Voluntary Accommodation

Introduction

The local authority is clear that children are best cared for within their own families or community network. It is also important that the authority has an opportunity to provide interventions such as family group conferences that improve the situation. However, where this is not possible then a planned admission to care enables the authority to best match children with carers. 

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Research indicates late admissions into care in teenage years are the least likely to achieve good outcomes and it is also more likely that these children will return home when they are older. The council has a service to work with adolescents who are ‘at risk of care’ because it wants to achieve the best outcomes for children.

A child can come into care under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 with the consent of those with parental responsibility. Most children who come into care are with foster carers. 

When a child comes into care the expectation of all parents, carers and professionals are outlined in a plan for the child.

Foster carers are approved carers who look after children. A named social worker co- ordinates the planning along with health and education professionals. A placement plan meeting will be arranged within 5 days of placement and will sort out day to day arrangements for the child including contact with parents.

If the young person is 16 or 17 years old, they do not need the consent of those with parental responsibility in order to become a child in care. Although good practice would indicate that the parental view would be obtained and considered.

As a parent with parental responsibility for a child you may at any time remove the child from accommodation provided by or on behalf of the local authority. Clearly this would be better in partnership with the authority and the local authority would need to assess the risk of the child returning home.

If the young person is 16 or 17 years old, they can decide to leave the accommodation without parental consent. These young people will become care leavers.

As a parent or carer it is expected that you will work co-operatively with the local authority and the child. This is because under Section 20 a court is not ensuring that the child is a child in care.

If a child or young person is a child in care, then the Social Worker must have regard to his or her views as well as the parental view.

Before making any decision with respect to a child in care the Social Worker shall ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child.

The Social Worker must also ascertain the wishes and feelings of any other important people in the young person’s life, including:

  • the parents
  • any person who is not an active parent but has parental responsibility 
  • any other person whose wishes and feelings the authority consider to be relevant
  • in making decisions the local authority shall give due consideration to:
  • the child or young person’s wishes and feelings, having regard to his or her age and understanding.
  • the wishes and feelings of any person mentioned above and
  • to the child’s religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background.

This will be a continuous  process as the Local Authority reviews the child’s care after 1 month, a further three months and then every 6 months. An Independent Reviewing Officer will undertake the reviews of care and the Social Worker’s report on progress for the review will be shared with parents prior to this taking place.

Our Parenting Pledges

  • to find the best available home for you
  • to help you stay in touch with your family and friends
  • to help you stay healthy
  • to support you to do your best at school and college
  • to help and support you to move on from care
  • to help you to participate and
  • make sure your voice is heard in the decisions about you
  • to help you stay and feel safe

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