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- / Children living away from home
- / Looked After Children and Leaving Care
- / Supporting children
- / Visiting Looked After Children
Visiting Looked After Children
Once settled in a placement, children still need to be seen regularly wherever they are placed so that they are kept safe and their views heard. Whilst the frequency of visits is set out below, this is the minimum frequency expected but ideally visits should be as often as required.The child's social worker should preferably have knowledge of the child before placement and the child should know the particular social worker.
How often do I need to visit?
- Within the first week of any new placement
- At least every six weeks for the first year
- Every six weeks in subsequent years unless the placement has been confirmed as the child's permanent placement (i.e. expected to last until the child is 18) when the frequency can drop to every three months, however this would need to be discussed and agreed by manager and IRO.
- In situations where the child is being placed for adoption the visiting requirements are weekly for the first four weeks of placement. The first review then sets the visiting requirements thereafter providing that they are not below the minimum requirements set above.
- Visits must also take place if requested by the child. Visits should not be left due to the placement going well as each visit will help inform the next review of the care plan.Some visits should be unannounced. Meetings such as LAC reviews cannot be counted as a statutory visit (unless you speak with the child individually outside of the meeting).
Purpose of visits
It is necessary to check out the perceptions of the child and their foster carers or care staff in relation to the aims of the placement plan .Good practice suggests that the purpose of visits includes:
- support the development of a good relationship between the child and the social worker which will enable the child to share his/her experiences, both positive and negative, within the placement;
- provide an opportunity to talk to the child and to offer reassurance if s/he feels isolated and vulnerable while away from family and friends;
- evaluate and monitor the achievement of actions and outcomes identified in the care and placement plan and to contribute to the review of the plan;
- identify any difficulties which the child or carer may be experiencing, to provide advice on appropriately responding to the child's behaviour and identify where additional supports and services are needed; and
- monitor contact arrangements, to identify how the child is responding to them and to identify any additional supports carers may need to support positive contact arrangements.
What should happen on visits?
Most importantly the social worker should speak with the child alone (unless exceptional circumstances dictate otherwise).
Social workers should also observe interaction between the child and their carers and any other household members, eg other siblings, their foster children, etc. For children with communication needs, this observation is even more important and should be compared to the child's interaction in other places (e.g. school).
The social worker should also ensure that they are kept informed about any changes in the home (e.g. another child moving in or out) and on occasion the social worker should ensure that they see the others in the home and assess attitudes of others both in general and to the young person they are social worker for.
On occasion (e.g. every third or fourth visit the social worker should ask to see round the home (including the child's bedroom).
Recording a visit
The following should be recorded promptly after a visit:
- Date and time of visit:
- Who was seen?:
- Was the child seen and seen alone?:
- If the child was not seen why not and when do you plan to see the child?:
- Any issues raised:
- What your observations are:
- Any actions to be completed:
Exceptions to the standard visiting frequency
- Children living with foster carers who are temporarily approved or living at home on an interim care order should be visited at least weekly until the first review. Thereafter they should be visited at least four weekly until the carer is approved or the care proceedings have completed.
- Children placed back with parents (under Placement with Parents Regulations) must be visited in the first week and then at least six weekly.
- Children placed back with parents before an assessment is completed must be visited weekly until the first review and then at least six weekly until the assessment is completed.
If there are safeguarding concerns or a complaint is made
If there are safeguarding concerns in relation to the placement then visits must be undertaken within 24 hours.
If the child is in a residential home that receives notice under section 30a of the Care Standards Act 2000 then the social worker must visit within one week.
If the child makes a complaint then the social worker should visit within 24 hours.
|Visit the child. Discuss the situation with the child and the carers. Feedback to the carer before the end of the visit.||Social worker||Computer||Within one week of placement commencing|
|Assess the child's needs and circumstances and how the placement is meeting these needs and promoting their well being. This should include consideration of their health, educational, emotional, social, religious and cultural needs and contact.||Social worker||Computer||During visit|
|Report to the team manager and fostering social worker if there is concern about the child's well-being or the functioning of the placement. If an external placement contact contracts manager as well.||Social worker||Computer||Immediately|
|Make a decision about how the concerns will be dealt with, this should include consideration of informing the parent and person with parental responsibility, relevant department or fostering and adoption team.||Team manager||Computer||Immediately|
|In circumstances where there are concerns that the child may be at risk of harm the child protection co-ordinator should be informed and decisions made about the possibility of implementing the child protection procedures. Allegations against a carer procedures (within Guernsey's child protection procedures) should be followed.||Social worker||Computer||Immediately|
|Record the placement visit.||Social worker||Computer||Within 2 working days.|
|Consider whether the next planned review should be brought forward in association with team manager and IRO||Social worker||Computer||After the visit|
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