SCIE/NICE recommendations on looked after children: Promoting the quality of life of looked-after children and young people
Care planning, placements and case review
Evidence indicates that effective care planning, led by social workers, promotes permanence and reduces the need for emergency placements and placement changes. Good care planning supports the quality of the relationship between the child or young person and carer by minimising disruption, increasing attachment and providing greater placement stability, which also helps promote a stable education.
Recommendation 5 Implement care planning, placement and case review regulations and guidance
Who should take action?
- Directors of children’s services.
What action should they take? Open
- Ensure all social workers and independent reviewing officers (IROs) refer to and implement the ‘Care planning, placement and case review (England) regulations’(7) and ‘Putting care into practice: statutory guidance on care planning, placement and case review for looked after children’(8). These documents set out the statutory duties of children’s services, which include ensuring that social workers carry out their pivotal role of ‘local corporate parent’ with overall responsibility for the coordination and implementation of the care plan and healthcare plan (also see recommendations 26–34).
- Ensure the social worker’s role is supported by:
- regular high-quality supervision with a particular focus on the management of the care plan and corrective action to ensure that interventions are acted on as agreed preventing ‘drift’ in the care system
- continuing professional development for social workers to better understand and manage the role of a local corporate parent.
- Implement in full the strengthened function of the independent reviewing officer as outlined in ‘Putting care into practice: statutory guidance on care planning, placement and case review for looked after children’(8) and the ’IRO handbook’(9).
- Ensure the expanded and strengthened role of independent reviewing officers (see recommendation 52 on IRO training) is supported by high-quality supervision.
- Ensure that prompt and decisive action is taken when planning permanence for very young children and babies who come into care (see also recommendations 16–19), to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of the child. For example, where there is any uncertainty concerning NICE public health guidance 28 reunification with birth parents, ‘twin tracking’ should be in place to ensure other permanence arrangements are available.
- When deciding whether rehabilitation with birth parents is a possibility especially for young children or babies, give particular attention to the reasons why any siblings have been placed in care or been adopted. This is to gather evidence on the willingness and ability of parents to change and sustain their behaviour after concerns were raised about this particular child.
- Ensure the voice of the child or young person is heard at every stage in the care planning process, with particular concern for the choice, quality and continuity of the placement (also see recommendations about diversity 26–34 and personal quality of life recommendations 24 and 25).
- Department for Children Schools and Families (2010) Care planning, placement and case review (England) regulations. London: Department for Children Schools and Families. (Comes into force 1 April 2011) www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2010/959/contents/made
- Department for Children, Schools and Families (2009) Putting care into practice: statutory guidance on care planning, placement and case review for looked after children. London: Department for Children Schools and Families.
- Department for Children, Schools and Families (2010) IRO handbook: statutory guidance for independent reviewing officers and local authorities on their functions in relation to case management and review for looked after children. London: Department for Children Schools and Families.