Looked after Children (LAC) review – Under the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 it is a legal requirement that children looked after by Trusts must be reviewed. The first LAC review takes place four weeks after a child is taken into care.
The next review takes place takes place three months later and then every six months thereafter (Reviews of Children’s Cases Regulations (NI) 1996 (Article 45(1) and (2)). A LAC review is a meeting which is held to get relevant professionals and family members together to share information and discuss plans about a child’s placement.The purpose of the LAC review is to make sure that the care plan for each child continues to be appropriate and that the child’s needs are being met. The LAC review can change the care plan for the child or young person.
LAC reviews discuss a child’s placement, education, health and family contact. It will also be necessary to discuss any matters related to the plans for the child’s future. Those attending the review can also ask for other issues to be discussed. The social worker will be responsible for producing a written report for the LAC review and this report will contain information about the child and the progress with the care plan.
Young people should be given support to feel comfortable to participate at their review. However, research indicates that young people often feel disempowered when attending their LAC review. Reasons for this include:ï¿½ Too many people attending the reviewï¿½ Difficult to understand what is being discussedï¿½ Feeling ignored or not listened to (NISSY, 2006)Therefore, it is the responsibility of Social worker’s to consult with young people about decisions and plans being made about them. Prior to the LAC review young people should be provided with forms to give them the opportunity to contribute and record the things that are important to them so they can be involved in decisions and plans.
Tuning-in to the generally category of the client:A child who is looked after is a reference to a child who is(a) in the care of a Trust; or(b) provided with accommodation by a Trust. (The Children (NI) Order 1995)Looked after children can be placed in a range of settings, these include a residential home, residential school, foster placement or placed with a family member. Additionally, a child who is ‘looked after’ can be the subject of an interim Care Order, a full Care Order, a Residence Order or Voluntarily Accommodated.In September 2009 there were 1,635 children and young people being looked after continuously for at least 12 months in Northern Ireland, 52% of which were male and 48% were female.
Compared with 2008, the numbers of children looked after for at least 12 months increased, from 1,626 in 2008 to 1,653 in 2009 (DHSSP 2009). ‘Looked after’ children are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. In many cases, they have suffered sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Children who are looked after have all got distinct identities and come from different backgrounds with their own particular needs.
LegislationThe Children’s (N.I) Order 1995 is the main legislation which will guide my practice. The Children’s (N.I) Order 1995 is to ensure the care and protection of children.
One of the main principles of this order is that the child’s welfare is paramount (Article 3). This principle will guide all my work with young person (C). Young person (C) is not subject of a Care Order as he was voluntarily accommodated by the trust following agreement from his mother. While he is in the home myself and all staff have a duty to ensure young person (C)’s welfare is safeguarded (Article 26).
Young person (C) is a ‘looked after’ child under Article 21 because he is in the care of the trust that is providing him with accommodation in the home.The purpose of my meeting with young person (C) is to gain his views about living in the home and anything he would like brought up at his ‘LAC’ review. One of the main principles of this order is that children should be kept informed about what happens to them and that they should be encouraged to participate in decisions that are made about their future. Article 26 stipulates that before making any decisions with regards a child who is ‘looked after’ the authority must ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child.
Therefore young person (C)’s wishes must be sought before his LAC review as this is a legal requirement. Article 29 refers to promoting contact between the ‘looked after’ child and their family. During my meeting with young person (C) I will ascertain what amount of family contact he would like.UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 – This is an international treaty that grants all children and young people a set of human rights which must be respected and upheld.
Article 2 and 3 are very important as the ‘best interests of the child’ must be the primary concern. Article 3 states that the ‘child is given care and protection’ as this is necessary for his well-being. Article 12 is particularly relevant for my meeting with young person (C) as this refers to the ‘child’s right to express their views in all matters affecting them and for the child to be heard in all administrative proceedings.Mental Health (N.
I) Order 1986 – This is relevant to young person (C) because he has been diagnosed with depression which is classified as a mental disorder. This legislation is to ensure the care and protection for individuals who have a mental illness. The definition of a ‘mental disorder’ means “mental illness, mental handicap and any other disorder or disability of the mind” (Article 3, MHO, 1986). This legislation covers compulsory admission to hospital, detention in hospital and guardianship should these severe measures ever need to be used.
However there would need to be a severe risk to override an individual’s human rights.Disability Discrimination Act 1995 – This act is to protect individuals with a physical or mental disability. I have looked at this legislation because young person (C) has been diagnosed with Aspergers. Aspergers is defined as a “social and communication disability (Autism NI, 2010).
Individuals who have been diagnosed with Aspergers may have difficulty in communication or interpreting what has been said to them. They may also lack social understanding of what is appropriate behaviour. I am also aware that how Aspergers affects people can vary.Self-Harm – This has been defined as “causing deliberate hurt to your own body most commonly by cutting” (Fox C, 2004).
It can also take the form of burning, bruising, swallowing things or overdose. Young Minds describes self injury as “a way of dealing with very difficult feelings that build up inside” (YM, 2003). Self harm has been linked with depression, low self esteem that has been described as a coping mechanism. It is therefore, important that other forms of coping mechanisms are encouraged for young person (C).
Self harm is often about control because although you can’t control what is happening around you it is possible to control what you do to yourself (Mind, 2010). Young person (C) lives in a group environment which can often be chaotic and unpredictable.Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory of Development – young person (C) is 15 years old and is at the adolescent stage of development. Therefore, when working with him I will draw on knowledge from Erikson’s (1965) stage five of the life span ‘Identity vs.
Role Confusion’. According to Erikson, it is at this stage that young people are struggling to find their identity and sense of who they are. Erikson suggests that if this stage is not successfully achieved young people will experience ‘role confusion’. Young person (C)’s learning difficulties mean that he may be mentally and emotionally at an earlier stage of development for his age.
The earlier stage prior to adolescent whom Erikson identified is ‘Industry vs Inferiority’. This stage is generally applied to six to eleven year olds when they are developing competence (Glassman & Hadad, 2007).Tuning-in to specific service user/users:This tuning-in is based on information gathered from my previous encounters with young person (C)’, case files, and information obtained from this young person’s key worker. Young Person (C) is a 15 year old male he carries an educational statement and does not attend mainstream education.
He has a history of mental health difficulties and a history of self harm. Furthermore, he has been diagnosed with aspergers for which he receives services. This young person first came into care as his mother was unable to care for him due to his ‘disruptive behaviour’ (Case Notes), it was agreed that there would be an admission into care.The purpose of the meeting is to gain this young person’s views prior to his LAC.
Young person (C) was keen to complete this form when I mentioned it to him. Therefore, I feel he will engage with me as this is something he is interested in. The purpose of this meeting is to gain young person (C)’s thoughts and opinions regarding his future. Secondly, I have asked his permission to accompany him to his LAC review and act as an advocate.
The LAC review is something that young person (C) is interested in I am therefore aware that he may wish to advocate for himself.My objectives are:* To be clear about my role as a student social worker and the purpose of our meeting.* To involve young person (C) in completing his contribution to the LAC form.* To be non-judgemental and support young person (C)’s participation at the LAC reviewWhen preparing for this meeting with you person (C) it is necessary for me to have a better understanding of Aspergers.
Through previous interactions with this young person I am aware that he is not happy living within the residential home. Young person (C) has described to me that he feels the staff team and other young people whom he lives with do not understand him. This is something I intend to explore with him when we go through his contribution to the LAC form.ValuesRespect- I am committed to upholding NISCC code of ethics.
One of their key principles is ‘maintaining dignity and privacy’ (NISCC). Therefore I aim to respect young person (C)’s thoughts and feelings. This will be demonstrated by actively listening to him and not judging his opinions. I will explain confidentiality and limitations of confidentiality between young person (C) and myself.
Choice- Young person (C) is living in the residential home and has limited choice over his life. It is important that this process gives him the opportunity to participate and have some say in the outcome. This will at the very least ensure that he is heard, that his views and wishes are given due consideration. This includes having his voice heard over decisions that are being made about him.
Empathy – I feel it is important that I convey genuine empathy to young person (C) if we are to build and maintain a trusting relationship in order to carry out this piece of work. Empathy involves tuning in to the clients feelings and situation in order to fully understand their perception and the significance of any situation (Egan 2010).AOP – Young person (C) has been diagnosed with Aspergers. Therefore, if I am to work in an anti-oppressive manner I must be conscious of how the medical model impacts on the lives of those who have a disability.
I aim to work within a social model framework when working with young person (C). I will use Thompsons PCS model to identify how discrimination perpetrates itself through the structural, cultural and personal levels of society for people who have a disability. Also it will be important for me to be honest with him to ensure that his wishes are realistic. This is not to dissuade him from expressing his wishes but to ensure that I do not inadvertently give him the message that his wishes will be responded to in the way he may want.
I am aware that he wants to leave the children’s home, I need to ensure that I explore what other options are available.Skills – When communicating with young person (C) I need to adapt my communication skills especially my verbal responses to ensure that he comprehends what I say. He may take longer to process what I say and therefore I must ensure I do not talk too fast. I will use a range of open, closed questions.
It is important I allow for silences to give young person (C) time to express himself. I will be sensitive to what young person (C) is communicating both verbally and non- verbally.