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Welfare Secure Placement Unit

UPDATE: March 2022

The secure welfare estate has continued to come under significant pressure with supply and demand issues recently. This has resulted in referrals remaining open for longer periods of time before a bed is identified. Currently a two weekly update is required by local authorities, to ensure the secure homes have an up to date overview of the current situation for the young person being referred. To further support the secure children’s homes in their decision making, the SWCU will be requesting that a three monthly ‘reviewed referral form’ is submitted to the unit, once requested, for a search to continue.

The new process is being introduced in conjunction with the secure children’s homes and the process will be clearly outlined to referring local authorities at point of referral and during the search, outlining the information required and timeframes. If this is not received within given timeframes unfortunately a search will be ceased, which will align with the current two weekly update.

The new three monthly ‘reviewed referral form’ process will take effect from week beginning 18 April 2022.

What is the Welfare Secure Coordination Unit?

The Secure Welfare Coordination Unit (SWCU) is a small unit grant funded by the Department for Education (DfE) for the purposes of administering placements and collecting data on secure welfare. It is not a legal entity and therefore does not have a Director.

The SWCU provides a transparent, dedicated single point of contact for local authorities in England and Wales, to arrange secure welfare placements and aims to streamline the process of finding the most suitable placement to meet the individual needs of each child or young person needing secure care.

The SWCU is committed to ensuring the best outcomes for all children needing secure placements. Data from the Secure Children’s Homes is collected by the SWCU on a daily basis and open referral forms are then sent to homes with a bed available. The home will then indicate whether they can or cannot accept the placement request based on the child or young person’s needs.

Making a placement request for a secure welfare bed

  • Further information about the unit can be found here.
  • Referral forms, guidance and other supportive information can be found on the SAN website.

The unit operates Monday to Friday from 08:30am to 17:00pm with a voicemail facility for out of hours providing updates on the daily bed availability.

Unit contact details

Tel: 01962 846432


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