Previously looked after children - information for educational settings
What does previously looked after children (PLAC) refer to?
- subject to a special guardianship order (SGO)
- subject to a child arrangement order (CAO)
When a child moves into a pre-adoptive placement they continue to be a looked after child (LAC).
Responsibility is divided in this way:
- parental responsibility is held by social care
- the birth family continues to hold a small percentage
- the social worker will usually delegate day to day decisions eg signing for day school trips to the pre-adoptive parent/s
A child must be resident with the pre- adoptive family for a minimum of ten weeks before the family can apply to finalise the adoption, though it's usual to wait up to three months.
The pre-adoptive family do not attend the court date as the birth family and social worker will be there.
The following will happen once the adoption is finalised:
- the child will be issued with a new UPN number and NHS number
- the adoptive family hold full parental responsibility
- the child is no longer considered ‘looked after’
- the child’s surname and sometimes middle names may be changed legally - it isn't usual for the child’s first name to be changed
The family can choose to attend a ‘celebration hearing’ - a chance for the adoptive family and child to attend court. It isn’t a legal hearing, it's a child friendly celebration.
The family may need to request a day off school to attend this, but as an important event for the family and the absence should usually be authorised.
This has replaced residence orders and contact orders. The order will state who a child lives and with and can determine who they can spend time with and for how long.
It gives parental responsibility to the person that the child will live with, allowing them to make day to day decisions about the child including:
- medical or dental treatments
- signing for things like school trips
There are restrictions in that carers cannot change a child’s name or take them out of the country for more than a month without parental consent or permission from the court.
The parental responsibility (PR) given to the carer is shared equally with any parent who has PR for that child.
In the spirit of the order, it's best, where possible, to involve parents with decision making so that everyone can share an interest in the upbringing of the child
Parents would have the right to attend parents’ evenings and school events
Local authorities have the discretion to provide an allowance to anyone with a CAO. If an allowance is agreed it's means tested and reviewed on a regular basis
The order will last until the child is eighteen years of age, unless it is ended by the court before then
If you have any queries around child arrangement orders or special guardianship orders you should ring either of the numbers below asking to speak to the Fostering Assessment team on 01582 547633.
This is deemed to be a permanent order that determines who the child will live with for the duration of their minority.
The order grants parental responsibility to the carers, which overrides that of anyone else with PR, allowing them to make all of the decisions for the duration of the child’s minority.
The order will also outline the arrangements for:
- whom the child should have contact with
- frequency of contact.
As a school, it's important to discuss with the carers:
- whether it's a confidential placement
- whether parents should have access to reports
- whether parents should be able to attend school events
- what you should do if the parent was to turn up at school requesting to collect their child
Some of this may be detailed in the order and/or support plan.
If you have any queries around child arrangement orders or special guardianship orders you should ring either of the numbers below asking to speak to the Fostering Assessment Team on 01582 547633
Children and Social Work Act 2017 places the following requirements on the local authority and schools for previously looked after children (PLAC).
The local authority must make advice and guidance available to:
- any person who has parental responsibility for the child
- the member of staff at the child’s school
- any other person that the local authority considers appropriate
The LA must also:
- do anything else that they consider appropriate with a view to promoting the educational achievement of relevant children educated in their area
- appoint at least one person for the purpose of discharging the duty
The governing body of a maintained school or academy in England must:
- designate a member of the staff at the school (the 'designated person') as having responsibility for promoting the educational achievement of PLAC
- ensure that the designated person undertakes appropriate training and has regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State for Education
Statutory guidance was published in February 2018, with compliance by September 2018. Here are the links to these documents.
Find out how schools and families can access guidance and information from the local authority.
Luton's virtual school is the service providing information from the local authority.
Contact Luton's virtual school
Once contact is made you'll be put in touch with the most appropriate person to offer information and guidance.
The virtual school:
- has developed designated person training for PLAC, which includes information on trauma and attachment
- offers a range of training opportunities which cover issues typically relevant for PLAC
- has information about Luton's virtual school on our website
For more information please contact the virtual school office.
How do schools access PP+ for PLAC and what are the requirements for spending?
PP+ is available for children that were previously looked after by an English or Welsh local authority and have gone on to be adopted, subject to a special guardianship order or a child arrangement order, from the term after the child is three until the age of 16.
In order to access PP+ for PLAC you need to see a copy of the legal documentation which the family will hold eg:
- adoption certificate
The current levels of funding are (for 2018/19):
- £2300 per year is passed directly to the school by the Education Funding Agency (from reception to year 11)
- £300 per year is available to settings where a child is eligible for EYPP
It is for the school to decide how this funding is used. There's no requirement to attach the funding directly to the individual that generates it.
However the funding is provided in recognition that statistically, children and young people who have been in care, achieve significantly lower than their peers.
The purpose of the funding is to raise attainment of this group of vulnerable learners.
There is clear guidance on the use of pupil premium plus, and the role parents and carers should have on this in the statutory guidance on the role of the designated teacher.
Schools will be challenged by OFSTED as to how PP+ is impacting on the progress of the vulnerable groups. There's a requirement to publish the school’s strategy for the use of pupil premium on the school website.
There's more information available on PP+ in the pupil premium conditions of grant document online.
Parents and carers will know their children well. Working in partnership with them to look at the how best to support their child is best practice.
We have created an education support plan which you may find useful when looking at documenting how the young person is progressing and identifying next steps.
If this is to be completed, it should be written in collaboration with the family.
What support is available to the family once the adoption/SGO/CAO is complete?
Post-adoption support for families is lifelong. For the first three years after the adoption is granted, it's the authority that placed the child who have responsibility for this. After three years, it is the local authority that the family are resident in.
This can range from training for the carers and parents to therapeutic intervention for the young person.
In order to access support, families make contact with the Fostering Assessment team on 01582 547633.
When an SGO is granted there is a support plan agreed. This outlines:
- the support that can be accessed throughout the duration of the order
- financial support available for special guardians which is means tested and reviewed annually
Carers can ask for a reassessment at any time. For the first three years after the order is granted, it's the responsibility of the local authority where the child was last a LAC to complete the assessment.
After that it's the responsibility of the local authority where the child is living.
Therapeutic intervention can be accessed through the adoption support fund, should this be assessed as appropriate. Carers need to contact the fostering Assessment team on 01582 547633.
Currently there is little ongoing support around CAOs. They cannot access the adoption support fund.
How do we find out about issues which may be of particular relevance to previously looked after children?
There are two ways we assess any potential issues:
- the Educational Psychology team offers attachment training which the school can procure
- Luton's virtual school provides a course on attachment and trauma to which a school can send members of staff
The details of these courses can be found on the Luton school support website.
There are also a number of private providers which offer courses to schools. If your child is working with child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) they may also be able to support the school around your child’s specific needs.
The following resources have been published to support schools and may be useful:
PAC-UK also offers an education helpline - speak to advisors from their educational service about any issues to do with meeting the educational needs of permanently placed children and young people.
They've also produced a book 'Creating an adoption friendly school’. See the button below.