Placements and Admissions


The Quality and Purpose of Care Standard
Regulation 6

The Care Planning Standard
Regulation 14


  1. Introduction
  2. Referrals
  3. Planning
  4. Arriving at the Home
  5. Helping Children Settle
  6. Notifications
  7. Considerations before a Child is Placed in a home out of area

1. Introduction

Before making a placement in residential care, it is essential that the placing authority fully understands exactly what a home can offer and how they will care for the child.

Furthermore, the proposed placement of a child should only be accepted when the home’s manager is satisfied that the home can respond effectively to the child’s assessed needs (as recorded in the child’s relevant plans), as well as having fully considered the impact that the placement will have on the existing group of children.

2. Referrals

Upon receipt of a referral, the home’s manager will review the referral information, speak to the referring social worker and assess whether the admission is appropriate. This decision will be based upon the home’s Statement of Purpose, the child’s assessed needs, the needs of other children and young people already living in the home and an assessment of the risks of making the placement. The manager will record their decision whether or not to admit a child or young person, return it to the referring social worker and place a copy in the home’s Referral File.

3. Planning

Once a placement has been agreed, a Pre-Placement Planning Meeting will be arranged to agree Care Plans and Placement Plans, complete risk assessments and ensure that all of the essential documentation is up to date and on the child’s residential file. This should include a copy of the referral and an assessment of any risks to other children in the home arising from this admission.

Except in an emergency, no admission will be made to a children’s home without a written referral, all essential documentation, information and risk assessments. When a placement is made in an emergency, the referral, other documentation and information and risk assessment(s) must be provided within 72 hours of admission.

It is the social worker’s responsibility to provide all of the essential documentation. It is the Key Worker’s responsibility to organise the child’s residential file and to obtain any outstanding documentation and information.

Prior to the agreed admission date, the child, parent, family and significant others, as appropriate, should be invited to visit the home on at least one occasion, to meet the other children and staff and to ask any questions and have any queries or concerns answered.

The child’s bedroom should be prepared prior to admission. Where possible, they should be able to choose their own bedding, the decoration or colour scheme and layout.

The child and parent should all be given a copy of the home’s Statement of Purpose. The child should also be given a Welcome Pack to read in preparation for the admission. They should be prepared for the admission to the home and helped to understand what to expect from staff and what will be expected of them. The child should be encouraged to bring with them favourite and cherished possessions, although expensive items will require careful consideration.

4. Arriving at the Home

Each home should have established processes for welcoming and introducing each child to the home. Staff must be sensitive to the needs of the child at the time of arrival (particularly in the case of emergency placements). Staff will play a key role in helping children to understand why they are living there and explaining plans for their future.

All children are entitled to a warm welcome and introduction to the home. The introduction should take into account the child’s abilities and capacity to understand and retain information. It may be appropriate for the introduction to take place over a period of time, and / or be delivered in different formats depending on the child’s communication and cognitive abilities. Staff should establish the child’s understanding of key information about living in the home and the expectations of their care in order to identify whether there are gaps in the child’s understanding which need to be addressed.

Children and young people currently living in the home should be asked contribute to any review of the procedures for welcoming new arrivals. 

An identified member of staff (the Key Worker wherever possible) should welcome the child, parent, social worker and significant others. They should ensure that the Admission and Discharge Log details are recorded. They should settle the child in by showing them to their bedroom and helping them unpack. They should also ensure that the child understands the Young Person’s Guide especially in terms of their rights and their responsibilities, and have the routines and rules of the home explained to them. It is important that the child understands what to do if they are not happy about anything and that they will be listened to.

5. Helping Children Settle

Many children find it difficult to settle in a strange environment, and this is likely to be exacerbated if the start of the care episode has been rushed or traumatic.

Key Workers should do all they can to help children feel at home, including trying (where possible) to maintain some of the routines to which they have been accustomed.

The Key Worker should arrange regular sessions (at least weekly) with the child to ensure that they have the opportunity to express their views and wishes and raise any concerns or complaints they may have about their care. It is important to hold these sessions throughout their stay but especially so in the days and weeks immediately following their admission.

6. Notifications

The manager of the home must notify without delay the area local authority (if different from the placing Authority) of the admission to/discharge from the home of any child.

This notification must state:

7. Considerations before a Child is Placed in a home out of area

Within the placing authority, the decision to place a child out of area must be approved by the Nominated Officer, unless it is a Placement at a Distance, (i.e. outside the area of the local authority and not within the area of any adjoining local authority), in which case the approval of the Director of Children’s Services is required.

Before agreeing such placements, the Nominated Officer/ Director of Children’s Services must be satisfied of the following:

  • That the child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
  • That the placement is the most appropriate placement available for the child and consistent with the Care Plan;
  • That relatives have been consulted where appropriate;
  • That the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) has been consulted (usually the IRO will discuss with the child after the child has visited the proposed placement).
  • That the area authority has been notified or, for a Placement at a Distance, the area authority have been consulted and have been provided with a copy of the child’s Care Plan.

The social worker must assess the suitability of the placement. This includes referring to the home’s Statement of Purpose and location assessment; consulting the home’s manager to ensure that proper arrangements are in place for the child to have contact with his/her family and significant others (this is especially important when the child is proposed to be placed at a distance away from their family home) and considering the arrangements for continuing to meet the child’s health and education needs.

For more information, see The Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015).