So you want… to end a placement
Introduction on how to end a placement
Placement stability is at the heart of everything we do as foster carers, and we know it is the bedrock of good outcomes for our children.
However, we have to recognise sometimes they do not work out. We understand the pressures on a carer and that every situation is unique to that family. It is such a hard decision to end a placement, and pressure feels like it is coming from all directions, but we do need to talk about it.
We know every child/carer relationship is different and there are many and varied reasons that things have not worked out. By the time you want to end a placement, you would have exhausted every other avenue.
How does it work?
Wanting to end a placement can be for many reasons. There are a few ways placements end. You can give your provider 28 days notice, or some carers leave it a bit more open-ended and say it will end as soon as an alternative provision is found and introductions and a gradual transition can be made.
Sometimes it’s an emergency, again for many different reasons and it can end abruptly. This may be, amongst other reasons, because of safeguarding issues or an irreversible breakdown, allegations or the child refusing to return to placement.
You would normally ring to inform services of the notice period and follow it with an email. Then your provider will, and should, try to do everything they can to prevent it from happening.
Placement Stability Meeting
Your services/provider should have already instigated a placement stability meeting, which is an early intervention mechanism designed to act on concerns before a placement breaks down in order to remedy the situation and resolve the problems. However, if you are a the point of ending the placement this meeting has not been successful.
This is usually carried out after a placement ends in an unplanned way. The meeting should consider all aspects of the placement in an attempt to understand what happened and to learn from it moving forwards for all concerned.
What do carers say?
“It was the hardest decision I ever had to make, even though I knew it was the right one, not just for our family but for the child” LM, Shropshire
“I no longer felt safe as a single carer, and this was backed up by my social worker and the child’s social worker, even so, I felt such guilt and sadness after he was gone. Luckily I have a great agency and they promoted continued contact which was really important for me and K” LF, Wales
“We felt her behaviour was too challenging and we could no longer safeguard her, and this was after trying every single day for 7 years, it might have been different if we’d had better support but who knows. She has kept in touch though and we have a solid relationship”
“Despite everyone agreeing at the stability meeting, we still felt pressure to back down and sustain the placement, however, we had the support of our social worker who fully supported our decision” SL, Lincolnshire
“It was J’s decision to end the placement and we just had to go along with it and support it, even though we felt it would end in disaster” GD, Scotland
Top Tips – You can experience difficulties in Stability meetings or disruption and often feel blamed or have your skills abilities and motives questions. While these meetings can sometimes feel threatening, it is important to ensure everyone understands that no one should be blaming anyone, but taking the opportunity to reach a better understating of what happened, what went wrong and what can be learned going forward, including if more support could have been provided.
Don’t be pressured or coerced into any decision that is not right for you, or not right for the child or young person.
If you feel in any way unsure of what is happening reach out to your union, support organisation or person for help and advice.
It is important to reach out for support when making difficult decisions, especially to colleagues who have experienced similar situations and truly understand what you are going through.
Information, Help and Support
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