||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.
||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.
||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.
Section 12 of the Placement of Children (General) Regulations 2002 may then apply for such respite arrangements:
“12. Application to short-term placements
- This regulation applies where a responsible authority has arranged to place a child in a series of placements with the same person, so that :
- no single placement is to last for more than 4 weeks and,
- the total duration of the placements is not to exceed 120 days in any period of 12 months.
- Any series of placements to which this regulation applies may be treated as a single placement for the purpose of these Regulations.”
||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.
||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.
||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.