What if a parent is unhappy with where their child is living whilst in care under a voluntary arrangement? What if their child is unhappy?
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Children’s services have a duty to share with the parents (or other person with parental responsibility) where a child who is looked after in a voluntary arrangement is living (see schedule 2, paragraph 15 of the Children Act 1989). There is no exception to this duty.
Note: The rule is different where a child is in care under a court order. See the Raising concerns about where a child in care is living for information and advice about that.
If a parent or carer is not happy with where their child is living they can:
- Start by talking through their concerns with their child’s social worker. Our guide to Working with a social worker includes helpful tips on how to prepare for doing this
- Raise their concerns with their child’s independent reviewing officer directly. The independent reviewing officer must then consider whether a looked after child review is needed and let the parent or carer know.
What can a parent or carer do if they learn their child is not happy in their placement. Can they start with talking to the social worker about this?
The social worker should then visit the child alone to discuss how they are finding their placement. The child’s wishes and feeling are an important factor when looking at where they should live and be cared for (see section 22(4) and 22(5) of the Children Act 1989). If the social worker has concerns about the care being provided, then they must report this to their manager and the independent reviewing officer.
Parents can also raise their concerns with the child’s independent reviewing officer directly. The independent reviewing officer must then consider whether a looked after child review is needed and let the parent or carer know.
These tips for contacting the independent reviewing officer may help:
- Contact can be made by telephone. Or in writing, by letter or email
- If the contact details for the independent reviewing officer haven’t already been shared the child’s social worker can be asked for these
- If sending an email or a letter, it is a good idea to:
- Include a date by which the independent reviewing officer is requested to confirm they have safely received the letter or email
- Say how soon you would like a full response from the independent reviewing officer (how long is reasonable will depend on how urgent the situation is. But non urgent matters, asking for a full response within 10 working days may be sensible
- Keep a record of any discussions with the independent reviewing officer including:
- Noting down the date and time of any discussions in a notebook or diary. Or in a voice note
- Keeping a copy of any emails of letters sent, and any received from the independent reviewing officer
- It can helpful to make note ahead of a call or meeting with the independent reviewing officer. Doing this can help parents and carers remember the things they want to raise. Talking things through with a trusted friend or family member can be a useful idea as well.
What if a parent or carer is still worried even after talking with the social worker and the independent reviewing officer?
If a parent or carer feels that the voluntary arrangement is no longer the right option for their child, they may be able to object to it continuing. And they may have a right to remove the child from the arrangement.
This will depend on several things however including:
- Whether the parent or carer has parental responsibility for the child
- Whether they are willing and able to provide somewhere for the child to live
- Whether they are willing and able to arrange somewhere for the child to live
- Where anyone who has a child arrangements order or special guardianship order for the child thinks the voluntary arrangement should continue
- Whether the child is 16 or 17 and is agreeing to the voluntary arrangement.
See Will a a parent or carer know where their child is living? Can they remove their child from the voluntary arrangement? What if children’s services are worried about the child being removed?