Referring agencies, usually Local Authorities, generally make contact by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning our Head Office on 0121 270 1066. Referrals arrive on a daily basis from across Britain.
Positive Pathways is a provider on the West Midlands Residential Framework and has access to the Placements Portal. Many of the children/young people in our homes come from the West Midlands and surrounding areas, which is consistent with good practice guidelines on maintaining close ties with family and the local area.
However, we have successfully worked with children/young people and placing authorities from much further afield, including several London boroughs. Sometimes it is necessary to place young people further away from their home area. Birmingham is easily accessible from across the country by train and road – it can take less time to travel from London to Birmingham by train than it can to drive across London! All of our homes are located near local train stations a few minutes from Birmingham’s New Street Station. Similarly, the homes are all within a few minutes drive from Junction 6 of the M6.
Responding to referrals
Due to the number of emailed referrals (often as many as 30 or 40 each week day) we are unable to respond to all of them. Most of these referrals are sent to providers across the country and many are not suitable, sometimes because the placing agency wants to place the child/young person locally.
When we have a vacancy in one of our homes we actively screen referrals to identify children/young people who might be suitable for the home. This screening process looks at variables that might affect suitability (e.g. age, nature of difficulties, location preferences). At this stage our aim is to identify children/young people whose needs and risks can be met at the home (with reference to the home’s Statement of Purpose); most likely to settle into the home; get along with the other children/young people at the home; and benefit from the services on offer. This placement matching process is not an exact science: we can never guarantee that the child/young person will settle into the placement or get along with the other residents.
Where possible, the Registered Manager of the home will discuss short-listed referrals with members of our Senior Management Team (SMT), which includes a Registered Clinical and Forensic Psychologist specialising in child and adolescent work. If the placement appears feasible an approach is made to the placing agency stating that we are interested in offering a placement to the child/young person.
Placement offers and placement matching
Agencies that are interested in the offer generally request further information from us (e.g. Statement of Purpose; most recent Ofsted inspection report; placement costs) sometimes followed-up by a phone call from the child/young person’s Social Worker. At this stage we might have several agencies pursuing the same vacancy. To identify the most suitable child/young person we prefer to organise a visit to meet the children/young people and their carers. This can often be achieved within one or two days, depending on the location. If the child/young person is deemed suitable we make a formal offer. Occasionally we have proceeded from the initial contact to the formal offer within the same day. Where several agencies are competing for the same vacancy we will make a formal offer to the first agency that agrees to our offer. We have been known to ‘reserve’ a vacant placement for a child/young person for several days providing there is a written agreement from a senior manager within the placing agency with authority to commit to funding. We are cautious about entering into this sort of agreement because there have been occasions when we have agreed to keep a bed open, and turned-down other suitable children/young people, only to be told the placement is no longer required.
Most children/young people admitted to Positive Pathways arrive as planned admissions. Planning and admission can sometimes be achieved within 24-hours. Once the placement has been agreed the Registered Manager will begin making preparations for the admission and prepare a Placement Impact Assessment report to consider the effects of the new admission on the home and the other residents. An admission date and time will be agreed and transport arrangements made. The Registered Manager will require relevant documents from the placing agency prior to admission (e.g. Care Plan; Risk Assessment; recent LAC reports). This assists in the development of relevant placement and management plans. Failure to obtain relevant documents prior to admission is viewed negatively by Ofsted.
On the day of admission the child/young person is generally accompanied by their Social Worker and/or carers/parents. We make young people and visitors feel welcome. They will be shown around the home, introduced to staff and other children/young people, and assisted in unpacking their possessions. All children/young people have their own fully-furnished bedroom. An inventory of their possessions will be prepared. Children/young people who arrive with inadequate or damaged clothing will be assisted in acquiring new items, in addition to toiletries and other personal items. They will also be asked about their food likes/dislikes and other preferences and provided with information about the home and a copy of the Complaints Procedure. A date and time will also be set for the Post-Placement Meeting.