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4.1 Contact with Parents and Siblings

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter relates to contact with Parents and siblings, not to contact (or overnight stays) with relatives and friends - see Social Visits (Including Overnight Stays) Procedure.

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Social Visits (Including Overnight Stays) Procedure

Sanctions Procedure


Contents

  1. Approving and Planning Contact
  2. Supervised and Unsupervised Contact
  3. Cancellation of Contact
  4. Review of Contact Arrangements
  5. Termination of Contact


1. Approving and Planning Contact

Also see Section 5, Termination of Contact.

NOTE: When considering the making of a placement, the social worker should consult the Home’s manager to ensure that proper arrangements are in place for the child to have contact with his/her family and significant others; particularly when the child is placed at a distance away from their family home. No contact may be permitted between Children and their parents, friends or relatives without the approval of the Social Worker and must be consistent with arrangements outlined in the Child's Placement Plan.

Children should be encouraged and supported to maintain contact with parents and siblings, and parents should be encouraged to take part in activities in the home and organised for their children. Such contacts should be consistent with the child's Care Plan; which, itself, must take account of any Child Protection Plan or Contact Order that may be in force.

The purpose of the contact and how it will be evaluated must be made clear in the Plan.

Both direct and indirect contact arrangements should always be clearly detailed setting out how contact will take place, the venue, the frequency and how the arrangements will be evaluated and reviewed.


2. Supervised and Unsupervised Contact

The need to supervise contact should be considered as part of the assessment and planning process and any arrangements set out in the child's Placement Plan. This restriction should only be as a result of a court order or as a result of consultation with the Placing Authority and this should always be as part of the planning process. These agreements must be in writing and regularly reviewed.

2.1 Unsupervised Contact

Children may only have unsupervised contact with parents and siblings with the agreement of the Placing Authority and where the arrangements for such contact are set out in the Placement Plan.

2.2 Supervised Contact

The need to supervise contact should be considered as part of the assessment and planning process and any arrangements set out in the child's Placement Plan.

This restriction should only be as a result of a court order, as required by a Child Protection Plan or by agreement with the parent(s), for example, where a child may be disruptive or the parent(s) require other assistance whilst having contact with their children. It is also essential to consult the Placing Authority and this should always be as part of the planning process. These agreements must be in writing and regularly reviewed.

Where supervised contact is deemed appropriate or necessary, the reasons should be clearly recorded and the role of the care worker(s) as supervisor(s) clearly defined by the social worker and recorded accordingly in the Placement Plan.

Where possible the supervising care worker should be known to the child and the family before the supervised contact takes place.

The Placement Plan is required to detail the extent of supervision required by the staff member i.e. it may be sufficient to supervise from an adjacent room, the duration of the visit and if the visit is confined to a certain identified area i.e. a specified children's home or family centre. Staff supervising such visits should familiarise themselves with the requirements as detailed in the Placement Plan and follow the requirements specified.

2.3 Staff Visiting Family Homes

If it is likely that staff will visit children or supervise them in the family homes, they must consult the Home Manager/social worker beforehand - and a risk assessment should be completed. Advice should be provided to staff on the risks and strategies they should adopt.

If staff are confronted with unacceptable behaviour during the visit, they should attempt to comply with the guidance provided by their Home Manager or in accordance with their training/skills and the principles or procedures outlined in this manual.

If staff feel at significant risk, they should leave, preferably with the child, and contact the manager or the Police at the first opportunity.

2.4 Concerns during Contact

Should staff have any concerns about their own, the child's or other people's safety during contact they should inform/consult the Home Manager or on call manager. If this is not possible, staff should take what reasonable steps they can to reduce or prevent any risk or, in exceptional circumstances, they should notify the police.

The Placing Authority must be notified within 24 hours if staff have assessed that restriction of contact is necessary in the interests of the child to safeguard them.

If the police are called to assist with the management of a contact it is deemed to be a notifiable event and should be reported to the Area Managers, the Regulatory Authority and others see Notification of Serious Events Procedure.

2.5 Recording of Contact

Staff observations of the contact must be clearly recorded in daily records.

Any concerns about the contact should be discussed with the Home Manager, who may decide to consult the social worker. As necessary, future arrangements must be amended as a result of such consultations, and set out in the Placement Plan.


3. Cancellation of Contact

Under normal circumstances, the arrangements for contact with Parents and Siblings may not be cancelled or changed without the authority of the Social Worker. However, the Home’s Manager may impose a restriction, prohibition or condition upon contact which is necessary for the purposes of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the child in question e.g. if the child may be at risk or the child is too ill to attend, if the contact were to go ahead. If such a decision is made by the Home’s Manager, the parents/family should be notified as quickly as practicable and the Social Worker must be notified within 24 hours (or one working day). If the decision is made at the weekend/bank holiday the EDT social worker to be notified of the decision with a follow up to the social worker on the first working day after the weekend/bank holiday.

Contact arrangements must not be withdrawn as a Sanction imposed on a child.

See: Sanctions Procedure.


4. Review of Contact Arrangements

Contact arrangements, including the continuing need for supervision, should be reviewed in the child's Looked After Review and the Placement Plan Review.

Where the child' is subject to a Child Protection Plan the contact arrangements should be reviewed as required in the Child Protection Plan.

Where a Contact Order is in force and it is considered that the contact arrangements set out in the Order should be altered, legal advice should be obtained by the social worker as to the need to seek a variation of the Court Order.


5. Termination of Contact

Where it is considered that the child's contact with the parents should be suspended or terminated, the social worker must be consulted.

Where the child is the subject of an Emergency Protection Order, Interim Care Order or Care Order, an application to the Court for authority to terminate the contact will always be necessary.

If contact is suspended or terminated, the social worker must amend the child's Care Plan and the Manager of the home must ensure the child's Placement Plan reflects the decision.

End