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3.12 Children Looked After

AMENDMENT

This chapter was slightly updated in December 2017 to reflect local practice.


Contents

  1. Child Protection Enquiry
  2. Reviews, Care Planning and Conferences
  3. Discontinuation of Child Protection Plan


1. Child Protection Enquiry

In any situation in which there is reason to suspect that a child 'looked after' is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm formal Section 47 Enquiries must be initiated and the social worker must inform the Head of Service for Children Looked After, Children's Services.

A member of the Childcare Litigation Unit should be invited if appropriate in Strategy Discussions.

See also Child Protection Plans (CPP) when the Child is also Subject of Care Proceedings Procedure.


2. Reviews, Care Planning and Conferences

When Children's Services share Parental Responsibility as a result of a court order, careful consideration should be given to the need to maintain a Child Protection Plan (doing so could indicate that the local authority had failed to appropriately exercise its Parental Responsibility).

A Child Looked After who remains the subject of a Child Protection Plan will have both CLA reviews and Child Protection Conference reviews. The CLA review should be arranged so as to follow the Child Protection Conference.

Child Care Reviews and Child Protection Conferences are separate meetings with different purposes. The plans must however be consistent with each other led by an Independent Reviewing Officer.

Please note: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 and accompanying statutory guidance 'Putting Care into Practice' will was implemented on 1st April 2011 and merged these reviews as there should be  a single plan and a single planning and reviewing process, led by the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO).

When a Child Looked After Review or other local authority planning meeting proposes any change which might significantly affect the level of risk of a child subject to a Child Protection Plan e.g. return home to parents, the decision must not be implemented until it is ratified at a statutory Child Looked After Review and the decision must not be implemented until it is considered by a Review Child Protection Conference and the Child Protection Plan is updated

If there is disagreement within the subsequent Child Protection Conference about the proposed change suggested by the CLA review, the situation must be brought to the attention of the Service Manager, Child Protection, who in consultation with the Head of Child Protection and Statutory Review Service, will decide whether or not to proceed with the change.

When a child is subject to a Child Protection Plan and is removed from accommodation by parents or child is returned to parents or carers in court proceedings, against the recommendation of the local authority, a Review Child Protection Conference must be convened to consider the risks to the child and the implications for the protection plan.

If necessary the local authority must take action to protect a child prior to a Conference. This must not be delayed until a child protection review is convened if an enquiry or assessment indicates it is required sooner.

For relevant related procedures see:


3. Discontinuation of Child Protection Plan

See also Child Protection Plans (CPP) when the Child is also Subject of Care Proceedings Procedure.

When a child looked after, or subject to a Residence Order, a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship order is no longer living in the situation which gave rise to the decision to make her/him subject of a Child Protection Plan and there is no current plan for her/him to be returned, the Child Protection Plan may be discontinued, either

  1. By means of a Review Child Protection Conference decision; or
  2. Following written consultation by the social work team with the conference chair and all of the participants who were invited to the initial child protection conference and the most recent child protection conference, and only in the event that none of these express any concern or objection, the Service Manager for Child Protection and the Service Manager Independent Review Team may together agree to discontinue a Child Protection Plan without the need to convene a Child Protection Conference. The Service Manager for Child Protection will record the decision on the child’s case record, notify the decision to those consulted and amend the LCS child protection plan status.

In these circumstances the CLA care plan must include any elements of the Child Protection Plan that remain valid.

Should the care plan subsequently include returning the child looked after to the situation that previously resulted in a decision to make her/him subject of a protection plan, a Child Protection Conference must be held first to consider if a Child Protection Plan is required.

If the child is already subject to a Child Protection Plan and Care Proceedings but there is no Order in place, the Child Protection Plan will not generally be ceased, either by post or at Conference, until the proceedings have ended and a permanent plan has been agreed. Any exception to this situation will need authorisation by the relevant Service Manager.

End