Part 6 - Permanence - Considerations, regarding permanence work, arising from key principles

Meeting Children’s Needs

  • It is not enough to know that things have improved for a vulnerable child; we need to work towards a position in which the key parties to an intervention, particularly the child, have grounds for confidence that the child’s needs will be met in the longer term i.e. that “good enough” care will be sustained.
  • We have a duty to thoroughly explore the capacity and disposition of parents to meet their children’s needs in the longer term, where this is seriously in question, but to do so within a timescale consistent with the child’s need for  secure, sustainable care, relationships and attachments
  • While there is a reasonable prospect of reuniting children with their parents and, by that means promoting and protecting the child’s welfare, we have a duty to support progress towards that end, but where that is in serious doubt we have a duty, likewise, to consider and take appropriate steps towards achieving permanent, secure care for the child by others.
  • Where children cannot appropriately be cared for, in the longer term, by those holding parental responsibility, we should seek to secure sustainable care for them, wherever possible in a family setting, including the transfer to the primary carers of legal parental responsibility.
  • Where other family members can provide good enough, secure care, that is usually better for the child than alternative arrangements, these possibilities should be explored with sufficient thoroughness to ensure that judgements made about their capacity to meet the child’s needs are sound, again within a timescale consistent with the child’s need for secure, sustainable care, relationships and attachments.
  • There should ordinarily be a presumption in favour of placing siblings together, unless there is good reason to do otherwise.
  • Where children are old enough to express views, in any way, we have a duty to seek, interpret and give appropriate consideration to their views and wishes, having regard also to their age and maturity.
  • Whilst we are working towards a sustainably good outcome for looked after children, the local authority has a corporate responsibility for their safety, wellbeing and happiness, to be discharged through the care, sensitivity and diligence of its staff and service providers.
  • We also have a responsibility to anticipate difficulties that may arise in the future, in a permanent placement, resulting from earlier experience and/or developmental impairment and the support that might be required – to the child or to carers – to address these difficulties.

Duty of care towards parents

  • Parents who need to grow, learn or achieve personal change, in order to meet their children’s needs, have a right to support in order to achieve that and need to see that the professional staff with whom they are working are fair, honest, thorough, respectful and trustworthy; these core professional standards give parents the maximum opportunity for honest engagement, personal growth and responsibility, through which they can meet their child’s needs.
  • Parents that cannot, or will not, for whatever reason, acquire the personal attributes required to meet their children’s needs in the longer term have nevertheless the right to see that the intervention of the local authority in their child’s life, that cuts across their own rights and responsibilities, is properly justified; this is enshrined in, but not exclusively encompassed by, their right to challenge and contest decisions in the appropriate legal hearing.
  • Such parents also have a right to make such positive contribution as they can make towards longer term planning for their children.  It is also in their child’s longer term interests that this happens and that there is recorded evidence of this happening and being supported. They have a right to the assurance that the best endeavours of all the other parties are focused on ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their child.

Duty of care towards carers and prospective carers

  • We should work with substitute carers and prospective carers in a way that is honest, transparent and professional, respecting their rights and having proper regard for their needs as individuals during the course of their contact with the service.
  • This entails care to ensure the protection of their personal and family life from intrusion and interference beyond that necessary to assess and progress the caring role for which they have voluntarily put themselves forward.
  • It also entails clarity, as carers move towards taking on a caring role, regarding any known risks, or risks that can reasonably be anticipated in relation to their caring role, together with appropriate planning to meet and address risks as they may arise.
  • All carers, but particularly those taking on long term or permanent caring roles and legal parental responsibility, have a right to expect that assessments regarding children for whom they will be caring have anticipated specific needs that can reasonably be expected to arise as the child develops and that appropriate information and advice, including potential sources of support, will be provided.

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