SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter summarises the action to be taken when another local authority notifies Wakefield Council that they intend to place a child looked after by them in a placement which is geographically within Wakefield.
This chapter is currently under review.
When one local authority places a child which it is looking after within the area of another local authority regardless of the type of placement, they are required to:
- Consult with the other Local Authority prior to making the decision to place the child;
- Notify the other Local Authority prior to a placement being made (and subsequently when the placement ends) as well as providing sufficient information about the child and placement.
There are three main reasons for this:
- To enable Wakefield Council to provide relevant information to the other Local Authority to support their decision-making;
- To enable WMDC to maintain a register of all looked after children resident in Wakefield including those placed here by another Local Authority;
- To allow Wakefield Council to effectively respond should an emergency situation arise such as a child protection concern or missing episode.
All such children will have a record of their placement on Care Director following notification, regardless of whether Wakefield Council has any ongoing involvement with the child or placement.
Where Wakefield Council is made aware by another local authority that they are intending to place a child within Wakefield, the other Local Authority may request that this Directorate should carry out certain functions on their behalf (e.g. supervision of the placement). However, no presumptions may be made prior to agreement at a formal Planning Meeting, where representatives of the local authorities concerned are present, and an agreement to carry out the functions required has been made and an undertaking to this effect given in writing.
Consultation and Notification of placements made, or to be made, within Wakefield
Any local authority or private or voluntary care provider must inform Wakefield Council of any placements which they propose to make within Wakefield. Although all other Local Authorities have been instructed to contact the Service Manager for Safeguarding, it is likely that notifications will be received by different parts of the service for example the office of the Service Director or the Customer Contact Centre.
All requests for consultation should be directed to the Service Manager for Safeguarding. In his or her absence the Service Manager for LAC or the Service Manager for Placements will be nominated to provide this service.
All notifications should be directed securely to the LAC Administration Team:
The designated administrator in this team will enter the details of the child and any supporting documentation onto Care Director and will then close the referral.
The LAC Administrator will then notify the Service Manager for Safeguarding by email.
On receipt of a notification from the LAC Administration Team the Service Manager will undertake the following actions:
- Scrutinise the notification to ensure that sufficient information has been provided;
- Where sufficient information has not been provided, contact the placing Local Authority and request the provision of the appropriate information within five working days;
- Scrutinise the information for any areas of specific risk including child sexual exploitation and a history of running away from care;
- Where these factors are present, the Service Manager for Safeguarding will provide information to the Police Child Sexual Exploitation Team to enable consideration of discussion at MAACSE Panel and any other intervention from the CSE Team as required; and
- Provide the information to the Administration Manager in LAC Services who will maintain a register of all notifications.
Where the Service Manager for Safeguarding receives a notification of the termination of a placement, this information will be passed to the designated administrator in LAC Services who will update Care Director and also the internal register.
Although placing Local Authorities are required to notify us of the end of a placement, on a monthly basis the Administration Manager for LAC Services will make contact with each placing authority to identify of the placement has ended.
Although Local Authorities are required to notify each other of out of area placements, it is likely that on a regular basis other Local Authorities will contact the Safeguarding and Family Support Service and ask us to confirm whether Wakefield Council has any children placed in their area. These requests for information should be passed to the LAC Administration Team who are able to provide the information to the other Local Authority.
Where a partner service such as the Youth Offending Team, Virtual Head Teacher or LAC Health Team receive information concerning a child placed in our area by another Local Authority they will check to ensure that the placing Local Authority has followed this procedure and if not the Service Manager for Safeguarding will make the appropriate information requests from the placing Local Authority.
The LAC Administration Manager and designated administrator for out of district placements will meet on a quarterly basis to consider the information gathered in the previous three months. A report identifying themes and trends will then be prepared by the Service Manager for Safeguarding which will be shared with the Senior Management Team and if requested with the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
3. Significant Incidents During Placement
Wakefield Council is responsible for undertaking any emergency action necessary to protect a child who lives or is found in our area, even if their normal residence is in a different Local Authority and even if another Local Authority has Parental Responsibility for the child.
Therefore where an incident takes place that meets the threshold for a S47 Enquiry it will be the responsibility of Wakefield Council to initiate this process.
In undertaking this duty we must inform the home authority as soon as possible and must involve them in our Strategy Discussion. This Strategy Discussion will identify whether a S47 Enquiry is required and if so, how it will be undertaken.
In some cases where circumstances mean that this is likely to lead to a more effective outcome it may be agreed that the home or placing Local Authority should undertake the S47 Enquiry. This agreement should be clearly recorded in the Strategy Discussion documentation and thereafter Wakefield Council will have no further involvement.
In some cases it will not be reasonable to expect that the placing Local Authority will undertake a S47 Enquiry (e.g. if the placing authority is a long way from Wakefield). In such cases the S47 Enquiry will be undertaken by Wakefield Council and will be undertaken in compliance with the West Yorkshire Consortium Procedures.
Where the S47 Enquiry is being undertaken by Wakefield Council we must consult appropriately with the placing authority.
Wakefield Council should not take any steps to remove the child from their placement without consultation with the placing authority unless it is an emergency and to do so would place the child at greater or prolonged risk of harm. If Wakefield Council is required to act without consultation, then the placing Local Authority should be spoken to as soon as possible.