The Council works with children, young people and families to help maintain a child living at home or with a family member wherever possible.

Overview

We will work with children, young people and families to maintain a child living at home or with a family member wherever possible as we believe it is best that a child or young person is best placed within their family network.

  • high quality assessments must be used to decide whether children and young people will become looked after by the London Borough of Bexley
  • if a child does come into the local authorities care we will try and keep them as close to Bexley as possible
  • we will listen to the child, young person and their parents and other key people to ensure we best meet the child or young person’s needs
  • we will ensure contact arrangements are made so family members and the child can still see one another where it is in the best interest of the child and young person
  • we will ensure a care plan is in place that describes how the child and young person’s needs will be met and how often the plan is reviewed
  • we will ensure the child or young person will be visited by their allocated social worker in the first week of coming into care and then at monthly intervals as a minimum
  • the social worker may have telephone contact with the child or young person more frequently

A Looked after Child review will be held within the first month of the care episode and this meeting will be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer to consider the plan for the child or young person. The child or young person will attend and so will the parents or any other significant person.

Reasons that a child or young person may be looked after

It is agreed following assessment that it is in the best interest for the child to be looked after by the local authority. This might be in agreement with the parents. This is then a section 20 agreement of the Children Act 1989 and is when a parent can change their mind and take their child back out of care following a conversation with the Local Authority.

A child or young person may become looked after by the local authority because significant safeguarding issues have been identified and that it is deemed unsafe for the child or young person to remain at home or within the family. The parents may disagree and matters maybe so concerning the local authority has placed the matter before the courts for a court order to be granted ( Section 31 Children Act 1989 ) which then give the local authority shared parental responsibility. In this instance parents will have been advised to seek legal representation.

Our Strategy for Looked After Children and Care Leavers

The strategy 2017 to 2020 (PDF, 2MB) sets out our five ‘good for me’ priorities to improve the lives of looked after children and care leavers. It has relationships at its heart. When looked after children and young people talk about what makes a difference for them, it is always about people and relationships. We want every looked after child and care leaver to have these sorts of relationships.

Our plan through this strategy is to set out:

  • what we are striving for
  • what we are doing to get there
  • how we will continue to improve
  • new ideas we are considering

The strategy is a statement of our intention to continue to collaborate with families, carers, schools, and all professionals, in pursuit of what our looked after children and care leavers need. We have taken strong account of government guidance, including the newly published strategy for care leavers, 'Keep on Caring', and the consultation documents published in October 2017 as part of the Children and Social Work Act requirement for care leavers.

The strategy is a large document published in two parts, this element is a summary of our key priorities for the next three years for the children in our care and care leavers.

We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in developing this strategy, our staff, carers, partners and residents who do something every day to support and help a looked after child or care leaver.