Care Plans Guidance
AMENDMENTSection 8, Contents was amended in September 2018 to reflect the additional 'permanence provisions' of the Care Plan (s. 8 Children and Social Work Act 2017 amends section 31(3B) Children Act 1989) which a court is now required to consider when deciding whether to make a Care Order.
1. Who Must Have a Care Plan
Every Child in Care must have a Care Plan.
2. Who is Responsible for the Plan
The Care Plan must be completed and updated by the child's social worker.
3. Timescales for Completion
The Care Plan must be drawn up as soon as the need for the child to come into care has been identified. It should be completed prior to the child's first placement wherever possible or, if it is not practicable to do so, within 10 working days of the first placement. See Decision to Look After Procedure.
If there are exceptional reasons that prevent the Care Plan from being drawn up prior to the child's placement, the key objectives of the child's admission to care and the proposed placement must still be identified and recorded.
The Care Plan can be updated by the social worker, with the team manager's approval, at any time.
The Care Plan is then subject to scrutiny at each Looked After Review and should be updated after each review unless there are no changes.
4. Approval of the Plan
A final Care Plan taken before the court in Care Proceedings must be endorsed and signed by the Designated Manager (Care Plans).
All other Care Plans must be endorsed and signed by the social worker's team manager.
The social worker is responsible for drawing up and updating the Care Plan in consultation with:
- The child;
- The child's parents;
- Anyone who is not a parent but has been caring for or looking after the child;
- Other members of the child's family network who are significant to the child;
- The child's school or the education service;
- The relevant Integrated Care Board;
- The Youth Offending Service, if the child is known to them;
- Any other agency involved with the child's care.
The purpose of the plan is to safeguard and promote the interests of the child, prevent drift and focus work on achieving permanence for the child.
Before a Court grants a Care Order it must be satisfied that a suitable Care Plan has been drawn up.
This guidance should be read in conjunction with Looked After Reviews Procedures.
The Care Plan must be regularly reviewed at Looked After Reviews. However, it is the responsibility of the social worker and their team manager to make decisions and amendments in relation to the Care Plan.
By the time of the second Looked After Review, the Care Plan must contain a plan for achieving permanence for the child within a timescale that is realistic, achievable and meets the child's needs. If it is considered that the chosen avenue to permanence is not viable, the Independent Reviewing Officer should ensure that a Permanency Planning Meeting, or equivalent, is convened as a matter of urgency to consider the most appropriate permanent alternative.
All subsequent Reviews should review the progress and validity of the Permanence Plan.
There is a template for the Care Plan, which covers the following areas.
- The overall aims and timescales for achieving permanence (to be included by the second Looked After Review at the latest);
- The objectives of the plan, phrased in terms of how permanence will be achieved for the child;
- How these objectives will be met including the order sought and why;
- Time-scales for achieving the plan.
- The child's needs and wishes.
The child's identified needs (including those arising from race, culture, religion or language, special education, health or disability);
- The extent to which the wishes and feelings of the child have been obtained and acted upon;
- Reasons for supporting the child's wishes or explanations of why the child's wishes and views have not been given absolute precedence;
- Summary of how the child's needs might be met;
- Arrangements for and purpose of contact in meeting the child's needs (e.g. parent, step parent, other family member, former carers, friends, siblings (including those in care who may have a separate placement);
- Any proposals to restrict or terminate contact.
- Views of others.
The extent to which the wishes and feelings of the parents and others with sufficient interest in the child (including representatives of other agencies, current carers and former carers) have been obtained and acted on;
- The reasons for supporting them or explanations of why their wishes and views have not been given precedence.
- Placement details and timetable.
- Time that is likely to elapse before the proposed placement is made;
- Likely duration of the placement;
- Arrangements for health care including consent to examination and treatment;
- Arrangements for education (including any pre-school day care/activity);
- Arrangements for reunification/rehabilitation;
- Other services to be provided to the child;
- Other services to be provided to the parents and other family members;
- Details of proposed support services in the placement for the carers;
- Specific details of the parents role in day to day arrangements.
- Management and support by local authority.
Who is to be responsible for implementing the plan;
- Who is responsible for implementing specific tasks within the plan;
- Date of last and next Looked After Review;
- Contingency Plan if the placement breaks down or if preferred placement is not available;
- Arrangements for input by the child, parent and others in the ongoing decision-making process;
- Arrangements for notifying the responsible local authority of disagreements about the implementation of the Care Plan or for making representations/complaints.
- The Care Plan Where the Matter is Before the Court
In addition to the above, a Care Plan should reflect that the court is required under s. 8 Children and Social Work Act 2017 (which amends section 31(3B) Children Act 1989) to consider the 'permanence provisions' of the Care Plan for the child. These are:
- The provisions setting out the long-term plan for the upbringing of the child - to live with a parent/family member/family friend; adoption; or other long-term care; and
- The plan's provisions in relation to any of the following:
- The impact on the child concerned of any harm that they suffered or were likely to suffer;
- The current and future needs of the child (including needs arising out of that impact);
- The way in which the long-term plan for the upbringing of the child would meet those current and future needs.
The Care Plan must be circulated to the following people:
- The child - care must be taken to ensure the child understands it. If necessary, the child should be given additional material, suitable to their needs and abilities, which can better explain the Care Plan;
- The parent(s) - who may also require help to understand the plan;
- Providers/carers - if no Care Plan has been drawn up prior to the child's placement, the social worker must ensure that the providers/carers understand the key objectives of the plan, and how the placement will help achieve these objectives.