Quality statement 3: Stability and quality of placements

Quality statement

Looked-after children and young people live in stable placements that take account of their needs and preferences.

Rationale

Well-planned care that takes account of the needs and preferences of looked-after children and young people promotes stability and can reduce the need for placement changes and emergency placements.

Quality measure

Structure:

a) Evidence of a strategy to commission a diverse range of placements for looked-after children and young people, which includes arrangements for considering sibling co-placement.

b) Evidence of local arrangements to involve looked-after children and young people in choices and discussions about placement changes.

c) Evidence of local arrangements for identifying potential carers among extended family and friends and assessing them for suitability at the start of the care planning process.

d) Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that the child or young person gets to know their new carers and placement through visits and, where possible, overnight stays before they move to the placement.

Outcome:

a) Looked-after children and young people's satisfaction with their placement.

b) Carer satisfaction with decisions made to place children or young people in their care.

c) Feedback from looked-after children and young people that they were involved in decisions about placement changes.

d) Placement stability.

e) Proportion of all placements that are emergency placements.

What the quality statement means for each audience

Looked-after children and young people live in placements that take account of their needs and preferences, and understand how and why decisions about placement changes are made.

Carers of looked-after children and young people have children and young people placed with them who have been matched to the placement to take account of their needs and preferences.

Local authorities and other commissioning services ensure they commission services that provide a diverse range of quality placements and that ensure placement decisions take account of children and young people's needs and preferences.

Organisations providing care provide a diverse range of placements to enable matching that takes account of children and young people's needs and preferences.

Social care, education and healthcare staff discuss placement changes with the child or young person, taking account of their preferences along with their best interests, and explaining and documenting any reasons why their wishes cannot be followed.

Source guidance

NICE public health guidance 28/SCIE guide 40 recommendations 12, 13, 30 and 40.

Data source

Structure: a), b), c) and d) Local data collection.

Outcome: a) and c) Local data collection and Children's Commissioner for England State of the Nation: children in care and care leavers survey.

b) Local data collection.

d) Contained within the Children looked after return (SSDA903) and reported in the Department for Education Statistical first release: outcomes for children looked after by local authorities in England. Contained within the Children's Commissioner for England State of the Nation: children in care and care leavers survey.

e) Local data collection.

Definitions

Care plan

The preparation of the care plan and its content should be in accordance with The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations volume 2: care planning, placement and case review.

The health and education dimensions of the care plan are populated by the health plan and the personal education plan.

Involvement in choices and discussions

NICE public health guidance PH28/SCIE guide 40 recommendation 13 recommends that when planning placement changes, the child or young person's wishes need to be fully taken into account, along with consideration of their best interests. Any reasons why wishes cannot be followed should be explained to the child or young person and these reasons recorded. Children and young people should be made fully aware of their right to access advocacy services when a review decision is likely to overrule their wishes and feelings. The child or young person should also have enough notice of any planned change to arrange for an advocate to support them in their review meeting. An advocate is an independent person who helps make sure that the child or young person's views are heard and their rights are respected.

Range of placements

The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations volume 2: care planning, placement and case review states that local authorities should have a range of residential placements available to allow placements to be matched to each child's individual needs. Needs and placement options should be considered in advance of a placement being made to allow full consideration of the suitability of each option including the opportunity for a visit as part of the decision-making process. A strategy for placement decisions should also clearly set out how to meet the local authority's 'sufficiency duty' under the Children and Young Person's Act 2008, described in Sufficiency: statutory guidance on securing sufficient accommodation for looked after children.

Stability

Stability is one of the aspects of the framework of permanence described in The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations volume 2: care planning, placement and case review.

Equality and diversity considerations

Services need to be aware of different communication needs among looked-after children and young people and should consider a variety of means of involvement and communication. Consider creative techniques to gather and understand views. Specific groups identified through consultation as having potential additional needs include:

  • very young children

  • children and young people with special educational needs

  • children and young people with learning or physical disabilities

  • children and young people with speech, language and communication difficulties

  • children and young people with a hearing or visual impairment.

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people, and black and minority ethnic looked-after children and young people should have access to interpreters if their knowledge of English is limited, so they can explain their situation and make their needs known. This applies to all children and young people who do not have English as a first language, and to those with specific communication needs.

Context for this quality statement

This section signposts practitioners to regulations, statutory guidance and national minimum standards for looked-after children and young people that are of particular relevance to the NICE quality statement and its associated measures. As the legislative framework in relation to looked-after children and care leavers is complex and cross-cutting, this should not be viewed as an exhaustive list.