Freedom of information response

Care Planning, Placement and Case Review

Publication date: 
Friday 31 July 2020
Request: 

1. Please could you a) provide a statement of the overarching approach that you have taken to utilising the legislative flexibilities provided by the The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 and b) confirm who signed this off within both the local authority and any providers that you commission to run children’s social care services?

2. With reference to the need to record any use of the legislative flexibilities provided by the The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 as well as the ‘reasons for doing so’ and ‘local circumstances that have given arise to the need to use the flexibilities’ – as set out in the Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for children's social care services as per 6 May 2020 – please confirm how many of each specific flexibility has been utilised in total and in each month since the regulations came into force, and summarise the reasons and local circumstances which made the use of each type of flexibility necessary? 

In your answer, please include both the specific regulation that has been utilised and a description of the flexibility (it may be helpful to make reference to the Children’s Commissioner for England’s summary of each of the regulations), and, as far as possible, present the information as per the following table:

Regulation

Description of flexibility

Total number of uses

Number of uses in May

Number of uses in June

Summary of reasons and local circumstances

Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulation 23

An emergency placement with an approved foster carer can now last 24 weeks, rather than 6 days, even if that foster carer is eg not approved to look after that many children

XX

XX

XX

E.g. Shortage of foster carers and inability to recruit more

3. What information relating to your use of the legislative flexibilities provided by the The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 has been a) requested by or b) provided to Ofsted, and what, if any, further action are you aware of Ofsted taking in response?

Response: 

1a. Thurrock has made a decision that it will not utilise the legislative flexibilities provided by The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 unless this would likely cause a detrimental or safeguarding risk to a child and only in circumstances where it is risk assessed as appropriate. Where possible, we have continued to practice in line with the Regulations, Standards and our local procedures.

1b. This is agreed and signed off by the Assistant Director of Children’s Services.

2.

Regulation Description of flexibility Total number of uses Number of uses in May Number of uses in June Summary of reasons and local circumstances
Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 9, 19 and 47C This amends the requirements to complete placement plans once a child has been placed within five or ten days (depending on circumstances) to as soon as reasonably practicable. This also applies to children on remand. X X X Thurrock has not made use of this relaxation of the requirements due to Covid19.
The data on placement plans is not readily available and counted in a readily accessible way and would mean that this would result in the freedom of information response exceeding 18 hours. This is based on it taking 30 minutes to look at each file where a child has been either accommodated or changed placement
Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulation 11 This means that a child can be placed outside their local area with a carer, even if this carer is not ‘connected’ to them, without approval by a nominated officer. 0 0 0 Thurrock has not made use of this
Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulation 23 An emergency placement with an approved foster carer can now last 24 weeks, rather than 6 days, even if that foster carer is eg not approved to look after that many children 0 0 0 Thurrock has not made use of this
Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulation 28  This sets out that ‘visits’ to children in care can be done by phone or video call. It states that  ‘Where (a social worker) is unable to visit (a child) within the timescales set out in this regulation the responsible authority must ensure that R visits C as soon as is reasonably practicable thereafter.’ This is a relaxation of the requirement to visit to those timescales. 377 228 149 Social distancing rules under Covid19
Self-isolation of carers/children/placement
Risk assessment carried out on each child and where it was safe to do so or it was felt that a face to face visit was required the child was visited and seen and social distancing applied
Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulation 33 and 48 This changes the requirement for care plan reviews to take place every six months – it is now ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’ after that if six months is missed. This also applies to children in short breaks care. 0 0 0 Thurrock has not made use of this
Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulation 48 Children can stay with short breaks carers for up to 75 days in one go, rather than 17 days in one go (the 75 day per year total remains the same) 0 0 0 Thurrock has not made use of this
Fostering Services (England) Regulation 23 This removes the requirement for foster panels to be set up to approve new carers or review foster carers. 0 0 0 Thurrock has not made use of this
Fostering Services (England) Regulation paragraph 2 of Schedule 3 This removes the requirement for a medical report at the initial stages of foster care approval 0 0 0 Thurrock runs stage one and two of the fostering assessment concurrently; no carers have been approved without a medical
The Children’s Homes Regulation 6 Changes the requirement for care from staff outside the home to be delivered by someone with the knowledge and skills to do it, to make this only ‘as far as reasonably practicable’ n/a n/a n/a Thurrock does not run any children's homes
The Children’s Homes Regulation 8 This sets out a ‘reasonable endeavour’ to make sure children achieve the education standard in Children’s Homes n/a n/a n/a Thurrock does not run any children's homes
The Children’s Homes Regulation 20 This sets out that children can be deprived of their liberty under public health powers of the Coronavirus Act 2020 if they are symptomatic n/a n/a n/a Thurrock does not run any children's homes
The Children’s Homes Regulation 22 Allows for contact with family to take place remotely n/a n/a n/a Thurrock does not run any children's homes
The Children’s Homes Regulation 44 This sets out independent visitors should ‘make reasonable endeavours’ to visit monthly, rather than that they have to n/a n/a n/a Thurrock does not run any children's homes
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Fees and Frequency of Inspections) (Children’s Homes etc) Regulation 27 This stops the requirement for children’s homes to be inspected twice a year n/a n/a n/a Thurrock does not run any children's homes
Residential Family Centres Regulation 10 This states that for residential family centres (such as mother and baby units) the provider must only make ‘reasonable endeavours to ensure’ that they promote and provide for the health, welfare, care, treatment and education of residents rather that that they ‘shall’ do so. n/a n/a n/a Thurrock does not run any residential family centres
Residential Family Centres Regulation 20 This allows for complaints to be responded to within 28 days ‘as far as reasonably practicable’ rather than a hard time limit n/a n/a n/a Thurrock does not run any residential family centres
Residential Family Centres Regulation 25 This allows for the registered provider to only have to make ‘reasonable endeavours’ to visit the unit once a month. n/a n/a n/a Thurrock does not run any residential family centres
Adoption Agencies Regulation 17 and 30D and 31 This allows for a Local Authority to choose not to have an adoption panel approve placements for adoptions and to have the decision for whether adopters remain suitable approved by the panel 0 0 0 Thurrock has continued to use it's adoption panel in the usual way via teleconference
Adoption Agencies Regulation 4 This reduced the number of people required on an adoption panel, if it does go ahead 0 0 0 Thurrock has continued to use it's adoption panel in the usual way via teleconference
Adoption Agencies Regulations 27 This means that a potential adopter can go through the first stage of pre-assessment without medical or DBS checks, although these would still be needed before final approval 0 0 0 Thurrock has not made use of this
Adoption Agencies Regulations 36 This stops the requirement for reviews when a child has either been approved or placed with adopters if this is not reasonably practicable, but an adoption order has not yet been made, unless the agency thinks there is a safeguarding issue 0 0 0 Thurrock has not made use of this
Private Arrangements for Fostering Regulations 4,7 and 8 This means that if a LA becomes aware of a child who is, or is about to be, privately fostered they now only need to visit them ‘as soon as is reasonably practicable’ rather than within seven days, and then only make reasonable steps to visit every six or 12 weeks in subsequent years 0 0 0 Thurrock has continued to make direct initial visits to privately fostered children
Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure Regulations 18, 19 and 20 These regulations mean that review panels into complaints only have to respond to complainants ‘as soon as reasonably practical’ rather than to statutory timescales 0 0 0 Thurrock has not used this
Education and Inspections Act 2006 (Inspection of Local Authorities) Regulation 3 This change relaxes the requirement to provide a response and proposed plan of action within 70 days of an Ofsted inspection of LA services. The same change applies after joint area inspections n/a n/a n/a Thurrock has not used this relaxation of the requirements

3. The Eastern Region Directors are in regular contact with Ofsted via the REACT meetings where they are updated and reassured about action taken in respect of the above amendments.

Ofsted provide regular updates about their response to Covid19 which are available by the following link; https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ofsted-coronavirus-covid-19-rolling-update#history

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Request reference:
FOI 10095