Notifications from Other Local Authorities
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter addresses the action to be taken on receipt of a notification from another local authority that a Looked After child has been placed at an address in Merton.
AMENDMENTThis chapter was reviewed and updated in January 2019 to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making within the Department.
Where a Looked After child is placed by another local authority in Merton, a notification must be made by the placing authority to Merton at their earliest opportunity as a professional duty of care and for both reviewing and monitoring.
The Education Service and the relevant Health Trust for the area in which the Looked After child is placed must also be notified.
The notification must include the address where the child is currently placed.
Merton must maintain a register of Looked After children for whom it is responsible and all looked after children placed in its area, including those children who are the responsibility of another neighbouring local authority.
Under the Children's Homes and Looked after Children (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2013, the Manager of a children's home must notify without delay the area local authority (if different from the placing authority) of the admission to/discharge from the Home of any child.
The notification must state:
- The child's name and date of birth;
- Whether the child is Accommodated under Section 20 or subject to a Care Order or Supervision Order;
- The contact details for:
- The child's placing authority; and
- The child's Independent Reviewing Officer.
- Whether the child has an Education, Health and Care Plan and, if so, details of the local authority which maintains the statement.
1.1 The Register of Looked After Children
The Register should include the following information in relation to each child:
- The name, gender and date of birth of the child;
- The name and address of the person with whom the child is placed and, if different, the name and address of the child's parents and all those with Parental Responsibility;
- The name of the placing authority;
- Whether the child has a Child Protection Plan;
- Whether the child has a disability or other special educational needs;
- The date on which the placement was made and the date when it terminated including the reason for the termination;
- The child's current legal status;
- Where arrangements have been made by Merton to undertake specific duties of the placing local authority. The arrangements should be clearly set out in writing with the name of the key person(s) and with whom agreed these duties.
2. Procedure on Receipt of Notifications in Relation to a Looked After Child
2.1 Responsibilities of the Children's Social Care teams
Any notification received from another local authority that a Looked After child has been placed in the authority should be passed to the Head of Service for Quality Assurance and Practice Development. The Head of Service may delegate these tasks to the allocated social worker or their Team Manager and request an update after their enquires.
The Head of Service will ensure, that there are clear lines of communication with the placing local authority where necessary, that the information required in Section 1.1, The Register of Looked After Children is provided and recorded.
The Head of Service will arrange for enquires to be made of the address on the social care information system to establish whether there is any significant information recorded in relation to the address. If so, this information must be communicated to the allocated social worker in the placing local authority as a way of working in partnership.
Where the placing authority requests that Merton carry out certain functions in relation to the child on its behalf e.g. supervision of the placement, the Head of Service for MASH will arrange for this request to be discussed at a formal planning meeting involving representatives of the placing local authority. A representative of the MASH Team will take responsibility for chairing the meeting.
In these circumstances, Merton may agree to undertake the following duties:
- Supervise the child's placement in order to be satisfied that the welfare of the child continues to be suitably provided for; and/or
- Visit the placement on a regular basis and the agreed frequency will be determined and recorded by both local authorities.
It would never be appropriate for the authority to agree to a request to supervise a child placed in secure accommodation and/or subject to Section 53 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.
Where it is agreed at a planning meeting that Merton will undertake any level of supervision of a placement on behalf of a placing authority, a social worker will be allocated to review and monitor this.
The placing local authority should be requested to provide sufficient information about the child and the placement to enable the social worker to supervise the placement competently, including the following:
- Care Plan;
- Placement Information Record;
- Review of Arrangements Form;
- Any Other Reports.
Any agreement to supervise the placement should be detailed in writing and signed by the Senior Manager from the Placing Authority. It will include an expectation that the allocated social worker in Merton will be invited to contribute to the child's Looked After Review, which may require them to write a LAC report, as they will hold all of this knowledge.
Where a significant incident arises in Merton whilst the child is placed there, they will be expected to respond to any immediate and identified needs.
However, except in an absolute emergency situation (e.g. where it is not possible to contact the allocated social worker or their Team Manager, or if out of hours of the placing local authority's Emergency Duty Team), Merton should not take any significant action or remove the child, without consultation with the placing local authority.
Merton will not take action on the basis of the placing authority's verbal authority, but must request that any required actions are recorded and that the roles, responsibilities and expectations are clearly set out.
The case management responsibility will always remain with the placing authority.In the event, Merton has to respond to an emergency situation where the child is at risk of Significant Harm and the placing authority cannot be contacted, any action should be on the basis of the requirements of the Merton Safeguarding Children Procedures and the London Child Protection Procedures.
2.2 Maintaining the Register
The Head of Service for Quality Assurance and Practice Development is responsible for maintaining the register of Looked After children (see Section 1, Introduction).
The register must include:
- Children looked after by Merton;
- Children looked after by another local authority but placed within Merton, where there has been agreement that Merton will carry out some of the responsibilities of the placing local authority;
- Children looked after by another local authority but placed within Merton, where the placing local authority continues to carry out all the functions in relation to the child;
- The Head of Service for Quality Assurance and Practice Development will ensure that the following teams /agencies are notified:
- The Relevant Health Service;
- The Education Welfare Service;
- Merton's Virtual School.