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5.2 Decision to Look After and CLA Planning


Contents

  1. Decision to Look After Child
  2. The CLA Plan
  3. Timescales for Completion of CLA Plan
  4. Approval of the CLA Plan
  5. Circulation of the CLA Plan
  6. Other Required Plans, Documentation and Actions


1. Decision to Look After Child

1.1

The Decision

  1.1.1 A child may not come into care without the express permission of the Head of Statutory Social Work Services, even if the child is already an open case.
  1.1.2 Outside office hours, the On Call Senior Manager Children and Families can make the decision to Look After a child.
  1.1.3 Any decision to look after a child made outside office hours will be communicated to the relevant team by 09:00 of the next working day.

1.2

Considerations before a Decision to Look After is Made

  1.2.1 The decision to look after a child will only be made where those making the decision are satisfied that appropriate consultation has taken place. Appropriate consideration must have been given to the necessity, purpose and nature of the proposed placement. Where the circumstances constitute an emergency, opportunities for consultation may be limited.
  1.2.2 Before a decision is made to look after a child, consideration must be given to making arrangements with other extended family members or friends who might be prepared to care for the child without the need for the child to come into care – see Family & Friends Care for those in Care and those who are not Procedure. In these circumstances, care must be taken where the Department has been involved in the arrangements for the child to be cared for by relatives; the child may be viewed as within the definition of Looked After and a legal view may be helpful to clarify the status of the child and the placement.
  1.2.3 Alternatively, the child may come within the definition of Privately Fostered after 27 days, in which case the Private Fostering Procedure will apply.
  1.2.4 In any event, any such arrangements would have to be agreed with the parent or a person with Parental Responsibility, and the social worker must be satisfied that such an arrangement is sufficiently secure to meet the child's needs and is supported by a CwCN Plan.
  1.2.5

If no such arrangement can be identified or such an arrangement would not meet the child's needs, the child's social worker, with his or her team manager, must consider:

  • The child's immediate placement needs - including the child's views, the views of the parents, those with Parental Responsibility and any other person whose wishes and feelings the Department consider to be relevant - and whether a placement with a relative or friend under may be possible (see Family & Friends Care Procedure);
  • The timescales for the child's placement;
  • A date for the child to return home or when the decision will be reviewed;
  • The actions of support and work to be included in the CLA Plan to enable the necessary change for the child to return home wherever possible;
  • The obtaining of parental consent to look after the child and consent to medical care;
  • The contact arrangements with birth parents, siblings, extended family and friends.
  1.2.6 Where it is considered that Care Proceedings must be initiated to secure the child's placement, see also Court Proceedings Procedure.
  1.2.7 All decisions made must be recorded on the child's electronic record, including the reasons for reaching the decision.

1.3

Actions Required after a Decision to Look After is Made

  1.3.1 In relation to children where Care Proceedings are being considered to secure the child's placement, see also Court Proceedings Procedure.
  1.3.2 In all cases, if it is agreed that the child must become Looked After, the child's social worker will draw up a draft CLA Plan (see Section 2, The CLA Plan) with clear timescales and a statement as to whether the child's needs would best be met in a family placement or residential care.
  1.3.3 If a foster or residential placement is required, the relevant procedure to be followed, including the need to hold a Placement Planning Meeting, will be found in the Placements in Foster Care Procedure or the Placements in Residential Care Procedure.
  1.3.4 Where a decision is made to pursue a Looked After placement with a family member or friend, an immediate assessment of the relative/friend must be undertaken. See Family & Friends Care Procedure.
  1.3.5 For secure placements, see Placements in Secure Accommodation Procedure.


2. The CLA Plan

2.1

In all circumstances where a decision is made to look after a child, the child must have a CLA Plan completed by the social worker and signed by the relevant team manager, the contents of which:

  • Describe the needs identified for the child;
  • The overall objectives for being a CLA;
  • Identify and prioritise long term needs in key areas of the child's life;
  • Nominate the type of placement being sought;
  • What should happen to support the child and family;
  • Who is nominated to provide the support and in what timescales;
  • Outcomes to be achieved – what is the expected difference that it will make;
  • Indicate how long the child is likely to need to be in care;
  • Describe any contingency plan;
  • Set the date of the child's first Looked After Review (within 28 days).
2.2 See also CLA Plan Guidance.
2.3 Where there is no recent NARRATES CwCN in relation to the child, the CLA Plan must provide for a NARRATES to be completed.
2.4

The child's 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;
  • Relevant health staff;
  • The Youth Justice Team, if the child is known to them;
  • Any other agency involved with the child's care.
2.5 The social worker must ensure that the child, those with Parental Responsibility and the carer understand the CLA Plan and their role in contributing to its implementation.
2.6 The CLA Plan is subject to scrutiny at each Looked After Review.


3. Timescales for Completion of CLA Plan

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 at the Placement Planning Meeting prior to the child's planned placement or, where the child is placed in an emergency, must be completed at the Placement Planning Meeting held within 72 hours of the placement being made - see the relevant Placement Procedure.


4. Approval of the CLA Plan

4.1 Any final CLA Plan taken before the Court within Care Proceedings must be endorsed and signed by the Head of Statutory Social Work Service.
4.2 All other CLA Plans must be endorsed and signed by the social worker's team manager.


5. Circulation of the CLA Plan

5.1

The CLA Plan must be circulated to the following people:

  • The child;
  • The parent(s);
  • 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;
  • The Fostering Service, where the child is in foster care. N.B. The CLA Plan must be filed in the confidential section of the foster carer's file and returned to the child's social worker when the placement ends.


6. Other Required Plans, Documentation and Actions

6.1

Placement Information Record

  6.1.1 The child must have a Placement Information Record at the time of the placement (this includes the parent's consent to the placement (if applicable) and the child's medical treatment). It must be completed as far as possible before the child is placed.
  6.1.2 Copies of the Placement Information Record must be provided to the child (if of sufficient age and understanding), the parents and must be handed to the residential staff/carers before the child is placed. Where a child is placed in a foster placement, one copy must also be sent to the Fostering Service - to be kept in the confidential section of the foster carer's file and returned at the end of the placement.
  6.1.3 At the time of the placement, the residential staff/carers must also be given any additional information about details of the child's day to day needs which are not covered by the Placement Information Record but are important to ensure that the staff/carers are in the best possible position to help the child settle in the new placement, for example any particular fears at night-time or the child's favourite toys.

6.2

Chronology

  6.2.1 Whenever a new placement is made or the child moves placement, the child's Chronology must be updated.

6.3

Arrangement of first Looked After Review

  6.3.1 The child's social worker must ensure that the necessary arrangements for the allocation of an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) and the child's first Looked After Review can be made. See the Children Looked After Review Challenge Procedure for the procedures relating to reviews, including the responsibility for invitations to reviews.

6.4

Health Care

  6.4.1 Before or at the time of the placement, the social worker must request the parent to transfer the child's personal child health record. Where this is lost or not available, the social worker must ask for a replacement to be issued and ask the Designated Nurse for LAC to assist with providing any information to complete the record.
  6.4.2 The social worker must also contact the Designated Nurse for LAC to arrange a Health Care Assessment within one month of the placement and the completion of a Health CLA Plan in time for the child's first Looked After Review. See Health Care Assessments and Health CLA Plans Procedure.
  6.4.3 In addition, the social worker must inform the carer of any medication the child is taking, and ensure that a supply of medication is provided in a clearly labelled bottle with the child's name, required dosage and the time the medication is to be given.

6.5

Personal Education Plan (PEP)

  6.5.1 The social worker must also liaise with the Designated Teacher so that a Personal Education Plan (PEP) can be completed in time for the first Looked After Review. See Education of Looked After Children in Care Procedure.

6.6

Provision of Information 

  6.6.1 The child's social worker must provide the child and parents with written information about the placement.
  6.6.2 The child and parents must also be provided with information about the complaints process and the availability of advocates.

6.7

Changes in Legal Status

  6.7.1 Any changes in a child's legal status as a result of court proceedings must be recorded on the child's electronic record.

End