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Permanency Planning Meetings
- What is a permanency planning meeting?
- Why are the meetings held?
- When is a meeting held?
- What will happen in the meeting?
- What options are considered for the child or young person?
- Who will be at the meeting?
- What is an advocate?
- Where will the meeting be held?
- How long will the meeting last?
- What role do parents and carers have in the meeting?
- Who chairs the meeting?
- How will the meeting be recorded?
- What happens if I disagree with the plan that is made for my child?
The meeting is a statutory review meeting organised to plan for the future of children looked-after by Social Services. It will:
- consider a child or young person's history and current situation
- hear an assessment of the young persons needs and discuss how best to meet those needs in the future
- decide on a long-term plan for their future.
Permanency Planning meetings are held because looked-after children and young people need to have plans made for their long-term future.
The purpose of Permanency Planning is to give each child or young person a greater sense of security, and, if possible, a family for life. The aim of the meeting is for them to know where they will live and who they will live with.
The meeting will be arranged when the local authority has looked-after a child or young person for more than four months.
If there is more than one option for the child and these need to be explored, there may be more than one meeting.
The social worker will provide a brief history of the child or young person, and an assessment of their current needs.
Other people present will be asked to add further information and their views on the situation, so after considering how best to meet the child or young person's long-term needs, a plan can be agreed.
The first option is whether the young person can safely return home to his or her birth parents or previous carers. If this is not possible, other options will be considered, including:
- living with friends or relatives
- residential care
- living independently, or
People who know the child or young person will be invited, including:
- the child or young person
- their parent(s), and anyone else with parental responsibility
- the child or young person's current carers
- any relative with a legitimate interest in the child's future
- their social worker and practice supervisor
- health professionals
- education professionals
- Devon County Council's solicitor (where necessary)
- the child or young person's parents' solicitor (where necessary)
- the child or young person's guardian (where one is appointed)
- an advocate for the child
- Any one else with the chairperson's agreement.
An advocate is a person who is independent of social services who ensures that the meeting hears the wishes and feelings of the child or young person.
The advocate visits the young person to discuss the meeting with them then either helps the young person to express their views at the meeting, or reads out a statement written by the child or young person.
It will be held at the local social services office, or, if this is not possible, a hospital or health centre or similar building will be used.
The aim is for the meeting to last a maximum of one and a half hours but it may be longer if more than one child or young person in the family is being discussed.
Parents and carers are essential to the meeting and are encouraged to participate in discussions and decisions.
If a parent or carer feels unable to express their views, they are welcome to bring a supporter to the meeting to help them. They can also put their views in writing or to ask to speak to the chairperson before the meeting.
The meeting is chaired by a Permanency Planning Officer. This is a social services officer who is independent of the district planning process for the child.
There will be someone present to take minutes of the meeting. This will be a report of the meeting, and a copy will be sent to everyone who was present at the meeting or who sent apologies for absence.
If social services are accommodating your child and you hold parental responsibility it is important that you agree with the plan.
The chairperson of the meeting will try to ensure that your views are heard and that any plan has your full support.
If your child is currently subject of legal proceedings and the local authority make a plan at the Permanency Planning Meeting that you disagree with you will be able to put your reasons for disagreement to the court at the care order hearing.
The name of a person expressing concern can be kept confidential, but parents may find out the identity of the source of the referral from the information supplied.
Workers who supply services to children should endeavour to work openly and in partnership with parents; child protection concerns and proposed actions should be discussed with parents. We are all responsible for protecting children and parents and families need to know about this approach when their child first comes to a nursery, playgroup or childminder.
Some parents may be very angry about the intervention but, if there is a conflict of interests, the need to protect the child must come first.