Question: I have just been offered a Local Authority case worker as a key worker for my son's Single Plan. Would IPSEA consider a caseworker to be impartial in the planning/writing of a Single Plan ?
IPSEA’s answer: As we have said already on key workers and direct payments, IPSEA does not believe that key workers who are not independent of LAs will able to give robust advice to families and young people. In our experience LA caseworkers are well aware of their LA’s policies and criteria for statementing and resourcing provision, but not their legal basis. The law requires, for instance, Part 3 of the statement to be written without regard to resources or placement, but we frequently meet statements written the other way around, driven by what’s available rather than what the child needs, and often with a band or matrix position the only thing specified. It’s easy to see why LA caseworkers behave like that, especially when LA budgets are reducing, but it means parents should try to get independent knowledgeable advice. It will be useful to do the same checks on the single plan as on a statement, especially on its specification of provision.
However, please remember that even if you ensure that everything your child needs is specified, anything in a ‘single plan’ is not currently legally binding on an LA, and where there is any possibility that this may endanger a child’s provision, parents can opt for a statement.