Amendments

January 2019

Updated Chapters
Chapter Name Details
Children's Services Policies, Values and Principles A new Section 4, Corporate Parenting has been added in response to the DfE, Applying Corporate Parenting Principles to Looked-after Children and Care Leavers - Statutory Guidance (Feb 2018). It includes the seven corporate parenting principles set out in the guidance.
Consultation Policy This chapter has been reviewed and adjusted.
Family Group Conferences This chapter has been significantly adjusted to reflect that more extensive use of Family Group Conferences (FGCs) is intended; families will be offered the chance to make plans for their children through a Family Group Conference whenever a significant decision has to be made, (including children who have been Section 20 accommodated). A table highlights the respective roles of all (potential) contributors (including the family) (see Merton's Priority Groups). A further table identifies the social work role (see Role of the Social Worker).
Children in Need Plans and Reviews This chapter has been updated by adding a new Section 4, Children in Need Moving to Another Authority - Principles. Information and communication is important between the respective local authorities to ensure appropriate services continue for the child and family and, where relevant, any risk of harm is recognised and identified with the receiving local authority. It should be noted that the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child lies with the local authority where the child is to be found.
Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline This chapter has been updated to provide some emphasis on parents who lack capacity and added links to the President of the Family Division, Family Proceedings: Parents with a Learning Disability note, and a relevant link to working with parents who have a learning disability (see Section 2.1, Principles) and Practice Direction 3AA - Vulnerable Persons: Participation in Proceedings and Giving Evidence (see Case management in Section 4, Documentation).
An Experts Bundle has been added to provide details and curriculum vitae of expert witnesses (see Section 8, Use of Experts).
In addition, Appendix 1: Letter Before Pre-Proceedings and Appendix 2: Issuing Proceedings Letter have been updated.
Legal Planning Meetings

This chapter has been significantly updated to provide more specific guidance around this key process, including:

  • Convening Legal Planning Meetings;
  • Outcomes of Legal Planning Meetings and Issuing of Proceedings.
Links are made to the manual's Documents Library for additional detail and information. Please fully re-reference.
Death or Serious Injury to a Child (Including Looked After and Child in Need) This chapter has been updated throughout in line with Working Together to Safeguard Children. From 29 June 2018, local authorities in England must notify the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel within 5 working days of becoming aware of a serious incident (see Section 1, Death of or Serious Injury of a Child in the Community).
Notifications from Other Local Authorities This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department.
Notifications of Significant Events This chapter has been amended to reflect that from 29 June 2018, local authorities in England must notify the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel within 5 working days of becoming aware of a serious incident.
Confidentiality Policy This guidance has been reviewed and updated following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018. Note: managers must ensure staff undertake the mandatory information security training annually and ensure that staff they supervise are fully aware of the contents of this policy and that this is recorded in their supervisory records.
Case Recording Practitioner Guidance This chapter has been reviewed and updated following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 (see Guidance on the Documents that should be Shared with Children and their Families).
Joint Protocol for the Assessment of Housing and Support Needs of Homeless 16 and 17 Year Olds This chapter has been updated to provide a link to GOV.UK - Homelessness: duty to refer (guidance including referral details, etc.). The Homeless Reduction Act (2017) places a duty on specified public authorities to refer service users who they think may be homeless or threatened with homelessness to local authority homelessness/housing options teams. Please reference.
Children Missing from Home and Care Policy This policy has been reviewed and updated.
Care Planning for Looked After Children This chapter has been amended throughout to provide additional information in line with recent case-law and a High Court hearing judgement - see Section 4, Section 20 Accommodation, Section 5, Obtaining Parental Consent and Section 7, Use of Section 20 Prior to Care Proceedings.
Placement Planning Meetings This chapter has been reviewed and amended throughout. Particularly to note that if following concerns with the Team Manager, there are any concerns about the suitability of the placement, consideration should be given to providing additional support to the placement; bringing forward the date of the next Looked After Review and approaching ART to consider alternative placement. (The IRO must be notified of any consideration to changes of the Care Plan).
Disruption Meetings This chapter has been reviewed and amended Highlighting further the rationale of Disruption Meetings (see Section 2, Purpose of the Disruption Meeting) and acknowledges those who might need to attend (see Section 3, Chairing and Convening the Disruption Meeting).
Placements with Parents

Section 1.2, Assessment and Checks before Placement has been updated to include examination of the circumstances of the child becoming subject of a Care Order and identifying what has changed within the home environment. Also, to acknowledge that placing should ensure therapy has been undertaken, or will be undertaken as part of the package of support, where required (see Section 1.2, Assessment and Checks before Placement).

A note has also been added to the Scope Box, to note that these procedures do not apply where the child is subject to an Interim Care Order and the placement is made under section 38(6) Children Act 1989 for the purposes of assessment. (The placement is not subject to the Care Planning, Placement and Review Regulations 2010).
Placements Outside England and Wales This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the role of the Director as the Decision maker in this process.
Social Worker Visits to Looked After Children Section 2, Exceptions has been revised to set out more clearly the circumstances where visiting requirements differ from those set out in Section 1, Normal Frequency. A new Section 6, Consequences of Visits has been added to acknowledge that where there is concern over a placement meeting the needs of a child, the local authority must review the care plan in line with Regulation 30 (2010 Regulations).
Looked After Reviews Section 9, The Role of the Looked After Review in Achieving Permanence for the Child has been amended to reflect the outcome of a High Court Judgement in respect of children who were subject to Section 20 and where there were concerns of significant delays in their planning for permanence. The court noted the IROs' recognition and action over a number of reviews but acknowledged that a more robust response had been needed.
Contact with Parents and Siblings Supervised Contact has been updated to take account of the use of mobile communication with regards to contact and that due consideration should be given to this (see Section 1, Approving and Planning Contact).
LAC Health Care Assessments and Plans A new Section 3.5, Consent to Health Care Assessments has been added. This distinguishes between key issues such as age of the child and competency. An updated Appendix 1: LAC Flowchart: Merton Initial Health Assessments has also been added. Please reference.
Personal Care and Relationships This chapter has been reviewed with a minor amendment made to specify the range of IT equipment requiring monitoring in placement (see Section 5, Pornography).
Leaving Care This chapter has been fully updated:
  • To add clarification in relation to Qualifying Young People (see Definitions);
  • To reflect the Children and Social Work Act 2017;
  • To acknowledge the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018.
The role of the Personal Advisor (which has been extended) has been significantly updated and includes a new Section 5.1, Keeping in Touch on the expectations of 'Keeping in Touch'.
Reunification for Children Accommodated Under Section 20 (1989 Act) This chapter has been amended to reflect the Department's current structure and processes and to note the Nominated Officers role and responsibilities (see Section 3, Assessment and Planning).
Adoption, Fostering and Permanence Panel This guidance has been reviewed and updated following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018.
Placement for Adoption This chapter has been updated to amend Child's Adoption Medical in line with current Merton procedure and to acknowledge the role and the expectations of the medical practitioner undertaking the assessment (which must be a medical/adviser/paediatrician).
Placing Relinquished Babies and Children for Adoption Section 1.1, Consent and Competency has been added to reflect additional information on parental capacity to consent, in line with High Court case-law.
Adoption Case Records Section 3, Security, Retention and Sharing of Records has been updated in line with Adoption and Care Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2018, which provides that an adoption agency may disclose an adoption case record to another adoption agency for purposes related to either agency's functions as an adoption agency. Further information has been added in relation to adoption records where an Adoption Order is not made. Please reference.
New Chapters and Features
Chapter Name Details
Merton Threshold Documents / Indicators This link has been added to the manual.
Removed Chapters
  • Merton Well Being Model;
  • Early Help Guide for Practitioners;
  • Children Subject to Child Protection Plans Who Become Looked After Children - Process Flowchart;
  • Merton Guidance on Adoption Allowances and Support;
  • Guidance on Special Guardianship Allowances and Support;
  • Guidance on Child Arrangements and Allowances and Support;
  • Guidance on Overpayment of Adoption/Special Guardianship and Child Arrangements Order Allowances;
  • Merton's Practice Standards;
  • Observation of Practice Model Guidance;
  • Social Worker Supervision: Information and Guidance;
  • Education Health and Care Assessment Framework;
  • Direct Payments;
  • Short Breaks;
  • Transport for Students with a Special Educational Need or Disability;
  • Teenage Pregnancy;
  • Substance Misuse;
  • Mental Health and Self Harm;
  • Physical Contact and Physical Intervention in the Management of Children and Young People;
  • The Outdoor Education Handbook: 'There and Back Again';
  • Public Law Outline Guidance for Practitioners;
  • Residential Placements Contracts Monitoring;
  • Children's Quality and Practice Development: Dispute Resolution Protocol;
  • London Borough of Merton Guidance on Pocket Money and Savings;
  • Questions to be Considered when Making Decisions about Newborn Babies and Infant Contact;
  • Financial Arrangements for Care Leavers;
  • Foster Carers' Charter;
  • Child Appreciation Days;
  • Fostering Payment Scheme.
Next Update: July 2019

May 2018

Updated Chapters
Chapter Name Details
Transport for Students with a Special Educational Need or Disability

A link to 'Child car seats: the law' has been added in the Relevant Guidance. The rules have changed around booster seats and babies who now need to stay in rear facing seats until 15 months. (There has been a change to the technical standards of booster seats and cushions for manufacturers but this does not affect existing models of booster seats and cushions).

Please reference as required.
Children Missing from Home and Care Policy This key chapter provided under the auspices of the Merton Safeguarding Children Board has been updated. Please re-reference.
Trafficked and Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 has been referenced in relation to age assessments: Section 2.3, Children Who Are Age Disputed and Age Assessments has been updated with regards to undertaking an age assessment for an unaccompanied asylum seeking child - local authorities must seek Home Office assistance with verifying the authenticity of identity documents e.g. travel documents or a birth certificate. A link to the relevant contact details for local authorities has been added.

The statutory guidance has been updated to link to the 'DfE 2017 Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery - statutory guidance for local authorities'.
Policy and Practice Guidance in Respect of No Recourse to Public Funds Cases This chapter has been updated to add a link to 'NRPF Securing British Citizenship for looked after children (2017)'. This reflects the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens. 'The Local Government Ombudsman has recently criticised a local authority for not ensuring a child in its care received specialist legal advice and assistance to sort out the child's right to British citizenship. Having British citizenship has a profound impact on a child's future and identity. Yet failing to secure a child's citizenship can lead to that right to citizenship being lost altogether'. Please reference.
Joint Protocol for the Assessment of Housing and Support Needs of Homeless 16 and 17 Year Olds This chapter has been updated to provide a link to the current Guidance 'Prevention of homelessness and provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year old young people who may be homeless and/or require accommodation - Guidance to children's services authorities and local housing authorities about their duties under Part 3 of the Children Act 1989 and Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 to secure or provide accommodation for homeless 16 and 17 year old young people (Min. of Housing, Communities and Local Govt. / DfE, April 2018)'. This guidance identifies the respective roles of Children's and Housing services and emphasises joint working and strategic planning. An Annex identifies 'Factors to be considered by children's services when assessing 16-17 year olds who may be children in need'. Please re-reference.
Care Planning for Looked After Children This chapter has been amended throughout to reflect the outcome of an Appeal Court hearing (2017) with respect to 'consent'. The court recognised that the term 'consent' itself was not used in Section 20. However, it described previous court observations as 'good practice guidance', emphasising its judgment should not alter the content or effect of these (see Section 5, Obtaining Parental Consent). Additionally, the update includes recognizing the importance of ensuring the child's status is recorded on the information management system, (see Section 3, Other Ways of Becoming Looked After) and consent (see Section 4, Section 20 Accommodation).
Looked After Reviews This chapter has been amended to fully reflect the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review with respect to the circumstances as to when a Looked After Review should be brought forward. The list is not exhaustive (see Section 2, Frequency of Looked After Reviews).
Education of Looked After Children

This chapter has been reviewed and updated to add a section on Young People Remanded to Youth Detention Accommodation. The Personal Education Plan has been fully revised, and a number of additions to the content of other sections:

  • Who Do we Work With - includes Schools, Early Years Settings, Academies, Pupil Referral Units and Alternative Education Providers. The Virtual School also supports young people at college and university;
  • The Personal Education Care Plan (PEP) - The Personal Education Plan should be initiated as part of the Care Planning process before a child becomes Looked After and no later than 10 working days after a child comes into care. In the case of an emergency placement, the PEP should be made available for the child's Looked After Review;
  • The First Personal Education Plan - Where a child has a fixed term exclusion from school, the Head Teacher (or other senior school representative) should also be invited to the meeting. The PEP cannot proceed if there is no representation from the school where the child or young person is on-roll;
  • When a Child is Absent from School - Where attendance falls below the 90% threshold, the Looked After Child is identified and tracked through the LAC Concern Process and an attendance plan developed if necessary.
LAC Health Care Assessments and Plans This chapter has been updated to add 'NICE (NG 26), Children's attachment: attachment in children and young people who are adopted from care, in care or at high risk of going into care (2015)', (see Relevant Guidance above). This guideline covers the identification, assessment and treatment of attachment difficulties in children and young people up to age 18 who are adopted from care, in special guardianship, looked after by local authorities in foster homes (including kinship foster care), residential settings and other accommodation, or on the edge of care. It aims to address the many emotional and psychological needs of children and young people in these situations, including those resulting from maltreatment. Please reference as required.
Responsibilities of the Local Authority to Former Looked After Children and Young People in Custody This chapter has been updated to reflect changes to the 'Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)' which defines "arrested juvenile" for the purpose of Part 4 of that Act and the statutory guidance for local authorities on children who lose their looked-after status when remanded or sentenced to custody. Please re-reference.
Staying Put Policy

This chapter has been reviewed and comprehensively amended to reflect the 'Children and Social Work Act 2017' and update the financial entitlements of the young person and staying put carer as well as current Departmental terminology. In particular, please re-reference sections:

  • 'Where No Foster Children Are Living in the Staying Put Arrangement' (in Section 4, Legal Status and Safeguarding);
  • Section 5, Financial Arrangements.
Assessments and Approvals of Foster Carers Section 9, After the Adoption, Fostering and Permanence Panel Recommendation has been updated to clarify the decision as to the suitability of the applicant must be made within 7 working days of receipt of the panel's recommendation and final set of panel minutes see - 'The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 4 (5:39) and Standard 14 (14.9) Fostering panels and the fostering service's decision-maker'. Please re-reference.
Placement for Adoption This chapter has been updated to add a link to research in practice, Contact after adoption. This seeks to provide practical resources that bring together knowledge from research and practice to support professionals to be reflective and explore their own assumptions, attitudes and values when developing contact plans.
Inter Country Adoption This chapter has been updated to add links to the DfE Intercountry adoption and resident status requirements and Adoption Support Fund. Please reference as required.
Supervision Policy and Procedure for Registered Social Workers Employed by London Borough of Merton This chapter has been comprehensively updated throughout and includes new sections on What is Supervision - Definition, Context and Theoretical Framework; Supervision definitions; Supervision agreement; addressing equalities and diversity in supervision; Group Supervision and Resolving Difficulties. The chapter also contains a range of templates and tools in the Appendices, including Supervision Agreement; Case Supervision template and Observation templates. Please re-reference.
New Chapters and Features
Chapter Name Details
Procedure for Transition of Young People with Disabilities from Children's to Adults Services in Merton The chapter recognises that moving to adulthood is challenging for all young people and that 'It is never too early to think about transition and the aspirations of young people should be at the heart of all planning'; transition is a continuous. process. The chapter has sections on Transition Planning and Assessments, Safeguarding and Mental Capacity and Quality Assurance and contains Appendices on Roles and Responsibilities, Financial Assessment, etc.
Fostering Payment Scheme This Policy sets out the payment framework for foster carers and connected persons in line with Merton's Special Guardianship Policy, Adoption and Child Arrangement Payment Schemes. Please reference.

January 2018

Updated Chapters
Chapter Name Details
Life Story Work This chapter has been updated to acknowledge that all children with a plan for adoption must have a Life Story Book, (Children and Families Act 2014) (see Section 1, What is a Life Story Work Book?).

November 2017

Updated Chapters
Chapter Name Details
Social Care Children with Disabilities Team This chapter describes the role of the Children With Disabilities Team and includes criteria for its services and its roles with other Children's Social Care Teams including the transfer of case responsibility arrangements. This chapter has been added to the manual and replaces a similar previous chapter. Please re-reference.
Private Fostering This chapter has been amended to add clarity to the definition of private fostering with regards to the legislation and children under 16 who spend more than 2 weeks in residence during holiday time in a school and to ensure the chapter reflects the Children's Social Care line-management structure.
Merton Safeguarding Children Board: Guidance for Working with Children and Young People who are Vulnerable to the Messages of Radicalisation and Extremism This chapter has been updated - linking to the Merton LSCB. Please re-reference.
Mental Health and Self Harm This chapter has been reviewed and updated to add a new section and link to the Merton Safeguarding Children Board Self-Harm Protocol. Please re-reference.
Merton Safeguarding Children Board: Online Safety Strategy - Supporting Merton's Young People to Stay Safe Online The Merton Online and e-safety chapter has been comprehensively updated and re-drafted. Please re-reference.
Death or Serious Injury to a Child (Including Looked After and Child in Need) This chapter has been updated in line with the requirement to notify Ofsted of any serious childcare incident using the Ofsted Notification Form for Serious Childcare Incidents. Please re-reference if required.
Care Planning for Looked After Children This chapter has been amended to reflect the outcome of an Appeal Court hearing (2017) with respect to 'consent'. The court recognised that the term 'consent' itself was not used in Section 20. However, it described previous court observations as 'good practice guidance', emphasising its judgment should not alter the content or effect of these (see Section 5.1, Duty to Provide Section 20 Accommodation when Consent Cannot be Obtained).
Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation This chapter has been reviewed and updated to amend Appendix 2: YOT and Children's Social Care Practitioner Responsibility Flowchart - Remand and ensure that the processes reflect the current structure. Also to note that a post-release meeting will be held within 5 working days after the young person has been released. This meeting will also occur for any unexpected release from remand to YDA, (see Section 6, Care Planning for People on Remand).
Placement with Connected Persons Foster Carers Section 3, Approval of Immediate Placements of Looked After Children with Connected Persons has been updated to include matters that should be considered when placing a child with a Connected Person should include an initial risk assessment of any pets, together with the environment in which the pet is kept.
Placements with Parents Section 1.2, Assessment and Checks before Placement has been updated to reflect that the DBS has no eligibility for a standard or enhanced check for birth parents or other adults living in the household. However, the Local Authority has a requirement under the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England Regulations) 2010 to obtain information about unspent convictions and cautions before placing a child back with parents, and so other avenues can be explored. Additionally, Section 1.2, Assessment and Checks before Placement has also been updated to include consideration should be given as to whether the home environment is safe for the child including where relevant, the need for a risk assessment of any pets and the environment in which they are kept.
Dispute Resolution Process for Independent Reviewing Officers This chapter has been amended and now links to the Dispute Resolution Protocol for consistency, whilst retaining the key principles and legal issues for Iron.
Children's Quality and Practice Development: Dispute Resolution Protocol This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current protocol which has been comprehensively revised and simplified into a four stage process. The chapter now also reflects the Department's and Council's structure in terms of roles and responsibilities.
Change of Name of a Looked After Child This chapter has been extensively updated following a review of the information, in order to focus on the key issues around a Looked After Child changing their name.
Supervision and Support of Foster Carers Section 5, Support Provided by the Supervising Social Worker (During Placement) has been updated to reflect the Safer Caring Plan: any changes in household circumstances along with any health and safety issues including the addition of any new pets and the environment in which they are kept should be reviewed as required.
Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Section 5.3, Assessments has been updated to include that where the applicants have pets, a risk assessment should be conducted and any associated risks should be taken into account with regard to the pet itself and where the pet is kept. Where necessary, an independent assessment should be undertaken by a vet to establish whether the dog falls within the scope of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Note also Links to First4Adoption and Adoption Match replace the National Gateway and National Register.
Scheme of Delegation This chapter has been updated.
New Chapters and Features
Chapter Name Details
Merton Well Being Model This is a new document that visually describes through four colours the threshold for levels of service, from a 'Prevention Response' through to 'Acute or Intensive Response'. Please reference.
Joint Working Protocol for Youth Justice and Other Teams in Children's Social Care The purpose of this protocol is to clarify the working arrangements between the Youth Justice Team (YJT), (who act as the local Youth Offending Team), and other teams in the Children's Social Care & Youth Inclusion. The purpose is to deliver effective and efficient services through partnership to help prevent the likelihood of reoffending; to manage child protection issues and to promote safeguarding, and ensure a consistent approach to individual young people. The chapter contains Appendices which include useful flowcharts and the 'Children Missing from Education Reporting Form'. Please reference.
Harmful Sexual Behaviour Protocol This chapter links to the Merton LSCB chapter and has been undertaken with the help of some pupils at Raynes Park High School. It includes a definition of harmful sexual behaviour; a continuum of children and young people's sexual behaviours; responses to harmful sexual behaviour; an idea of shared categories of harm/exploitation and a helpful flowchart.
The chapter comprehensively updates a previous chapter dealing with these issues and has been re-titled. Please re-reference.
Holidays and School Trips In and Outside the UK This procedure applies to day trips and holidays within and outside the UK for all Looked After Children. Please reference.

May 2017

Updated Chapters
Chapter Name Details
Single Assessment Guidance This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the terminology of Merton's electronic recording system.
Children's Disability Service This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Family and Friends Care Policy This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the decision-making and responsible leads for this policy. Temporary approval of a placement with a Connected and family and Friends placement is made by the Assistant Director, Children's Social Care and Youth Inclusion.
Private Fostering This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making. In addition, the notification of a Private Fostering placement is now initially screened by the MASH, before the being authorised by the appropriate team (see Vulnerable Children's Team Private Fostering Referral Process). The chapter also contains a link to Merton's Private Fostering Statement of Purpose.
Policy and Practice Guidance in Respect of No Recourse to Public Funds Cases This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the terminology of Merton's electronic recording system.
Joint Protocol for the Assessment of Housing and Support Needs of Homeless 16 and 17 Year Olds This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Teenage Pregnancy

This chapter has been significantly updated throughout to add two new sections, Parenthood (Mothers aged under 16) and Parenthood (Mothers aged over 16), as well as links to: 'London Borough of Merton Referral Pathway for Pregnant Teenagers and Teenage Parents Aged 19 and Under'; 'Supporting Pregnant Teenagers and Young Parents in Education - Guidance for Education Settings' and 'Getting It On' (see Relevant Links).

The NICE, Clinical Guidance, 'Post natal care up to 8 weeks after birth (January 2017)' has been updated and now reflects the updated guidance and provides recommendations on: care planning and delivery; maternal health; infant feeding and maintaining infant health. Please re-reference.
Mental Health and Self Harm This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making. A link has also been added to 'DfE, Mental health and behaviour in schools - Departmental advice for school staff, (2016)'. (See Related Guidance).
Death or Serious Injury to a Child (Including Looked After and Child in Need) This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making. Please re-reference.
Care Planning for Looked After Children This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making. Please re-reference.
Public Law Outline Guidance for Practitioners This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making. Please re-reference.
Permanence Planning Guidance This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making. Please re-reference.
Legal Planning Meetings This chapter has been updated by adding a link to the Legal Planning Meeting Referral Form (see Appendix 1: Legal Planning Meeting Referral). Note - the Referral Form is directly available in the Documents Library.
Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making. Please re-reference.
Disruption Meetings This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making. Please re-reference.
Placements in Foster Care This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the organisational structure of the Department and revised process in identifying placements through the Access to Resources Team. Please re-reference.
Placements in Residential Care This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Out of Area Placements This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making and includes guidance relating to Senior Management approval when requesting an Out of Borough placement. (See Related Guidance).
Placement with Connected Persons Foster Carers This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the terminology of Merton's electronic recording system.
Secure Accommodation: Policy and Practice Guidance This chapter has been amended to add a note in respect of Secure Accommodation - Placements in Scotland: Schedule 1, Children and Social Work Act 2017, with immediate effect, now enables local authorities to make placements in Secure accommodation under Sect 25 (Children Act 1989) (see Section 1, Overview).
Placements with Parents This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department and to reflect the updated terminology of Merton's electronic recording system.
Placements Outside England and Wales This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department and to reflect the updated terminology of Merton's electronic recording system.
Notifications from Other Local Authorities This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department and to reflect the updated terminology of Merton's electronic recording system.
Social Worker Visits to Looked After Children This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department and to reflect the updated terminology of Merton's electronic recording system.
Advocacy and Independent Visitors This chapter has been reviewed and updated throughout to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Looked After Reviews This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department and to reflect the updated terminology of Merton's electronic recording system.
Appointment and Role of Independent Reviewing Officers This chapter has been updated in relation to the role of the Independent Reviewing Officer in line with the 'Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015)'. In particular, the IRO being sensitive to the close and active involvement of parents of a child looked after in a series of Short Breaks and problem-solving where there might be difficulties or issues. In addition, the role and responsibilities of the IRO have been revised and re-drafted, (see 'Role of the IRO in Relation to Children Subject to Care Proceedings'). Please re-reference.
Dispute Resolution Protocol This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department and to reflect the updated terminology of Merton's electronic recording system.
Secure Accommodation (Criteria) Reviews This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Education of Looked After Children This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the terminology of Merton's electronic recording system.
LAC Health Care Assessments and Plans This chapter has been reviewed and updated to update and provide enhanced information on the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) - including guidance on the 4-band categorisation and completing the SDQ (see Section 4.1, Strength and Difficulty Questionnaires). The amendments also reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department and the updated terminology for Merton's electronic recording system.
London Borough of Merton Guidance on Pocket Money and Savings Please note the Special guardianship guidance now links to the updated January 2017 version. Please also note that the maximum amount that can be paid into a Junior ISA is £4128 per annum.
Personal Care and Relationships Section 8, Sexual Exploitation has been updated to add the change of definition in 'DfE, Child Sexual Exploitation: Definition and Guide for Practitioners (February 2017)'. This guidance is non-statutory, and has been produced to help practitioners to identify child sexual exploitation and take appropriate action in response and includes advice on the management, disruption and prosecution of perpetrators.
Contact with Parents and Siblings This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Financial Arrangements for Care Leavers This chapter details the relevant allowances. Please re-reference.
Marriage of a Looked After Child This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Foster Carers' Charter The Charter between Merton Council and its foster carers has been refreshed. Please re-reference as required.
Merton Standards of Care Procedures This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Persons Disqualified from Fostering This chapter has been reviewed and updated and identifies the Assistant Director as the key senior manager and decision-maker with regard to persons identified as disqualified from fostering.
Assessments and Approvals of Foster Carers This chapter has been updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department and to reflect the updated terminology for Merton's electronic recording system.
Exemptions and Extensions/Variations to Foster Carer Approval This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Review and Termination of Foster Carers This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Allegations Against Foster Carers This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Adoption, Fostering and Permanence Panel This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Placement Requests: Access to Resources Making LAC Placements with ART This chapter has been updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department and to reflect the updated terminology for Merton's electronic recording system. There is emphasis also that where children are placed in residential care, the relevant documentation has been received from the provider before the placement is made (see Residential Care Options).
Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Adoption Support This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Allegations Against Prospective Adopters and in Relation to Children Placed for Adoption or Already Adopted This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Special Guardianship Orders Please note the Special guardianship statutory guidance now links to the updated January 2017 version.
Court Reports in Adoption, Placement and Special Guardianship Order Applications: Guidance This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Placing Relinquished Babies and Children for Adoption This chapter has been amended to reflect that consideration must be given to a Fostering to Adopt placement by the Access to Resource Team when considering placements, (see Actions for Allocated Social Worker), and the outcome of discussions with any family members must be put on the child's record, (see section Prior to Birth).
Case File Transfer Protocol This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department and to reflect the updated terminology for Merton's electronic recording system.
Case Recording Practitioner Guidance This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department and to reflect the updated terminology for Merton's electronic recording system, etc.
Access to Records This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the terminology for Merton's electronic recording system.
Access to Birth Records and Adoption Case Records This chapter has been reviewed and amended to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.
Confidentiality Policy This chapter has been reviewed and updated to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department and to reflect the updated terminology for Merton's electronic recording system, etc.
Scheme of Delegation This chapter has been updated to reflect the current organisational structure. Please re-reference.
New Chapters and Features
Chapter Name Details
Merton Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) A link has been added to the Merton Intranet. Please reference.
Children Subject to Child Protection Plans Who Become Looked After Children - Process Flowchart This short flow chart describes key processes and tasks for children who are subject to Child Protection Plans who then become Looked After - therefore having two Plans.
Transport for Students with a Special Educational Need or Disability This chapter describes transport policies and practice for children with special educational needs and disabilities in Merton and contains links to two documents for pupils of statutory school age and those over school age. The documents highlight: key principles; the legal duties of the Local Authority; eligibility criteria; how the travel assistance will be provided, and, in respect of pupils over 16 years, grants and allowances together with 'Independent Travel Training' that may be available. Please read.
Substance Misuse This short chapter highlights Merton Council's commitment to supporting families, children and young people to prevent and manage risk in relation to drug and alcohol use. It identifies the considerable additional risks - particularly for young people - provides a number of relevant links together with some alternative strategies to the 'scare tactics' which are the least helpful way of changing hearts and minds.
Residential Placements Contracts Monitoring This chapter describes the responsibilities of the Access to Resource team functions to ensure contract compliance and that the placement is meeting the needs of each child. The chapter highlights the methods by which the monitoring of the placement is undertaken - which is also an integral role of the child's social worker, particularly around safeguarding and meeting the child's needs.
Procedure Regarding Reviews for Children Looked After (CLA) and Schedule of Social Work Visits This chapter reflects the DfE's guidance in Permanence, long term placements and ceasing to look after a child - 'Statutory guidance for local authorities, (March 2015)', which is now part of the 'DfE, The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015)'. The guidance recognises that where children are in agreed long-term placements to their 18th birthday, there should be a sensitivity to them being treated 'like every other child', with a less intrusive style of monitoring by social care. This chapter seeks to provide a framework for practitioners to achieve this safely, whilst continuing to offer children/young people, and their placements, appropriate levels of support.
Updated Terminology

Keyword:

Child Sexual Exploitation
Please note new keyword and reference as required. Please reference.
Removed Chapters
  • Young People's Participation, Reward and Recognition;
  • Initial Contacts and Referrals;
  • MASH Management Polices and Procedure.

November 2016

Updated Chapters
Chapter Name Details
Early Help Guide for Practitioners This updated guide seeks to identify what early help is available and provides a list of the Merton Commissioned Services in respect of a variety of needs.
Initial Contacts and Referrals This chapter has been updated to reflect the current processes and responsibilities within the MASH procedure.
MASH Management Polices and Procedure This chapter has been significantly updated to reflect the current structure and processes within the MASH Team and to define the BRAG rating and individual roles within this key aspect of the MASH system. Please re-read.
Children's Emergency and Out of Hours Procedure This chapter has been updated - please re-reference as required.
Children in Need Plans and Reviews This chapter has been fully reviewed and amended to place the process within Merton's Well Being Model and to reference the 'step down' process. Additional detail in respect of the Planning Meeting (see Section 2, Child in Need Planning Meetings) and subsequent Reviews (see Section 4, Reviews of Child in Need Plans) reflects the current organisation and expectations.
Direct Payments This chapter has fully replaced the previous chapter and reflects current legislation and guidance. A link to the Merton Local Offer: Personal Budgets (SEN and disabilities) has been added (see Scope Box). Please re-reference.
Private Fostering This chapter has been amended to add a new section in respect of a referral to the Vulnerable Children's Team for assessment, (see Section 4, Vulnerable Children's Team Private Fostering Referral Process). The update includes a Flowchart and links to Initial Record of a Private Fostering Referral form.
Trafficked and Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

This chapter has been fully and comprehensively amended to reflect local procedures for Merton, including the relationship with the Home Office and the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC), together with its role within London Borough Councils in managing young people from abroad, etc. The chapter recognizes the issues with respect to age assessments of some applicants and the requirements for these to be 'Merton Compliant'.

A link to The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) has also been added, and this contains a link to 'GOV.UK ICACU - Request for co-operation form and guidance 2016'.
LAC Pledge This has been updated. Please re-reference and ensure familiarity with this document.
Care Planning for Looked After Children This chapter has been comprehensively amended to add new sections: Section 4, Section 20 Accommodation; Section 8, Obtaining Parental Consent; Section 6, Newborn Babies (including relinquished children); Section 11, Timescales for Completion and Section 12, Approval of the Care Plan. The chapter also includes Section 15, Ceasing to Look After a Child Under Section 20.
Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline This manual has been amended by adding a section on 'Relevant Forms' that link to templates in the Documents Library, viz: Local authority social work evidence template (SWET); Local authority social work evidence template (Updating statement - general); Local authority social work evidence template - general and Merton Initial (Viability) Assessment Tool. Please reference as required.
Placements in Foster Care This chapter has been amended with regard to approving long term plans for children in Merton (see Section 9, Long Term Fostering).
Placements in Residential Care This chapter has been amended in line with the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review' and DfE and DHSC, 'Promoting the health and well-being of looked-after children - Statutory guidance for local authorities, clinical commissioning groups NHS England (2015)'.
Secure Accommodation: Policy and Practice Guidance This chapter has been updated to reflect current management roles and responsibilities. Please reference as required.
Notifications of Significant Events This chapter has been amended by adding a link directly to Schedule 7 Notifications table, 'The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011'.
Education of Looked After Children

This chapter has been updated in line with current local issues and to acknowledge that young people of 16 yrs plus will have their care planning arrangements enshrined in their Pathway Plan (see Section 2, The Personal Education Plan (PEP)).

The link to updated guidance on 'Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions, DfE (2015)' has been added together with two links to new Guidances: 'DfE, Keeping children safe in education (2016)' and 'DfE, Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools - Departmental advice for schools staff (2016)'. (See Scope Box).
Leaving Care This chapter has been amended to add a new Section 1, Merton's Vision for Care Leavers and the Care Leavers' Charter.
Staying Put Policy This chapter has been amended in Section 5.8, Insurance (Including Liability and Household Insurance) to reflect that foster carers no longer have insurance and cover for 'liability' through Fostering Network or CoramBAAF.
Adoption, Fostering and Permanence Panel This chapter has been amended to reflect the Panel's quality assurance role and that the decision of the ADM will include information to the applicants about the Independent Review Mechanism. The Panel will also receive a report every 6 months from the Quality Assurance manager for Adoption, Fostering and Permanence (see Section 2, Membership).
Placement for Adoption The chapter has been significantly updated to deal with the issues of consent, separation of siblings and the role of the Agency Decision Maker (see Section 1, Planning for Adoption and Requirements of the Child's social Worker and Section 2, The Agency Decision Maker and obtaining approval for the Adoption Plan). The amendments also include an expansion on the matter of placements and ethnicity, (see Section 7, Identification of Adoptive Parents (including Inter Agency Placements). Please re-read.
Adoption Support This chapter has been significantly updated by adding a new Section 2, Duty to Provide Information. This can mean providing information on adoption support services to anyone requesting information about adopting a child, or wishing to adopt a child; any parent of an adopted child within the borough, or any parent of an adopted child who becomes known to the council. Please re-read.
Special Guardianship Orders This chapter has been significantly amended and updated in line with the Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations 2016 and fully reflects Merton's processes and procedures in some detail - including the Special Guardianship support plans and allowances. A link to updated Special guardianship guidance (2016) has also been added (see Relevant Guidance).
Documents Library

A number of new forms and templates have been added into the Library:

Children Missing from Home, Care or Education:

  • Missing Return Home Interview Questionnaire;
  • Missing Child Alert and Risk Assessment Record;
  • Social Care Pre Incident Risk Assessment.

Private Fostering:

  • Initial Record of Private Fostering Referral.

Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline

  • Local authority social work evidence template (SWET);
  • Local authority social work evidence template (Updating statement - general);
  • Local authority social work evidence template - general;
  • Merton Initial (Viability) Assessment Tool.

Quality Assurance Framework

  • Appendix 2: Case File Audit Form;
  • Appendix 3: Children's Feedback Form;
  • Appendix 4: Parent/carer Feedback Form;
  • Appendix 6A: Learning from Practice Template for Use with Social Workers / Practitioners;
  • Appendix 6B: Observation Template.
Please reference as required.
Keywords & Contacts

The following new keywords have been added:

  • Child Trafficking Advocate;
  • Slavery and Trafficking \prevention Order;
  • Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order.
New Chapters and Features
Chapter Name Details
Policy and Practice Guidance in Respect of No Recourse to Public Funds Cases This chapter provides substantial information with respect to the issues around eligibility criteria, Human Rights Act and the Care Act responsibilities, particularly when dealing with families identified as being 'destitute' and the balances and judgements that have to be made. The chapter also contains a Human Rights Assessment form. Please fully read and reference.
Placement Moves and Endings This chapter emphasises the importance of minimising the number of placement moves a child has and of the importance for a child of stability. However, placement moves can also be positive, and children and young people need to opportunities to prepare for moving on and saying 'good bye' to the people they have met and who have been significant to them - even over a short period of time.
Child Appreciation Days

The Life Appreciation Day is primarily for the child's adoptive parents/new carers with the purpose of bringing together the story of the child's life. It helps those attending to fully appreciate the child's life in a way that cannot be done just by reading reports and talking with individuals.

A Life Appreciation Day gives the opportunity to search for information and clues relating to the child's life and to appreciate how a child has made sense of their experiences. It is important to keep the child in focus and consider events and experiences from their perspective.
Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters

This chapter seeks to deal with placement of a child with carers who are dually approved, i.e. approved both as prospective adopters and as local authority foster carers and the understanding of concurrent planning for early placement of children within legal proceedings.

The Children and Families Act 2014 imposes a duty upon all local authorities to consider a placement with dually approved carers whenever it is considering adoption or where the decision has been made that the child ought to be placed for adoption.
Placing Relinquished Babies and Children for Adoption This is a complex area that may require additional legal advice depending on the individual circumstances.
Quality Assurance Framework This chapter links to the Intranet, and the manual's Documents Library contains a number of current audit and feedback forms that relate to this chapter (see also Documents Library).

May 2016

Updated Chapters
Chapter Name Details
Single Assessment Guidance This chapter has been updated to ensure consideration is given as part of the assessment as to whether the child/family has been subject to trafficking or compulsory labour and servitude. This should be a part of developing an overall picture which, 'considers the daily lived experience of the child(ren) within that family setting' and ensuring a proportionate and effective intervention. Also, to ensure that an appropriate chronology is both created and referenced.
Short Breaks This chapter has been substantially amended to further clarify the legal basis for Short breaks - including a new Appendix; further develop the Child's Assessment; reflect the impact of the Children and Families Act 2014 in the Carers Assessment.
Children Missing from Home and Care Policy This chapter has been reviewed and is presented as a Merton document. Sitting below this chapter are the 'Terms of Reference: Missing From Care and Home Panel' (see New Chapters below). Please re-reference throughout.
Families with No Recourse to Public Funds This chapter has been updated to reflect the impact of the Care Act 2014 (see Role of the Local Authority) and a new section on Independent Family Returns Panel.
Young Carers This chapter has been reviewed and amended and identifies that a young carer's Needs Assessment can be completed in one of the existing assessment frameworks in use (see Section 2, Recognition).
Joint Protocol for Safeguarding Children and Families with Mental Health and / or Drug and Alcohol Needs - draft An updated version of this Merton chapter is supplied. Please re-reference as required.
Physical Contact and Physical Intervention in the Management of Children and Young People An updated version of this Merton chapter is supplied. Please re-reference as required.
Application for Emergency Protection Orders This chapter has been updated to add a letter of guidance from HM Courts & Tribunal Service (London) in respect of changes to applying for Emergency Protection Orders out of hours (see Related Guidance).
Public Law Outline Guidance for Practitioners

This chapter has been renewed and updated to add new sections in Section 2, Flexible Powers of The Court; Section 4, Allocation; Section 5, The Timetable for the Child and the Timetable for Proceedings; and 'International Instruments' (see Section 7, Interpretation).

A guide to 'Practice Direction 12A: Care, Supervision and other Part 4 proceedings: Guide to Case Management' is also provided (see Relevant Chapters).
Permanence Planning Guidance This chapter has been updated to reflect the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015). This includes an up-date definition of Permanence, (see Section 1, Defining Permanence). New sections on Principles of Permanence; Family Group Conference; Legal Planning Meetings; Tracking and Permanence and Care Planning Meetings have been added.
Legal Planning Meetings This chapter has been fully reviewed and amended throughout. A new Section 2, Considerations - identifies a number of key issues that should be discussed at the meeting and the material that needs to be available to ensure clear decision - making and planning can be completed.
Advocacy and Independent Visitors

This chapter has been extensively updated throughout. Two new sections have been added: Section 2.1, Duties of an Advocate and Section 3, Guidance about Children and Young People making a Complaint. Significant additions have also been made to Section 4: 4.1, When to Appoint and Section 4.2, Duties of an Independent Visitor).

Merton have commissioned Jigsaw4U to provide independent advocacy services to Looked After Children in Merton.
Secure Accommodation (Criteria) Reviews This chapter has been updated to emphasise the importance of the review focussing on the criteria for secure accommodation and ensuring relevant communication of the outcome is undertaken promptly and includes the child.
Court Reports in Adoption/Special Guardianship Guidance Section 3, Special Guardianship - Matters to be Dealt with in Report to Court, has been revised and updated to reflect the enhanced assessment and reporting requirements (for all applications made from 29 February 2016 as set out in the Special Guardianship (Amendment) Regulations 2016.
Case Recording Practitioner Guidance This chapter has been updated by acknowledging the importance of Chronologies in Case Recording and by adding a link to a new chapter 'What to do when you're asked for a chronology?' (see also: New Chapters below) which provides details around creating a relevant chronology.
Access to Records This chapter has been amended to add a new section on Applications by Care Leavers in regard to seeing their file. In addition, the section on 'Rights of Access'; Applications by Parents and Appeals Process have been refreshed and updated. It remains important to acknowledge that even if a child does not have the capacity to understand the implications of a data request about them, it is still their personal data and belongs to no-one else.
New Chapters and Features
Chapter Name Details
Documents Library

This new facility has been introduced into the manual and enables (identified) Merton staff to manage its content, i.e. to include, exchange and delete relevant letters and forms etc.

Currently, it contains a range of Forms/letters relating to Adoption, Special Guardianship and Child Arrangements Orders.

The Documents Library can be accessed via the Tool Bar button.
Terms of Reference: Missing From Care and Home Panel This sits below the 'Children Missing from Home and Care Policy': it reviews the care planning for all children Looked After by Merton and placed by Other Local Authorities in Merton. The purpose of this monthly panel meeting is to ensure risk assessments and care plans are reviewed; promote a partnership approach for individual children and provide an over view of this issue by reporting the Director and LSCB on a 6 monthly basis.
London Borough of Merton Guidance on Pocket Money and Savings This chapter focuses on pocket money and savings for children. It is important that children are supported and enabled to have some experience of 'budgeting' from the earliest age possible and encouraged to have savings.
Young People Aged 16 and 17 Years Ceasing to be Looked After Ceasing to Look After a young person who has been Accommodated under Section 20 (1989 Children Act) for more than 20 days requires the approval of the Director of Children's Services. An assessment of the suitability of the proposed arrangements and the support services that are required needs to be undertaken, together with an understanding of the young person's wishes and feelings. Also, that Ceasing to look after the young person will safeguard and promote their best interests. The Independent Reviewing Officer must be informed.
Guidance on Allowances and Support

One of four new chapters in a newly created section of the manual dealing with financial support entitlements: this chapter focuses on what adopters might be entitled to. The chapter details the criteria and procedure.

In the Contents Page, there is also a link to the New Documents Library section from which a range of Forms and Letters can be accessed that are required as part of the Merton procedure. Please fully read.
Guidance on Special Guardianship Allowances and Support

One of four new chapters in a newly created section of the manual dealing with financial support entitlements: this chapter focuses on what those who are Special Guardians might be entitled to. The chapter details the criteria and procedure.

In the Contents Page, there is also a link to the New Documents Library section from which a range of Forms and Letters can be accessed that are required as part of the Merton procedure. Please fully read.
Guidance on Child Arrangements and Allowances and Support

One of four new chapters in a newly created section of the manual dealing with financial support entitlements: this chapter focuses on what those who have Child Arrangements Orders might be entitled to. The chapter details the criteria and procedure.

In the Contents Page, there is also a link to the New Documents Library section from which a range of Forms and Letters can be accessed that are required as part of the Merton procedure. Please fully read.
Guidance on Overpayment of Adoption/Special Guardianship and Child Arrangements Order Allowances One of four new chapters in a newly created section of the manual dealing with financial support entitlements. This chapter identifies the Policy where there has been an overpayment of an allowance. It is Merton's policy to recover any overpayment but in a way that does not cause hardship. Please fully read.
Merton's Practice Standards This chapter succinctly reflects the practice standards expected by all operational and other Merton staff in respect to their approach, responses and actions to children, young people and their families / carers with regard to their work, contact and interventions. These standards and expectations also include working with other professionals and agencies within the community.
Chronology Guidance

This chapter details the importance of the Chronology in identifying patterns of behaviour and actions for a child or family, and therefore highlights both issues of concern and strengths. It is clear that chronologies are not a substitute for case recording, but key events are acknowledged that should be included in a chronology.

All children who are in Care, have a Child Protection Plan or considered to be Children in Need should have a chronology.

January 2016

Updated Chapters
Chapter Name Details
Looked After Reviews This chapter has been updated to reflect the current organisational structure and provide additional local information.

November 2015

Updated Chapters
Chapter Name Details
Common and Shared Assessment (CASA) Process This chapter links to the Merton SCB to provide support for professionals undertaking a CAF and provides key tools to enable this.
Short Breaks This chapter has been updated to fully reflect the Single Assessment process (see Section 3, Levels of Assessment), the DfE, Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015) and the Outline of Requirements on Settings Where Short Breaks Might Take Place (see Section 7, Short Break Settings).
Children Missing from Education This chapter links to Merton Council's website and provides links to key tools and practice guidance.
Joint Protocol for the Assessment of Housing and Support Needs of Homeless 16 and 17 Year Olds This chapter has been updated and highlights that young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are entitled to have their needs assessed.
Placements in Residential Care This chapter has been amended to highlight that where a residential resource has less than a 'Good' Ofsted rating, the Ofsted action plan must be carefully considered and presented to the Assistant Director for final consideration and agreement of the placement (see Section 2.1, Placement Request).
Out of Area Placements

This chapter has been updated to highlight that placements will be sought that have a 'good' or higher Ofsted rating. However, where this cannot be achieved, the Ofsted action plan of the Placement/resource must be carefully considered and presented to the Assistant Director for final consideration and agreement of the placement (see Section 3, Placement Considerations).

A link to updated statutory guidance DfE, 'The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015)' has also been provided.
Notifications of Significant Events This chapter has been updated in November 2015 in line with Children's Homes (England) Regulations 2015. Please re-reference as required.
Social Worker Visits to Looked After Children This chapter has been updated to reflect the DfE, The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015) (see Section 1, Normal Frequency). A link to this guidance is included in 'Relevant Guidance'.
LAC Health Care Assessments and Plans This chapter has been updated in line with the DfE and DHSC Statutory Guidance on Promoting the health and well-being of looked after children (March 2015).
Reunification for Children Accommodated Under Section 20 (1989 Act) This chapter has been updated in line with 'Ceasing to look after a child' in DfE, Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015). If a child has been accommodated for 20 days or more, then the decision to cease looking after them must be made by a Nominated Officer (see Section 3, Assessment and Planning).
Marriage of a Looked After Child This chapter has been last updated to further clarify and reflect the management roles in this procedure.
Adoption, Fostering and Permanence Panel This chapter has been reviewed and updated to identify: the Panel is quorate with 6 people as it is a joint panel; the chair is an independent person; the panel List must be maintained by a senior social worker with at least 5 years experience.
Placement Requests: Access to Resources Making LAC Placements with ART This chapter has been updated by adding a new Section 4, Factors for Consideration when Choosing a Placement. This highlights that placements will be sought that have a 'good' or higher Ofsted rating. However, where this cannot be achieved, the Ofsted action plan of the Placement/resource must be carefully considered and presented to the Assistant Director for final consideration and agreement of the placement. Placements outside of Merton require the Director's approval.
Adoption and Permanence As part of its continuous improvement of chapters within the Manual, tri.x have made some amendments to the following chapters: Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters; Placement for Adoption and Matching; Adoption Support; Adoption Reviews; Intermediary Services.
Access to Records This chapter has been updated throughout. Section 4, Handling Formal Requests for Access has been particularly amended. It is also emphasised that disclosable information must be made within 40 days of a request and this is a statutory requirement (see Section 5, Timescales).
Confidentiality Policy This chapter has been updated throughout and emphasises the role of the Information Governance Team. Further guidance is offered with regard to Press Interest, Police and Legal Enquiries. A link to HM Government, 'Information sharing: Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers (2015)' has been added.
Scheme of Delegation This has been fully updated.
New Chapters and Features
Chapter Name Details
Multi-Agency Meetings: Team Around the Child (TAC) and Team Around the Family (TAF) Meetings This is a new chapter linking to the Merton SCB and highlights that TAC/TAF Meetings can be arranged by any agency that feels a child or family requires a multi-agency approach outside of statutory intervention.
Role of the Lead Coordinator/Lead Practitioner This chapter links to the Merton SCB and describes the role, function and skills required for this role where children and their families require support from more than one professional. The Lead Coordinator enables a coherent and integrated approach to service delivery designed to achieve specific outcomes for the child and family.
Children and Young People Suspected of Sexually Harmful Behaviour and Sexual Offending This knowledge places a responsibility on professionals to intervene in young people's lives if it is known or suspected that their behaviour impacts sexually on other children.
Guidance for Working with Children and Young People who are Vulnerable to the Messages of Radicalisation and Extremism This chapter links to Merton SCB and provides a Merton context to national guidance and strategy in respect of countering the proliferation of extremist ideology and activity and ensuring it reflects good and best practice in safeguarding vulnerable children and young people by preventing them from being drawn in to terrorist related activity. Please fully read.
The Outdoor Education Handbook: 'There and Back Again' This updated handbook has been re-introduced into the manual and provides key information on working with children undertaking structured activities. It includes roles and responsibilities of staff, risk assessments, leadership, volunteers, etc. It should be fully read by all staff involved in activities for children as well as those who are commissioning and authorising activities.
Financial Arrangements for Care Leavers This document has been produced in accordance with the provisions of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000 and reflects current thresholds and levels of expenditure.

May 2015

Updated Chapters
Chapter Name Details
Family Information Services Directory This is an updated link to Merton's commissioned and local resources for children, young people and families.
Single Assessment Guidance

This chapter has been updated by adding links to 'DfE, Working with foreign authorities: child protection cases and care orders - Departmental authorities, social workers, service managers and children's services lawyers (2014)' and 'The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit' (see Section 7, Specific Types of Situations to Consider when Completing Assessments).

Short Breaks This chapter has been updated to add a link to the 'DfE, Short breaks for carers of disabled children (2011)'.
Teenage Pregnancy This chapter has been updated to add the 'NICE, Post natal care (2015)' (see particularly Section 1.4 and 'Co-sleeping and sudden infant death syndrome' (P. 34).
Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers This chapter has been updated by adding a link to the 'DfE Care of Unaccompanied and Trafficked Children - statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children (July 2014)'.
Decision to Look After and Care Planning

This chapter has been updated in line with 'Looked-after Children: Contact with Siblings - Update to Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review'. Additional information has been added in to Section 1.4, Actions required after a Decision to Look After is made - in relation to sibling placement.

A link to this guidance has also been added.
Application for Emergency Protection Orders This chapter has been updated by adding a new Section 6, Powers to Assist in Discovery of Children Who May Be in Need of Emergency Protection. Please review.
Out of Area Placements This chapter has been updated in line with 'DfE, Out of authority placement of looked-after children - Supplement to The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review'. It includes a new Section 3, Placement Considerations and Section 6, Placements in Wales. A link to Statutory Guidance has been and the chapter should be re-read.
Secure Accommodation: Policy and Practice Guidance This chapter has been updated by adding a link to ' DfE, Secure children's homes: how to place a child aged under 13 (Feb 2015)'.
Placements with Parents This chapter has been updated to provide additional information into Section 1.7, Ending of Placements to take account of recent case-law (Re DE (a child) 2014).
LAC Health Assessments and Plans The manual has been updated by providing the updated link to the 'Statutory Guidance on Promoting the Health and Well-Being of Looked After Children (2015)'.
Contact with Parents and Siblings This chapter has been updated in line with the updated statutory guidance, 'Looked-after Children: Contact with Siblings - Update to Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review'.
Personal Care and Relationships

This chapter has been updated by adding a link to the 'DfE Advice for parents and carers about cyberbullying, (2014)'.

In Section 8, Sexual Exploitation, a note has been added in respect of the impact on the Serious Crime Act (2015): there is an offence of 'sexual communication' with a child.

It also amends the 'Sexual Offences Act 2003' and it is an offence for an adult to arrange to meet a child under 16 yrs having had only a single communication previously with them.
Responsibilities of the Local Authority to Former Looked After Children and Young People in Custody This chapter has been updated to acknowledge changes as a result in the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 with regard to 17 yr olds and detention in a police cell. A new link to National Standard 9: Planning and delivering interventions in custody and resettlement into the community (including Civil Detention Orders) is also made.
Assessments and Approvals of Foster Carers This chapter has been updated to add a link to the DBS Privacy Policy and DBS eligibility criteria.
Supervision and Support of Foster Carers This chapter has been updated in May 2015 by adding a link to the 'Fostering Network' website.
Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters This chapter has been updated to add links to the DBS Privacy Policy and DBS Eligibility Criteria.
Intermediary Services This chapter has been updated throughout in line with the Adoption Information and Intermediary Services (Pre-Commencement Adoptions) (Amendment) Regulations 2014, and should be re-read.
Throughout the Manual The link has been updated to the 'Working Together to safeguard Children' document.
New Chapters and Features
Chapter Name Details
Children Schools and Families Performance Management Framework This chapter describes Merton's approach and system to ensure there are appropriate levels of oversight throughout the Department, and at all levels, to promote continuous improvements and rigour with respect to supporting children to achieve positive outcomes in key areas for themselves. It is important that all staff are aware and familiar with this.
Local Offer This is a link to the Merton Web Site and relates to Special educational needs and disabilities.
LAC Pledge This is the Local Authority Pledge to Looked After Children in 6 key areas. All staff and children should be aware of 'The Pledge' and practitioners should always ensure their efforts reflect them.
Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline This chapter has been added to the Manual and replaces the previous 'Public Law Outline' and 'Court Proceedings' chapters. In addition two new Appendices have been added: 'Parent Pack for Proceedings' and '26 Week Social Work Tracker for Proceedings'. Please fully read.
Leaving Care and Transition This chapter describes the processes around the transition and leaving care of young people who are approaching and reach their 18th birthday. The chapter seeks to define those who are able to receive support and assistance following their 18th birthday. The chapter has a link to the latest DfE statutory guidance, 'Volume 3: Planning Transition to Adulthood for Care Leavers, January 2015'. Please fully read.
Staying Put Policy This chapter details the Merton 'Staying Put' Policy, and reflects a number of practice points identifying the issues around young people who 'stay on' with their foster carers when they have reached the age of 18 yrs. Considerable financial information and Benefits advice is provided. Access to relevant Guidance and Links are also available.
Caseload Allocation Policy This chapter identifies the principle and practice of caseload allocation, underlying the importance for staff of having reasonable caseloads that will enable high quality practice. The chapter also reflects in part that caseload allocation will vary depending on the demands some situations may bring, whilst in others there may be some 'economies of time'.
Removed Chapters
  • There and Back Again - The Outdoor Education Handbook;
  • Merton Anti Bullying Strategy.

November 2014

Updated Chapters
Chapter Name Details
Initial Contacts and Referrals MASH This chapter has been updated to highlight that when a referral from a Lead agency has been accepted by the Department, then the social worker takes over the lead role. Additional information has also been provided in Timescales and the disposal of referrals.
Children in Need Plans and Reviews This chapter deals with those children are not subject to Child Protection Plans but may require a package of support tom meet the child's needs. The chapter seeks to ensure that similar rigours are applied to this area of work as with other areas.
Families with No Recourse to Public Funds This chapter has been updated to update references to NHS legislation and a link to: 'No Recourse to Public Funds Network, Practice Guidance for Local Authorities: Assessing and Supporting Children & Families and Former Looked After Children who have No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) for Support from local authorities under the Children Act 1989 (2011)'.

Transport

This chapter has been updated to recognise the implementation of section 95 of the Children and families Act 2014 which prohibits smoking in vehicles where there is a child present (see Section 3, Code of Good Practice for Drivers of Vehicles Transporting Children for the LEA without the Provision of Escorts).
Court Proceedings This chapter has been amended to reflect the updated Public Law Outline came into effect on 22nd April 2014, alongside the statutory 26-week time-limit for completion of care and supervision proceedings under the Children and Families Act 2014.
Pubic Law Outline This chapter has been amended to reflect the updated Public Law Outline came into effect on 22nd April 2014, alongside the statutory 26-week time-limit for completion of care and supervision proceedings under the Children and Families Act 2014.
Legal Planning Meetings This chapter has been updated to provide further detail on the chairing and convening of legal planning meetings.
Permanence Planning Guidance This chapter has been updated and amended in line with the Children and Families Act 2014. Note: Residence Orders and Contact Orders (in Private Law) are now called Child Arrangements Orders.
Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation This chapter has been significantly updated by adding a link to updated 'Statutory Guidance Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (Supplement) - Looked After Children and Youth Justice - Application of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 to Looked After Children in Contact with Youth Justice Services (April 2014)'. The amendments also take account of the fact that the PACE Code of Practice has been amended to extend the right to an Appropriate Adult at the police station to 17-year-olds (this has been awaited following a judicial review decision, and has now been implemented). Additionally, three Appendices which provide tabulated information in respect of roles and responsibilities of respective YOT and Children's Social Care staff, a process flowchart and a YJB Detention Centre Plan Form.
Placements with Parents This chapter has been refreshed to emphasise the need to undertake a Statutory Review within a month of the Placement being made (see Section 2, Immediate Placements).
Looked After Reviews This chapter has been updated to emphasis and recognise the importance of ensuring the views of the child are heard and reflected in the Plan.
Adoption, Fostering and Permanence Panel This chapter explains the membership, purpose, functions and arrangements for the Adoption, Fostering and Permanence Panel. It particularly details the roles and functions in Merton and details the Panel membership.
Education of Looked After Children

This chapter has been updated in line with the Children and Families Act 2014. Additional information has been added in new Section 1, The Virtual School Roles and Responsibilities on the requirement for local authorities to appoint an officer to promote the educational achievement of Looked After children Types sometimes referred to as a 'Virtual School Head'. There is also recognition that the 'Statement of Education Need' has become the Education, Health and Care Plan. Additionally it is noted that Merton has an Action Plan for extending PEPs to early years and young people 16 plus years.

Three new sections have been added: Section 13, Children and Young People with Medical Conditions; Section 14, Training for those Involved in the Care and Education of Looked After Children and Section 15, Information Sharing.

There are also updated links to 'Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 - 25 years Statutory Guidance for Organisations who work with Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (2014)'; 'Promoting the Educational Achievement of Looked After Children (2014)' and 'Supporting Pupils at school with Medical Conditions (2014)'.
LAC Health Care Assessments This chapter has been updated by adding an additional Flow Chart regarding the Merton Initial Health Assessment and by providing updated information on arranging Initial Health Care Assessments.
Personal Care and Relationships This chapter has been updated by adding links to 'Sex and Relationship Education Guidance: Head Teachers, Teachers & School Governors, DfE, 2000' and 'Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) For The 21st Century, Brook/PSHE, 2014'. Both should be read alongside each other.
Physical Contact and Physical Intervention in the Management of Children and Young People

Please note this most update version of this chapter and fully re-read.

Responsibilities of the Local Authority to Former Looked After Children and Young People in Custody This chapter has been updated by adding a link to Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (Supplement) - Looked After Children and Youth Justice - Application of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 to Looked After Children in Contact with Youth Justice Services (April 2014).
Placement Requests: Access to Resources Making LAC Placements with ART This chapter has been updated. A number of small amendments have been made to simplify but reflect some ongoing changes and to acknowledge a 'resolution' process if there is disagreement over the referral (see Section 2, Bringing a Child into Care for the First Time).
New Chapters and Features
Chapter Name Details
Early Help Handbook This is a link to a to a web page which includes practitioner's guidance.
Merton Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) This is a comprehensive and detailed chapter detailing 'first point of contact for all referrals' and aimed to provide a simplified and consistent process which benefits from a a multi professional approach to decision-making. Please fully read.
MASH Guidance for Professionals This is a website link; please reference as required.
Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) Duty Management Policies and Procedure This chapter carefully details the processes required and needed when administering the referral process. This should be carefully noted.
Education Health and Care Assessment Framework - draft This frame work is presented as a diagram / Flow Chart to reflect the Children and Families Act 2014 in respect of children with Learning disabilities/needs. Please ensure the chapter is fully explored.
Joint Protocol for the Assessment of Housing and Support Needs of Homeless 16 and 17 Year Olds The purpose of this protocol is to outline the agreed practices, responsibilities and roles within a framework of services for young people who are identified as being homeless or threatened homeless. This will ensure the appropriate assessment and delivery of services to meet the need of young people. The procedure deals with homeless prevention and joint assessment of 16/17 year olds who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. Please read throughout.
Children Missing from Home and Care Policy This chapter comprehensively explores the policies and procedures with respect to children who go missing - both from home and care. Definitions are also highlighted. There is recognition in respect of the risk this poses for particular children, with references to research, both locally and nationally. The chapter has replaced the previous link to the London SCB chapter, although this can be accessed from within the chapter. Please fully read.
Notifications of Significant Events This chapter highlights the issues and agencies that need to be advised of /informed with regard to events to Looked After Children. All staff must be aware; please read and familiarise yourself with the contents.
Dispute Resolution Protocol This chapter further enhances the chapter Dispute Resolution Process by emphasising the time scales required by practitioners to submit their reports to the IRO and recognising the increased requirements on Iron. to monitor the safeguarding and best interests of each child, including the progress of their Plan.
Joint Protocol for Safeguarding Children and Families with Mental Health and / or Drug and Alcohol Needs This new chapter details the respective roles of agencies and provides a framework around which to work at a variety of levels. Referral details and thresholds are identified across this wide-ranging area of potential risks to children. The chapter also has outcomes for the Policy and offers a framework for professional conflict resolution. The chapter contains relevant contacts. Please fully read.
Merton Standards of Care Procedures This chapter identifies the principles and process for dealing with concerns and complaints against foster carers. The chapter specifies the outcomes that any investigative process can recommend.
Reunification for Children Accommodated Under Section 20 (1989 Children Act) This chapter acknowledges that most cessation of placements are a result of children returning home to their parents who have been section 20 accommodated. Most of these are with regard to a parent's illness. Careful planning and specifically assessed and targeted support are likely to ensure the re-unification plan is successful.
Case File Transfer Protocol This chapter is designed to be 'good practice guidance' and not a rigid framework. The chapter emphasises teams working together to ensure that children and families are located in teams best placed to assist them and promote children's best interests.
Social Worker Supervision: Information and Guidance

Supervision is recognised to be a key aspect of providing a skilled, confident and knowledgeable staff group, able to provide a service that is fit for purpose.

This chapter fully details a range of issues with regard to supervision and explores a range of models and respected theoretical texts. It acknowledges that interactions within supervision are important and emphasises mutual respect as being key. The chapter provides a practice based approach with suggested supervision agreements and contains the Merton 'Practice Standards'. Please fully read.
Updated Terminology
UK Visas Immigration The 'UK Border Agency' has been replaced with 'UK Visas Immigration' throughout the manual.
NHS Direct The term 'NHS Direct' has been deleted throughout then manual.
Adults at Risk The term 'Vulnerable Adults' has been replaced with 'Adults at Risk' throughout then manual.
Children's Commissioner References to the 'Children's Rights Director' have been replaced with 'Children's Commissioner'.
Child Arrangements Orders The term 'Residence Orders' has been replaced with 'Child Arrangements Orders' throughout the manual.