1. What is the current name, title, contact email and telephone number for the most appropriate individual in the council able to respond to any queries that independent sector providers may have in regards to commissioning arrangements for looked after children.
2. When sourcing care placements for looked after children, does your council have a policy of always looking exclusively at availability within your in-house provision before considering the wider market or do you adopt a level playing field approach and look at options across in-house and external provision at the same time?
3. Could you please forward a copy of the form (blank template), detailing needs and placement requirements that is used to inform providers that you are seeking a placement for an individual child.
4.There are anecdotal reports that LA's across England have a policy of ensuring that, wherever a child is accommodated and there is a need to place the child with an independent provider, contracting officers are regularly being instructed to limit the placements to 28 days. The rationale being that this becomes a 'holding placement' and provides time for a Local Authority to find a vacancy within their own provision. Please could you inform me if (a) this practice exists in your Local Authority and (b) the estimated % of placements made with the Independent sector on this basis
5. Please can you confirm your involvement in any regional commissioning arrangements for fostering / residential framework contracts or preferred provider lists
The information you require is held by Essex County Council.