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5.6.3 Social Worker Visits to Children Looked After

Note that different provisions apply to children who acquire Looked After status as a result of a remand to local authority accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation. In relation to those children, please see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People on Remanded to Local Authority Accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation.

See also CLA Statutory Requirements: Visit intervals in CASS.


Contents

  1. Normal Frequency
  2. Exceptions 
  3. Who Should be Seen
  4. Purpose 
  5. Recording  


1. Normal Frequency

Wherever a Child Looked After is placed, the child’s social worker must visit the child in the placement at the following intervals, subject to the conditions below:

  • Within 1 week of the start of any placement and then weekly until the first Looked After Review. This applies to all new placements where, for example, a child moves from one placement to another;
  • Then at intervals of no more than every 4 weeks until the placement has been approved as a long term foster  placement at the Fostering Panel through the completion of a matching report;
  • Following approval by the Fostering Panel to a placement being matched as a long term placement, visiting requirements can be reduced to intervals of no more than 3months within the first year of a placement being approved as a long term placement. Following the first year of a placement being approved as a long term placement visits may be reduced to intervals not exceeding 6 months;
  • The decision to reduce statutory visits to Children Looked After to intervals of 3 or 6 months must be evidenced within the Care Plan and agreed at a CLA Review where the young person and their foster carer agree with the proposed level of statutory visits.

NB These are minimum visiting requirements, and the Looked After Review may recommend more frequent visits. The frequency of visits should always be determined by the circumstances of the case and visits should be made whenever reasonably requested by the child or foster carer regardless of the status of the placement.

The child's social worker should also visit the child immediately when a complaint is received from the child or from another person relating to  the standard of care the child is receiving.

Some visits should be unannounced.

Social workers may on occasion need to visit more regularly, however they must avoid an appearance of over involvement in the life of the child.

Meetings involving a child e.g. Looked After Reviews, do not in themselves constitute a visit, unless time is taken outside of the meeting to talk with and spend time with the child.

The child's social worker should on occasion take the child out from the placement (for example for a snack or a visit to a park) as this can strengthen the relationship between the child and the social worker and is also in the interests of child protection in that the child may feel more able to discuss issues that are of concern to them.


2. Exceptions

If the child is placed with parents pending assessment, social work visits must take place at least once a week until the first Looked After Review, thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks.

If the child is living with the parents under an Interim Care Order, visits must take place at least once a week until the first Looked After Review, thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks.

If the child is placed with parents under a Care Order, within 1 week of the Care Order, thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks.

If the child is placed with a Connected Person with temporary approval, visits must take place at least once a week until the first Looked After Review, thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks.

If the child is in the care of the local authority but another person is responsible for the child’s living arrangements (for example where a child is placed in a Young Offenders’ Institution or a health care setting), they should be visited within a week of the start/any change of living arrangements, and then at intervals of not more than 4 weeks for the first year, and at intervals of not more than 3 months in any subsequent year.

Where the placement is for a series of short-term placements, the child’s social worker must visit the child within the first 7 placement days (being days when the child is placed) and thereafter every 6 months.

Visits should be made more frequently if circumstances require and whenever reasonably requested by the child or the staff/carer.


3. Who Should be Seen

Wherever possible, the child must be seen in private and alone (unless the child of sufficient age and maturity and refuses or the social worker considers it inappropriate to do so). If this is not possible, a further visit must be made at short notice in order that the child can be seen alone and observed with the staff/

On some occasions, the social worker should also arrange to visit at times when all members of a household can be seen; or for children’s Homes, a significant number of adults and children.


4. Purpose

The purpose of the visit is to ensure the placement continues to promote the child’s welfare and in particular:

  1. To give the child the opportunity to express their wishes, feelings and views;
  2. To advise, assist and befriend the child;
  3. To observe the child with the staff/foster carer/parent;
  4. To monitor the standard of care offered by the placement;
  5. To monitor how the contact arrangements are working;
  6. To provide support to the placement;
  7. To identify any areas where additional support is required;
  8. To evaluate whether the placement is helping to achieve the objectives of the child’s Care Plan.

Placement Plan Reviews can be undertaken during social workers visits.


5. Recording

A written report on each visit must be made by the social worker and kept in the child’s file stating clearly:

  1. Who was seen;
  2. Whether the child was seen and if not why not;
  3. Whether the child was seen alone;
  4. Any comments made by the child or the staff/carers/parents;
  5. Any matters of concern or difficulties;
  6. Any observations on the child's welfare and the success of the placement;
  7. Any requirements for action.

End