Placement Planning and Disruption Meetings


Section 2, Disruption Meetings was updated in December 2019 to reflect local practice.

1. Placement Planning Meetings

Placement Planning meetings should be convened as part of the process of identifying and placing a child - as set out in the Placement in Foster Care Procedure and the Placements in Residential Care Procedure. The first Placement Planning Meeting in relation to a placement should be held before the placement. Where this is not possible because of the urgency of the situation, it should be held in order that the Placement Plan is prepared within 5 working days of the start of the placement.

Further Placement Planning Meetings should be held at intervals agreed with the manager of the residential home or the foster carers and their supervising social worker - or as required for example where there are issues to be resolved in relation to the day to day arrangements for the placement.

The social worker and home manager/foster carers supervising social worker will agree the best format and venue for the meeting and who will chair the meeting.

The people listed below should attend or contribute to the meetings:

  1. The child's social worker and/or other professional associated with the child e.g. Leaving Care Worker or advocate;
  2. The child;
  3. The child's parents;
  4. For children in residential care, the child's link worker/keyworker and, where appropriate the home manager;
  5. For children in foster care, the foster carers and their supervising social worker.
Before any meeting, the chairperson should obtain or be updated on the following, if available:
  • The Care Plan;
  • Any work which has been undertaken in supporting the child's placement;
  • If relevant: the child's Personal Education Plan and Pathway Plan.

Where the proposed placement has the effect of disrupting the arrangements made for the child's education and training - see Education of Children in Care and Previously Looked After Children Procedure.

The chairperson should also ensure that the child, parent(s) and others who have been asked to contribute understand the purpose of the meeting, how it will be conducted and are given the opportunity to put their views and suggestions.

The chair should ensure that the carer has copies of all the information that they require to enable them to care for the child safely. The carer must also have a signed medical consent, authorising them by name to seek medical treatment for the child as required, and a placement agreement signed by the parent or person with parental responsibility. A carer held file must be provided to the carer to store all the relevant documentation, consents and appointments and running records in for the child.

If there are concerns about the suitability of the placement, consideration should be given to the following:

  • Whether it is possible to sustain the placement until the next Looked After Review by, for example, providing additional support to the placement;
  • Bringing forward the date of the next Looked After Review;
  • Ending the placement.

2. Disruption Meetings

Consideration should always be given to convening a Disruption Meeting in relation to children whose placement has ended abruptly or on an unplanned basis. Consideration of whether a meeting is required should include the child's social worker, their team manager and the IRO. Generally Disruption Meetings will not be held when the placement is of less than 6 months duration. Disruptions in placements of less than 6 months should be covered in the annual review. It is imperative that the supervising social worker seeks the views of the child's social worker when these placements end so that their views can be included in the annual review consideration.

The purpose of a disruption meeting is not to apportion blame but to consider the events that led to the disruption, plan for the child and reflect on any learning for the Department. Concerns about foster carers should be managed separately through the review system.

For children whose adoptive placement disrupts, a Disruption Meeting must take place - see Disruption of Adoptive Placement Procedure.

An "off line" manager (i.e. not the line manager with responsibility for the child) will usually chair the meeting. This will generally be the fostering manager, although there may be occasions where there are complex or specific circumstances which require an independent person to chair. This decision will be made by a Head of Service (Localities or Children in Care Division).

Those invited, or asked to contribute, should be:

  1. The child;
  2. The parents;
  3. The child's social worker and manager;
  4. The link worker/keyworker (for residential care) and home manager;
  5. The foster carer(s) and supervising social worker;
  6. The foster carer's children;
  7. The child's Independent Reviewing Officer;
  8. The child's advocate if relevant;
  9. The supervising social worker for the child's current carers;
  10. Other relevant staff/professionals.

This list is not prescriptive, nor is it limited to the people listed above. It is most likely that the views of the child and their parents will be sought prior to the meeting but not that they would attend. All participants could attend part of the meeting if that makes the meeting run more smoothly. Any of the above may want to contribute in writing, as may the current carers of the child, to assist the discussion.

The meeting will ensure the child (depending on their age and level of understanding) is given the opportunity to understand the reasons and be supported with transition - including return home and independence.

Foster carers must be supported to maintain links with children who leave their care.

The precise agenda will depend on the child/circumstances, but the chairperson should ensure the circumstances leading to the disruption are properly reviewed, and that all concerned are provided with opportunities to express their views freely with a view to establishing:

  • How and why the emergency/disruption occurred;
  • To learn from what happened and avoid the same thing happening again - for the child or others in the placement;
  • To contribute to the future planning for the child;
  • To identify work to be done and to ensure it is completed;
  • To ensure that appropriate notifications and other post placement arrangements have been undertaken.

The chairperson should keep minutes, which must be circulated to all concerned. These will be shared at the fostering managers' meeting for learning points to be discussed. An annual report on disruptions will be prepared and shared with the fostering panel and relevant managers.

In relation to the disruption of an external residential placement, consideration needs to be given to further use of the resource by the authority.

In relation to the disruption of a permanent foster placement, where the foster carers are in-house approved carers, consideration should be given to holding an early Foster Carer Review to consider the foster carer's approval - see Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.