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Delegation of Authority to Foster Carers and Residential Workers


This chapter sets out the arrangements for delegation to carers of the authority to make decisions relating to Looked After children, under the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review and Fostering Services (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2013 (which amend the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010), and revisedThe Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review.

‘Carer’, in this context, means the foster carer or registered manager of the children’s home where the child resides. This will include Connected Persons given temporary approval as foster carers, but will not include Private Foster Carers.

NOTE  - The policy should be signed by the Director of Children’s Services and the Lead Member for Children.

Gateshead’s policy on delegated authority is supported and endorsed by the Lead member for Children. It recognises that decisions about day to day care are best made by those who know the young people or who will get to know them best. It acknowledges that decision making can be contentious and that those making the decisions will need support  and advice to ensure that Looked After Children do not miss out in any way.


  • Authority for day-to-day decision making about a Looked After child should be delegated to the child’s carer(s), unless there is a valid reason not to do so*;
  • A Looked After child’s Placement Plan should record who has the authority to take particular decisions about the child. It should also record the reasons where any day-to-day decision is not delegated to the child’s carer;
  • Decisions about delegation of authority should take account of the Looked After child’s views, and consideration should be given as to whether a Looked After child is of sufficient age and understanding to take some decisions themselves.

*‘The carer’ means the foster carer or registered manager of the children’s home where the child resides.


In November 2021, a new Section 6.3.4, Consent to Life-ending Withdrawal of Medical Support was added to reflect a High Court judgment.


  1. Delegation of Authority
  2. Gateshead Council's Commitments
  3. Delegation in the Context of the Permanence Plan
  4. Delegation in the Context of the Law on Parental Responsibility
  5. The Child’s Competence to Make Decisions Themselves
  6. Types of Decision
  7. Responsibilities for Decision-Making
  8. The Placement Plan

1. Delegation of Authority

It is essential to fulfilling the local authority’s duty to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare that, wherever possible, the most appropriate person to take a decision about the child has the authority to do so, and that there is clarity about who has the authority to decide what.

Decisions about delegation of authority must be made within the context of:

  • The child’s Permanence Plan, which sets out the local authority’s plan for achieving a permanent home for the child; and
  • The legal framework for Parental Responsibility in the Children Act 1989.

The expectation must be that the assessment and approval of foster carers, their training and previous experiences of, for example, caring for their own children, will equip them with the skills and competence to undertake the day-to-day caring task, including taking day-to-day decisions about their foster child’s care. Any skills gaps should be urgently addressed so that foster carers are able to carry out their parenting role effectively.

Where a particular decision is not delegated to a child’s carer and rests with the local authority, there is a clear system in place for ensuring that decisions can be made by the appropriate person with arrangements in place to cover sickness and annual leave in a timely way. The Service Director for Social Work –Children and Families is the appropriate person in Gateshead. In their absence the Service Manager for the child’s social worker will be responsible for delegated authority decisions. Details of these arrangements are given to parents, carers and children (subject to age and understanding).

2. Gateshead Council's Commitments

  • Gateshead Council commits to ensuring that children will have the best possible care whilst being Looked After and will ensure that care is provided in a manner that is as close to family life as possible, working with parents whenever possible to ensure that the best care possible is provided;
  • Within this context Gateshead Council understands that decisions regarding key aspects of care need to be made and that this inevitably means decisions needing to be taken at the right and appropriate level. There is an acknowledgement that this may involve risks at times as young people are given the opportunity to develop, enjoy new experiences, mature and also have fun!
  • Gateshead will strive to ensure that decisions are made in a timely manner so that young people do not miss out on opportunities;
  • The Council will ensure that staff are familiar with this policy and its requirements and understand their role and responsibilities as defined below. It will also ensure that there is a good teamwork in evidence with regard to this area;
  • In line with statutory guidance, the Council will ensure that there is clarity with young people, Carers, parents and professionals concerning day to day decision making, and that this  is delegated to Carers unless there is a good reason not to do so. In such circumstances the Council will expect that the reasons for this are recorded within the Placement plan;
  • There is an expectation by the Council that the Placement Plan will contain details of authority concerning decision making in terms of  who can take necessary decisions concerning all aspects of the young person’s life. This will include important decisions as well as day to day decisions.  The Council expects that these decisions have been fully discussed with everyone who is working with the young person, including the young person. It is expected that the Placement Plan, including the delegation of authority is kept under review at each review of the young person’s Care Plan;
  • Gateshead will ensure that in day to day practice young people, parents and Carers are consulted as to whether the young person has sufficient understanding to take some decisions themselves;
  • Where a long term commitment has been made to a child, Gateshead will ensure that Carers are listened to with regard to important decisions such as a change in school or important care planning decisions;
  • Gateshead will seek, listen to and take account of the views of young people, their parents, Foster Carers, and professionals in how the area of delegation of authority is working and how this can be improved. It will also ensure, depending on age, that young people understand the meaning of delegated decision making;
  • Gateshead Council recognises that Carers will require training and also support in order to be able to practice confidently in this area which will be the expectation. Advice will be on hand from professionals involved as well as training;
  • As a learning organisation, Gateshead recognises that there may be instances where a decision is delegated appropriately yet has not had a positive outcome. In such circumstances, the approach will be to try and understand the reason why, whilst appreciating that sometimes things do go wrong. Support will be given and if needed appropriate action taken to address the issue;
  • Gateshead will expect the same standards with regard to this area from all those who care for young people, regardless of whether the care is provided from within Gateshead Council or externally provided. This policy will be promoted to external providers;

How Gateshead’s commitments will be achieved and how success will be reviewed in meeting commitments:

  • Gateshead will give active oversight to this area of practice, both at authority level and also on an individual level. Outcomes for young people will be closely considered within this context;
  • At authority level, an action plan will be undertaken and reviewed regularly which will consider progress and areas for development. This will receive input from professionals, young people and Carers. Consultation groups will feed into this process;
  • The authority will ensure that training in this area is undertaken and its effectiveness kept under review;
  • On an individual basis any areas of deficiency within this area will be progressed proactively, informed by areas of responsibility as detailed within the following sections;
  • Any lessons will be learned from complaints with regard to this area;
  • Gateshead Council will receive reports regularly concerning the operation of delegated authority so that members can be informed of the progress within this area and the Council can then afford any additional support which may be needed;
  • This policy will be regularly reviewed.

3. Delegation in the Context of the Permanence Plan

When deciding who should have authority to take particular decisions, the most appropriate exercise of decision-making powers will depend, in part, on the long term plan for the child, as set out in the child’s permanence plan. For example:

  • Where the plan is for the child to return home, the child’s parents should have a significant role in decision-making;
  • Where the plan is for long term foster care/Fostering for Adoption, the foster carers should have a significant say in the majority of decisions about the child’s care, including longer term decisions such as which school the child will attend;
  • Whatever the Permanence Plan, the carer should have delegated authority to take day-to-day parenting decisions. This enables them to provide the best possible care for the child.

4. Delegation in the Context of the Law on Parental Responsibility 

The child’s parents do not lose Parental Responsibility when the child is Looked After. Where the child is voluntarily Accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989, the local authority does not have Parental Responsibility. The local authority does have Parental Responsibility where there is a care order or emergency protection order. The foster carer never has Parental Responsibility.

Where a child is being voluntarily accommodated, the child’s Care Plan, including delegation of authority to the local authority or child’s carer, should (where the child is under 16), as far as is reasonably practicable, be agreed with the child’s parents and anyone else who has Parental Responsibility. If the child is 16 or 17 the Care Plan should be agreed with them. A local authority cannot restrict a person’s exercise of their Parental Responsibility, including their decisions about delegation, unless there is a Care Order or an Emergency Protection Order in place.

Where a child is subject to a Care Order or Emergency Protection Order, the local authority should, wherever possible and appropriate, consult parents and others with Parental Responsibility for the child. The views of parents and others with Parental Responsibility should be complied with unless it is not consistent with the child’s welfare.

It is important to build effective relationships between parents and others with Parental Responsibility so that they understand that appropriate delegation is in the best interests of the child. Where parents initially feel unable to delegate, this may change over time as trust develops, so decisions should be kept under review through the care planning process, which parents should be involved in, where reasonably practicable (whether the child is voluntarily Accommodated or under a Care Order).

Where a parent is unable to engage in the discussions about delegation of authority for whatever reason, or refuses to do so, the local authority will need to take a view. If the local authority has a Care Order, then they can exercise their Parental Responsibility without the parent. Where the local authority does not have Parental Responsibility they can still do what is reasonable. The important role of parents within the planning process is acknowledged and workers should strive to build positive working relationships with birth parents as working together produces the best possible climate to consider areas of delegated authority and  for the purpose of safeguarding and promoting the child's welfare.

There are some decisions where the law prevents authority being delegated to a person without Parental Responsibility. These include applying for a passport (a child aged 16 or over who has the mental capacity to do so can apply for their own passport). Where there is a Care Order, the child cannot be removed from the UK for more than a month without written consent of everyone with Parental Responsibility or the leave of the Court (where the child is voluntarily accommodated the necessary consents must be obtained as for a child outside the care system). A local authority cannot decide that a child should be known by a different surname or be brought up in a religion other than the one they would have been brought up in had they not become Looked After.

5. The Child’s Competence to Make Decisions Themselves

Any decision about delegation of authority must consider the views of the child. In some cases a child will be of sufficient age and understanding to make decisions themselves. For example, they may have strong views about the often contentious issue of haircuts, and if the child is of sufficient age and understanding, it may be decided that they should be allowed to make these decisions themselves.

When deciding whether a particular child, on a particular occasion, has sufficient understanding to make a decision, the following questions should be considered:

  • Can the child understand the question being asked of them?
  • Do they appreciate the options open to them?
  • Can they weigh up the pros and cons of each option?
  • Can they express a clear personal view on the matter, as distinct from repeating what someone else thinks they should do?
  • Can they be reasonably consistent in their view on the matter, or are they constantly changing their mind?

Regardless of a child’s competence, some decisions cannot be made until a child reaches a certain age, for example, tattoos are not permitted for a person under age 18 and certain piercings are not permitted until the child reaches age 16.

Where appropriate, workers should consider seeking the child’s views on the preferred decision maker.

It is expected that, with support, and appropriate channels provided by Gateshead, young people will advise Gateshead if there are any other ways in which it can improve the way in which it delegates authority for making decisions.

6. Types of Decision

6.1 Areas of Decision-Making

Decisions about the care of a Looked After child are likely to fall into three broad areas:

  • Day-to-day parenting, e.g. routine decisions about health/hygiene, education, leisure activities;
  • Routine but longer term decisions, e.g. school choice;
  • Significant events, e.g. surgery.

Day-to-day Parenting

All decisions in this category should be delegated to the child’s carer (and/or the child if they can take any of these decisions themselves). Any exceptions and reasons for this should be set out in the child’s Placement Plan within their Care Plan.

Decisions about activities where risk assessments have been routinely carried out by those organising / supervising the activity, e.g. school trips or activity breaks, should be delegated to the child’s carer. There is no expectation that Children’s Social Care should duplicate risk assessments.

Reasons not to delegate to the carer may include, if the child’s individual needs, past experiences or behaviour are such that some day-to-day decisions require particular expertise and judgement. For example, where a child is especially vulnerable to exploitation by peers or adults, where overnight stays may need to be limited, the foster carer or children’s home may need the local authority to manage this.

Routine but Longer Term Decisions

This category of decisions will require skilled partnership work to involve the relevant people. The child’s Permanence Plan will be an important factor in determining who should be involved in the decision. For example, if the plan is for the child to return home, their parents should be involved in a decision about the type of school the child should attend and its location, because ultimately the child will be living with them. Where the plan is for long term foster care, or care in a residential unit until age 18, then while the child’s parents must be involved (unless there is a Care Order and the local authority has decided not to involve them), where possible the school choice should fit with the foster carer’s family life as well as be appropriate for the child.

Significant Events

This category of decisions is likely to be more serious and far reaching. Where the child is voluntarily Accommodated, the child’s birth parents or others with Parental Responsibility should make these decisions. Where the child is under a Care Order or Emergency Protection Order, decisions may be made by the birth parents or others with Parental Responsibility, which includes the local authority, depending on the decision and the circumstances. Such decisions should, however, always take account of the wishes and feelings of the child and their carer. See also Section 6.3, Delegation in the Context of the Child’s Health.

6.2 Delegation Relating to the Child’s Education

The Education Act 1996 defines ‘parent’ as including a person who has care of the child in question. Therefore a child’s foster carer or residential worker is deemed a parent for the purposes of education law. This means, for example, that a foster carer should be treated like a parent with respect to information provided by a school about the child’s progress; should be invited to meetings about the child; and should be able to give consent to decisions regarding school activities.

Young people can sometimes apply in their own right for a place at sixth form or FE college. If they are of compulsory school age their application must also be signed by a parent (which in the context of education includes foster carers or residential workers) confirming their approval of the application. Once they are over compulsory school age, they can apply in their own right without the need for parental consent. Young people can also appeal against the refusal of a sixth form place along these lines.

6.3 Delegation in the Context of the Child’s Health

6.3.1 Young people aged 16 or 17

Young  people aged 16 or 17 are presumed to be capable of consenting to their own medical treatment, provided the consent is given voluntarily and they are appropriately informed regarding the particular intervention. If the young person is capable of giving valid consent, then it is not legally necessary to obtain consent from a person with Parental Responsibility. It is, however, good practice to involve the young person’s family in the decision-making process – unless the young person specifically wishes to exclude them – if the young person consents to their information being shared.

6.3.2 Children under 16 – the concept of Gillick competence

  1. Child ‘Gillick Competent

    A child of under 16 may be Gillick Competent to consent to medical treatment, i.e. they  have sufficient understanding  to enable them to understand fully what is involved in a proposed intervention. Deciding whether or not a child is Gillick Competent can be a difficult judgment, and legal advice should be sought as necessary.

    The understanding required for different interventions will vary considerably. Thus a child under 16 may have the capacity to consent to some interventions but not to others. The child’s capacity to consent should be assessed carefully in relation to each decision that needs to be made.

    In some cases, for example because of a mental disorder, a child’s mental state may fluctuate significantly, so that on some occasions the child appears Gillick Competent in respect of a particular decision and on other occasions does not. In such cases, legal advice may be sought.

    If the child is Gillick Competent and is able to give voluntary consent after receiving appropriate information, that consent will be valid and additional consent by a person with parental responsibility will not be required. It is, however, good practice to involve the child’s family in the decision-making process, if the child consents to their information being shared;
  2. Child Not ‘Gillick Competent

    Where a child under the age of 16 lacks capacity to consent (i.e. is not Gillick Competent), consent can be given on their behalf by any one person with Parental Responsibility. Consent given by one person with Parental Responsibility is valid, even if another person with Parental Responsibility withholds consent. However, legal advice may be necessary in such cases.

6.3.3 Refusal of consent

Where a young person of 16 or 17 who could consent to treatment, or a child under 16 who is Gillick Competent, refuses treatment, it is possible that such a refusal could be overruled by a court if it would in all probability lead to the death of the child/young person or to severe permanent injury. Legal advice must be sought.

Where necessary, the courts can overrule a refusal to consent by a person with Parental Responsibility.

For further information, see Department of Health and Social Care's Reference guide to consent for examination or treatment, second edition 2009.

6.3.4 Consent to Life-ending Withdrawal of Medical Support

The High Court in Herefordshire Council –v- M and F and others (Re YY (Children: Conduct of the Local Authority)) stated that the making of a decision which is likely to result in the death of a looked after child (such as the withdrawal of life support treatment) comes within a small category of cases where, notwithstanding the local authority's powers to exercise corporate parental responsibility under section 33(3)(b) Children Act 1989, the consequences of the exercise of that particular act of parental responsibility are so profound and have such an impact on the child, and/or the Article 8 rights of other parties who share parental responsibility, that the matter must come before the High Court for its consideration and determination. In such cases, therefore, urgent legal advice must be sought, even if all parties are in agreement that medical treatment should be withdrawn.

7. Responsibilities for Decision-Making

7.1 Responsibility to work as a team

It is recognised that whilst the decision making process will involve delegated decision making to key individuals, most likely Carers, the importance and responsibility to work as a teamhas to be acknowledged in order for delegated decision making to work effectively. The responsibilities outlined below, therefore, concerning the expectations of key roles, explain the approach the authority will take.

7.2 The Social Worker will take responsibility for the following in relation to delegated authority:

  • Undertaking PIR including medical consent;
  • Ensuring the child has an understanding, as far as practicable, concerning delegated duties and decision making, and what can be permitted/not permitted;
  • Enlisting the child’s views concerning the day to day decision making process in terms of whom they would like to make these decisions and what areas of decision making are especially important to them;
  • Being available to the child in instances where there may be conflict and agreeing a way forward, including making sure that the child knows how to make a complaint if they are unhappy about this process;
  • Where young people are over 16, providing support and advice to them whilst they make decisions, where they may need this;
  • Ensuring that all decisions taken relating to the most serious and far reaching decisions take account of the wishes and feelings of both the child and the Carer;
  • Taking the lead in building up an effective working relationship with parents, explaining to them the importance of delegated decision making so that trust can be established within this area;
  • Completion of placement plan, undertaking the following:
    • Breaking down areas of consent and making it clear by name areas of responsibility;
    • Keeping this relevant and up to date;
    • Recording the reasons where any day to day decisions are not delegated to the Carer;
    • Recording any actions to be taken in the decision making process e.g. reporting or recording any decisions made;
    • Planning any forthcoming decisions and recording this to prevent delay;
    • In circumstances where there is difficulty concerning gaining consent and the Local Authority do not have Parental Responsibility, agreeing with the Care Team and line Manager what level of delegated decisions are reasonable and can be made in the circumstances, and recording this;
    • In circumstances where decisions are not delegated to the child’s Carer, ensuring that there is a system in place for a decision to be reached in the Social Worker’s absence in a timely manner;
    • In instances where it has been decided not to allow certain aspects of day to day decision making to the Carer, to ensure that this operates satisfactorily, with the reasons recorded. Such decisions would generally be taken where particular expertise and judgement is required. Any decisions should also be kept under review.

(See also Section 8, The Placement Plan)

  • To ensure that they undertake the following tasks and core principles:
    • Along with others, agree whether the child is competent to make their own decision, as appropriate on occasions (see also Section 5, The Child’s Competence to Make Decisions Themselves);
    • Along with others, ensure that risk assessments and risk management take account of delegated duties bearing in mind the need for the child to grow into independence yet simultaneously offer safeguards and protection;
    • In relation to matters concerning health, ensure that delegation of authority complies with the requirements as set out in Section 6.3, Delegation in the Context of the Child’s Health);
    • With regard to education, ensure that both residential workers and Foster Carers are invited to educational meetings including parents’ evenings, and receive information about the child’s progress and are able to give consent relating to school activities. (See also Section 6.2, Delegation Relating to the Child’s Education);
    • In partnership with others, they must ensure that the delegated duties take account of the plan for the child i.e. short term or long term/permanent care in terms of which areas of responsibility should be delegated to the carer;
    • Ensure that parents are regularly consulted with within this area as a matter of good practice, and also at times when there are significant decisions to make e.g.
    • health, education, application for a passport;
    • Where the plan may be long term, ensure that areas such as school choice fits with the foster carer’s family life as well as being appropriate for the child;
    • Where there may be significant decisions to make, e.g. health or education related such as change of school or for a child to go out of the country, ensure that management has been consulted and their agreement reached;
    • Reviewing the operation of delegated duties at each care team meeting, taking into account new and emerging circumstances for the child;
    • Providing advice to the RCCO as necessary, with regard to their role regarding delegated duties given their specialist knowledge of the child;
    • Along with relevant others, supervising the implementation of delegated decision making, supporting the Carer’s decisions unless they appear unreasonable, and, in the event of any disagreement in this area, agreeing a way forward;
    • Ensuring they have attended training courses within this area so that they have the knowledge relevant to this area of work.

7.3 The Foster Carer and Residential Child Care Officer (RCCO) will take responsibility for the following in relation to delegated authority:

  • Establishing a positive relationship with the child where trust can be built;
  • Encouraging the child to make their own decisions wherever possible, in line with their age and competence – (see also Section 5, The Child’s Competence to Make Decisions Themselves)
  • In the event that the child is unhappy about agreed areas relating to decisions being made, ensuring that they understand how they can make a complaint about this;
  • Feeding into planning processes/updates of placement plan/care team meetings/looked after reviews, by providing written reports which give detail of the progress made within this area and work currently underway with the child;
  • Implementing the decision making role in line with the remit of the care planning process which will often be making day to day decisions both competently and confidently.This may involve, however, at times, implementing decisions regardless of whether they agree or disagree with them and whilst doing so making sure that that decisions are relayed to the child in a positive manner on a day to day basis;
  • Bringing to the attention of the Social Worker, and in the case of a RCCO, their line Manager, or in the case of a Foster Carer their Supervising Social Worker, any difficulties or conflict that are  experienced in the day to day operation of delegated duties so that a way forward can be agreed;
  • Providing support and advice to the child 16 plus as they make their own decisions;
  • Monitoring the effect of the day to day decision making in terms of whether, for example, there should be more or less flexibility and feeding this into care team meetings so that this receives regular review;
  • Where all aspects of day to day decision making are not the responsibility of the RCCO, ensuring that the Social Worker or their representative is contacted in a timely manner for a response;
  • Ensuring they attend education related meetings and activities such as parents’ evenings and reviews;
  • As appropriate, as agreed at care team meetings, establishing positive communication with parents within this area on an ongoing basis;
  • In the event of unexpected or significant decisions having to be made, consulting with the Social Worker and with management of the Residential or Fostering Service, whichever is appropriate;
  • Ensuring that risk management strategies are in place to address any areas raised by delegated decision making, and, in the event of any significant new risks presented, seeking a care team meeting as a matter of priority;
  • Ensuring that there is effective liaison regularly with key professionals concerning this area;
  • Ensuring they have attended training courses within this area so that they have the knowledge relevant to this area of work;
  • Speaking with the Supervising Social Worker or Manager about what development or support may be needed;
  • Informing Gateshead if it is considered that Gateshead is not meeting the commitments set out in this policy or there are any other ways in which Gateshead can improve how authority for making decisions is delegated.

7.4 The Supervising Social Worker/Residential Manager will take responsibility for the following in relation to delegated authority:

  • Supervising the work of the Foster Carer or RCCO, ensuring that they undertake their duties in line with the Placement Plan and Delegated Authority Tool;
  • Providing support and any necessary advice to the Foster Carer/RCCO as they undertake their duties in this area;
  • Checking that the children’s perspectives are being included in the work with the child;
  • They will be made aware on an ongoing basis of any situations with regards to conflict in this area by workers/professionals/the child. They must take steps to seek to address this in an appropriate manner as agreed with the Social Worker. This may involve addressing issues with the Foster Carer/RCCO as agreed is appropriate. In a residential setting this may involve discussion by the Manager with the child also;
  • Supervising the area regarding the child’s competence to make decisions, ensuring that this is applied appropriately;
  • In the event that any situations are not able to be resolved or the child is unhappy with the decision making process, seeking appropriate advice and in some instances this will involve convening a Care team meeting;
  • Ensuring that any areas of risk have been appropriately addressed with strategies in place to address these;
  • Ensuring that where young people are 16 plus, they are being supported and offered advice as they make their own decisions;
  • Ensuring that legislative guidelines are being adhered to with regard to this area of work in terms of what decisions can and cannot be taken;
  • Contributing towards ensuring that the decision making process is undertaken in a timely manner by contacting relevant professionals in the event of any delays;
  • They will ensure that both they and the Carers have attended training courses within this area so that they have the knowledge relevant to this area of work.

7.5 The Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) will take responsibility for the following in relation to delegated authority:

  • During the course of their duties, ensuring that appropriate delegation happens and is being supported;
  • As well as making recommendations within timescales within review meetings, bringing to the attention of the appropriate Manager, any area where delegated authority is not operating effectively for the Young Person, and ensuring that adequate action is then planned within a timely manner to address this area as a matter of priority;
  • Reporting to the management of Gateshead Council with regard to the effectiveness of the implementation of this policy in terms of outcomes for Young People from Gateshead. IROs will play a key role in helping to ensure that good practice is in evidence and remains a priority for Gateshead Council, keeping this area under regular review.

7.6 Responsibilities of Providers

  • Provider agencies are expected to adhere to this policy and its requirements;
  • It is also expected that provider agencies will inform Gateshead if it is considered that Gateshead is not meeting the commitments set out in this policy or there are any other ways in which Gateshead can improve how it delegates authority for making decisions.

8. The Placement Plan

The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended) require that each Looked After child’s Placement Plan must make clear who has the authority to take decisions in key areas of the child’s day-to-day life, including:

  • Medical or dental treatment;
  • Education;
  • Leisure and home life;
  • Faith and religious observance;
  • Use of social media; and
  • Any other areas of decision-making considered relevant with respect to the particular child.

The person(s) with the authority to take a particular decision or give a particular consent must be clearly named on the Placement Plan and any associated actions (e.g. a requirement for the carer to notify the local authority that a particular decision has been made) should be clearly set out in the Placement Plan. Placement Plans must be agreed with the child’s carer, and are likely to be most effective when drawn up in a placement planning meeting which involves everyone concerned, including the carers.

Where a decision is not delegated to the child’s carer, but can be predicted in advance, the agreement of those with Parental Responsibility to the decision should be sought in advance and recorded in the Placement Plan, so that when the decision arises, delay can be avoided.

For some decisions that are made by a person other than the child’s carer, it may be expected that the carer will implement the decision. For example, parents or the local authority may agree to the provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, but ask the carer to take the child to appointments. This is not delegation of decision making to the carer, as the decision will have been taken by those with Parental Responsibility and a medical professional, but it will enable the delivery of the service to continue without the need for ongoing support from social workers. The child’s Placement Plan should make clear what the expectations of the carer are in such cases.

The appropriate distribution of decision making powers is likely to change over time, as the child matures and circumstances change. The Placement Plan forms a part of the child’s overall Care Plan. Decisions about delegation of authority should be considered at each review of the Care Plan.

Further sources of information

Other departmental advice and guidance:

Associated resources (external links)