Legal Aid for Out-Of-County Placements

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is,
“what rights do I have as a parent of somebody with a learning disability in terms of making the choices about where they should be placed, particularly if that choice might involve an out-of-county residential placement?”


Many parents often feel disenfranchised during the placement process and say they feel they are being misled by their Local Authority.  The chances are, unless you happen to be lucky enough to have a really good specialist service that can meet the needs of your child within your county, for those with complex support needs you will have to look out-of-county for a suitable placement.  And that’s where the issues start.


Obviously you need to look around and find what’s best, the right service that can meet the needs of your child.  If you do find that what is best is out-of-county and if you can prove that

(a) it’s relevant to your child and their needs; and

(b) there is nothing equivalent in county

then you are going to need to be prepared to fight your corner.  Local Authorities don’t like placing out-of-county – this is government policy.   But at the same time if your child has high complexities the chances are there will not be the justification for the type of service within county because there are only a few throughout the UK that can provide top class specialist residential support of this type.


If, after having had a good look at places in your county and going through the prescribed process, you decide that the best placement is out-of-county you then have to persuade your social worker to request an assessment, which should be carried out by the chosen provider free of charge.  If an offer is made by the provider, the Local Authority will examine your case and if it is a just case, a good Local Authority will accept the out-of-county placement.


At Home From Home Care we have people from all over the country – 21 Local Authorities have placed with us because we are a very specialist service and they recognise they cannot provide the particular service needed for some individuals within their county.  Ultimately, they know it makes both common and financial sense in the long term to provide funding for a service that will not result in a placement breakdown after a short period of time.


For those Local Authorities that don’t have that sort of intelligent thinking you will have to fight them, be the ‘parent from hell’ and do what you need to do to get the best for your child, even if that does mean taking a legal route.  We talk to many parents who over the years have had to mount legal challenges on behalf of their children to get the services they deserve.  In adulthood, from the age of 18 your child is entitled to Legal Aid and there are some very good lawyers who specialise in this sort of area.  Many cases are resolved once legal proceedings have started and this can be a very successful way of getting the outcome you want.


But the fight isn’t necessarily over once a placement is secured.  If a Local Authority challenges a placement further on down the line, and if your child does not have mental capacity – then ultimately you may have to go to the Court of Protection.  The Court of Protection will consider all of the facts as the Local Authority cannot just decide things without taking into account the Mental Capacity Act.



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  1. […] down a legal route.  If your child is over 18 then they are entitled to Legal Aid – click here to read a previous post on ‘Legal Aid for Out of County […]