Obtaining an External Residential Placement


This chapter should be followed in respect of obtaining an External Residential Placement.


The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review


In June 2015, a link was added (above) to the Out of Authority Placement of Looked-After Children (Supplement to The Children Act 1989 - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Guidance).

1. Eligibility

An external residential placement should only be considered where there is evidence that the child must remain Looked After and that the child's needs cannot be met within local resources.

2. The Panel

The External Placement Panel will meet monthly. It will be chaired by the Divisional Manager, Looked After Children and will include the following personnel: Divisional Manager Looked After Children; Unit Manager Residential, Assistant Director Integrated Care Board (ICB's), ICB's advisor, Principal Improvement Manager Inclusion (Learning Service), Education Advisor, Finance Officer.

The remit of the panel will be:

  • To facilitate a senior management partnership across services in planning for the most vulnerable children and young people;
  • To make decisions in relation to matching a child with an external placement and the joint funding of such provision;
  • To make recommendations about how a child's needs could alternatively be met in-house and ensure agency contributions are appropriate;
  • To review all external placements on a regular basis and decide whether continuation of the placement is required;
  • To address commissioning issues likely to inform and influence future placement planning.

3. Seeking Approval

All requests for external placements must be made to the Unit Manager Care Management, the Manager of the Children with a Disability Unit or the Unit Manager for Children, Young People and Family Support in the first instance and in their absence agreed by the appropriate Divisional Manager.

The Social Worker will need to submit a copy of the Single Assessment report using the proforma and a Chronology of significant events.

The Social Worker should outline why an external residential placement is being sought and must clearly identify why the child's needs cannot be met within local resources using the proforma.

Assistance with this part can be obtained from representatives from partner agencies.

The assessment must include information from partner agencies, in respect of how the child's health and educational needs should be met.

If the Team / Unit Manager, agrees with the request for an external residential placement, they will discuss the request with the Divisional Manager.

If agreement is given, the Social Worker will need to complete the Request for External Placement Form, which must be signed by the Team Manager and recommended for approval by the Unit Manager.

The Social Worker in liaison with the Service Manager Residential Services should try to identify a suitable external placement which meets the child's identified needs and establish the cost per week per child. Details of any potential placement should be attached to the External Placement Form.

This information Panel Administrator who will include it on the Panel agenda and make arrangements for the Social Worker and Team Manager to attend panel to discuss the request.

No child should be placed in an external residential placement until authorisation is given by the External Placement Panel.

4. Emergency Requests for External Residential Placements

There will be rare occasions when an external residential placement is required in an emergency. These occasions should be in exceptional circumstances and all alternative local provision must have been considered.

In this event, the Social Worker / Team Manager will discuss the need for an external residential placement with the Service Manager they, in turn will discuss the matter with the Divisional Manager.

The Chair of the panel will contact the key decision makers by telephone/ email to discuss emergency requests. Wherever practical and possible all three agencies will make a joint decision in respect of the request. Where this is not possible, the Chair will make the decision.

All emergency placements will be agreed on a time limited basis up to a maximum of six weeks, subject to confirmation by the next panel meeting.

If agreement for an external residential placement on an emergency basis is given the Social Worker must submit all the relevant forms.

5. Change of Placement

Should a change of placement become necessary, either planned or as a result of a disruption, a further Request for External Placement Form must be presented to the External Placement Panel for approval before agreement for the change takes place.

In emergency situations Section 4, Emergency Requests for External Residential Placements will apply.

6. Review of Placements

External residential placements will be reviewed on a frequent basis using the External Placement Panel Review Form.

7. External Placement Panel

The Panel will meet on a monthly basis and consider all the evidence provided.

The Social Worker will receive notification via the form giving the External Placement Panel's decision, duration of the approval, any other conditions and a review date.

The Social Worker will be reminded six weeks before the review date to complete the External Placement Panel Review Form, this must be forwarded to the External Placement Panel Administrator 10 days prior to the review date.

8. Financial Arrangements

The Placement Confirmation Form (will be completed by the Unit Manager, Residential Services as soon as possible for each new placement and sent to the Payments Team, Client Financial Affairs at Oakmead, 1c Lidget Street, Lindley, Huddersfield, HD3 3JB. Copies must be sent to the relevant finance officer.

In order to provide the information required, the Unit Manager, Residential Services will need to obtain the weekly/monthly costs of the placement and to clearly agree, at the outset, any other additional costs. Where known, any notice period should also be indicated. Finance will only pay costs agreed at the outset and any other additional costs on the invoices must be referred back to panel for approval by the relevant budget holder.

This should be confirmed in writing to the External Residential Placement at the commencement of the placement. There must be no confusion or dispute later, if and when establishments add on other costs to the invoices.

All invoices should go to the Unit Manager, Residential Services at Westfields, Westfields Rd, Mirfield, WFI4 9PW and then forwarded to the Payment Team. Invoices must be authorised by the Unit Manager, Residential Services.

If a placement ceases, the social worker must inform the Unit Manager, Residential Services as soon as possible to avoid overpayment of the account. Notification of the exact date of placement termination should also be forwarded to the Unit Manager, Residential Service, Westfields, Westfields Rd, Mirfield, WFI4 9PW.

9. Notifying Other Agencies

If a child/young person is placed in an external residential placement in the area of another Local Authority, there is a statutory duty to inform that Local Authority. These details are contained in procedure CFS 4/4a Placement Changes - Notification to other Agencies.

Written notification must be given to the area authority of the arrangements for the placement before the placement is made or, if the placement is made in an emergency, within five working days of the start of the placement unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so. 

The notification must include:

  1. Details of the assessment of the child's needs and the reasons why the placement is the most suitable for responding to these; and
  2. A copy of the child's Care Plan (unless already provided in the case of a Placement at a Distance).