Child in Need Meetings and the Child in Need Plan


This chapter was updated in October 2020.

Acknowledgment to Leeds children's services for kind permission to adapt their procedure.

1. Child in Need Meetings and Child in Need Plan

Following the decision that a package of family support is required to meet the child’s needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, a Child in Need plan must be developed and confirmed at a Child in Need planning meeting.

The Child in Need planning meeting is an opportunity for the child, parents / carers and other key agencies to identify and agree the most effective inter-agency services to meet assessed need and develop / update the CIN plan.

Child in Need plans must be created collaboratively with families including the child/ren. The family must be supported and encouraged to attend the meeting. Consideration should be given to involving the child and supporting their attendance. The allocated social worker must be able to evidence how the child has been able to contribute and participate in their CIN meeting and to the plan. If they do not attend then their views need to be presented as well as their current lived experience.

CIN meetings can take place in a variety of locations to support full attendance for the family. Thought must be given to transport, timing and any child care issues. Where a child is attending a meeting and is of school age the meeting should be held outside of school time, wherever possible. A record of attendees I maintained.

The relevant social worker should discuss potential attendees for the CIN Meeting with the child and the parents/carers prior to arrangements being made for the meeting. Parents / carers must give consent as it is a voluntary service. If consent is not obtained, consideration must be given to how the child’s needs will be best met. For example:

  • Instigate Section 47 Child Protection enquiries and potentially an Initial Child Protection Conference;
  • Meet the child’s needs via Universal or Targeted Services; and/or
  • Single agency response.

It is an expectation that the child should not be subject to a Child in Need plan any longer than 12 months. The relevant Team Manager will review the case at the 9 months milestone to understand and consider:

  • What support has been provided;
  • What actions were agreed and progress achieved;
  • Why is this still a Child in Need, could the child’s needs be met through Universal or Targeted Services;
  • What are the next steps identified.

This will be recorded on the child’s file.

Timescales and Frequency of CIN Meetings

A Child in Need initial meeting must be convened within 20 working days of a decision that the CIN meeting is required. This decision will be on the completion of the Child and Family Assessment. Where required a discussion between agencies will take place about any urgent work/activity with families to be undertaken prior to initial planning meeting to ensure management of risk and appropriate response to presenting need.

The frequency of subsequent CIN meetings will be determined at the initial CIN meeting. However, subsequent CIN meetings should be held at least every 3 months. There is the flexibility for the frequency on meetings to be determined by presenting needs and to ensure effective delivery of the plan. The frequency of meetings will be determined on a case by case basis and overseen through case supervision.

In the case of disabled children, the CiN meeting will take place every 3 or 6 months as determined by the Team Manager in consultation with the team around the child and family. 


Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of working with a Child in Need must be responded to in line with the Bedford Borough Safeguarding Procedures.

It is an expectation and a requirement that Child in Need plans are reviewed actively and the required response for the child is provided at the right time. This relies on reviews taking place within timescales and that the child is visited, seen alone and their views heard and recorded throughout the lifetime of the plan.

The frequency of visits should be:

  • Agreed with the team manager on a case-by-case basis;
  • At least once every 20 working days.

Or more frequently if indicated in the CIN plan.

Key Responsibilities

The social work team manager, Advanced Practitioner or social worker may chair the initial CIN meeting and an agreement must be reached at this meeting regarding who will chair subsequent CIN review meetings. This would normally be the allocated social worker, however there may be occasions where it is agreed that the team manager assumes this role.

A social work practitioner is the Lead Professional and they are responsible for the following:

  • Convening CIN meetings;
  • Arranging meeting invitations;
  • Recording agreed updates to the plan (this role may be delegated to another professional attending the CIN meeting);
  • Circulation of the plan.

The Team Manager or Advanced Practitioner must maintain oversight of progress against the Child in Need plan through supervision and is responsible for a review at 9 months to determine next steps.

Key professionals are responsible for the formulation and implementation of the plan and for ensuring their services are delivered as part of the plan and for their own attendance.

Prior to the CIN Meeting

Arrangements should be made to organise the meeting, book a room etc.

Invitations must be sent out at least 5 working day before the meeting. The social work practitioner must visit the child and family to prepare for the meeting and to seek their views. This must include exploring ways in which to engage the child in the meeting and consider advocacy services if required.

If the child has communication needs, consult with parents / carer / school and consider creative methods of communication including: visual aids, toys, and photographs.

If professionals are unable to attend the meeting they must update the social worker and provide a written update regarding their involvement with the family.

2. The Initial CIN Plan Meetings and Plan Reviews

The purpose of the initial CIN meeting is to agree and clarify the actions of the CIN plan and to challenge the plan to ensure that it is robust enough to reduce any identified risks and develop strengths. Actions must be challenged to ensure that they are SMART:

  • Specific;
  • Measurable;
  • Achievable;
  • Realistic;
  • Timed.

All actions must have identified people responsible for them. In addition, decisions and actions agreed are recorded. Planning and intervention though the CIN meeting must be underpinned by a thorough assessment and continuing evaluation and re-assessment.

In particular, the CIN plan must:

  • Describe the identified developmental needs of the child, and any services required; it must be created collaboratively with the family including the child and will evidence a multi-agency involvement and approach;
  • Include specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child; the plan must reflect what needs to happen to improve the child’s lived experience;
  • Include realistic strategies and specific actions to achieve the planned outcomes;
  • Include a contingency plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
  • Included timescales that are not too short or unachievable;
  • Not be dependent on resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
  • Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of professionals and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by professionals with children and family members;
  • Establish points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged. Subsequent reviews must identify any issues in relation to drift and delay of actions within the plan. There should be evidence of regular (in accordance with points of progress identified) and effective multi-agency review.

The purpose of the subsequent CIN meetings is to review and monitor progress against the intended outcomes set out in the plan. In addition, at CIN review meetings, the plan must be amended and updated as required and action taken if risks escalate or reduce.

Following the start of the CIN plan, the second CIN meeting (first review) will be held at 3 months with subsequent CIN meetings held at least 3 monthly with the exception of where the child is disabled and it is decided by the team manager that the meetings can be held every 6 months. It is recognised that there may be instances where the CIN meeting determines that reviews should occur more frequently than 3 monthly. The frequency of reviews will be considered at every CIN meeting.

There should be discussion, review and challenge on the progress of agreed actions. Any written information provided by professionals not at the meeting must be shared. In addition, updates to the plan must be noted and issues identified that cannot be resolved. If there is agreement for the child's needs to be met in universal or targeted services, a lead professional must be identified and agreed. If the Child in Need plan is to continue following the review, a date should be set for the next CIN meeting.

Following the CIN Meeting

The social work practitioner must update the plan within 5 working days and circulate the updated plan to the family, child/ren and key professionals within 5 working days.

If there are any identified issues that were not able to be resolved at the meeting, these should be raised with the social work team manager.

Where it becomes necessary to make minor adjustments to the plan and services provided, any changes to the plan must be made in consultation with the parents and the child (where appropriate) and key professionals from other agencies.

Any newly proposed invitees should be contacted and invited to the next meeting.

After the initial meeting (and again if there are any significant changes to the plan), the CIN plan must be shared with the family.

Next Steps

When it is decided that social work involvement is no longer required to meet the child’s needs, the work undertaken and areas addressed should be recorded in a closing summary (which could be the final CIN meeting). This should give the reasons for the end of the plan and include the views of the professionals involved, and the views, wishes and feelings of the child / young person and their parent / carers.

Most CIN plans will envisage that Children’s Social Care intervention will end within 12 months. However, some children and families may require longer term support, for example disabled children and those with complex needs.

Decision for the child in need plan to conclude should always be made in consultation with those practitioners who were part of the Child in Need plan. This should always include the Social Work Team Manager to clarify the next steps and identify the lead professional.

The next steps may include support being provided through Early Help, another agency, or may be that the child is no longer in need of services to meet their needs.

The outcome of a CIN review meeting will be:

  1. That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Social Care intervention, with a recommendation for the next steps. Next steps may include support provided by Early Help or another agency;
  2. That the child continues to be a CIN requiring the same level of services, resulting in the continuing provision of services and minor amendment, as necessary, of the CIN plan;
  3. That the child’s needs are sufficiently complex and/or s/he requires additional services to safeguard and promote his or her welfare such as to justify an update of the Child and Family Assessment;
  4. That the child appears to be at risk of Significant Harm, resulting in the need for a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and possible Section 47 Enquiry.


The social work practitioner must record the CIN meeting on the child’s file within 5 working days using the CIN meeting template.

3. Children in Need Moving to Another Local Authority - Principles

This section covers issues which arise when children who are subject to Children in Need Plans move to another local authority. The principles apply to local authorities in the circumstances of both transferring out and receiving in Children in Need.

In a number of situations, a move by a child and their family to another local authority can be a positive option. However, where children and their families may have moved on more than one occasion in a short space of time this can be cause for concern, and any assessment should consider whether the child is subject to trafficking or modern slavery.

  • When a Child in Need moves from one local authority area to another, the Children Act 1989 is clear that the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child lies with the local authority where the child is to be found;
  • Given the child has already been identified as having particular needs or as being vulnerable in some way, urgent consideration / assessment should be given as to the impact of the move for the child in respect of their vulnerability, for example, by a reduction any protective factors, increased risk with known perpetrators or if they are subject to trafficking or modern slavery;
  • Given the circumstances, and in line with the above, a timely response should be made with regard to levels of assessed risk;
  • The parent/carer should be made aware of their responsibility to ensure the child receives appropriate education and health support in the area they plan to move to, together with any other specialist services required;
  • The social worker should support the family to access relevant and appropriate services to meet the child’s needs. Any deficits in services to meet specific needs by the receiving local authority should be noted;
  • The local authority Children’s Social Care Services where the child and family are moving to should be formally notified of the move and all relevant information should be shared:
    • Social work assessment;
    • Child in Need Plan;
    • Minutes of latest Child in Need Review;
    • A summary / case report.
  • Parent / carer’s permission should be sought to share this information with the receiving local authority in line with Information sharing advice for safeguarding practitioners (DfE).

    However, the Data Protection Act should never be a barrier to ‘sharing information where the failure to do so would result in a child or vulnerable adult being placed at risk of harm’ or indeed on those occasions where seeking consent might increase the risk of harm.

    If the parents / carers do not consent to this information being shared, the social worker or team manager, should consider seeking advice from their Caldicott Guardian or their Legal Services;

  • The social worker should ensure that other agencies involved in the Child in Need Plan are made aware of the moved and so they can share relevant information as soon as possible with their respective counterparts in the area the family have moved to, (for example school and GP records, etc.);
  • The social workers and team managers of the respective authorities should ensure there is clear effective communication during any transition and any risks are clearly communicated and understood;
  • Where possible, the social worker should seek to meet their counterpart and where geography allows, consider a joint visit and attendance at the Child in Need Meeting, so that the issues can be fully shared. The process should reflect the family’s needs and any associated risks;
  • Where there is dispute about case responsibility a delay in the receiving local authority accepting responsibility of the case, or a dispute about Children in Need thresholds, the team manager should promptly notify the Service Manager who should make a decision regarding next steps, including, where necessary, to take legal advice;
  • The family should be kept informed of any respective responsibilities during a transition stage and when the receiving local authority, (where the family reside), take full responsibilities;
  • Receiving local authorities should seek to convene a Child in Need Meeting within 20 working days of the family being resident in their area and include all relevant agencies and, where possible, the social worker and other specialist staff where the child and family have moved from;
  • All actions, decisions and arrangements should be fully recorded on the child’s case record during this process. This should include management decisions, which should identify the rationale for any decisions made, especially where specific services cannot be provided and/or it is considered the child is no longer a Child in Need.