Access to Resources Panel


This chapter was updated in January 2015 with minor updates throughout.

1. Introduction

The role of the CBC Resources Panel is to make decisions on placements, independent provision and support packages for Children and Young People Looked After or Children in Need or are subjects to CP Plan.

Referrals to the Panel should be made using the Referral Form.

The Panel is set up to ensure consistency of practice and decision making across children's social care and in response to the need to manage limited resources more effectively.

2. Cases that Require Presentation at the Panel

The following cases will require presentation at the Panel:

  • Where an assessment identifies that a child or young person's needs may require them to be Looked After, and all other alternative options have been explored and ruled out. Full details of the desired type of placement and the care plan for the child/young person must be covered in the referral form;
  • Where a continued placement requires agreement following an Emergency Protection Order, Police Protection Power, an emergency Section 20 or following an accommodation by Emergency Duty Team (out of hours);
  • Where a current placement or provider is requesting a higher level of support or alternative package of support;
  • Where there is a placement breakdown and an alternative is needed;
  • Where an assessment identifies support packages that seek to avert the child/young person being looked after;
  • All placements where the contract is due to end 8 weeks from the panel date;
  • Requests for an independent organisation to be commissioned to do specialist therapy / assessment for a child of young person. It is anticipated that part of this review will be to determine why this service is not available through CAMHS;
  • Requests for an independent organisation to be commissioned to do specialist therapy / assessment for a parent or guardian;
  • Where specialist therapy/assessment (by an independent organisation) for a child or young person is required and why this service is not available by CAMHS;
  • Independent fostering placement or in house foster placement;
  • Independent residential placements;
  • Secure Accommodation;
  • Respite Care.

3. Principles in Decision Making

The Panel will consider the following principles and child care practice standards in reaching its decisions:

  • Whether there is a clear care plan, identifying how the proposed/continuing placement will meet the child or young person's needs or how the child or young person can be safely returned home;
  • Whether the care plan has outlined clear timescales for implementation of actions ensuring that 'drift' is not occurring;
  • How the necessary resources can be brought together from within the family's network and within all relevant professional agencies (family group  meeting, and/or professional meeting to address the issues and hence avoiding the need to accommodate the child or young person);
  • What alternative interventions are available if the resources of choice cannot be secured;
  • Ensuring interventions achieve early success and a good outcomes for the child or young person;
  • Whether the child's and parents/carers wishes and feelings have been ascertained and that they are willing or actively engaged in using treatment or support resources offered to resolve identified concerns/issues;
  • What placements/services the child or young person has previously received;
  • The location of the proposed placement in relation to the child's networks;
  • Consider the child or young person's school needs and whether it is appropriate to consider a school move;
  • How long the child has been looked after by the department and whether the child is in legal proceeding on a Care Order/Interim Care Order or Accommodated under Section 20;
  • The trends and patterns in the placement of children, together with information, on those resources, producing the most successful outcomes for children;
  • The cost of the proposed placement whether there is an existing local Framework Agreement and the nature of the contractual arrangements in conjunction with advice from the Commissioning representative;
  • Consider alternatives to Secure Accommodation.

4. Addressing Equalities Issues

Addressing Issues Concerning Disability, Race, Religion, Age and Gender

The Disability Discrimination Act requires us to take reasonable steps to ensure that we do not discriminate against disabled children. Therefore the Panel will always seek to make provision for disabled children through the most appropriate service whether universal or specialist provision and seek to be creative in our approach to meet the assessed needs of the disabled child, young person and their family.

The Panel will ensure due consideration has been given to the child or young person wishes and feeling with due regard to his/her age and understanding.

The Panel will ensure due consideration is given to the child or young person's race, religion/belief, gender, culture and linguistic backgrounds, disability and sexual orientation.

5. Approval of Resources in an Emergency between Panels

Requests may be considered in the interim between panel meetings in emergencies, i.e. where the decision to accommodate a child or young person, and make a placement cannot wait until the next panel meeting. The relevant Head of Service or the Chair of the Resources Panel may give approval only until the date of the next panel.

These placements are not to be regarded as permanent and can only be considered further by the next panel meeting. Requests to the relevant Head of Service or the Chair of the Resources Panel, in such circumstances must be made through completion of relevant referral form.

The Head of Service, the Chair of the Resources Panel or delegated manager will notify (by email/telephone) the Resources / Commissioning Team of their decision and give permission for an emergency placement to be sought. It is essential that all the relevant information about the child or young person is available to the Resource / Commissioning Team in order for an appropriate placement to be found. The Resource / Commissioning Team will not be in a position to find a placement if there is no information about the child or young persons needs and as much history as possible in order to find a suitably matched placement. Once the placement has been made the Resource/Commissioning Team will notify the finance officer and panel administrator who will book case into the next panel.

6. The Timing of Case Presentations to the Panel and CLA and CP Reviews or CP Conferences

Sometimes decisions made at the Panel may impact on  CLA Care Plan or CP Plan.

Therefore, it is important to clarify that the Panel makes decisions about the resources needed to meet the assessed needs of the child as identified within the Care Plan. The CLA or CP Review is responsible for ensuring the Care Plan or CP Plan is 'fit for purpose' and addresses all areas of the child's life.

Particularly at points of transition or where there is a possibility of a significant change to the arrangements for a young person the IRO must be notified and copied into the Panel referral.

Any planned changes to the previously agreed Care Plan must be reported immediately to the IRO and a review convened prior to the move or change taking place. These changes are listed as:

  • Whenever there is a proposal for a child to leave care before the age of 18, i.e. for the child to become a relevant child, rather than an eligible child (respectively section 23A and Schedule 2, paragraph 19B of 1989 Act);
  • Wherever there is a proposal for the child to move from foster care, a children's home or other placement, to supported lodgings, or to other kinds of 'semi independent' or 'independent living' before the age of 18 (i.e. from accommodation regulated under the Care Standards Act to unregulated accommodation);
  • Prior to children subject to Care Orders being discharged from custody;
  • Planned move from Secure Accommodation to other type of suitable placement;
  • Wherever any unplanned change is proposed to a child's accommodation that would have the effect of disrupting his/her education or training;
  • Where a change of placement is proposed that would interrupt the arrangements for the education of a child in Key Stage 4;
  • Where a change of placement is proposed for a child who has remained settled and established with the same carer for a significant period of time.

At points of transition or where there is a possibility of a significant change to the arrangements for a young person the IRO must be notified and copied into the Panel.

The case must be presented to Panel a minimum of 3 weeks before the CLA or CP review is due to ensure that there is agreement from the Panel that resources are in place or planned as part of the Care Plan/CP Plan. For example where the plan is to move from an Independent Provider to an In house resource, Education and Health provision must be agreed prior to the move taking place.

In relation to the Staying Put Policy, the case should be presented to the Panel at the point the young person completes their formal education (end of year 11) for the post 18 options to be considered and the Policy to be included in the decision making and recommendations from the CLA and Carers reviews.

7. Referral Form

The Access to Resources Referral Form must be completed via Mosaic.

8. Time and Venue

  • The panel will meet weekly at 9.30am;
  • The panel should not be cancelled under any circumstances, without the prior agreement of the Chair of the Resources or a Head of Service;
  • Venue - Priory House, Chicksands;
  • Dates of all panels will be available from the Panel administrator.

9. Administration Process

The panel will be administered by the Panel Administrator.

All requests made to panel must be made on the approved referral form (this form must be completed for any referral to the Panel) and emailed to the Panel administrator.

The Panel administrator will book a slot on the Panel date requested or the next available slot. The appointment date and time will then be sent to the referring worker and supervising manager via email

All referral forms must be agreed and dated by the Social Worker, and Supervising  Manager.

The panel administrator must receive requests to panel at least 3 working days before the panel meets.

The panel administrator will act as a central information collection point for agenda planning, referrals, decision sheets and minutes.

The panel administrator will distribute papers to panel members at least 2 days before the panel meeting. Written applications submitted on the day will not be considered, unless in exceptional circumstances and agreed by the Chair or by relevant Head of Service.

The panel administrator will ensure decision sheets are recorded and distributed within the agreed timescales to all panel members and presenting managers.

Confidential minutes and decisions of the meeting will be recorded and distributed to all panel members and presenting managers. Copies will also be sent to Heads of Service.

All approvals will be for a specific time period; therefore a new application will need to be submitted, before the current placement/package agreement runs out. The panel will give a date when the new application will be required by. The panel administrator will book the date in the forward planner. The panel administrator will advise workers and supervising managers of the date. Failure to attend the review date may result in resources being stopped.

If the panel is unable to reach a decision, on the information provided, the application may be deferred to the next available panel.

10. Roles and Responsibilities


  • Chair panel meetings, ensuring the views of all the members are brought to bear on how best to meet the assessed needs as outlined by the presenting officer;
  • Agree the recommendations, proposals and action plans of the meeting;
  • Promote best practice within the resources available and ensure timescales for actions are given;
  • Agree the allocation of tasks to panel members and/or practitioners that may facilitate the care plan or support package, and ensure completion within time scales;
  • Ensure constructive questioning and challenge to the proposed care or support plan;
  • Sign off the minutes of the meeting.

The Presenting Manager

The aim of the panel is to approve placements/packages of care/support over a maximum period of agreed time.

The decision to present a case to panel will be taken by the first line manager:

The Supervising Manager should ensure the case is:

  • Fit for purpose, signifying that a satisfactory assessment has been completed;
  • That all other alternatives and options have been explored;
  • Gives a clear summary of the case and what the Panel are being asked to consider;
  • That the case falls within the remit of the panel;
  • When consideration is sought for an external placement, (residential or fostering) evidence should be submitted to the panel to demonstrate what alternatives have been sought, that an internal placement is either unavailable or inappropriate, and the reasons given for non-provision.

The expectation is for the supervising manager to present cases to the panel. It is essential that detailed information is provided to the panel on the attached referral form. Limited additional information may also be attached to this form; however this should not be a replacement of the referral form.

It should be noted that the Panel slots are 15 minutes for each case; therefore it is essential that all information is available in a concise form. The Panel is not a forum for long discussions, reassessment or care planning through panel.

Managers presenting cases to panel will be part of the decision making process at panel, and will ensure decisions are explained to practitioners, guide them on how the decisions should be actioned, and how the decisions are shared with children, young people and families.

Panel Members will:

  • Contribute to the discussion of the assessment materials brought to the Panel;
  • Provide expertise to the Panel on the proposed child care plan, quality of service (current or planned) how these will meet the child or young person's needs and how they will influence more successful outcomes;
  • Advise Panel on the availability of in house services. Where options are limited, consider alternative, creative solutions and where appropriate take referrals for their service to ensure an early response;
  • Ensure agreed recommendations/decisions which require action are completed within agreed timescales;
  • Comment upon the quality of the services proposed/provided to Children Looked After or Children in Need or children subject to CP Plans;
  • Feedback to presenting managers on their presentation and give them good practice examples to aid learning.

Resource and Placement Team will:

  • Provide up to date reports on placement activity, Residential, IFA and CBC Fostering:

  • Confirm / research placement costs if applicable;

  • Present reports on expensive placements;
  • Present reports on placements where the contract is due to finish within 8 weeks;
  • Take forward for action/negotiation, any issues arising from current or future providers of service;
  • Work with individual teams/workers to access resources agreed to ensure they meet assessed need;
  • Once the details of an external placement have been agreed and confirmed by the Panel, commissioners will update the system and inform relevant teams e.g. finance;
  • Source appropriate placements from existing block/framework contracts.

Commissioning Team will:

  • Monitor trends of needs and identify gaps in provision;
  • Assist in the identification of suitable, new cost effective provision and manage the external market;
  • Feedback from contract monitoring;
  • Review occupancy levels across all provision;
  • Put in place block/framework contracts as appropriate.

11. Post Panel Authorisation

Once approval has been given by the panel (or by the Head of Service or Chair of the Resources Panel (in an emergency), the social worker/Supervising Manager should contact the Fostering and Adoption Resources who has the responsibility to investigate placement options.

Under no circumstances should social workers agree or negotiate any form of notice period, or additional therapies / support which have not been specified by the panel. If required these will be negotiated by commissioner.

As soon as a placement ends or changes, social workers must notify the Resources Team, who will update Mosaic. It is important that this information is also forwarded to the relevant finance officer. This is essential to avoid paying for placements that are no longer in use.

The Panel may recommend that a referral be made to the following Panels:

  • The JAP (where there may be a need for joint funding from Education or  Health).

13. Panel Membership

Designation Attendance Requirements

Head of Intake and Family Support

Joint / alternating Chair

Head of Corporate Parenting

Joint / alternating Chair

Resource Officer

Core member

14. Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference of CBC Access to Resources Panel

  • Review the placement provisions made to children looked after by Central Bedfordshire Council and where necessary to challenge current plans and advise on alternatives;
  • Have a gate-keeping function and manage the threshold for access to the Children Looked After System;
  • Consider additional funding requests for existing external provision if requested by the Section Head (although in most cases this will be normal business);
  • Establish a common understanding and decision making process that enables consistent and equitable practice;
  • Agree funding for alternative intervention strategies or high cost support packages e.g. contact costs, additional support costs for residential or fostering placements, range of family support services etc;
  • Monitoring exit and transition strategies;
  • Target resources where they can most effectively assist families, and enable children and young people to remain within families/carers and their local communities;
  • Ensure that service packages are based on appropriate assessment(s) of need;
  • Oversee the distribution of the department's limited resources and ensure agreed packages represent best value for money;
  • Assist in the controlling and monitoring of the departments placement budgets, ensuring best value principles are adhered to;
  • Ensure that where a child or young person has needs other than social care needs e.g. health including mental health, or education needs that these cases will be referred to JAP;
  • Ensure that all resources purchased are allocated to the correct budgets, enabling frequent and accurate budget monitoring.