carer must be notified in writing and of the terms of the approval which often include that they may foster only a specific named child or children.


2. Initial Process

A child being placed under Regulation 24 is a looked-after child and is therefore subject to all relevant regulations. The social worker placing the child will therefore need to be aware of complying with the regulations.

The social worker placing the child will need to undertake a viability assessment of the suitability of the carer to care in the short-term for the child. This should be completed jointly with a social worker from the FPS (subject to notice and availability) The child social worker will make a referral to the relevant Team Manager of the Family Placement Service for a fuller assessment.

The social worker placing the child will undertake police checks in respect of all the adults living in the carer's home prior to placing the child to ensure their safety. The FPS  will obtain  full details of the carers and consent to initiate checks with the DBS, medical, references etc. The child social worker needs to seek agreement from the relevant HOS for the placement and consult with the relevant manager in the FPS.

The social worker placing the child is required under the regulations to inspect the child's accommodation and complete a written agreement with the carer.

This viability assessment will need to be brought to the Slough Children’s Services Placement Panel as soon as possible following the placing of the child in order to seek temporary approval for the carer.

The child’s social worker will make sure the viability assessment, management decisions and Placement panels decision are put onto ICS under the child and carers.


3. Friends and Family / Connected Persons Assessment

The worker undertaking the full fostering assessment will ensure that all relevant paperwork in relation to the carer (e.g. Application Form, Written Agreement, etc.) is placed in the carers ICS file by the worker undertaking the assessment. The administrative support within the Family Placement Service will also assist with obtaining checks from the DBS, GP, etc.

The assessment will take up to 16 weeks. If there are significant reasons why this period of time needs to be extended, the assessing social worker can request an extension of a further 8 weeks to complete the work, under Regulation 25.

Once the family and friends foster carer assessment is completed, the assessing social worker will present this to the Fostering Panel for recommendation. The child's social worker and the carers are also expected to attend this Panel. The Agency Decision Maker will make a decision as to whether they can approve these carers within 7 working days upon receiving the Fostering Panels minutes. The administrative support within the Family Placement Service will place the relevant minutes of the Fostering Panel and the ADM decision on the child and carer's ICS file.

Permanent plans for children with carers

If approved by the Agency Decision Maker, then the child's social worker will support the carer to seek either a Child Arrangement Order (CAO) or a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) if appropriate. The carer will remain a family and friends/connected persons foster carer until the Order is granted. Therefore the Fostering Panel will still need to be kept informed of the progress of this application until the carer's status is changed. The appropriate assessments will be completed by the FPS and include a means tested financial assessment.

Should the carers not be eligible for legal aid, Slough Children’s Services Trust will pay their legal expenses in respect of their seeking a CAO or a SGO up to a maximum of £2,000.

If a Child Arrangements Order is granted to the carer, the child ceases to be looked-after. Should the carers require ongoing financial support then the case will transfer to the Family Placement Service once the child is settled and the case is no longer a CIN. See below for further action. If the carer is not seeking any further assistance, the case can be closed.

If the carer is granted a Special Guardianship Order, the child ceases to be looked-after and the case will transfer to the Family Placement Service once the child is no longer considered a CIN. The Family Placement worker will ensure that a copy of the family and friends/connected persons  foster carers assessment and support plans (and Special Guardianship Order /Child Arrangement Order if applicable) are on the ICS files of both the carer and the child. If the carers are in receipt of Special Guardianship Order or CAO allowance the case must remain open on ICS in order to receive this money. A financial agreement must be signed by the carers for these allowances and the Family Placement Service had a duty to review the carers financial circumstances annually.

End