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Out of Area Placements


This chapter addresses the action to be taken when placing a Looked After Child in another Local Authority.


Section 3, Placements in Wales was added in November 2021 in line with updated Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review.


  1. Part one – Gateshead Council Policy outline
  2. Part 2 - Out of Authority Placements  made by Gateshead Council- Process
  3. Placements in Wales

    Appendix 1: External Placements

    Appendix 2: External Placements – Notification Letter

    Appendix 3: Roles And Responsibilities-External Placements

    Appendix 4: External Placements Made By Gateshead Council

1. Part one – Gateshead Council Policy outline

Policy outline

Gateshead Council aims to place the majority of its Looked After Children within the borough of Gateshead, wherever possible, and in line with their best interests with a Council resource. The reason is as follows:

  • Children can benefit from being raised in an area with which they identify and feel familiar, therefore, having more of a sense of belonging;
  • There will be improved matching given the knowledge of existing resources, thus contributing to better outcomes;
  • Education and health services are less likely to be interrupted;
  • Safeguarding will be improved as monitoring will be easier to manage;
  • Rehabilitation to the family home, where appropriate, will be less complicated and easier to plan.

Sufficiency duty and the need for diverse placements

Within this context, in line with statutory guidance, Gateshead plans and reviews resource provision for the anticipated numbers of Children who are to be Looked After.  It is recognised that placement within Gateshead for all of its Looked After Children, however,  is unlikely to be achieved given the  diverse placement needs where placement choice needs to be available to best meet the needs of the Young Person. This is similarly the case for all Local Authorities when placing Looked After Children where there can be resource shortfalls, particularly where there are complex placement needs.

It is accepted, therefore, that for certain Young people there will need to be better placement choice in order for successful outcomes to be achieved. This will, on occasions be best met by placement of the Child outside of their area.

2. Part 2 - Out of Authority Placements  made by Gateshead Council- Process

This concerns the following situations;

  • Gateshead placing Children into a neighbouring authority;
  • Gateshead Placing Children into a distant authority.

The above instances may include situations whereby;

  • An approved Foster Carer by Gateshead Council lives out of the borough (usually in a neighbouring authority but not always) with Children from Gateshead placed with them;
  • A Child or Young Person from Gateshead is placed with an Independent Foster Carer from an area outside of Gateshead borough, either in a neighbouring or distant area;
  • A Child or Young Person is placed within an out of borough Children’s home, either Local Authority or Independent.

There are 2 types of circumstances whereby Young People are placed out of Gateshead, this being on either a planned or emergency basis. The flowcharts within this section detail the placement expectations regarding both planned and emergency placements. Roles and responsibilities are outlined within Appendix 3: Roles And Responsibilities - External Placements with regard to these requirements. The following general principles, however, should be adhered to with this regard:

  • All attempts to place the Young Person safely within the borough of Gateshead should have been carefully explored in the first instance;
  • Permission to place with a neighbouring authority or with a distant authority must be gained at the appropriate level, i.e. in respect of a distant placement by the Service Director and in respect of a neighbouring placement by the Nominated Officer. This is detailed within the Flowcharts. With regard to residential placements, permission must be obtained via the Service Director through attending the External Placement Panel;
  • In the event of a resource being required, attempts must be made in the first instance to find a placement with a neighbouring authority and on the approved regional contract list as this increases safeguard;
  • Involvement of the area authority where the Young Person is to be placed must commence from the moment a placement is considered a possible option. It is expected, in line with statutory guidance that there will be contact and consultation during the planning and placement stages;
  • Information sharing with the proposed Local Authority in which the Child or Young Person may be placed must be undertaken prior to placement in respect of planned placements via undertaking an update of the Care Plan. There must be openness and transparency with this regard with the proposed provider being aware what information is being shared. Should the placement involve a high level of risk, consultation should also involve the Police within the proposed local area of the placement;
  • Consultations must always take place with the Young Person and parents, as appropriate, and the IRO consulted in planned placements;
  • Consultation must always include education and health, including any specialist resources to ensure that the needs of the Child or Young Person can be catered for;
  • There must be an expectation of scrutiny expected from the area in which the Child or Young Person is to be placed, in order to promote safeguard both for the Young Person to be placed and for the Young Person/People already placed.  Gateshead Council staff will supply any necessary information identified as important with this regard;
  • As a matter of good practice, in line with requirements, Gateshead as the responsible authority for the Young Person will share any matters of significant concern or risk with Local Authorities where Children are placed both before and during a placement. This is in order that Local Authorities or relevant agencies can ensure that adequate safeguards are in place/put in place for the safety and wellbeing of all Children Looked After.

Importance of the Care Plan

  • Statutory guidance states that the information listed in Appendix 1: External Placements (i.e. in checklist form within this policy) should be discussed in the event that a placement with a distant placement is being considered.  It is to be undertaken when preparing or updating the Care Plan which is to be forwarded to Local Authorities during the consultation process for their agreement concerning a prospective out of authority distant placement;
  • Whilst the Appendix 1: External Placements checklist must be undertaken during the preparation/update of the Care Plan, this does not negate the importance of discussion and dialogue with a Local Authority of the areas included within the checklist;
  • It must be stressed that the details listed in the checklist should all be contained in adequate detail within the Care Plan in order that the statutory requirements are able to be met and a decision as to whether to place can be arrived at in a timely manner and in the best interests of the Child;
  • Note the completed Care Plan detailing the required information must be sent to the Local Authority prior to any decisions being made about the suitability of the placement, except in the case of an emergency placement;
  • It is not necessary for the Checklist itself to be forwarded to the Local Authority concerned;
  • Note that support services should be included within the Care Plan and this should also detail the need for any specialist services. Discussion and agreement with the area authority will be crucial within this regard.

Notifications prior to the placement of a child

The Regulations state that the following must be notified concerning a placement prior to a placement being made. (i.e. in planned placements).

The Child (unless it is inappropriate to do so having regard to their age and understanding).

If the Child is in the care of the responsible authority, any person who is allowed contact with under sec 34 (1) and any person who has contact with the Child by virtue of an order under Sec 34.

If the Child is looked after but is not in the care of the responsible authority, any person who has contact with them pursuant to an order made under Section 8 – (Child Arrangements and other orders with respect to Children).

Any person who was caring for the Child immediately before the arrangements were made.

The Clinical Commissioning Group

The registered Medical Practitioner and the Practitioner where Child is to be registered.

The Educational establishment attended by the Child or the person providing education or training.

The Independent Reviewing Officer.

Out Of Authority Processes

Click here to view Flowchart 1: Planned External Placement - Placing A Child With A Foster Carer, Approved By Gateshead Council Who Lives Out Of The Borough (Usually In A Neighbouring Authority)

Click here to view Flowchart 2: Prior to Planned External (Distant or Neighbouring) Placement

Click here to view Flowchart 3: Gateshead Council’s Emergency Out Of Authority Placement Flowchart

3. Placements in Wales

The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review provides that local authorities must not place a child under 16 in ‘other arrangements’ out of authority placement in Wales except where the placement is in one of the exempted regulated settings:

  • Accommodation provided by a registered care home service equivalent to a registered care home in England;
  • Hospitals;
  • Schools providing accommodation that are not also registered as a care home service;
  • Residential family centres.

Other arrangement placements in Wales may also be used for residential holiday schemes for disabled children as long as the placement setting is one of the alternatively regulated exemptions listed above.

It is essential that the responsible authority takes every step to establish that the child’s needs are matched to the services provided by the placement and that the notification protocol is completed by the responsible authorities and submitted to Care Inspectorate Wales and Ofsted.

See also Placements in Other Arrangements Procedure.

Appendix 1: External Placements

Click here to view Appendix 1: External Placements

Appendix 2: External Placements – Notification Letter

Click here to view Appendix 2: External Placements – Notification Letter

Appendix 3: Roles And Responsibilities-External Placements

Social Worker and line Management responsibilities;

(Note that this relates to the Integrated Referral and Assessment Team, Safeguarding Team, Looked After Team, Children’s Disability Team and the Fostering Team)

  • Preparing a needs assessment/Care Plan concerning the Child;
  • Undertaking a risk assessment concerning the Child; this to be undertaken jointly with fostering when a foster placement is required;
  • Seeking permission from the Service Director or Nominated Officer to consider an external placement;
  • When an external placement is being requested;
    • Seeking permission of the placements panel, preparing the necessary reports for this purpose, including the necessary finance agreement;
    • Searching for an appropriate resource with the assistance of contracts who may hold a provider list;
    • When residential provision is being sought, ensuring the Statement of Purpose and Function is accessed and a location assessment along with any implications for the Child in order to inform a decision;
    • Checking whether there are any concerns identified within the last Ofsted report in the event of any identified prospective placement;
    • Whilst seeking a placement, checking with the Local Authority at the early stages whether they have any useful information which may assist in deciding whether the placement is suitable.
  • Completing the checklist in Appendix 1: External Placements when a distant placement is being considered as the Care Plan is being prepared/updated. (i.e. checklist to ensure that Care Plan contains relevant details as required by statutory guidance);
  • Ensuring Local Authorities including Health and Education (including Police as appropriate) are consulted with when a placement is being considered and that Care Plan information is shared appropriately with Local Authorities (see flowcharts) and the new provider;
  • Ensuring the relevant tier of senior management is consulted (Service Director or Nominated Officer- see flowcharts) for their agreement to the specific placement once this has been identified and ensuring they are kept informed of progress whilst a placement is being sought;
  • Ensuring that Children have been consulted with in respect of planned placements and that their feelings and perspectives are taken account of; similarly parents’ views are taken account of (as appropriate). The IRO’s views must also be elicited. Where there has been an emergency placement, however, this must be undertaken retrospectively within the 5 day statutory timescale but the child’s wishes and feelings must be taken into account also in any emergency;
  • Ensuring that the support plan, detailed within the Care Plan, contains accessing the services required to meet the Child’s needs and provides adequate safeguards and monitoring of the placement;
  • Undertaking introductory visits (in respect of planned placements);
  • Ensuring that all statutory documentation is supplied within timescales, in line with admission policies and that statutory Care Planning meetings can commence;
  • Liaise with Administrative Support so that relevant notifications and reports are forwarded as required prior to the placement;
  • In the event of a serious events or notifications, ensure the area Local Authority concerned is informed in writing of the notification including key agencies and this will include relevant consultation;
  • Ensuring any feedback concerning the performance of the provider is shared with them as part of the review, support plan and monitoring process. In respect of a residential home, any concerns should also be shared with Contracts and in respect of a fostering matter with the Fostering Manager. Any concerns should be sent via email and should be forwarded promptly. It should be noted that the Head of Looked After Services should be copied into emails as well as the Administrative Co-ordinator within the Fostering Team and Contracts, as both have responsibilities within this area. This is important in the interests of safeguard;
  • Ensuring the IRO is kept updated with any intended placement moves/placement moves.

Note that Line Management will supervise the effective undertaking of the above duties.

Supervising Social Worker and Fostering Management responsibilities:

  • Undertaking risk assessments along with the SW;
  • Liaising with the SW throughout the process reaching an agreement concerning an appropriate placement and providing any information requested for the External Placements Panel;
  • Liaising with LA’ s with regard to their approved list of fostering providers in order to find a suitable resource;
  • Furnishing information to other LAs when an approach is made concerning the approved list of fostering providers within the Borough of Gateshead and sharing any known information concerning providers in the interests of safeguarding children;
  • Family finding from the approved list of contractors including accessing and reading form Fs;
  • Forwarding information concerning the Child and the risk assessment to providers for their consideration for a placement (via Admin);
  • Checking whether there are any concerns from any previous placements with the provider via the Administrative Co-ordinator for IFA placements, keeping Fostering Management informed in respect of any issues brought to their attention;
  • Checking that all mandatory checks are in date and that the last FC review is available;
  • In the event that there are concerns or issues raised from any of the above or from the checklist used within the Fostering Service, seek further clarification such as asking for an additional review or a written statement.  Management liaison and supervision is imperative throughout this process;
  • In the event of placement choice, have dialogue with the SW and Management to ensure the best match;
  • In the event of risks posed, consultation with the SW and Management to agree management strategies and ensure that the placement is feasible and can provide adequate safeguards before it is deemed suitable;
  • Checking that the views of the child where appropriate have been elicited during the process;
  • In emergencies where either the Service Director or Nominated Officer has approved the external placement, advise the relevant Officer of the most suitable placement option for their agreement. They should explain how this will meet the needs of the Young Person and how any risks will be managed, including how support will be afforded to the placement;
  • Advising/Assisting in the arrangement of introductions before the final decision is made (in planned placements);
  • Ensure that the Business Support Fostering Administrator Coordinator who has responsibility for co-ordinating IFA placements is kept informed of developments throughout the process, however, the written formal notification to the Co-ordinator must come from the SW;
  • Initiate the process where there has been an emergency and where there is intent for the child to remain.

Note that Line Management will supervise the undertaking of the above duties.

Director of Children’s Services Responsibilities:

  • To give written permission to the Nominated Officer in line with statutory guidance concerning their duties;
  • To reach a decision concerning whether to seek a placement in a distant authority;
  • To ensure that in such circumstances where a placement has been identified within a distant authority that it is the most appropriate placement and that it can provide adequate safeguards and support/monitoring, including educational and health provision;
  • To consider any concerns brought by the Nominated Officer relating to a Child placed in a neighbouring authority;
  • To ensure that the Police, Education, Health and Local Authorities have been consulted with prior to a distant placement and act upon any concerns to ensure that any proposed placement is suitable;
  • To oversee the responsibilities of the Nominated Officer as detailed below;
  • To monitor that Looked After Children’s needs are being met who are placed by Gateshead in distant placements and that they continue to have adequate safeguards in place.

Nominated Officer Responsibilities:

  • In respect of both planned and emergency placements, to decide upon requests for Gateshead Looked After Young People to be placed within a neighbouring Local Authority in the event that there is no suitable in house resource, and where this will involve a care related placement which is not an approved Foster Carer from Gateshead Council. This will also include gaining financial approval;
  • To decide upon and give agreement to the suitability of neighbouring placements once a placement has been identified;
  • To draw specific circumstances to the Service Director where there are identified concerns concerning proposed placements;
  • To consult with the Local Authority of a neighbouring authority, and in high risk cases the Police, as necessary, when considering placing or having a Gateshead Young Person placed in that area;
  • To consult with the Police within Gateshead, as required, in the interests of Young People who are Looked After. The circumstances will include the following:
    • When it is proposed to place a Young Person within Gateshead Borough by another Local Authority, where high levels of risk are identified, in line with their risk assessment. This must happen prior to any Young Person moving to the placement;
    • When circumstances, depending upon their risk assessment change and risks increase.
  • To receive consultation and notifications from distant and neighbouring authorities of a proposal to place a Child, consulting with relevant agencies and the Service Director, as appropriate, to enable the responsible authority to reach an informed view;
  • To ensure that there is a system in place for undertaking the following:
    • Collating Care plans and written reports concerning prospective placements of Young People from both distant and neighbouring authorities;
    • Ensuring there is a system in place to notify that a child is being/been placed;
    • Ensuring that any broader issues relating to the safeguard of children placed within Gateshead from external authorities has a multi agency approach including perspectives from Health, the Police, Education etc;
    • Ensuring there is a system in place relating to receiving and acting upon Notifications of serious occurrences concerning Looked After Children who are placed from external Local Authorities and reside within the Borough of Gateshead Council;
    • Ensuring there is a system in place for informing/notifying Local Authorities of serious occurrences relating to a Gateshead Young Person who is placed within their area along with consultation with relevant agencies.
  • Ensuring that the monitoring of placements made to external Local Authorities by Gateshead Council is undertaken safely and that audit supports this process.

Administrative Responsibilities;

  • To support the work of the Social Work Teams:
    • Looked After;
    • Referral and Assessment;
    • Children’s Disability;
    • Fostering teams by undertaking the following:
      • Providing administrative support by forwarding information e.g. Templates/ Risk Assessments, Care Plans to the relevant proposed provision or Local Authority/ Agency  upon request by the Social Worker when an external placement is being requested;
      • When a placement has been agreed, however, the responsible Child’s Social Worker administrative team for placing the Child will forward notification letters of placement prior to the Child being placed (in a planned placement);
      • Following a request from the Child’s Social Worker, their administrative team will share the report concerning the Care Plan i.e. distant authority. Note that in a neighbouring Local Authority, information concerning the needs of the Child will be forwarded as a minimum although the Care Plan should be updated/completed and follow shortly thereafter;
      • Sending notifications to health, education and the Local Authority of any Child to be placed within its boundary;
      • Receiving written communications from these agencies and ensuring that they are collated;
      • Once information has been collated and the placement has been made, notification will be made via email  to the Business Support Fostering Team Administrator of any fostering placements made in any neighbouring or distant authority so that this information can be collated on a broader leve;
      • To forward notifications of serious occurrences to Local Authorities where a Gateshead Young Person is placed and other appropriate agencies as directed by Social Workers and Management.

Additional Business Support Fostering Administrative Coordinator responsibilities

  • Note the Fostering Service has a broader remit within this area by:
    • Collating ALL notifications, fostering and residential, both from within Gateshead Council to external Local Authorities and Young People placed within Gateshead from other Local Authorities within the borough.  This is in order to maintain an up to date register which is a legal requirement. This relates to both neighbouring and distant placements;
    • Logging any notifications of serious occurrences of Young People placed externally by Gateshead or Young People placed within Gateshead should they come to the notice of Gateshead Council and ensuring these have been sighted by management of the Fostering Service and the Service manager for Looked After Children;
    • Logging placement admissions and discharges from Care both BY Gateshead and INTO Gateshead from other Local Authorities.
    • Receiving notifications from children’s homes and Independent Fostering Services in terms of an admission or discharge from their provision. 

Note the aforementioned will be undertaken by the Business Support Administrative Co-ordinator within the Fostering Service. This collation of this information is for monitoring purposes and it also ensures that the register of Children who are placed within Gateshead is kept up to date. 

The Business Support Manager/s will oversee that this area is running effectively and provide support within this area.

Independent Review Officer Responsibilities:

  • The IRO will be consulted with prior to the final decision to place the Child, to enable them to discuss the proposed arrangements with the Child and their parents (as appropriate ) and ensure that the Child's wishes and feelings have been taken into account in the decision making process. This relates to both neighbouring and distant placements;
  • In the event of an emergency admission, whether distant or neighbouring, the IRO will be informed following the admission. If it is intended that the Young Person will remain within the placement, the IRO will undertake the aforementioned duties promptly and feed these back to the Social Worker so that this can be taken account of in the decision making process;
  • In their daily duties, the IRO should ensure that elements of safeguard and support as identified within the Care Plan are of a good standard including the monitoring of the placement;
  • In the course of their duties, where the IRO becomes aware of significant concerns relating to a Child who is placed within Gateshead externally, in either a distant or a neighbouring placement and where there are safeguarding concerns, they should draw this to the attention of the Service Director so that these concerns can be acted upon.

Commissioning Service Responsibilities:

  • The Commissioning Service will ensure that the approved list of providers, both residential and fostering is kept up to date;
  • In the event of any concerns which have been notified regarding the provision, the Commissioning Service will advise relevant staff so that placement with the provision can be reviewed;
  • They will continuously review the quality of the Services provided by the provider agencies in line with Gateshead Council’s procedures, taking into account outcomes for Young People;
  • They will maintain an up to date list of external placements from Gateshead Council, both neighbouring and distant.

Appendix 4: External Placements Made By Gateshead Council


The Following Regulations and Guidance contain details relating to Out of Authority Placements

  • Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Statutory Guidance March 2010;
  • Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Statutory Regulations March 2010;
  • Children’s Homes and Looked After Children (Miscellaneous Amendments ) Regulations 2013;
  • Supplement to the Children Act 1989. Volume 2 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review 2014

It should be noted that this policy complies with the legislation and guidance detailed above.

Key Terms

Appropriate person - is defined in Regulation 2 of the Care Planning Regulations 2010.

Area authority - The local authority for the area in which the Child is placed or is to be placed where this is different from the responsible authority.

Connected person - Regulation 24 of the Care Planning Regulations defines a connected person as a relative, friend or other person connected with the Child.

Distant placement - Regulation 11(5) as amended defines a distant placement as meaning “ a placement outside the area of the responsible authority and not within the area of any adjoining local authority”. Distant placements must be approved by the responsible authority’s Service Director.

Nominated Officer - A senior officer of the responsible authority; nominated in writing by the Service Director, for the purposes of approving placement decisions made under the Care Planning Regulations.

Placement Provider - A Foster Carer; registered person for a Children’s home; or the person responsible for the Child’s accommodation where they are placed in other arrangements. Connected persons may also be placement providers, as are parents, if the Child is placed under Part 4, Chapter 1 of the Care Planning Regulations.

Placement out of the authorities area - A placement out of the authority’s area is one that is a placement in foster care, a Children’s home, or in “other arrangements” located outside the boundary of the responsible authority. An Out of authority placement may be in an adjoining local authority’s area or it may be a “distant placement”.

Responsible authority - The local authority which looks after the Child.