Planning to look after a child

Accommodating a child is a big decision which has huge consequences for all involved. It is therefore important that when such as decision is made, it is made for the right reasons with checks and balances to confirm the decision is right for the child. This page goes through these steps.

Children should be brought up within their own families where appropriate and the local authority should support this so long as it is consistent with the child's welfare.No child should become looked after until there has been a proper assessment of the child's needs and consideration of family, community, Social Services or other agency resources which may appropriately support the child with their parents or extended family.If a parent asks for their child to be accommodated, every attempt should be made to understand why and what would need to change to prevent this. Big changes impact on children's health and welfare - we should be looking to develop a careful plan to minimise this disruption.

Can friends, extended family or other people who know the child look after them? Anyone who is known to the child or young person may be able to provide a caring home for them, following a Family and Friends assessment .

Who can agree to accommodate a child in an emergency? Children at risk of coming into care should in most circumstances be taken to the Access to Resources Panel. Unaccompanied asylum seeking children follow a separate process.In an emergency a Head of Service must authorise the placement of a child, pending further consideration at panel. The Head of Service must be fully briefed by the Team Manager or Social Worker and a record of the conversation placed on case notes and authorised by the Head of Service. The child's circumstances must then be considered at the next Access to Resources Panel.

Accommodating a child outside of office hours The Emergency Duty Team are able to accommodate a child outside of office hours. If this does happen then the relevant team should be notified by the start of the next working day.

Accommodating a child

1.Listen carefully to the views of the child, the family, other people who know the child well including wider family and professionals, and give their views due weight.Social WorkerImmediate
2.Undertake an initial assessment, including an assessment of any risk of significant harmthe child or other children in the household may be at, and set out what action you think is required.Social WorkerSame day
3.Decide what action is necessary, including any immediate action necessary to protect the child. This may include accommodating the child, legal action, or support to the family to prevent the need for accommodation. Set out and analyse each option for each child. The following extract could be used to structure your analysis (click the clipboard to copy then paste into your assessment)

Risks identified:Protective Factors:Analysis of risk in staying in current situation:Parent's capacity to care for this child:Brief assessment of other parents, relatives or connected persons:Views of the child:Views of the adults:Whether a legal order is required:Impact on child of any change:What the child needs (the outcome):Recommendation:

Social WorkerTeam ManagerSame day
4.Whether the child is accommodated or not complete a detailed assessment to understand why the request was made and what should happen next.Social WorkerTimescale determined by brief assessment
5.As part of the assessment recognise the potential that the child may not return home. Gather information about their early years, the important people in their lives, their current situation and analyse the situation to understand why there is a potential need for accommodation now and what the other options are.Social WorkerIn detailed assessment
6.When a child is accommodated the Social Worker will be invited to the next Accommodation / Resource Panel.Social workerWithin 2 weeks of placement
7.Follow the process for Accommodating a ChildSocial WorkerSee procedure

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