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Salford Children's Services Procedures Manual Salford City Council website

3.12.4 Assessing Two Families for the Same Child


This procedure has been devised to clarify how we will decide upon the most appropriate family member to provide long-term care to a child/sibling group following assessment as part of care proceedings.

In many cases the ‘Friends and Family’ team will be asked to assess only one family member. However, on occasion there is competing interest from both sides of the child’s family. If agreement cannot be reached about who should undertake full assessment then the following procedure would be implemented.

A Legal Gateway/Planning Meeting is called. If the recommendation is to proceed under Public Law Outline, a letter will be sent to all family members asking them to contact the local authority if they are able to offer to care for the child, or offer support to carers. Should more than one family member make contact with the local authority a family meeting will be convened. The chair of the family meeting would explain the process of assessment, and attempt to establish which family members want to be approved as full time carers, and those who would be willing to offer support.

It is envisaged that in most instances one family meeting would be arranged to incorporate both maternal and paternal family members. In some cases it may be necessary to hold two separate meetings if relationships between family members are so fraught that any meeting held would not be constructive.

Ideally, family members would agree on which family member is in the best position to provide long term care to the child/children concerned, and therefore who should be assessed.

The local authority will complete a viability assessment in relation to all family members who wish to be considered. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks should be undertaken at this first visit. The child’s social worker would complete the viability, and if deemed appropriate refer to family placement team for a second visit from a ‘Friends and family worker’. This worker will be responsible for explaining the fostering role.

The local authority will reach a decision in relation to all viability assessments and recommend whether or not a full assessment should be completed. The Court will be informed of the outcome of the viability assessments, the viability assessment will be submitted as evidence.

The local authority may complete more than one positive viability assessment. As a general rule the local authority would assess one family member from each side of the family. There may be exceptions to this if agreement cannot be reached within the family.

The local authority will inform all potential carers about decisions reached in relation to which applicants will be assessed. This will be done via feedback from the assessing social worker, or it may be necessary to reconvene the family meeting. 

All full assessments will be allocated to social workers on the ‘Friends and Family’ team at family placement, if there is capacity. If there is no capacity then assessment will be carried out by a social worker from the general fostering team. If the assessment cannot be carried out by a member of the general fostering team then discussion will be held with the social work team about how best to proceed.

Assessments will always be allocated to different workers.

Assessing social workers are likely to be supervised by Team Manager, Friends and Family team. The exception to this would be if the assessing worker is managed by another team manager from family placement. Any independent social worker carrying out an assessment should be supervised by the team manager ‘Friends and Family’ team, as the applicant is being assessed as a foster carer for Salford City council.

The full assessment is completed and statutory checks undertaken. A signed copy of the viability must be sent to the relevant admin worker within family placement for the stat checks to be processed. This is the responsibility of the social worker carrying out the viability assessment, and the family placement worker carrying out the second visit should ensure that this has been done.

Should an assessment be curtailed before completion a report would be prepared for panel outlining the reasons for such actions, and the Court duly informed of developments.

Once the assessment is completed a team manager’s visit will be carried out to all family members who have been assessed. This will be done prior to the matching meeting (see below). The team manager will complete a report on the visit carried out, and this report will be presented to panel with the successful applicant’s assessment. The team manager’s report will consider any outstanding issues arising in the report prepared, and invite comment from the applicants about their experience of being assessed by the local authority.

A matching meeting will then be held to consider all applications alongside the other. This meeting is chaired by the team manager ‘Friends and Family’ team, (unless there are good reasons why this should not be the case, and then another team manager family placement would undertake the chairing of the meeting).

Attendance at the meeting would include the child’s social worker, the assessing social worker, the social workers team manager and the Children’s Guardian. The carer for the child or children should be invited to the first part of the meeting, to consider the needs of the child, and the care needs of the child. The carer would leave the meeting before the applicants are considered.

The format of the meeting would follow the process for matching children to long term foster carers or to adopters. In the first instance consideration is given to the child’s background, the child’s care needs, and any expert assessments that have been undertaken in the course of proceedings. A list of the child’s needs is compiled. Each applicant will be considered in detail, consideration given to the strengths and vulnerabilities of each of the applicants, who can offer the best care, given the identified child’s needs.

A decision will be reached about which applicant will be matched with the child/children. Both applicants may be deemed to be suitable carers. Consideration should be given to whether or not the second choice carers should be taken to panel for consideration as contingency carers for the child/children.

The decision making process will be made clear within the matching meeting minutes. The chair will be responsible for producing minutes for the appropriate panel.

The family placement worker who has completed the assessment of the applicant and the social worker (if appropriate) will be responsible for informing the applicants of the outcome of the matching meeting.

The unsuccessful applicant has the right to have their assessment considered by panel, and would have access to the appeals process.

The full assessment report relating to the successful applicant will be taken to the appropriate panel, alongside the minutes of the matching meeting and the CPR for the child/children. The panel will scrutinise the decision making process.

The panel will make a recommendation about the suitability of the proposed placement. This recommendation has to be endorsed by the agency decision maker; this will be done within 10 days of panel meeting.

A court statement will be prepared by the assessing social worker (Family placement) giving details of the proposed placement. The matching meeting minutes will be made available to the court if required.