Preventing placement breakdowns

Stability for looked after children is key. The more stable they are in their placement and their life, the more they will achieve and ultimately the better their life chances will be. This page considers how to support placements as well as looking at the process of disruption meetings.

Placement breakdowns are an inevitable occurrence.  Active steps can be taken to reduce their likelihood, for example with careful matching and preparatory work with the child and proposed carers. Planning meetings can also be called to avert placement breakdown. An unplanned ending, breakdown or disruption is defined as a placement ending that was not included in the social work plan, either in the ending itself or the timing of the termination. Unplanned endings can occur because:

What support can be provided to the placement to prevent it breaking down?

It is rare that placements will suddenly breakdown, instead there is usually a period of deterioration in the relationship between the child and the carer which leads to the eventual breakdown of the placement. This period of time may be short, however it is vital that wherever possible this is recognised and appropriate support put in place.

In such cases it is important that both the child and the carers are spoken to, and, in the case of foster placements, the foster carers social worker is a key part of this process as they can have a frank discussion with the carers. The fostering social worker may also be able to access more support for the carers (e.g. respite services) in order to help address the carers needs.

Where possible an early review or a disruption meeting should be held - these multi-agency meetings allow everyone to work together to support the placement.

Disruption meetings A disruption meeting should be convened if:


TaskResponsible officerRecordTimescale
In the event of a placement ending in an unplanned way decide whether there needs to be a disruption meeting or a planning meeting. If a planning meeting see planning meeting procedures.Service manager and accommodation service managerComputerWithin 10 working days of placement ending in an unplanned way
Identify suitable chair.Service managerComputerWithin 10 working days of placement ending in an unplanned way
Consultation regarding participants required to attend and invite to meeting including the child or young person.ChairComputerWithin 10 working days of allocation
Speak to participants including the IRO (if appropriate include child and family) before the meetingChairComputerWithin 10 working days before meeting
Hold disruption meetingChairMinutesBetween 4-8 weeks of placement breakdown
Send minutesChairComputer5 working days from meeting