South Gloucestershire Council


Top of page

Size: View this website with small text View this website with medium text View this website with large text View this website with high visibility

Out of Area Placements


Contents

  1. Placements to which this Procedure Applies
  2. Finding an Appropriate Placement
  3. Approval of Placement by Corporate Parenting Manager/Director of Children’s Services
  4. Placement Considerations
  5. Notification of Placements
  6. When the Placement Ends
  7. Emergency Placements
  8. Placements in Wales

    Appendix 1: Suggested Information for Discussion between Authorities when Planning Distant Placements

    Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol


1. Placements to which this Procedure Applies

This procedure applies to any placement of a Looked After child outside the area of the local authority, EXCEPT WHERE the placement is with a Connected Person, or a local authority foster carer approved by the placing authority.


2. Finding an Appropriate Placement

It will only be possible to proceed to look for an Out of Authority placement if no suitable in house placement is available. Therefore the case holding Social Worker must begin by contacting the Family Placement Team (FPT) duty desk to request a search for an in house placement. The duty desk will require a Placement Request Form to be completed and sent via ICS (the FPT duty social worker can advise on how to do this). 

If no appropriate in house placement is available, FPT will request authorisation from  the Corporate Parenting Manager to search for an out of authority placement. When authorisation has been given, the Social Worker will send a request for placement  to the Brokerage Team, Assistant Commissioning Officers using the e-mail address PlacementTeam@southglos.gov.uk. The Brokerage Team will look for possible placements and send the Social Worker appropriate expressions of interest from providers. 

The Social Worker will liaise with the possible placement agencies, and with their Team Manager choose a possible suitable placement. Before making a final decision, the Social Worker must discuss with appropriate staff in the local authority in which the child would be placed any issues or concerns about the proposed placement. To find an appropriate person in another local authority with whom to discuss such issues, the social worker should start by ringing the Director of Children’s Services who will advise who is the appropriate person to consult. Names and contact details of directors of children’s services in England can be found at ADCS - and for Wales at ADSS.


3. Approval of Placement by Corporate Parenting Manager /Director of Children’s Services

The decision to place the child out of area must be approved by the Corporate Parenting Manager, unless it is a Placement at a Distance, (i.e. outside the area of the local authority and not within the area of any adjoining local authority), in which case the approval of the Director of Children’s Services is required. 

The Corporate Parenting Manager/ Director of Children’s Services must be satisfied of the following:
  • That the child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
  • That the placement is the most appropriate placement available for the child and consistent with the Care Plan;
  • That relatives have been consulted where appropriate;
  • That the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) has been consulted (usually the IRO will discuss with the child after the child has visited the proposed placement);
  • That the area authority has been notified, or, for a Placement at a Distance, the area authority have been consulted and have been provided with a copy of the child’s Care Plan (see Section 3, Placement Considerations).


4. Placement Considerations

Placements at a Distance will require effective planning, engagement and information sharing with the services likely to be responsible for meeting the child’s needs in the future. Consultation with the area authority must (except in an emergency) be undertaken in good time to enable a thorough assessment of appropriateness to be made. Appendix 1: Suggested Information for Discussion between Authorities when Planning Distant Placements suggests information that might be discussed with the area authority.

Where the placement under consideration is in a children’s home, account should be taken of the information in the home’s Statement of Purpose and its location assessment (which should include details of the home’s safeguarding arrangements, including any measures taken by the home to manage safeguarding concerns arising from the neighbourhood where the home is located).

In assessing the suitability of an out of authority placement, consideration should be given to the arrangements which will need to be put in place to enable the child to access services such as primary and secondary health care. Where the child will require specialist health services such as CAMHS, the South Gloucestershire Looked After Nurse should be consulted and arrangements made to contact the Clinical Commissioning Group (local health board in Wales) that commissions secondary healthcare in the area authority, to establish whether the placement is appropriate and able to meet the child’s needs. The designated nurse for looked-after children in the area authority will also be a valuable source of advice and information.

The South Gloucestershire Virtual Head Teacher should be consulted. They will contact Virtual School Head for looked-after children in the area authority, (Looked After Children Education Co-ordinators (LACE) in Wales) to seek advice  about access to school support.

If the child or young person being placed out of authority has a history of offending, the South Gloucestershire Youth Offending Team should be contacted to discuss their offending behaviour. They may contact the Youth Offending Service in the area to which the child or young person will move to arrange appropriate support to be provided.  

For children vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, children’s services in the area authority will be an important source of intelligence and information about local arrangements for safeguarding children.


5. Notification of Placements

Written notification must be given to the area authority of the arrangements for the placement before the placement is made or, if the placement is made in an emergency, within five working days of the start of the placement unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so. 

The notification must include:

  1. Details of the assessment of the child’s needs and the reasons why the placement is the most suitable for responding to these; and
  2. A copy of the child’s care plan (unless already provided in the case of a Placement at a Distance);
  3. A copy of the child’s risk assessment.


6. When the Placement Ends

When a child leaves the placement and moves back to South Gloucestershire, or to another local authority, the Director of Children’s Services for the authority in which they were placed must be informed.

If the child has been placed in an Independent Fostering Agency or residential placement, the Assistant Commissioning Officers will notify the Director of Children’s Services in local authority in which they were placed that the child is no longer in their area. 

If the child was placed in an in-house foster placement, or prospective adoption placement out of area, it will be the responsibility of the child’s Social Worker’s to do this.


7. Emergency Placements

In the case of a placement made in an emergency, the approval of the Corporate Parenting Manager/Director of Children’s Services is still required and s/he must be satisfied that the child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration and that the placement is the most appropriate placement available consistent with the Care Plan. Within 5 working days the IRO must be informed; relatives be consulted (where appropriate) and the area authority notified.


8. Placements in Wales

For placements in Wales, the Welsh Government has developed a protocol for notifying the local authority and the local health board when a child has been placed there from outside the area, and again when the placement ends. This protocol is attached at Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol.


Appendix 1: Suggested Information for Discussion between Authorities when Planning Distant Placements

Basic information about the child

  • Name and date of birth;
  • Legal status (subject of a care order (s.31 Children Act); voluntarily accommodated (s.20) remanded (s. 21);
  • Number of previous placements – outline reasons for child leaving earlier placements.

Plans for the child’s care

  • Details of the assessment of the child’s needs, with information about the child’s wishes and feelings, with reasons the planned placement is suitable;
  • Duration of placement (emergency/short-term/long-term/permanent). If it is not possible to assess the intended duration of placement – reasons for this and when this information will be available;
  • Arrangements for contact;
  • Details of who will be responsible for implementing plans for the child’s day to day care (the ‘placement plan’) including details of arrangements for delegating responsibilities to the child’s carer(s);
  • Details of any plans to offer the child care leaving support (as an ‘eligible child’) during the anticipated duration of the placement;
  • Contingency arrangements if the plan to support the child in the current placement does not succeed.

Services to support the child

  • Details of plans to meet the child’s educational needs – information about the school the child is expected to attend; details of plans for supporting the child if a school has not been identified;
  • Information about plans to meet the child’s health needs, e.g. whether the child requires secondary health care (including metal health and other specialist health care), including details about the CCG acting as “responsible commissioner.”
  • Details of any youth justice supervision order that would need to be overseen by youth justice services in the area authority.

Local authorities have a common interest in supporting high standards of corporate parenting for all looked-after children.

When approached for consultation about potential placements, area authorities should be able to offer a professional view about the benefits of a planned placement, the benefits of living in the neighbourhood where the placement is located and the potential for local services to respond appropriately to the needs of the child concerned.

Local authorities could also advise about other sources of information to assist social workers and commissioners in determining whether a distant out of authority placement is the most appropriate for the child concerned (e.g. the Virtual School Head or the Designated Nurse for looked-after children).


Appendix 2: Welsh Model Out of Area Notification Protocol

(This protocol was developed by the Welsh Government in conjunction with the children’s residential care sector in Wales.)

Where a child who is looked-after is placed at distance the responsible authority has a statutory duty to notify the local authority and the health care provider, in the area in which the child is to be placed, of the arrangements for placement prior to placement and no later than 10 days thereafter.

Similarly, where a child is provided with accommodation by any Local Health Board, Special Health Authority, Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Trust or by a local authority in exercise of education functions for three months or more or with the intention of the placement lasting for this time the Accommodating Authority has a duty to notify the appropriate officer of the responsible authority.

Where a child is provided with accommodation in any care home or independent hospital for three months or more or with the intention of the placement lasting for this time the residential setting has a statutory duty to notify the lead Director of Social Services in the area in which the establishment is situated.

Notification should be sent to the Director of Social Services in the local authority in which the home is situated.

Click here to access the Out of Area Notification Protocol Form for use by children’s homes in Wales*.

* This information has been reproduced from the Department for Education publication: Out of authority placement of looked-after children Supplement to The Children Act 1989 Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review guidance.

End