What do children’s services have to do to understand the needs of child looked after under a voluntary arrangement?
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When children’s services are first thinking about the plans for a child to become looked after under a voluntary arrangement, a social worker should carry out a detailed assessment of the child’s needs. It is important that children’s services know what a child’s needs are. Understanding the needs of a child means a plan to meet those needs can be properly made.
How an assessment should be done
The assessment should involve the child and their family. Government guidance called Working Together 2018 says that high quality assessments should:
- Be child-centred (focus on the child)
- Look at the needs of the child within their family
- Involve children
- Build on strengths as well as identifying difficulties
- Lead to action including providing services and help.
When doing an assessment, children’s services should follow their local protocol about how assessments in their area should be done. This will set out the processes local social workers should follow when they do an assessment (see Working Together 2018 at page 26, paragraph 46 onwards).
The local protocol may be on the council website. Families can ask the child’s social worker for a copy.
Health and education needs
Children’s services have a legal duty:
- Make sure a child’s education needs are met and they get the best possible chance to achieve at school (see section 22(3A) of the Children Act 1989)
- Make sure a child’s health needs are met by their care plan. This is required by regulations 4 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010).
So, children’s services must arrange for the health and education needs of the child to be assessed. This is all part of the process of working out how the child’s needs can best be met. Health and education needs will be set out in separate sections of the child’s main care plan. These are called the ‘health care plan’ and the ‘personal education plan’.
The law about assessing education and health needs is found in regulations 5 and regulation 7, and schedule 1 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010.