LAC Manual Part 4 - Care Away From Home - Identifying the need for emergency powers to protect

Identifying the need for emergency powers to protect

Seeking Emergency powers to protect children or assess their needs

Section 55 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 sets out the grounds under which the local authority can make application to the Sheriff for a Child Assessment Order.  

A Child Assessment Order gives the local authority the legal power to carry out an assessment of:

  •  the child’s health or development, or
  •  the way in which the child has been or is being treated or neglected.

The assessment must:

  •  begin no later than 24 hours after the order is granted, and
  • not exceed 3 days.

The order can if necessary, for the purpose of the assessment:

  • give the local authority the power to take the child to a specified place and keep the child in that place, or another place, for the duration of the order.
  • require any other person having the child in their care to produce the child to the local authority officer.
  • include specific directions for contact between child and any other person.

Practitioners must consider the best interests of the child in making any recommendation to the Sheriff with regard to such contact and feasible arrangements to enable safe contact.

Section 57 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 sets out the grounds under which the local authority can make application to the Sheriff a Child Protection Order.

A Child Protection Order is an order doing one or more of the following—

  • requiring any person in a position to do so to produce the child to a specified person,
  • authorising the removal of the child by the specified person to a place of safety and the keeping of the child in that place,
  • authorising the prevention of the removal of the child from any place where the child is staying (whether or not the child is resident there),
  • authorising the carrying out (subject to section 186) of an assessment of—
    • the child’s health or development, or
    • the way in which the child has been or is being treated or neglected.

Grounds for both Child Assessment and Child Protection Orders hinge on assessments of the significance of harm being suffered, or likely to be suffered, under current, or foreseeable circumstances.

With regard to assessment of the likelihood of significant harm, practitioners should consider guidance in respect of Child Protection Risk Assessment.

Practice steps are set out in Moray’s Child Protection Procedures under Taking Emergency Action.

Making Emergency Placements   

Regulations 36 to 41 cover the requirements when children have to be placed with Emergency Substitute Carers.  

While it is the intention of the regulations to avoid, as far as possible, unplanned and unexpected moves for children and young people, it is accepted that some problems and difficulties cannot be foreseen by authorities.

Local authorities are expected to monitor the number of children who are placed in an emergency, as well as those placed through planned interventions.  This should help authorities in the planning of their emergency placements services.

While individual emergencies may not be foreseeable, the careful analysis of patterns of need should be used to anticipate the number and broad type of emergency placements and other support services required in any given area.

In Moray this monitoring role is currently undertaken by the Placement Services Group.

Contact and withholding child’s address

Regardless of where a child is placed in an emergency, immediate arrangements should be made for them to have contact with those who are important or familiar to them.  

However, this is subject to contact being appropriate and not contrary to the terms of any court order or hearing warrant, etc.  

The case holder must rigorously ensure every member of the Team around the Child is aware of any restrictions about contact for the safety of the child, and any prohibitions on disclosing the child’s address.

This must be flagged up in the Risk Assessment and on Carefirst.

Careful consideration should also be given to the links with siblings and other kin when emergency placements are made.

Duty to provide information about the child

Regulation 36(5) requires the Local Authority to provide the person with whom the child is placed in an emergency with information about the child’s background, health and emotional development.

Although there is no corresponding duty in Regulation 37 (emergency placement in residential establishment), a local authority should provide similar information to the unit at the time of the placement.

While providing the information may be difficult in some circumstances, it is crucial that the Placing Social Worker obtains and provides as much information as possible at this crucial time.

This means ensuring:

  • The placing Social Worker is given as much protected space as possible to concentrate on the needs of the child and communicating with parents or whoever is available with information about the child
  • Carefirst records are up to date, so out-of-hours workers, have ready access to information already available about the child and their family
  • wherever possible, any important routines which could reduce distress and disruption are maintained and
  • any important objects, items or photographs are identified and accompany the child

The minimum requirements 13 for admission into care in Moray are:

  • Risk Assessment, jointly undertaken ideally before, or failing that, at the time of placement.  This should be informed as far as possible by someone who knows the child and their family.
  • Child’s Plan
  • Day to day Placement Arrangements

All above paperwork is required to be fully completed within 10 days of the placement

Do not hold back consents waiting for the full completion.  Carers need these as soon as possible.

Recording information

Ensure care and consideration is taken when recording the needs and or risks which led to the child being taken into emergency care.  Try to give a snapshot of the situation or circumstances they have been removed from at that time.  This information could be of great significance to:

  • any young person who wishes to read their files in the future
  • future permanence planning

Health Assessment

The placing Social Worker must arrange for a Health Assessment to be completed.

Emergency Review

The Placing Social Worker must notify the Reviewing Officer of the placement, and agree arrangements for an Emergency 72 hour Review.

View next section Part 4.4 Identifying the need for secure accommodation

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13.  must be completed as far as possible, to ensure safe care, at the time of placement, and in consultation with the child, family and available workers

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