Permanency Tracking Meetings
This chapter was added to the manual in March 2018.
1.1 Achieving better outcomes for children
A robust and sustainable Permanency Plan for Looked After Children should lead to better outcomes for children in care. The panel assists Central Bedfordshire to gain a greater understanding of the needs of it's looked after children to assist with its planning processes. In addition commissioning decisions will be better informed.
The existence of a Permanency Panel and meeting structure promotes the following additional benefits:
- Establish a better understanding of collaborative working between social work colleagues in Family Support, Looked After, the Disabled Children's Service and Fostering and Adoption Teams. The Youth Offending Service will be part of this process as and when required;
- Establish clearer lines of accountability in relation to decision making for looked after children;
- Provide a clear audit trail for the council in relation to where and when decisions in relation to permanency were made; and
- Assist in the promotion of best value;
- Enable the council to gain greater control of planning for its future provision of resources.
2. Permanency Tracking Meetings
Central Bedfordshire Children's Services has established a Panel of Managers who:
- Oversee and endorse the proposed Permanency Plans for all children before they reach their second Looked After Review;
- Make recommendations for those children already looked after where a Permanency Plan is not already in place;
- Ensure that funding for placement arrangements has been agreed by the Resource Allocation Panel;
- Management oversight of permanence planning for all children to ensure that permanence is formally approved and achieved in a timely manner for all children.
3. Membership of the Panel
The panel consists of the Practice Manager for Conference and Review Service (Chair), Practice Manager for the Looked After and Care Leavers Service, Practice Manager of Family Support Team, Practice Manager of Adoption Team and Practice Manager of Fostering Team. Representatives from Children with Disability Service and Youth Offending Service will also be invited to attend panel as appropriate. Colleagues form Youth Offending Service receives details of children to be discussed at panel and copies of the documents and will determine the appropriateness of their attendance on each occasion.
4. Remit of the Panel
The Panel will approve the Permanency Plan for each Looked After Child prior to the second LAC Review. The panel is able to approve the appropriate resources for each child when permanency is established. The Permanency Panel scrutinises all cases where permanence is being considered. This process seeks to ensure:
- Effective planning and decision making;
- Evaluation of the Care Plan (including Court Care Plan) and the viability of the support plans;
- Provide an independent oversight of cases;
- Provides a source of how feedback that informs service improvement.
The Panel reviews the Permanency Plan for the child agreed at the Permanence Planning Meeting and pay regard to:
- The appropriateness of the Permanence Plan to meet the assessed current and anticipated future needs of the child;
- Current and future support needs;
- The proposed plan for contact;
- The viability of the plan;
- The most appropriate legal outcome to ensure permanence in the proposed placement type.
5. Cases to be Presented
- Children and young people currently subject to court proceeding and the Local Authority final care plan is long term fostering or adoption;
- All Looked After Children and young people prior to second LAC Review;
- Children with a plan for Adoption if the plan is to change;
- Children whose Permanence Plan has changed in an emergency or where a disruption meeting has been held;
- Young people subject to remand if the plan is that they will become long term looked after at the end of the remand period;
- Children and young people in Friends and Family placement agreed in Court, or aged 13+in who have been in Foster Placement for at least 1 year to be matched.
Usually the allocated Social Worker will attend to discuss the permanence plan for each child. In cases where there is a 'difference of opinion' between the social worker and the IRO the IRO will be invited to attend so that the panel has a full understanding of the issues/care planning/decision making. The Team Manager may wish to attend with the allocated social worker.
In the absence of the allocated Social Worker the Team Manager will attend.
For cases that transfer between services prior to the second review or other scenarios it may be appropriate for both the transferring and receiving social worker to attend panel.
7. Submission of Documents to the Panel
Documents to be submitted:
- The Local Authority court care plan;
- The minutes of the permanence planning meeting;
- The Interim Care Plan or Section 20 Looked After Children Care Plan;
- Minutes of the disruption meeting (if applicable).
8. Booking System
Social Workers will be required to book onto a panel between the first and second review.
A schedule of submission and panel dates will be circulated by the Conference and Review Service (CRS).
The child's social worker must email a copy of the permanence planning meeting and Care Plan for all children to be considered to the chair of the panel with a copy to the minute taker (member of CRS) no later than one week before the panel date.
The chair/minute taker will ensure circulation to other panel members in advance of the panel meeting.
9. Chair and Minute Taking
The chair of the Permanency Tracking meeting will ensure there is a written record of the discussion, the options explored and the rationale for determining the Permanency Plan.
The minutes of the meeting must be stored on the child's case file and be made available to the Agency Decision Maker and court on request.
10. Disruption of Placements
Where a permanent placement disrupts a Disruption Meeting will be held. A report of the Disruption Meeting will be presented to the Permanence Tracking Meeting who will consider what lessons can be learnt in respect of:
- The child and future needs and planning;
- Practice and service improvements for the agency.
For a disruption meeting the chair would be an Independent Reviewing Officer.
11. Changes to Permanency Plans
Where there is a need to change a Permanency Plan to reflect the needs of the child or young person, this would be through a Permanency Planning Meeting and endorsement through a LAC review. For those situations where the plan needs to be changed on an emergency basis there will be some circumstances where the IRO can endorse minor changes without a review, however where the change is major and affects parents' rights (placement, contact) then a review meeting should be convened. Such changes to plans should be agreed by the Team Manager who has the delegated responsibility and can subsequently be reported back to the next Permanency Tracking Meeting if timescales dictate that the matter is urgent.