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The Care Planning Standard


  1. The care planning standard is that children receive well-planned care from the home and have a positive experience of admission and transition processes;
  2. In particular, the standard in paragraph (1) requires the registered person to ensure:
    1. That children are admitted to the home only if their needs are within the range of needs of children for whom it is intended that the home is to provide care, as set out in the home's statement of purpose;
    2. That arrangements are in place to:
      1. Ensure the effective induction of children into the home;
      2. Manage and review the placement of children in the home; and
      3. Plan for, and support, each child to prepare to leave the home or to move into adult care, in a way that is consistent with arrangements agreed with his or her placing authority.
    3. That each child's relevant plans are followed;
    4. That, subject to regulation 22 (contact and access to communications), contact between each child and his or her parents, relatives and friends, is promoted in accordance with the child's relevant plans;
    5. That the child's placing authority is contacted, and a review of that child's relevant plans is requested, when:
      1. The registered person considers that the child is at risk of harm or has concerns that the care provided for the child is inadequate to meet his or her needs;
      2. The child is, or has been, persistently absent from the home without permission; or
      3. The child requests a review of his or her relevant plans; and
    6. That staff help each child to access and contribute to the records kept by the registered person in relation to the child.

'Relevant Plans'

Relevant plans are defined in the interpretation section of the Regulations (regulation 2) as: any placement plan; any care plan; any statement of special educational needs; any education, health and care plan (“EHC plan”)[1]; and where the child is a youth justice child any detention placement plan, or any other plan prepared by that child’s placing authority in relation to the remand or sentencing of that child. ‘Relevant’ thus has a meaning here that is distinct from the normal meaning of that word. If a child has any of the above plans, they will fall within the meaning of ‘relevant plans’, but a child may not have all of the plans defined as ‘relevant’ (for example, there will be children living in children’s homes who do not have an EHC plan). Similarly a child may have a plan that the Regulations define as ‘relevant’, but may have no impact on the issue the provider is considering at that point in time, and providers should not feel obliged to make a plan apply where it does not. The essential point is that a child’s plans should form the basis of their care, and providers should use their judgement as to what is relevant in each case, taking the plans listed in the definition in the Regulations as a starting point rather than a complete list or a tick-box exercise.

[1] In some cases the child’s special education needs statement (SEN) will be a relevant plan, until such time as it is reviewed (the latest date being 2018) and replaced with an EHC plan.

Effective care planning and strong working relationships between the staff of the home and the placing authority are essential to the success of placements. [13]

[13] Placing authority is defined in 2(1) of the Children’s Homes Regulations 2015

For most looked-after children, many of these planning duties fall to the placing authority. The registered person should ensure that they and their staff engage proactively with the placing authority to contribute fully to the relevant plans for the child’s care on an ongoing basis. Homes should consider during the course of this engagement, seeking appropriate permissions for the person conducting independent visits to access the relevant parts of the child’s records, as agreed with the child.

The registered person should only accept placements for children where they are satisfied that the home can respond effectively to the child’s assessed needs as recorded in the child’s relevant plans and where they have fully considered the impact that the placement will have on the existing group of children. The Statement of Purpose is an important document in the process of care planning as it sets out the needs of children the home is set up and equipped to care for.

The registered person must challenge (under regulation 5(c)) any placing authority who asks them to accept a child in the absence of a complete and current relevant plan, as the expectation that a placement of a child without the necessary information would go ahead (in circumstances other than an emergency) is inadequate in relation to their role. It is essential that homes understand what will be required of them before they accept responsibility for a child’s placement, to avoid disruption and instability for the child in future and for other children in the home. For non-looked-after children, the home should ensure they have sufficient information from the child’s ‘placing authority’ (usually their parents/carers) and other relevant agencies to effectively assess whether they can meet the child’s needs before agreeing to the placement.

Homes set up for  emergency placements as indicated and detailed in their Statement of Purpose will require sufficient staff trained and skilled in in the admission and care of children, where their full background may not be known.

Registered persons must ensure there are procedures in place for welcoming and introducing each child to the home, and that they are sensitive to the needs of the child at the time of arrival. A warm welcome and introduction to the home is an entitlement for all children whether they are admitted in a planned way or in an emergency. Where possible other children and young people should be supported to contribute to the design of the welcome and introduction and where appropriate the welcome itself. The home has a key role in helping children to understand why they are living there and the plans for their future.

An effective introduction to a home will take into account the child’s abilities and capacity to understand and retain information. Such an introduction may take place over a period of time and may be delivered in different formats according to the child’s communication and cognitive abilities. The registered person should ensure staff establish the child’s understanding of key information about living in the home and the expectations of their care in order to establish whether there are gaps in the child’s understanding.

As well as longer-term support for children to move on from the home effectively (regulation 6(2)(b)(vi)), the home has an important role in supporting each child leaving the home in the period immediately before their departure. The registered person should work with the placing authority to ensure that each child’s transition is planned and help each child to prepare for leaving both practically and emotionally.

Significant changes to a looked-after child’s care, such as a change of placement, should only take place following a statutory review of their care plan chaired by their Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). The child should be actively involved in these important meetings and supported to express their views, wishes and feelings.

For looked-after children, the registered person should seek to ensure that the local authority regularly consults the child and the home about the child’s relevant plans. If the child raises concerns about the content of any of their plans, their implementation or the process of review, staff should advocate for the child and seek to ensure that their concerns are addressed.

Where the registered person considers that a child is at serious risk of harm, such as being persistently missing from their placement, they must contact the local authority to request a review of the child’s care plan (regulation 14(2)(e)). Local authorities must give serious consideration to such requests.[14]  Where a review does not take place, the Registered Person must escalate this concern under regulation 5 (engaging with the wider system to ensure children’s needs are met).

If, in an emergency situation, the registered person has to move a child out of the home to other accommodation, the accommodation must should be suitable and meet the child’s needs. The placing authority should be contacted immediately. If the child is looked-after, a statutory review should be convened as soon as possible after the emergency move has taken place.

[14] Regulation 33, Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010.

It will be in the interests of the majority of looked-after children to maintain contact with their families and friends. Information about the local authority’s responsibilities for enabling continued family contact is in Children Act 1989: Care planning, placement and  case review.

Both the arrangements for contact and any contact details (telephone numbers etc.) must be included in the placement plan agreed between the registered person and the child’s placing authority and updated regularly.

There may be circumstances where children’s homes staff assess that restriction of contact is necessary in the interests of the child, to safeguard them or promote their welfare. This decision should not be taken lightly and must be agreed with the placing authority, where possible, except in an emergency situation, where the placing authority must be notified within 24 hours. (See regulation 22 (5) and (6)).

Children’s homes have a duty to provide access to a telephone that children can use privately (regulation 22(3)(a)). This can include the provision of a mobile phone where appropriate and safe for the child, as long as an alternative is in place for the child to make telephone calls in private if their personal mobile phone is lost, out of credit or broken.

Appropriate forms of contact should be promoted and facilitated for each child, including where appropriate visits to the child in the home; visits by the child to relatives and/or friends; letters, emails and texts; use of social media and other forms of contact via the internet.

Children should be encouraged by staff to see the home’s records as ‘living documents’ supporting them to view and contribute to the record in a way that reflects their voice on a regular basis.

The registered person must consider the contact needs of children living in secure accommodation, as set out in their relevant plan. By nature of their location, secure children’s homes can be a significant distance away from the child’s home, making agreed face to face contact with friends and relatives difficult. Wherever possible, staff should work with the child to help them understand why face to face contact with their friends and relatives may be less frequent than they would like.

Last Updated: February 9, 2022