Child in Need Plans and Reviews
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter does not apply to children who are the subject of a Child Protection Plan. Where the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan, this will be drawn up in outline at the Initial Child Protection Conference and in detail at the Core Group meeting(s). It will be reviewed by a Child Protection Review Conference. Please see the Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Child Protection Conferences in relation to the implementation of the Child Protection Plan.
For children who are in receipt of Short Breaks, see also the Short Breaks Procedure.
AMENDMENTIn January 2019, a new Section 4, Children in Need Moving to Another Authority - Principles was added. Information and communication is important between the respective local authorities to ensure appropriate services continue for the child and family and, where relevant, any risk of harm is recognised and identified with the receiving local authority. It should be noted that the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child lies with the local authority where the child is to be found.
1. Child in Need Meetings
Child in Need Planning Meetings will take place at a maximum period of 20 days following referral decision and in accordance with Management Decision and oversight. Child in Need Planning Meetings may take place during a Single Assessment to enable multi-agency information sharing and planning, or it may follow the Single Assessment, to enable the plan for a package of family support required to meet the child's needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, to be implemented. A second meeting where case transfer is identified will involve the appropriate team being invited to the meeting with the family.
The Initial Child in Need Meeting provides an opportunity for a child and his or her parents/carers, together with key agencies, to identify needs and to develop the Child in Need Plan. The first Child in Need review meeting, following completion of the Single Assessment or following stepping down from a Child Protection Plan or Care Proceedings, must be chaired by a Team Manager or an Advanced Practitioner.
All Child in Need Meetings should be informed by the child's views. The Child in Need group should determine whether or a not the child should be invited to attend, taking into account the child's wishes, age, stage and level of understanding, the circumstances, issues to be discussed and issues of safety. If the child does not wish to attend or it is not considered appropriate, the reasons for this should be recorded. The Social Worker must ensure that the child's views are given to the meeting in a format acceptable to the child e.g. drawing, written, verbal.
The relevant social worker should discuss potential attendees for the meeting with the child where appropriate and the parents/carers prior to arrangements being made for the meeting. It will be important that an appropriate venue suitable for the child and his or her family are used for the meeting. Consideration 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.
The Child in Need group should involve those agencies directly involved in providing services to the child and family, as well as the parent/s/carer/s. If any relevant agency is unable to attend a meeting, the social worker should ensure that a report is obtained from that agency on progress related to the plan.
Child in Need Review Meetings should be held at a minimum of six weekly (or 6 monthly for low level CWD stable care packages). If there are any significant changes in the family circumstances, then an earlier review should take place. The social worker is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations.
A note of the meeting will be taken. This record will be copied to those involved, within 10 working days of the meeting, including the child and parent/s. Child in Need Review Meetings should be recorded on Azeus in the Reviews section.
The outcome of a Child in Need Review will be:
- That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Social Care Services intervention, which will result in a recommendation to the Team Manager that the case be closed although the child may continue to receive services from a single agency or under a multi-agency plan not involving Children's Social Care;
- That the child continues to be a Child in Need requiring the same level of services, resulting in the continuing provision of services and minor amendment, as necessary, of the Child in Need Plan;
- 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 a Single Assessment to be undertaken;
- 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 as part of a Single Assessment.
In cases where the Child in Need group agree that a Child in Need Plan is no longer required but a Team Around the Family (TAF) can support the family with a multi-agency plan, the social worker should send an Early Help referral form to the Early Help team, and attend one of the Early Help allocation meetings to enable a stepping down of the plan to the Team Around the Family.
Where (non CWD) Child in Need Plans have continued for six months or longer, the Team Manager should chair the next Child in Need Review to ensure that the plan is being progressed appropriately. Where the outcome of the Review is an amendment to the Child in Need Plan, the Social Worker should circulate a copy of the amended Plan to the child, parents, and other agencies/professionals involved in providing the services set out in the amended Plan, including any new services to be provided.
Where the Child in Need Plan is no longer required and the case is to be closed to Children's Social Care, the chronology should be updated and a case closure record completed by the social worker and then approved by the Team Manager.
2. Visits to Children in Need
Once the case is allocated, children should be seen within 5 days of the initial contact/referral, or sooner.
Visits to Children in Need should take place according to an agreed schedule and this schedule should be set out in the plan and in accordance with Team Management direction. Visits should involve seeing the child alone (i.e. without the main parent or carer), at least once a month (or three monthly for low level CWD care packages). Direct work should routinely be undertaken with children in accordance with their age and level of understanding, to determine their level of wellbeing, vulnerability and safety.
Child in Need visits should have a defined purpose, and the impact of the plan and outcomes should be recorded on Azeus following each visit.
Children should be seen in a range of environments and not just in one, e.g. at school. It is important that children are seen at home and that any differences in their behaviour or appearance between environments in assessed and analysed.
Whilst Social Workers should ensure that most visits are to the family home, social workers should ensure that they make a professional judgement about the best environment in which to obtain the child's wishes and feelings. This may be at home, at school or at a local community facility.
The family home should be seen in addition to seeing the child on occasions when the child is seen outside the family home.
Home visits should include observing the child's bedroom, the kitchen and all rooms used for living space.
A distinction must be drawn between an unplanned and coincidental contact and a planned visit. A casual meeting or encounter, or seeing a child during a meeting, is not a 'visit'.
If a child/young person requires assistance to communicate, part of the planning must involve identifying who is the most appropriate person to assist with this and/or what communication aids are required.
Consideration to the use of an interpreter for talking with children where English is not the first language should be addressed as part of the Child in Need Plan.
Child in Need visits should be recorded on Azeus under 'Case Activities'.
A Child in Need meeting should not be categorised as a Child in Need visit unless separate activity, apart from the CIN meeting takes place.
3. Child in Need Plans
A Child in Need Plan will be developed at the early Child in Need Meeting and completed following the completion of the Single Assessment.
Most Child in Need Plans will envisage that Children's Services intervention will be time limited and timescales must be clearly set out in the plan. However, some children and families may require longer term support, for example children with disabilities.
Child in Need plans which are developed at a Child Protection Conference, must be actively supported and monitored for a minimum period of 3 months following the final Child Protection Conference.
The Child in Need Plan must identify any resources or services that will be needed to achieve the planned outcomes within the agreed timescales and who is responsible for which action and the timescale involved.
In particular, the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) Child in Need Plan should:
- Describe the identified developmental needs of the child which are not currently being met, and any services required;
- Include specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child;
- 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;
- Include timescales that are not too short or unachievable;
- Identify each professional's responsibilities, including the nature and frequency of visits/contacts to the child and family members;
- Lay down points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged.
The plan should focus on the needs of the child and family which will make a difference to the outcomes of the child.
The Chair of the Child in Need Planning Meeting is responsible for the distribution of the Child in Need Plan. A copy of the Child in Need Plan should be provided to the parents, child (if old enough) and the agencies or other professionals involved in the provision of services under the Plan.
Unless otherwise stated within the plan, the Social Worker will be responsible for implementing the plan including making referrals to appropriate agencies for services as described in the plan. 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 at a Child in Need Meeting.
All decisions made should be recorded on the child's electronic record, together with reasons, and dated.
A copy of the record should be sent to the child (if appropriate), parent and all other participants in the review process.
4. Children in Need Moving to Another Authority - Principles
This section deals with children who are subject to Children in Need Plans and who 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, children and their families moving to another local authority offers a positive option. However, and particularly where children and their families may have moved on more than one occasion in a short space of time, any assessment should consider whether the child is subject to trafficking or modern slavery (see Single Assessment Procedure).
For Children Looked After see Out of Area Placements Procedure.
- 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 is vulnerable in some way, or urgent consideration / assessment should be given as to the impact of the move for the child in respect of their vulnerability, for example, through changes in the protective factors, increased risk with known perpetrators or whether they might be 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 service required for the child;
- The social worker should assist and promote the family accessing relevant and appropriate services with regard to meeting 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 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 Practitioner.
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.
Otherwise, 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 and prepared to ensure that their relevant information is shared 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 and good 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, to 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; 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.
5. Supervision Orders
Children who are subject of a Supervision Order are Children in Need and the processes in this chapter are applicable. The initial Child in Need Plan should be drawn up as part of the Court Proceedings and should identify who should make the child available to the social worker, and how often and where the social worker should meet the child. At the nine months point, a decision must be made whether to seek an extension of the Supervision Order.