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5.1 Definition of Looked After Children 

RELATED GUIDANCE

Isle of Man guidance Part A


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Definition in Law
  3. Children ‘in the care of’ the Department
  4. Children ‘Accommodated’ by the Department
  5. Children in ‘kinship / network care’ (with a relative or friend)
  6. Those Receiving a ‘Respite Care’ Service
  7. Children in Residential Schools Paid for by the Department


1. Introduction

1.1 This chapter looks at the criteria for determining whether children are Looked After Children.


2. Definition in Law

2.1

Section 24 (1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 2001 states:

“For the purposes of this Act the Department is looking after a child where:

  • he is in the care of the Department, or
  • the Department provides accommodation (other than accommodation in a health service hospital) for him under this Act or any other enactment for a continuous period of more than 24 hours.”


3. Children ‘in the care of’ the Department

3.1 Part a) above is clear and easily defined as those who by the existence of a Court order i.e. Care Order, Interim Care Order or Emergency Protection Order are in the care of the Department. The Act places a duty on the Department to provide accommodation to such children (Section 25 of the Children and Young Persons Act 2001(1)(a)). These are Looked After children whose names must be included on the Looked After Children List even if they are placed with their parents under the Placement of Children with Parents etc Regulations 2002.
3.2 These children must have all the paperwork designed for Looked After children and be reviewed in line with good practice timescales i.e. within four weeks of the date upon which the child became Looked After, no more than three months after the first review and six monthly thereafter - see Looked After Review Procedure.


4. Children ‘Accommodated’ by the Department

4.1

These are children who are provided with accommodation by the Department under Section 25 (1)(b) or 25 (2) i.e. they are in need because:

  • No person has Parental Responsibility for them
  • They are lost or have been abandoned
  • The person who has been caring for them is prevented from providing them with suitable accommodation or care
  • The Department considers that to do so would safeguard or promote their welfare and this is agreed with the parent/s or person with Parental Responsibility or the young person (if they have reached the age of 16)
4.2 These are children who are Looked After and whose names must be included on the Looked After Children List. They must have all the paperwork designed for Looked After children and be reviewed in line with good practice timescales i.e. within four weeks of the date upon which the child became Looked After, no more than three months after the first review and six monthly thereafter – see Looked After Review Procedure.


5. Children in ‘kinship / network care’ (with a relative or friend)

5.1 The Children & Young Persons Act 2001 and best practice encourages the placement of Looked After children within their family or wider network where this is practical and consistent with their welfare. This maintains the child’s links with their family and/or community. Research suggests that children’s first choice of placement when they are unable to continue living with their parents is to live with a relative or close friend. 
5.2 For children who are cared for in a ‘kinship or network care’, i.e. where the full-time care is being provided by a member of the child’s extended family or network, where the child would otherwise be Looked After, see Placement of Children not in Care with Relatives and Friends.


6. Those Receiving a ‘Respite Care’ Service

6.1 This is a slightly more complex situation involving debates around the ‘continuous period of more than 24 hours’ mentioned in Section 24 (1) (b) of the Children and Young Persons Act 2001.
6.2 If a child is provided with respite care for periods in excess of 24 hours or at least 2 consecutive nights they would meet the definition of being ‘Looked After’ and would therefore be included on the Looked After Children List and follow the LAC processes and paperwork. At the weekend (or in school holidays) where the child may go to their respite care provision on Friday afternoon and stay until Saturday afternoon this would also constitute a 24 hour period of care and therefore meet the definition of being Looked After.
6.3 A Placement Plan (Parts One and Two for foster care respite placements and Three also for residential respite) must be prepared for any placement for respite care irrespective of whether the child / young person is ‘Looked After’ under the definition above.
6.4

Section 12 of the Placement of Children (General) Regulations 2002 may then apply for such respite arrangements:

“12. Application to short-term placements

  1. This regulation applies where a responsible authority has arranged to place a child in a series of placements with the same person, so that :
    1. no single placement is to last for more than 4 weeks and,
    2. the total duration of the placements is not to exceed 120 days in any period of 12 months.
  2. Any series of placements to which this regulation applies may be treated as a single placement for the purpose of these Regulations.”
6.5 Part 2 of this Regulation means that as long as the placements met the conditions in part 1 it could be treated as a ‘single placement’ therefore the paperwork and review arrangements would be completed as if it was one continuous placement e.g. a new Placement Plan would not be required every week.
6.6 Caution would be required for times such as school holidays when respite arrangements may change and social workers would need to be aware of the possible change in status of some children if their respite arrangements were increased.
6.7 However it is important to continue to plan and review arrangements for all children who receive either an overnight respite service or any other form of co-ordinated support package from the agencies, whether they meet the criteria for being viewed as ‘Looked After’ or not, to ensure they are meeting the child’s needs and the child is safeguarded.  There is a process in place for this (which follows similar timescales as for Looked After children) in the Disabled Children’s service area. 


7. Children in Residential Schools Paid for by the Department

7.1 If the child is the subject of a Care Order or Interim Care Order children placed in residential schools on or off Island are Looked After and would therefore be subject to Looked After children processes and paperwork.
7.2 If the child is Accommodated and a decision is made with the parents’ agreement to place the child in a residential school either on or off Island the child remains ‘Looked After’ and is therefore still subject to the LAC processes and paperwork (NB a new Placement Plan and a update of the Care Plan will be required reflecting the new placement).
7.3 If the child is living at home with parents and an assessment reveals that a residential school placement is required due to the child’s special educational needs or emotional/behavioural needs and the Department agrees to fund this, or contribute to the funding, that child is not Looked After but is a Child in Need. In these circumstances, the child will be subject to a Child in Need Plan. However, given the large financial commitment, reviews in line with timescales for Looked After Reviews will be arranged to consider whether the placement is meeting the child’s needs. Recording of these will be by the Chair of the Review (in a narrative form), ensuring that all essential elements are covered. 

End