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3.2.1 Emergency Placements

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to all emergency placements of Looked After children. The term ‘emergency placement’ as defined below does not include the immediate placement of Looked After children with Connected Persons. For the procedure relating to these placements, see Immediate Placements with Connected Persons (under Regulation 24 of the Care Planning, Placement and case review (England) regulations 2010) and their Approval as Foster Carers Procedure.


Contents

  1. Definition of Emergency Placement
  2. Placement During Normal Working Hours 
  3. Placement Outside Normal Working Hours 


1. Definition of Emergency Placement

An Emergency Placement is the placement of a Looked After Child in foster care or residential care (including secure accommodation) made without the usual planning and/or thorough assessment process having taken place because of the need to ensure the safety and the welfare of the child immediately.

The following placements are deemed to be Emergency Placements:

  • The placement of a child outside normal working hours, e.g. an unaccompanied asylum seeking minor newly arrived at Heathrow;
  • Any placement where the necessary plans are not in place, i.e. where a child is abandoned, has suffered/is at risk of Significant Harm, or where there is an exceptional and immediate need to end an existing placement;
  • A placement in secure accommodation without a Court Order but authorised by a Designated Manager (Secure Accommodation) for a maximum of 72 hours.


2. Placement During Normal Working Hours

2.1 Identification of the Placement

Where an emergency placement is required, the social worker must contact the Placement Team, who will check the availability of in-house placements and advise the social worker of available placements. The social worker will then liaise with the relevant supervising social worker/residential manager to identify an appropriate internal resource. 

Where an in-house foster placement is sought, the supervising social worker for the foster carers or, in his or her absence a duty social worker in the Fostering Team, will consult with the carers in relation to the proposed placement, as time permits, to ensure the identified placement is appropriate to meet the child’s needs. The child’s social worker should also contact the prospective carers to confirm they can meet the child’s needs and agree the arrangements for the child’s placement.

In the case of an in-house foster placement, the Fostering Team must arrange any necessary support to the placement e.g. equipment or emergency payments.

Where a proposed placement in foster care requires the grant of an exemption from the usual fostering limit or extension to the foster carer's approval, theExemptions and Extensions/Variations to Foster Carer Approval Procedure will apply. 

2.2 The Placement

In all cases, the social worker must complete so far as possible a Placement Plan, providing as much information as possible given the circumstances, and hand these documents to the residential staff/carer before or at the time the child is placed. 

The exception to this is in relation to children newly arrived at Heathrow.

The child’s social worker will then complete the Placement Procedures as set out in the relevant chapter for Planned Placements.

Although a meeting with the provider/carers to plan the placement will not be possible prior to the placement, this must take place within 72 hours (for residential placements) and within 5 days (for foster placements). 

If the emergency planning meeting determines that the child is incorrectly placed then a further referral to the Placement Team must be made to move the child to a more suitable placement as soon as possible.


3. Placement Outside Normal Working Hours

  1. When a placement appears appropriate, the Emergency Duty Officer will identify a suitable placement using the list of available emergency placements known to the Team; they must also contact the ‘on call’ Service Manager for authority to accommodate the child;
  2. The Emergency Duty staff should liaise as necessary with the provider/carers, seeking their view on the suitability of the placement.

    Where there is a significant difference of opinion, the ‘on call’ Service Manager should be consulted;

  3. When a decision is reached, the Emergency Duty Officer should liaise with the provider/carers to agree the time and other suitable arrangements for the child’s placement;
  4. Before a child is placed, the Emergency Duty Officer must ensure that a Placement Plan is completed as far as possible, depending on the information available, and hand copies to the provider/carers. The exception to this is in relation to children newly arrived at Heathrow;
  5. The Emergency Duty Officer should if possible arrange an emergency Health Assessment of the child;
  6. Having placed the child, the Emergency Duty Officer must pass the Placement Plan to the relevant social work team without delay. Copies should be faxed to the social work office and the Placement Team by the beginning of the next working day;
  7. If the child is placed at beginning of a holiday period, e.g. Christmas Eve, the Emergency Duty Officer placing the child will arrange for the child to be visited at least once during the holiday period by the Emergency Duty Team to ensure the child’s needs are being attended to and the provider/carers have all they require to meet the child’s needs until the relevant social worker can follow the placement up.

As soon as notification is received in the relevant social work team, the child’s social worker must complete the placement procedure as set out in the relevant chapter for Planned Placements.

Although a meeting with the provider/carers to plan the placement will not be possible prior to the placement, this must take place within 72 hours (for residential placements) and within 5 working days (for foster placements).

If the emergency planning meeting determines that the child is incorrectly placed then a referral to the Placement Team must be made by the child's social worker to move the child to a more suitable placement as soon as possible.

End