New into care protocol
Coming into care can be a very difficult time for any child, and they need to be offered additional support and attention. This can be very practical help or for some children (who do not wish it to be known that they are in care) it may need to be very discreet and almost invisible.
The information below outlines the key steps which need to be taken in order to ensure that the young person’s learning and emotional needs are supported.
For any child who requires a new school place, social workers must make a formal application with either the admissions service or, for children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or Statement of Special Educational Needs, the 0-25 SEN Team. Find out more on the support for schools and settings website.
If there is uncertainty about an EHCP or statement, the admissions service will be able to advise. For children placed outside Devon, there will be a similar process and support is available from the admissions service. Please see the admissions applications of children in care policy.
The Virtual School roll is updated weekly, but the area learning advocate (ALA) and Personal Education Plan (PEP) coordinators are notified on a daily basis of all children that are new into care. Upon notification, the ALA will contact the social worker to discuss education plans.
The PEP coordinators will immediately arrange the first PEP meeting. All children who are new into care are entitled to a Personal PEP regardless of whether or not they have moved schools.
A child must have an initial PEP within 20 days of coming into care. The PEP Coordinator (or the child’s social worker if in Integrated Children’s Services) will arrange the PEP meeting with the school. This will include an invitation to the Educational Psychology Service if needed. This includes all children who are new into care regardless of which social care team they are in.
If a child is new into care and does not have a school place the ALA will liaise with the social worker to find the best provision to meet their needs and interim provision discussed if necessary.
When a school or college is identified the ALA will arrange a planning for success meeting with carers, social worker, previous education provider, new education provider and the young person to plan their start and arrange a visit to the site.
A PEP will then be held with the education provider. In the few weeks after the young person has started at that provision when they are known to staff to review their progress.
The pupil premium funding requests are made via the PEP and released once the PEP is quality assured by the Area Learning advocate. This is allocated on a termly basis. The funding is specifically allocated to ensure that children in care are making accelerated progress and to close the attainment gap between them and their peers.
The expenditure is for interventions which are over and above those funded by the existing school budget. The impact of the expenditure will be reviewed at each PEP meeting.
A strength and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) is required from the child, social worker and designated teacher. These are sent by the Virtual School to the designated teacher and returned to the social care team.
Any child who is subject to a fixed period exclusion or who has just been permanently excluded from a school will be supported by school staff, the ALA or the inclusion officer. This work will be undertaken under the remit of the protocol for supporting children in care in schools (including protocol for eliminating exclusions). Weekly exclusion information is sent to the area learning advocates.
Social workers or designated teachers will be able to apply for a Personal Education Allowance (PEA) to support the child’s wider learning and educational experiences. This funding can be requested by social workers, The Virtual School or schools using the PEA application form.