Statement 6: Looked-after children and young people who move across local authority or health boundaries continue to receive the services they need

Key messages

Looked-after children are not always able to stay in the same placement and, in some cases where the child or young person has complex treatment needs or where there are safeguarding concerns, they may need to move to an out-of-area placement. Where this is the case, the social worker needs to ensure that, as part of the initial fact finding, they identify if relevant services are available in the new local authority area before the new placement is made, unless the placement is made in an emergency. Where a child or young person need to be placed out-of-area, it is important to provide them with the opportunity to visit the area before making the placement to avoid future placement breakdown. The child's wishes need to be taken into account in the planning process.

The placing social worker should contact the out-of-area social worker to discuss provision. It is especially important that specialist services, in particular health services, continue. The placing social worker needs to liaise with the area social worker to make sure that the child gets a timely referral and does not go to the back of the queue for services. Planning is also important where the child has a statement of special educational needs to ensure that they have continued access to appropriate special educational provision.

Looked-after children and young people need to be visited on a regular basis by their social worker, no matter where they are placed. The Independent Reviewing Officer also has a crucial role to play in ensuring that the child's needs are being met and that this is regularly reviewed, wherever they are placed. Robust protocols are needed for where difficulties arise in children and young people accessing services in out-of-area-placements.

Virtual school heads are key in ensuring a smooth education transition for children and young people who are placed across local authority boundaries. They are responsible for promoting the educational achievement of the children and young people looked after by the 'home' local authority, whether they are educated within their 'home' local authority or in another authority. They also have a responsibility towards looked-after children and young people placed from other local authorities. They need to track and monitor looked-after children and young people's progress, and therefore need to establish links with the virtual school head of the authority where the child or young person is placed. They also need to have robust processes for sharing information with the receiving virtual school head.

Links to Ofsted Judgements

This statement links to the following Ofsted judgements:

'Children and young people who live away from their ‘home’ authority have immediate access to education and health services that meet their needs as soon as they begin to live outside of their ‘home’ area. Placing authorities adhere to the requirements of the placement regulations including notifying the ‘receiving’ authority that a child is moving to the area and assessing the adequacy of resources to meet the child’s need before the placement is made.'

'Social workers, residential staff and carers support children and young people to enjoy what they do and to access a range of social, educational and recreational opportunities. Those adults have delegated authority to make decisions about children’s access to recreation and leisure activities'. 

Tips, tools and practice examples

Suggestions for evidence that could be collected to assess performance against this quality statement include:

  • children, young people and carers' satisfaction with services
  • educational progression
  • children and young people taking part in leisure activities

Evidence should always include feedback from children and young people. 

Virtual school head

The Department for Education has information on its virtual school head web page. It includes a virtual school head toolkit as well as newsletters.

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Useful resources

Out of authority placements

Rights4Me provide information about the issues young people face when they are living in an 'out of authority placements'

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