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5.5 CLA Plan Guidance


  1. Who Must Have a CLA Plan
  2. Who is Responsible for the Plan
  3. Timescales for Completion
  4. Approval of the Plan
  5. Consultation
  6. Purpose
  7. Review
  8. Contents
  9. Circulation

1. Who Must Have a CLA Plan

1.1 Every Looked After child must have a CLA Plan. 

2. Who is Responsible for the Plan

2.1 The CLA Plan must be completed and updated by the child's social worker.

3. Timescales for Completion

3.1 The CLA Plan must be drawn up as soon as the need for the child to come into care has been identified. It must be completed prior to the child's first placement.
3.2 If there are exceptional reasons that prevent the CLA Plan from being drawn up prior to the child's placement, the key objectives of the child's admission to care and the proposed placement must still be identified and recorded.
3.3 The CLA Plan can be updated by the social worker, with the team manager's approval, at any time.
3.4 The CLA Plan is then subject to scrutiny at each Looked After Review and must be updated after each review unless there are no changes.

4. Approval of the Plan

4.1 A final CLA Plan taken before the court in Care Proceedings must be endorsed and signed by the Designated Manager.
4.2 All other CLA Plans must be endorsed and signed by the social worker's team manager.

5. Consultation


The social worker is responsible for drawing up and updating the CLA Plan in consultation with:

  • The child;
  • The child's parents;
  • Anyone who is not a parent but has been caring for or looking after the child;
  • Other members of the child's family network who are significant to the child;
  • The child's school or the education service;
  • The relevant health service;
  • The Youth Justice Team, if the child is known to them;
  • Any other agency involved with the child's care.

6. Purpose

6.1 The purpose of the plan is to safeguard and promote the interests of the child, prevent drift and focus work on achieving permanence for the child.
6.2 Before a Court grants a Care Order it must be satisfied that a suitable CLA Plan has been drawn up.

7. Review

7.1 This guidance must be read in conjunction with Children Looked After Review Challenge Procedure.
7.2 The CLA Plan must be regularly reviewed at the Looked After Review. However, it is the responsibility of the social worker and his/her team manager to make decisions and amendments in relation to the CLA Plan.
7.3 By the time of the second Looked After Review, the CLA Plan must contain a plan for achieving permanence for the child within a timescale that is realistic, achievable and meets the child's needs. If it is considered that the chosen avenue to permanence is not viable, the Independent Reviewing Officer must ensure that a Permanency Planning Meeting, or equivalent, is convened as a matter of urgency to consider the most appropriate permanent alternative.
7.4 All subsequent Reviews must review the progress and validity of the Permanence Plan.

8. Contents

Caption: contents of care plan
8.1 There is a template for the CLA Plan, which covers the following areas.

The overall aims and timescales for achieving permanence (to be included by the second Looked After Review at the latest):

  • The objectives of the plan, phrased in terms of how permanence will be achieved for the child;
  • How these objectives will be met including the order sought and why;
  • Time-scales for achieving the plan.

The child's needs and wishes: The child's identified needs (including those arising from race, culture, religion or language, special education, health or disability):

  • The extent to which the wishes and feelings of the child have been obtained and acted upon;
  • Reasons for supporting the child's wishes or explanations of why the child's wishes and views have not been given absolute precedence;
  • Summary of how the child's needs might be met;
  • Arrangements for and purpose of contact in meeting the child's needs (e.g. parent, step parent, other family member, former carers, friends, siblings (including those in care who may have a separate placement);
  • Any proposals to restrict or terminate contact.

Views of others: The extent to which the wishes and feelings of the parents and others with sufficient interest in the child (including representatives of other agencies, current Carers and former Carers) have been obtained and acted on:

  • The reasons for supporting them or explanations of why their wishes and views have not been given precedence.

Placement details and timetable: Proposed placement:

  • Time that is likely to elapse before the proposed placement is made;
  • Likely duration of the placement;
  • Arrangements for health care including consent to examination and treatment;
  • Arrangements for education (including any pre-school day care/activity);
  • Arrangements for reunification/rehabilitation;
  • Other services to be provided to the child;
  • Other services to be provided to the parents and other family members;
  • Details of proposed support services in the placement for the carers;
  • Specific details of the parent's role in day to day arrangements.

Management and support by the Department:

  • Who is to be responsible for implementing the plan;
  • Who is responsible for implementing specific tasks within the plan;
  • Date of last and next Looked After Review;
  • Contingency Plan if the placement breaks down or if preferred placement is not available;
  • Arrangements for input by the child, parent and others in the ongoing decision-making process.

9. Circulation


The CLA Plan must be circulated to the following people:

  • The child - care must be taken to ensure the child understands it. If necessary, the child must be given additional material, suitable to his/her needs and abilities, which can better explain the CLA Plan;
  • The parent(s) - who may also require help to understand the plan;
  • Providers/Carers - if no CLA Plan has been drawn up prior to the child's placement, the social worker must ensure that the providers/carers understand the key objectives of the plan, and how the placement will help achieve these objectives.