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 London Child Protection Procedures 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.
This chapter was reviewed and amended in April 2017 to include sections on Children in Need Visits and Supervision Orders. (See Section 4, Children in Need Visits, and Section 5, Supervision Orders). A section also identifies key differences with respect to Children in Need being serviced by the Children’s Disability Team, (see Section 1, Child in Need Plans).
- Child in Need Plans
- Child in Need Meetings
- Reviews of Child in Need Plans
- Children in Need Visits
- Supervision Orders
1. Child in Need Plans
Most Child in Need Plans will envisage that Children's Services intervention are time limited and will end ideally within a period of three to six months; however it is acknowledged that some children and families may require longer term support. Examples of this include children with disabilities, children subject to supervision orders for twelve months or children known to Children’s Social Care with a learning disability and/or autism admitted to hospital for an extended period but will require support within the community upon discharge.
The Child in Need Plan must identify the Lead Professional, 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.
In particular, the Child in Need Plan should:
- Describe the identified developmental needs of the child and the 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 upon resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
- Identify the Lead Professional and his or her responsibilities as well as clarify the roles and responsibilities of other professionals and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by professionals with children and family members;
- Identify points at which progress will be reviewed and the evidence upon which this be measured;
- Outline which professionals will be seeing the child and at what frequency. For social workers from services other than the Children with Disabilities Team, children should be visited minimum every 4 weeks.
Children’s Disability Team
In addition to the above, practitioners from the Children’s Disability Team should:
- Identify whether the non-disabled children should have their own plan;
- Parents / carers and siblings shall be asked at each assessment if they would like individually to have a Parent/carer needs assessment completed. If not, this shall need to be recorded;
- Visits should occur at least every 6 weeks.
2. Child in Need Planning Meetings
The first Child in Need Meeting should be held within 15 working days of the completion of a Child and family Assessment where the assessment has concluded that a package of support is required to meet the child's needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 or within 15 working days following a child protection conference where the decision has been made to work with the child and family as Child in Need.
The social worker should always discuss the purpose of the meeting and who will be attending with the child and the parents/carers before the meeting is held. It is also good practice to allow the child and parents the opportunity to discuss any concerns they may have and agree how this can be managed in order to facilitate their attendance and full participation prior to the meeting.
It will be important that an appropriate venue suitable for the child and his or her family is used for the meeting. Consideration must be given to transport, timing and any child care issues. Children should be invited to the meeting if they are old enough and their wishes and feelings should inform the decisions made at the meeting; where a child is attending the meeting and is of school age the meeting should be held outside of school time, wherever possible.
The first Child in Need Meeting should be chaired by the Team Manager and the social worker is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations.
A record of the meeting will be taken by the Chair; this along with a copy of the Child in Need plan will be provided to the parents, child ( if old enough and should be written in a manner that is appropriate to the child’s age and understanding) and the other professionals or agencies involved in the provision of services under the Plan within ten working days of the meeting.
The allocated social worker will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the plan including ensuring that referrals to appropriate agencies for services are made 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.
3. Reviews of Child in Need Plans
The Child in Need Plan should be reviewed with the child (if appropriate), parents/carers and the multi-agency group at the Child in Need Review.
The first review of a Child in Need Plan should occur within 6 weeks of the first CIN Meeting, subsequent reviews should occur at intervals not greater than 8 weeks; however if there are significant changes in the family circumstances, an early review should take place. For disabled children whose circumstances remain consistent and the services provided do not require a regular review, timescales can be longer but agreement for this must be recorded by the team manager on the child’s electronic record.
All CIN Review 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.
As discussed in the previous section, the social worker should always meet with the child and parents/carers prior to each CIN review in order to clarify the purpose of the meeting and to discuss any concerns. Consideration must also be given to the suitability of the venue, the timing of the meeting and child care issues in order to encourage full participation by the family at the CIN Review.
Each CIN review provides an opportunity for a child and his or her parents/carers, together with all key professionals/agencies, to consider the impact of the current package of support being provided, what else needs to happen to improve the effectiveness of the existing plan, whether the family can be stepped down to Early Help or universal services or whether the child can continue to receive services from partner agencies without the involvement of Children’s Social Care.
Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of a Child in Need Plan must be responded to in line with London Child Protection Procedures.
The CIN Review will generally take place within a meeting, unless the team or Service Manager agrees otherwise.
The allocated social worker or line manager will usually chair the meeting. If the case is not allocated, the manager of the responsible team must undertake the review or arrange for it to be undertaken on his/her behalf.
The outcome of a Review will be:
- That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring intervention from Children's Social Care, which will result in a recommendation to the team manager that the case be closed and the child may benefit by receiving services through a step down to Early Help, from a single agency or under a multi-agency plan (Team around the Child) 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 appears to be at risk of Significant Harm, resulting in the need for a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and possible Section 47 Enquiry.
Where the outcome of the CIN Review is an amendment to the existing Child in Need Plan and a third CIN Review is required, the case must be reviewed by a Service Manager who will decide whether the case needs to remain open to Children’s Social Care or what other alternatives can be made available to the family. Exceptions to this will be those cases where the plan acknowledges the need for longer term support, for example in relation to children who meet the criteria for a service in relation to a disability. Such decisions when made should be recorded on the child's electronic record, together with reasons, and dated.
The allocated social worker or in their absence the team manager is responsible for ensuring that the notes of the meeting and a copy of the amended Plan is given 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.
The timescale for sharing the notes of the meeting and the amended CIN plan is the same as with the Initial CIN Meeting, i.e. within 10 working days of the meeting.
4. Child in Need Visits
All children who are worked with as Children in Need under Section 17 (Children Act 1989) will be visited with a minimum frequency of 4 weekly. However, the frequency of visits should also be dependent upon the needs of the child and family and should be more frequent where a child has just been stepped down from a child protection plans or conversely where concerns are escalating and the child protection process is being considered or where a child has been rehabilitated home after a period of being looked after.
When planning visits the following needs to be considered:
- The frequency of visits, (minimum every four weeks or more often; Children with Disability Team every 6 weeks), must be agreed at the initial Child in Need meeting and reviewed at subsequent review meetings;
- Visits must involve seeing the child alone (i.e. without the main parent or carer);
- Visits can be both announced and unannounced; parents and carers should be informed of this at the initial Child in Need Meeting;
- Visits should always have a definite purpose, must contribute to the delivery of the outcomes identified within the Child in need Plan and must be recorded on the child’s electronic record as soon as practicable or, at the latest, within 48 hours (two working days) of the visit.
5. Supervision Orders
A child subject to a Supervision Order is a Child in Need and the processes as outlined within this chapter will apply to them. As part of the court proceedings it should be clear what services should be made available to the child and family, by whom and within what timescale as well as a recommendation as to how often the social worker should see the child; these should all form part of the Child in Need Plan. A Review of the Child in Need Plan should be held within 6 weeks of the making of the supervision order and then every eight weeks thereafter. At approximately nine months following the making of the order the review meeting should consider whether an extension of the Supervision Order is required or whether the child’s needs can be met under other arrangements, for example through step down to Early Help or universal services.The decision to seek an extension of a Supervision Order ultimately lies with Children’s Services; legal advice should be sought in making such a decision and due consideration should be given to the effectiveness of an extended Supervision Order or whether a renewed application for Care Orders may be more appropriate.