Care Plans

1. Who Must Have a Care Plan

Every looked after child must have a Care Plan.

If the LAC record is not sufficient to cover all the aspects outlined in this guidance, it is acceptable to attach or cross-refer to additional information/documents.

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

A Care Plan must be prepared prior to a child's first placement, or, if it is not practicable to do so, within 10 working days of the child's first placement.

If there are exceptional reasons that prevent the Care Plan from being fully drawn up prior to the child's placement, the overall aims of the  period of care  and the proposed placement must still be identified and recorded.

If satisfied, the manager can then approve that the Care Plan is drawn up within a maximum of 7 days of the placement. 

Part 2 of the Care Plan can be updated by the social worker, with the managers' approval, at any time. A copy of the amended Care Plan should be sent to the child and parents The changes to the Care Plan should be reported for scrutiny at the next  Looked After Review.

4. Approval of the Plan

The Care Plan relating to a child Accommodated under S.20 should be approved by the social worker's manager. An Interim Court Care Plan taken before the Court in relation to Care Proceedings must be endorsed and signed by the Team Manager; final Care Plans must be approved by a Designated Manager (Care Proceedings).

5. Consultation

This guidance must be read in conjunction with guidance on Consultation contained in Values and Principles Procedure.

The social worker is responsible for drawing up and updating the Care Plan in consultation with:

  1. The child;
  2. The child's parents and those with Parental Responsibility;
  3. Anyone who is not a parent but has been caring for or looking after the child;
  4. Other members of the child's family who are significant to the child;
  5. The child's school or education authority;
  6. The relevant health trust;
  7. The Youth Offending Service, if the child is known to them;
  8. Any other agency involved with the child's care.

6. Purpose

The purpose of the plan is to safeguard and promote the interests of the child, prevent drift and focus work with the child and the family.

Before a Court grants a Care Order it must be satisfied that a suitable Care Plan has been drawn up. 

7. Review

This guidance should be read in conjunction with Looked After Reviews Procedure.

The Care Plan must be reviewed at each Looked After Review. Part 1 of the Care Plan which outlines the overall aim of the care episode can only be changed at a statutory review. However, it is the responsibility of the social worker to make decisions and amendments in relation to Part 2 Care Plan at any time, preferably in consultation with the Core Group. Any changes to Part 2 must then be considered at the next review.

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 Reviewing Officer should ensure that a planning meeting is convened as a matter of urgency to consider the most appropriate permanent alternative.

At the third Looked After Review, a contingency plan must be made where the plan for permanence has not been achieved. No further rehabilitation plan should be included in the plan unless there are exceptional reasons to justify it or where further assessment is specifically directed by the Court in which case, the contingency plan must include the active pursuit of an alternative placement for the child.

All subsequent Reviews should review the progress and validity of the Permanence Plan. 

8. Contents

The information contained in the Care Plan must cover the following areas:

  • The child's Placement Plan (setting out why the placement was chosen and how the placement will contribute to meeting the child's needs);
  • The child's Permanence Plan (setting out the long term plans for the child's upbringing including timescales);
  • The Pathway Plan (where appropriate, for young people leaving care);
  • The child's Health Plan;
  • The child's Personal Education Plan;
  • The date of the child's first Looked After Review (within 20 working days);
  • The name of the Independent Reviewing Officer.

It should cover:

  1. 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 proposed legal status of the child, the proposed placement and the proposed relationship with the carers;
    • Time-scales for achieving the plan;
    • Details of any direct work to be carried out with the child preparing them for permanence;
    • Details of any future contact with family members, direct or indirect, where the plan is for an alternative permanent placement;
    • The criteria that will be used to evaluate the success of the plan;
    • Any Contingency Plans to avoid delay in securing an alternative permanent placement for the child in the event that the plan of first choice becomes unworkable (to be included by the third Looked After review at the latest).
  2. The arrangements made to meet the child's needs in relation to his or her:
    • Emotional and behavioural development;
    • The child's identity in relation to religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background;
    • Family and social relationships; arrangements for contact with sibling(s) accommodated by the authority or another local authority; details of any Section 8 Order, in relation to a Looked After Child; details of any order in relation to contact with a child in care; arrangements for contact with parents/anyone with Parental Responsibility / any other Connected Person; arrangements for the appointment of an Independent Visitor for a Looked After Child;
    • Social presentation;
    • Self-care skills.
  3. Views of others
    • The extent to which the wishes and feelings of the parents and others have been obtained and acted upon, together with reasons including explanations of why their wishes and views have been discounted.
  4. Placement details and timetable
    • Proposed placement (type and details);
    • Likely duration of the placement;
    • Support in the placement;
    • Other services to be provided to the child and/or family by the local authority or other agencies;
    • Specific detail of the parent's role in the day to day arrangements;
    • Arrangements for health care and education.
  5. Management and support by local authority
    • Those responsible for implementing the plan and the respective roles of others;
    • Arrangements for input by the child, parent and others in the decision-making process;
    • Arrangements for notifying the local authority of disagreements or for making representations;
    • Dates of review;
    • Contingency plan if the placement breaks down.

9. Circulation

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 his/her 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 at a minimum a copy of the Placement Information Record and Referral and Information Record is given to  the providers/carers. The social worker must ensure the providers/carers understand the key objectives of the plan, and how the placement will help achieve these objectives;
  • Copy to the link worker if the child is placed in a foster or residential placement;
  • The child's Independent Reviewing Officer.