Placements outside England and Wales
1. Necessary Consents
The local authority may arrange the placement of a looked after child outside England and Wales.
The written consent of the parents are required. If the child is the subject of a Care Order, the consent of the Court is required in addition to the parents.
Where the necessary parental consents are not forthcoming, the application to the Court can include a request to dispense with parental consent.
2. Placement Decision
Any decision to place a child outside England and Wales can only be included in the Care Plan after the following actions have been taken:
- Checks and assessments have been made through the Children's Services agency for the relevant area that suitable arrangements have been or will be made for the reception and welfare of the child in the country where the child will live;
- The child's Consent is given where old enough to do so;
- The parents have been consulted;
- The parents have consented or they cannot be found, are incapable of consenting or are withholding their consent unreasonably;
- Consideration has been given to the effect of the placement on the child's relationship with the parents;
- The placement is recommended by the child's Looked After Review;
- Legal advice has been obtained;
- The approval of the Designated Manager (Placements Outside England and Wales) has been given.
To obtain the Designated Manager's approval, the social worker should prepare a written report setting out the circumstances of the proposed placement, the child's wishes, the parents' views, the effect of the proposed placement on the child's relationship with the parents, how contact will be arranged if the placement is made, the Review's recommendation and attaching a copy of the parents' written consents (if given), the Care Plan, the report of the Children's Services agency where the child is to be placed and the minutes of the most recent Looked After Review.
The decision of the Designated Manager (Placements Outside England and Wales) as to whether the consent of the local authority to the placement should be given should be evidenced in writing together with reasons and a copy retained on the child's file. The child, parents and all those involved in the child's care should be notified of the decision.
3. Placements in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, Guernsey
Where a decision is made to place a child in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Guernsey, legal advice should be obtained as to the appropriate Court applications, notifications and consents which are required.
Where a Care Order is in existence, the Care Order can be transferred to the relevant area. The effect of the transfer will be that the Care Order ceases to have effect in England and Wales and the child's file can be closed.
Once the necessary Court authority has been given, the detailed arrangements for the child's placement, including continued contact with family members, must be included in a Placement Plan and agreed in writing with the Children's Services agency for the area where the child will be placed.
4. All Placements Abroad
Where a decision is made to place a child subject to a Care Order abroad, Legal Services should be contacted so that the necessary Court action can be initiated to obtain authority for the placement.
The social worker must keep the parents and the proposed carers regularly informed in writing of the progress of the application.
Once the necessary Court's authority has been given, the detailed arrangements for the child's placement must be included in a Placement Plan and agreed in writing with the Children's Services agency for the area where the child will be placed. The Plan must include the arrangements for the child maintaining contact with the parents and the way in which the placement will be reviewed and how the social worker will be kept informed of progress.
The child's file should not be closed for at least 3 months after the placement and only then with the approval of the Designated Manager (Placements Outside England and Wales) and after the receipt of a satisfactory report from the relevant Children's Services agency confirming the suitability of the placement and their commitment to continue to support the placement as necessary.
5. Adoptive Placements Abroad
A child should only be considered for an adoptive placement abroad where the Designated Manager (Placements Outside England and Wales) has approved the adoption plan for the child. This will follow a recommendation from the Adoption Panel.
In most cases, the local authority will be expected to have tried to identify an adoptive placement for the child within the UK including via the National Adoption Register for 12 months. However, in cases such as relative adoptions, it may be appropriate to consider an adoptive placement outside the UK sooner.