Placements in Other Arrangements
RELEVANT GUIDANCESemi Independent Accommodation practice guidanceThis chapter was added to the manual in December 2021.
Children Act 1989 Section 22C(6)(d) provides that a local authority looking after a child may place the child in 'other arrangements'.
The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review provides that the assessment of the child's needs to inform their Care Plan or Pathway Plan may conclude that for some children, these needs will be best met by a placement in 'other arrangements'.
'Other arrangements' settings may include:
- Regulated settings:
- A care home as defined in section 105(1) Children Act 1989;
- A hospital as defined in section 275(1) of the National Health Service Act 2006;
- A residential family centre as defined in section 4(2) of the Care Standards Act;
- A school within the meaning of section 4 of the Education Act 1996 providing accommodation that is not registered as a children's home as defined in section 105(1) Children Act 1989;
- An establishment that provides care and accommodation for children as a holiday scheme for disabled children as defined in regulation 2(1) of the Residential Holiday Schemes for Disabled Children (England) Regulations 2013.
- Unregulated settings such as semi-independent and independent settings which are not regulated as children's homes under the Care Standards Act 2000 and so will not be inspected by Ofsted.
Regulation 27A Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (added by Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2021) imposes a prohibition (from 9 September 2021) on placing children aged under 16 in unregulated settings. (Regulation 27B provides an exception to this prohibition in the case of unaccompanied asylum seeking children whose age is uncertain and who claim to be aged 16 or 17. Such children may be placed in other arrangements placements pending an age determination. Where the child is later assessed as being under 16, the responsible authority may not leave the child in other arrangements accommodation for longer than 10 working days beginning with the date on which the child's age has been assessed as being under 16). For further information, see: Unaccompanied Migrant Children and Child Victims of Trafficking and Modern Slavery Procedure.
Children aged under 16 may only be placed in regulated settings as set out above ('exempted regulated settings').
2. Placements in Regulated Settings
These categories of placement as set out in section 1 above and specified in Regulation 27A Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 may be used for children over and under the age of 16, subject to suitability, as these specified regulated settings are exempt from the general prohibition on placement of children under 16 in 'other arrangements'.
It is essential that the responsible authority takes every step to establish that the child's needs are matched to the services provided by the placement.
Regulation 27 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 provides that before placing the child, the responsible authority must:
3. Placements in Unregulated Settings
Placements in any 'other arrangements' (apart from exempted regulated settings under Regulation 27A) may only be used for children over 16 years of age.
Regulation 27 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 provides that before placing the child, the responsible authority must:
- Be satisfied that the accommodation is suitable for the child and must have regard to the matters set out in Schedule 6;
- Unless it is not reasonably practicable, arrange for the child to visit the accommodation; and
- Inform the IRO.
The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review provides that some semi-independent and independent settings may provide suitable 'other arrangements' placements for older looked after children.
In all circumstances, it is essential that the responsible authority takes every step to establish that the older child's needs are matched to the services provided by the setting when considering an 'other arrangements' placement.
The responsible authority will have to ensure that the carers have the necessary competencies so that the support provided by the placement enables the young person to develop the skills they will need to make a positive transition to greater independence in the future.
These placements could include:
- Family or domestic settings, where the adults responsible for their care and/or support are not approved as foster carers (supported lodgings);
- Foyers and other kinds of supported accommodation services;
- Independent accommodation with 'floating support', where housing support workers make regular visits to accommodation to assist young people to develop the skills needed to manage in their own tenancy in future; and
- Other semi-independent and independent settings that provide support to the older child.
Schedule 6 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 sets out factors that must be considered in determining whether accommodation provided as an 'other arrangements placement' is suitable for individual looked after children aged 16 or over. The factors set out below do not need to be considered for 'other arrangements' placements in any of the exempted regulated settings under Regulation 27A.
3.1 Suitability of Accommodation
In every case, before making an 'other arrangements' placement in these settings the responsible authority must establish that the accommodation is suitable. Suitable accommodation is accommodation:
- Which is suitable for a child aged 16 and over in light of their needs, including their health needs;
- In respect of which the responsible authority has satisfied itself as to the character and suitability of the landlord or other provider;
- Which complies with health and safety requirements related to rented accommodation; and
- In respect of which the responsible authority has, so far as reasonably practicable, taken into account the child's:
- Wishes and feelings; and
- Education, training or employment needs.
3.1.1 Facilities and services provided
Consideration of facilities and services will be particularly relevant where the young person is not placed in a domestic setting (i.e. with a host family as part of a supported lodgings arrangement or where they choose to live with family or friends) but is placed in accommodation where they are independent or sharing the occupancy. The responsible authority will need to take the following issues into account:
- The space available in the property:
- Where the property is shared with others the young person must have their own lockable room allowing them privacy;
- Where the young person is in education or training the property should offer study space, in their own room or elsewhere.
- The bathing and toilet facilities, which must be sufficient for the number of occupants in the property;
- Whether the state of repair of the furniture is adequate where the property is already furnished prior to the young person moving in; and
- The adequacy of the heating and hot water.
3.1.2 State of repair
The property must be 'habitable' – i.e. structurally sound, free from damp and in an adequate state of repair. In addition, the household appliances must be usable and fit for purpose. The young person should be fully informed about who is responsible for repairs and maintenance to the property, fittings and fixtures and of what to do and who to contact in an emergency, for example a water leak or if the heating breaks down.
The responsible authority will need to check, as far as reasonably practicable, that:
- The landlord possesses a current up to date gas safety certificate, that any fire detection equipment works and that if there was a fire, the property could be evacuated safely;
- The electrical wiring has been checked within the last five years, and any electrical appliances in the property must be safe; and
- The accommodation is secure (e.g. is there a burglar alarm; locks on windows; mortice locks) and the local authority knows whether the previous tenant has returned all their keys or that the locks have been changed.
The landlord should have all the necessary buildings and liability insurance cover for the accommodation.
There should be adequate transport links between the property and the young person's place of education, training or employment and the accommodation should be reasonably accessible to people in the young person's personal support network, health and leisure services and other amenities. The area where the property is located should be thought to be generally safe at night. Where the assessment of the property's suitability for the individual young person suggests that there are concerns about the safety of the area where the property is situated, it will be even more important to ensure that the accommodation is secure.
Where the young person is placed in accommodation that comes with housing related support, then the support to be provided must contribute to responding to their assessed needs. Similarly, where the young person is placed in 'supported lodgings', the support to be provided must be carefully matched to their needs. The responsible authority should establish how the accommodation provider has been selected, assessed and trained; and how they are supervised. It will be important that the suitability of accommodation providers is kept under regular review. The responsible authority will need to take steps to be satisfied that the assessment and selection process has involved proper independent scrutiny, involving safeguarding checks and checks on the provider's financial viability, to establish that the provider has the necessary skills and competencies to respond to the needs of the young person in order to achieve the goals agreed as part of their care plan.
3.1.5 Tenancy status
Where young people are occupying the accommodation as tenant in their own name then the authority should take steps to ensure that the young person understands their rights and responsibilities under the tenancy agreement and, where there is uncertainty, make sure that the young person has access to independent advice.
3.1.6 The financial commitments involved for the young person and their affordability
At the commencement of any tenancy the responsible authority must establish that the accommodation is affordable for the young person on the income available to them and there is clarity about the services that all charges are intended to cover. At the time that the young person moves in, arrangements should be in place for funding rent, any service charges, utilities and other tenancy costs. Other costs linked to the location of the property, for example transport costs to the young person's place of education and/or work, should be taken into account. The responsible authority will need to establish that the young person understands the nature of the funding arrangements and their responsibilities for contributing to the costs of rent, utilities and other tenancy costs. Arrangements should be agreed between the authority and the young person about whether the contents of the accommodation should be insured and how premiums will be covered.
If the young person is expected to be able to remain in the property after they reach the age of 18, consideration should also be given to these elements of affordability in the light of the young person's likely financial situation once they are no longer maintained by the local authority. This may involve liaising with the local housing benefit department regarding the levels of housing benefit or local housing allowance likely to be available if the young person needs help with paying their rent.
3.2 Child's views and understanding
- Views about the accommodation;
- Understanding of their rights and responsibilities in relation to the accommodation; and
- Understanding of funding arrangements.
3.3 Placement Planning
The responsible authority must establish the young person's views about the suitability of any accommodation. Young people should be familiar with how their needs have been assessed and how this assessment has informed the provision of services and support set out in their care and pathway plan. Discussions between the young person and their social worker about this extremely important issue must make sure that the young person appreciates the implications of their tenancy and recognises what is expected of them. They must be offered sufficient information, support and advice so that they understand any financial commitments and expectations that fall to them. The responsible authority must make sure that the young person knows what they should do if their financial circumstances change or if there is an increase in the costs of the accommodation. This essential information must be recorded in the young person's Pathway Plan.
The factors outlined above are not intended to limit choice for young people who wish to and are ready to move to more independent accommodation as part of preparing them for the transition to adult responsibilities. However, these factors outline the issues that will need to be considered at both a strategic and an individual level whenever commissioning independent and semi-independent accommodation for this group. Attention to these factors will assist authorities to be responsible corporate parents by ensuring that whenever children are placed in 'other arrangements' they can be provided with the necessary stability and support. The primary issue to be addressed in making a placement in 'other arrangements', just as in any other placement setting, will be how making this placement meets the assessed needs of the individual child.
Where a move to 'other arrangements' takes place as part of the pathway planning process to prepare a looked after child for the transition to adulthood, then this move will represent a significant change to the young person's Care Plan. Such a move should only take place following careful planning that will have been scrutinised at the young person's review meeting, chaired by their personal IRO.
The review must establish that a Pathway Plan is in place. The plan must indicate how it is intended that the proposed move will meet the young person's needs – e.g. that the support to be provided is adequate and will help to develop their personal skills. The review too must be satisfied that the young person has been properly prepared and will be able to manage in new accommodation. It should be routine practice that the young person will have visited any proposed new accommodation so that they are able to take an informed view about its suitability. The move should maintain as much stability as possible and, in particular, enable the young person to pursue their chosen education, training or employment options. The prospective accommodation providers should participate in this crucial review meeting. This will allow the review to establish whether the expectations about what the move is intended to achieve will realistically address the young person's needs as set out in the proposed plan. As at every other review, the young person should be supported to take an active part in the meeting, so that all involved can understand how the move is intended to support the young person's future needs and aspirations.
Regulation 12(3)(c) requires that, where a young person is placed in 'other arrangements', then the local authority must make a Placement Plan involving the young person and the person responsible for supporting them in the accommodation. This should be the person who will have the most day to day contact with the young person, for example their 'key worker' or supported lodgings host/carer. Any support plan setting out how the supported accommodation service will support the young person should be integral to the placement plan and avoid duplication. The placement planning process should involve an exchange of all the necessary information included as part of the young person's Pathway Plan, so that the accommodation provider has a full understanding of the young person's needs and their role in responding to these.
Where children are placed in 'other arrangements', it will be essential that the provider appreciates the arrangements that the local authority proposes to put in place to make sure that the child is adequately supported. The Placement Plan must be explicit about the respective roles and responsibilities of the placement provider and the child's social worker, their IRO and of other staff employed or commissioned by the authority to contribute to the plan for the child's care.
The Placement Plan must include:
- The respective safeguarding responsibilities of the provider and local authority;
- The frequency of visits the child can expect from their responsible authority;
- Communication arrangements between the provider and the local authority;
- The provider's responsibilities for notifying the child's social worker and accountable staff of the authority of any significant change in the child's circumstances; and
- Arrangements for giving notice of intention to terminate the placement (along with the authority's responsibilities for convening a review of the child's care and pathway plan where there is a risk of the placement being terminated).