Placements Outside England and Wales
AMENDMENTThis chapter was reviewed and amended in January 2019 to reflect the role of the Director as the Decision maker in this process.
1. Necessary Consents
Merton Council may arrange the placement of a Looked After child outside England and Wales in exceptional cases
The written consent of the parents is required. If the child is the subject of a Care Order, the consent of the Court is required in addition to the parents.
Where the necessary parental consents are not forthcoming, the application to the Court can include a request to dispense with parental consent.
2. Placement Decision
Any decision to place a child outside England and Wales can only be included in the Care Plan after the following actions have been taken:
- Checks and assessments have been made through the Social Services agency for the relevant area that suitable arrangements have been (or will be) made for the reception and welfare of the child in the country where the child will live;
- The child's consent is given where old enough to do so;
- The parents have been consulted;
- The parents have consented or they cannot be found, are incapable of consenting or are withholding their consent unreasonably;
- Consideration has been given to the effect of the proposed placement on the child's relationship with the parents;
- Specialist advice has been obtained where necessary on the cultural issues raised by the proposal;
- The placement is recommended by the child's Looked After Review;
- Legal advice has been obtained;
- The approval of the Director of Children's Services and/or the Assistant Director, Children's Social Care and Youth Inclusion has been given.
Regard must be paid to the likely timescales involved in achieving the plan, particularly bearing in mind the need to achieve permanence for the child within his or her time-scales.
To obtain the approval of the Director of Children's Services and/or the Assistant Director, Children's Social Care and Youth Inclusion, the social worker should prepare a written report setting out the circumstances of the proposed placement, the time-scales, the child's wishes, the parents' views, the effect of the proposed placement on the child's relationship with the parents, how contact will be arranged if the placement is made, the recommendation of the Looked After Review and attaching a copy of the parents' written consents (if given), the Care Plan, the report of the Social Services agency where the child is to be placed and the minutes of the most recent Looked After Review. This report must be approved by the Head of Service (Access to Resources and Head of Service with case responsibility) prior to presentation to the Director and/or Assistant Director.
The decision of the Head of Service (Access to Resources) or other relevant Head of Service as to whether the consent of the local authority to the placement should be given should be evidenced in writing together with reasons on the child's electronic record on the social care information system. The child, parents and all those involved in the child's care should be notified of the decision.
3. Placements in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Guernsey
Where a decision is made to place a child in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Guernsey, legal advice should be obtained as to the appropriate Court applications, notifications and consents required.
Where a Care Order is in existence, the Care Order can be transferred to the relevant area. The effect of the transfer will be that the Care Order ceases to have effect in England and Wales and the child's file can be closed.
Once the necessary Court authority has been given, the detailed arrangements for the child's placement, including continued contact with family members, must be included in a Placement Agreement and agreed in writing with the Social Services agency for the area where the child will be placed.
4. All Placements Abroad
Where a decision is made to place a child subject to a Care Order abroad, Legal Services should be contacted so that the necessary Court action can be initiated to obtain authority for the placement.
The social worker must keep the parents and the proposed carers regularly informed in writing of the progress of the application.
Once the necessary Court authority has been given, the detailed arrangements for the child's placement must be included in a Placement Agreement and agreed in writing with the Social Services agency for the area where the child will be placed. The Placement Agreement must include the arrangements for the child maintaining contact with the parents and the way in which the placement will be reviewed and how the social worker will be kept informed of progress.
The child's file should not be closed for at least 3 months after the placement and only then with the approval of the Assistant Director for Children's Social Care and Youth Inclusion in consultation with the relevant Head of Service after the receipt of a satisfactory report from the relevant Social Services agency confirming the suitability of the placement and their commitment to continue to support the placement as necessary.
5. Adoptive Placements Abroad
See Placement for Adoption Procedure for details of the procedures to be followed in the case of adoptive placements abroad.