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 Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Online Procedures in relation to the implementation of the Child Protection Plan.
For children who are in receipt of Short Breaks, see the Short Breaks Procedure.
In June 2019, Section 3, Reviews of Child in Need Plans was updated to set out expectations in relation to the frequency and format of Child in Need Reviews. In addition, Section 3.1, Review and Oversight by Managers was updated to reflect the role of the Team Manager and Practice Supervisor in reviewing children who have been subject to Child in Need Plans for longer than 6 months.
1. Child in Need Planning Meetings
Child in Need Planning Meetings will follow a social care Single Assessment which concludes that social care services are required to meet the child's needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.
The Planning Meeting provides an opportunity for a child and their parents/carers, together with key agencies, to identify and agree the package of services required and to develop the Child in Need Plan.
All Child in Need Planning Meetings should be attended by the child (depending on age and understanding), parents/carers and those agencies whose potential/actual contribution is recommended as an outcome of an assessment.
The relevant social worker should discuss potential attendees for the Planning Meeting with the child 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 their 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.
A social worker is responsible for convening the meeting within the necessary timescales and arranging invitations.A social worker will chair the meeting and will ensure accurate notes of the meeting are taken. This record will be copied to those involved, including the child and parent/s who need to agree them.
2. Child in Need Plans
A Child in Need Plan will be developed in a Child in Need Planning Meeting.
The Child in Need Plan will identify the social worker as the Lead Professional (in most cases), 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 time-scale involved.
Following the completion of the assessment it might be appropriate for a Community Care Worker (CCW) to deliver the support required as part of that child's plan, with a social worker providing support and guidance in reviewing the plan at Child in Need meetings.
In particular, the Child in Need Plan should:
- Describe the identified developmental needs of the child, 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;
- Not be dependent on resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
- Identify the Lead Professional (usually the social worker) and their responsibilities, including frequency of visits to the child (visits should reflect the level of risk / complexity of the and should occur at least 6 weekly);
- Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of other professionals and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by professionals with children and family members;
- Lay down points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged.
3. Reviews of Child in Need Plans
It is an expectation that plans are reviewed every 6 weeks. This review is recorded by the Lead Professional and would involve the participation of the child, their family and any other professionals supporting them within the plan. Reviews would usually take place within a multi-agency Network Meeting.
There may be some exceptions to the 6 weekly plan reviews; for example those cases where the plan acknowledges the need for longer term support in relation to disability services. All such plans will be reviewed at least every 3 months.
If there are significant changes in the family circumstances, an early review may be necessary.
The purpose of the Review is to ensure that the services provided are contributing to the achievement of the objectives within the time-scales set.
At each meeting to review a Plan, consideration should be given to what has worked well and what has not been achieved and whether any additional actions are needed.
There is opportunity to record the child/young person and family's views throughout the meeting and develop further action plans if deemed necessary. Future action plans should recognise and encourage good practice already identified.
Whenever a plan is reviewed, consideration should be given to how long the plan has been in place, how effective the plan is and how any lack of progress is impacting on the child.
It is important to record on the action plan what might happen if the action plan is not followed. Any concerns about the progress a family is making should be discussed with a manager in regular supervision or at any other time should the need arise.
All decisions made should be recorded on the child's electronic record, together with reasons/rationale, and dated.
Any decisions recorded should be sent to the child (if old enough), parent and all other participants in the Review process.The outcome of a 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, e.g. Team Around the Family Plan;
- 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 appears to be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, resulting in the need for a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and possible Section 47 Enquiry which will require an updating of the Social Care Single Assessment.
Where the threshold for involvement has changed the plan should be stepped up or down accordingly.
Where it appears that the child may be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, then a Strategy Discussion/Meeting should take place to determine if Section 47 enquiries are needed.
Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of a Child in Need Plan must be responded to in line with Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures.
3.1 Review and Oversight by Managers
All Child's Plans must be overseen and regularly reviewed by their manager.
The purpose of management oversight is to ensure that the Child's Plan is appropriately robust, continues to meet the agreed objective, is effecting change and is within the agreed timescales.If a child remains subject to a Child in Need plan for 6 months, a discussion should take place within supervision between the Practice Supervisor and Team Manager involved and consideration given to the Team Manager chairing the multi-agency Child in Need meeting, to provide some independent scrutiny on the plan and prevent drift. If this is not deemed appropriate this decision and its rationale should be recorded on the case file and regularly reviewed. When it is agreed that a formal review by a Team Manager is needed, independent scrutiny will continue to be given through supervision and further formal reviews chaired by the team manager (at least every 6 months) unless deemed not appropriate/necessary to do so. The 6 weekly reviews by the Lead Professional will continue to take place between formal reviews by the Team Manager.
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, a move by children and their families to another local authority will be positive option. However, where the move appears unplanned or where where children and their families may have moved on more than one occasion in a short space of time, services should consider whether the child is subject to trafficking or modern slavery (see Assessments Procedure).
For Children in Care, 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 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, does the move mean there will be changes in the protective factors? Is there increased risk or contact with known perpetrators or concerns that 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 DfE Information Sharing Advice for Safeguarding Practitioners.
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 give their permission to share information, 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 effective communication during any transition and particularly that 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; 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.