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Children Returning Home

1.1 There are three sets of circumstances where a child may return to live with their family but only in two of these do children cease to be looked after. This section covers circumstances where a child is no longer looked after, but a decision has been taken that local authority children’s social care will continue to provide support and services to the family following reunification.


1.2 Where the decision to return a child to the care of their family is planned, the local authority will have undertaken an assessment while the child is looked after – as part of the care planning process (under regulation 39 of the Care Planning Regulations 2010). This assessment will consider the suitability of the accommodation and maintenance arrangements for the child and consider what services and support the child (and their family) might need. The outcome of this assessment will be included in the child’s care plan. The decision to cease to look after a child will, in most cases, require approval under regulation 39 of the Care Planning Regulations 2010.


1.3 Where a child who is accommodated under section 20 returns home in an unplanned way, for example, the decision is not made as part of the care planning process but the parent removes the child or the child decides to leave, the local authority must consider whether there are any immediate concerns about the safety and well-being of the child. If there are concerns about a child’s immediate safety the local authority should take appropriate action, which could include enquiries under section 47 of the Children Act 1989.


1.4 Whether a child’s return to their family is planned or unplanned, there should be a clear plan that reflects current and previous assessments, focuses on outcomes and includes details of services and support required. These plans should follow the process for review as with any child in need and/or child protection plan.


1.5 Action to be taken following reunification:


  • Practitioners should make the timeline and decision making process for providing ongoing services and support clear to the child and family.


  • When reviewing outcomes, children should, wherever possible, be seen alone. Practitioners have a duty to ascertain their wishes and feelings regarding the provision of services being delivered.


  • The impact of services and support should be monitored and recorded, and the help being delivered should be reviewed.