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3.1 Child in Need Plans and Reviews

AMENDMENT

In April 2017 this chapter was updated throughout and must be re-read.


Contents

  1. Child in Need - Definitions
  2. Managing a Child in Need Case
  3. Child in Need Planning Meeting
  4. Child in Need Plan
  5. Child in Need Visits
  6. Child in Need Review
  7. Child in Need Closure


1. Child in Need - Definitions

A national definition  of a 'child in need' for performance information is a child who is subject to an assessment, or is in need of services, protection or accommodation (Children Act 1989/Working Together 2015).

The local definition of 'Child in Need' is a child who is receiving, or will receive as result of an assessment, support through a Child in Need Plan (rather than a Child Protection Plan or Care Plan).

 The Child in Need procedures may be used when:

  • The threshold for Child Protection is not met i.e. there is not risk of significant harm or neglect from which the child needs protection; and
  • The child's needs are complex, that is, a child or young person’s health or development is likely to be impaired without services, and these services need to be co-ordinated and/or delivered by Children's Social Care; and
  • The child's needs are too complex to be appropriate for early help intervention.

The key features of a Child in Need Plan are:

  • It is based on a current assessment of need, whether that is a Social Work Assessment under s.17 or a S.47 Child Protection enquiry at the Family Front Door, or an updated Social Work Assessment following a period of intervention;
  • It relies on the consent, agreement and engagement of the parent or carer with Parental Responsibility, and/or where age appropriate, the child or young person. If, however, consent is withdrawn when a Child in Need Plan is recommended or mid-way through a Child in Need Plan, it will be necessary for the Team Manager to consider the likely impact on the child of increasing needs or risk within the Child in Need intervention;
  • It has a Social Worker as a lead professional;
  • It is likely to involve other services that form part of the child and family's professional support network / team around the child. There is therefore some shared responsibility across services;
  • It may also involve the child's family and friends support network.


2. Managing a Child in Need Case

The requirement for a Child in Need Plan may be the outcome of a Social Work Assessment under s.17 or a S.47 Child Protection enquiry at the Family Front Door, or an updated Social Work Assessment following a period of intervention.

Where a Child in Need Plan is initiated by the Family Front Door, the FFD will:

  • Complete the  Social Work Assessment evidencing the need for a Child in Need Plan;
  • Team Manager records analysis and  decision for case transfer and Plan;
  • Share the assessment and draft Plan with the parents and child where age appropriate, and seek their consent for a Child in Need Plan – if there is not consent, then Team Manager should review the case to check whether the threshold for Child in Need still applies;
  • Send outcome letter to the family notifying parents and key professionals of the outcome of assessment including contact details of the new social work team with the date of handover to the locality team (which is the date of the first Child in Need Meeting);
  • Make arrangements for and chair (unless otherwise agreed with Team manager) the first Child in Need Meeting at which the case is formally handed over to the locality Social Worker;
  • Where the family has disagreed with the findings of the assessment but will agree to a Child in Need Plan, there should be a joint visit involving the Social Worker completing the assessment and the receiving Social Worker.

The locality team will:

  • Allocate a Social Worker in advance of the Child in Need Planning Meeting;
  • Attend the first Child in Need Meeting to formally receive the case;
  • Finalise the Child in Need Plan through the Planning Meeting;
  • Agree the frequency for visits and reviews (at least every 6 weeks and 8 weeks respectively).

Where the family has disagreed with the findings of the assessment but will agree to a Child in Need Plan, there should be a joint visit involving the Social Worker completing the assessment and the receiving Social Worker.

Where a Child in Need Plan follows the closure of a Child Protection Plan or a Looked After Child Care Plan, the Locality Team will:

  • Update the Social Work Assessment evidencing the need for a Child in Need Plan;
  • Record Team Manager's decision and rationale for case transfer and Plan;
  • Share the assessment and draft Plan with the parents and child where age appropriate, and seek their consent;
  • Consider whether the same Social Worker is able to continue working with the family, or if a new Social Worker is to be involved, introduce them before or at the Child in Need Meeting;
  • Convene and chair the Child in Need Meeting within 10 working days of the decision, and complete the Child in Need Plan.


3. Child in Need Planning Meeting

The first Child In Need Meeting provides an opportunity for a child and his or her parents/carers, together with key agencies, to review the assessment findings, to share information, and agree the package of services or support. The output of this meeting is a 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 involved with the child and family who have information to share and may be part of the child's Plan;
  • The 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;
  • The social worker is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations. The venue, location and timing should be chosen in consultation with the family in order promote their involvement;
  • The Child in Need meeting will be chaired by the Social Worker unless otherwise agreed, for example when Team Manager will chair where there is disagreement, or when another professional may act as chair who is to become the 'lead professional' after the closure of the case as Child in Need;
  • A note of the meeting will be taken by the Chair or another professional attending the meeting. The record of the meeting will be copied to those involved, including the child and parent/s, which will need to sign their agreement;
  • The meeting should agree the date of the next meeting, to be held within 8 weeks of the first meeting.


4. Child in Need Plan

A Child in Need Plan will be outlined in the Assessment, developed in a Child in Need Planning Meeting, and reviewed at a Child in Need Review Meeting. Initial and revised Child in Need Plan will be signed off by the Team Manager.

Most Child in Need Plans will envisage that Children's Social Care Services intervention will end within 16 weeks.

Where there is an existing Education, Care and Health Plan (ECHP) for a child or young person with complex needs, the Children’s Social Work Child in Need Plan will need to be incorporated into the EHC plan so as to ensure the child needs are seen in the round and there is only one plan covering the holistic needs of the child.

The Child in Need Plan will specify:

  • The Lead Professional (usually the Social Worker);
  • Roles and responsibilities of other professionals and family members;
  • Clearly states the desired outcome for the child, and gives timescales for measuring progress;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • The frequency that the child must be seen by the Social Worker (at least once every 30 working days), by other professionals, when this should be in the child's home environment, and when the child should be seen alone;
  • Arrangements and frequency of future meetings.

The Social Worker 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 and child (if old enough), and the agencies or other professionals involved in the provision of services under the Plan.

The Child in Need Plan should be updated/completed on Frameworki within 5 working days of meeting.

The Social Worker will lead the implementation of 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.

Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of a Child in Need Plan must be responded to in line with the Inter-Agency Child Protection Procedures. (See WSCB Working with Resistant, Hostile and Agressive Families.)


5. Child in Need Visits

A Child In Need Visit refers to face-to-face contact between the lead Social Worker and the child. This may be at the child's home address or elsewhere, whatever environment will allow for meaningful contact to take place, for example at the child's school, and should be outside of the Child in Need meeting. (There may also be other contacts including phone calls, texts, and emails with the child, or contact with a parent or carer without the child being present; these should all be recorded but do not constitute a Child in Need Contact as such).

  1. The frequency and nature of contact with the child MUST be informed by the assessed needs of the child, detailed in the Plan, and agreed with the Team Manager;
  2. The Social Worker should see the child outside of the Child in Need Meeting at least once every 30 working days, though visits will usually need to be more frequent than this as determined by the Plan and professional judgement;
  3. The child should be seen by the Social Worker within their home environment as specified within the CiN Plan;
  4. The child should be seen and spoken with alone as specified in the Child in Need Plan or Team Manager's Decisions recorded as to why not. (An interpreter should always be used where the child’s preferred language is not English);
  5. Babies and toddlers should be seen awake and mobile;
  6. Where a Social Worker is prevented from seeing the child or does not see the child, this should be discussed immediately with the Team Manager for appropriate action to be taken to address this and consider if there is reasonable cause to suspect that the child may be at risk of significant harm. Manager's Decision to be recorded immediately;
  7. Child in Need Visits to be recorded on Frameworki within 5 working days.


6. Child in Need Review

The purpose of the Child in Need Review is to monitor the progress of the Plan and the outcomes for the child, to share information between professionals and child and family, to update or revise the Plan as necessary, and to hold to account any party who is not delivering their part of the Plan as agreed.

Reviews will be conducted at intervals agreed with the Social Worker's Team Manager, which will be at least every 30 working days. If there are significant changes in the family circumstances, an early review should take place.

All Child in Need Reviews should be attended by the child (depending on age and level of understanding), parents/carers, and those agencies involved with the child and family who have information to share and may be part of the child's Plan.

The social worker should discuss potential attendees for the Review with the child and the parents/carers prior to arrangements being made for the meeting.

The social worker is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations. The venue, location and timing should be chosen in consultation with the family in order promote their involvement.

The Review will usually be chaired by the social worker or Team Manager, though if appropriate it may be chaired by another professional, for example, if the case is to be closed as Child in Need and the child supported by another agency.

A note of the meeting will be taken by the Chair or another professional attending the meeting. The record of the meeting will be copied to those involved, including the child and parent/s, who will need to sign their agreement.

The outcome of a Review will be:

  1. 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 Services;
  2. 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;
  3. 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.

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.

Child in Need cases are expected to remain open for approximately 12 - 16 weeks to ensure sufficient intervention to address the needs of the child and to build sustainable change. A Plan is not expected to remain open beyond 16 weeks in order to prevent drift and to ensure clear review of thresholds. If the case is to remain open beyond 16 weeks, it should be reviewed by the Team Manager for its purpose and outcomes, and the continuing intervention discussed and agreed with the Group Manager.


7. Child in Need Closure

Closure should be within 12 - 16 weeks of the first Child in Need Meeting.

A decision to discontinue a Child in Need Plan should be taken at a Review Meeting and agreed by the Team Manager, to allow full consideration of the issues by all agencies and family member involved, and for the identification of the next appropriate steps. However, if a Child Protection issue arises between Child in Need Review dates, a Child in Need Plan can be closed at an Initial Child Protection Conference.

If a family chooses to withdraw from Child in Need Plan, a Review should be conducted with professionals involved to consider whether non-co-operation is a cause for concern about the child.

Evidence in support of the decision to close the Child in Need Plan should be gathered from all professional and non-professional members of the child's support network. Any reservations or concerns should be recorded, and any strong disagreement should be taken up through professionals' line management or through the Children's Services Complaints Procedures.

The child and family's views and wishes should be taken into account when considering closure.

Team Managers should make use of the Closure Checklist, and their approval for case closure should be recorded in the child's case notes.

Where the outcome of a Review is for closure of the Child in Need Plan though other agencies are to remain involved, the review should discuss future arrangements to ensure continuity.

End