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3.1 Children in Need Plans and Reviews - Practice Guidance

This chapter provides practice guidance on reviewing Child in Need Plans.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Statutory Framework
  3. The Child in Need Plan
  4. Arranging a Child in Need Plan
  5. The Child in Need Review Meeting
  6. Concluding a Child in Need Plan

For copies of the Child in Need Plan and the Child in Need Meeting record please see the Forms Library


1. Introduction

A Child in Need Plan informed by social work assessment requires regular and systematic review so that children, young people and their parents or carers and the multi-agency professionals working with the family are clear about their roles and responsibilities and in particular, the timescales of interventions and desired outcomes.

Regular review of a Child in Need Plan enables multi-agency discussion in consultation with parents and carers as to whether the intervention should be ‘stepped down’ from Children’s Social Care to a Team Around the Child, maintained as Child in Need or whether safeguarding concerns are such that a multi-agency Strategy Discussion need to be convened.

Child in Need Review Meetings should be held with sufficient frequency to ensure that progress towards the identified outcomes for the child is being achieved. Meetings should be no less frequent than every twelve weeks for cases held by Children in Need and Assessment Teams and Child Protection and Children in Care Teams, and twenty six weeks for cases held by the Health and Disability Team.

Meetings to review Child in Need Plans have been variously titled. Following issue of this Practice Guidance, meetings are to be known as ‘Child in Need Review Meetings’.


2. Statutory Framework

A Child in Need Plan - also known as a CIN Plan - results from social work assessment and analysis that determines that a child is ‘in need’ under s.17 Children Act 1989.

Section 17 (1)

“It shall be the general duty of every local authority -

  • To safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need; and
  • So far as is consistent with that duty, to promote the upbringing of such children by their families.

By providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children’s needs.”

Section 17 (3)

Any service provided by an authority in the exercise of functions conferred on them by this section may be provided for the family of a particular child in need or for any member of his family, if it is provided with a view to safeguarding or promoting the child’s welfare.

Section 17 (10)

For the purposes of this Part a child shall be taken to be in need if -

  • He is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him of services by a local authority under this part;
  • His health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for him of such services; or
  • He is disabled.

And “family”, in relation to such a child, includes any person who has parental responsibility for the child and any other person with whom he has been living.

Section 17 (11)

For the purposes of this part, a child is disabled if he is blind, deaf, or dumb or suffers from mental disorder of any kind or is substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity or such other disability as may be prescribed; and in this part -

“Development” means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development; and “health” means physical or mental health.

A Child in Need Plan is not required if a child has a Child Protection Plan, Looked After Child Care Plan or Pathway Plan in place to co-ordinate multi agency interventions.  


3. The Child in Need Plan

A Child in Need Plan may be established whenever an assessment identifies the child as having Tier 3 needs and where a coordinated response from more than one agency is needed in order for the child's needs to be met. A Child in Need Plan may result from:

  • Single Assessment, a Section 47 Enquiry or a Pre-birth Risk Assessment;
  • The decision to remove a child from a Child Protection Plan at a Review Child Protection Conference where it is identified that the child, whilst no longer suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, is in need of multi-agency support to safeguard and promote their welfare;
  • The decision at a Looked After Child Review that a child is no longer to be looked after and it is determined that the child is in need of multi-agency support to safeguard and promote their welfare;
  • From specialist Social Work assessment such as a Section 7 or Section 37 Welfare Report. When such work identifies that a child is in need of multi-agency support to safeguard and promote their welfare, a Child in Need Plan should be used to co-ordinate service provision;
  • From a Final Care Plan for a Section 31 Supervision Order, or a Family Assistance Order or where support is required to Special Guardians, parents and children under the Local Authority’s duties resulting from a Special Guardianship Order.  

If a Social Worker undertakes an assessment, at the end of the assessment should it be appropriate because the child is assessed to be ‘in need’ - the Worker should complete in tabular form a City of York Council Child in Need Plan (see Forms Library). To ensure that the Social Worker is outcome focused, the Child in Need Plan uses the following prompts:

  • What are we worried about?
  • What actions are required to bring about change?
  • Who will do what?
  • By when?
  • What should the result be?

Information entered in this tabular Plan will form the basis of subsequent Child in Need Plan Reviews (see Forms Library).


4. Arranging a Child in Need Review Meeting

A Child in Need Review Meeting can be called at any time in the process of working with a child and family, but the Initial Child in Need Review Meeting should be arranged no later that fifteen working days after the establishment of a Child in Need Plan following assessment. This will ensure that children, young people and their parents or carers and those multi-agency professionals working with the family are clear about their role and responsibilities and in particular, the timescales of interventions and desired outcomes.

Subsequent Child in Need Review Meetings should be held with sufficient frequency to ensure that progress toward the identified outcomes for the child are being achieved. This should be, no less frequent than twelve weeks for cases held by Children in Need and Assessment Teams and Child Protection and Children in Care Teams, and twenty six weeks for cases held by the Health and Disability Team.

Consideration should be given as to any assistance that may be necessary to enable the child, young person and their parents or carers to attend or participate, for example; timing, transport and disabled access arrangements. Consideration should be given to involving interpreters or someone with specific cultural or religious knowledge if required. Where appropriate, the child or young person should be present for some or all of the Child in Need Review Meeting.

The Child in Need Review Meeting should always involve family members, unless doing so would jeopardise the child’s wellbeing or that of another family member (for example, cases involving domestic violence or forced marriage). A decision to exclude a family member must be endorsed by a Service Manager and recorded formally within the Minutes of the Meeting.   

The Social Worker should advise parents and any children attending that they can bring an Advocate or supporter with them. Solicitors might be brought by family members as supporters or to provide legal representation, their role should be clarified and the Chair (Social Worker / Manager) should be given notice that they are attending.


5. The Child in Need Review Meeting

A Child in Need Review Meeting must always consider the needs of the child and work towards formulating a clear plan to meet such needs. The family should play a key role in this. Decisions will be made, where possible, with agreement (reflecting a desire to work in partnership), be based on negotiation (not imposition) and be respectful of family views. If no agreement can be reached, disagreements should be noted, along with any action proposed.

The Agenda should follow the format of the Child in Need Review Meeting Minutes Record. The Record is intentionally designed as an aide memoire and should act as a prompt to the Chair to frame and structure the discussion of the Review Meeting. Deviation from the agenda may mean that a full and comprehensive safeguarding discussion did not take place and relevant information may not have been elicited and shared appropriately.

Child in Need Review Meeting Agenda

The Child in Need Review Meeting Agenda should be as follows:

  • Introductions:
    The Chair should welcome attendees and remind participants of the purpose of the Child in Need Review Meeting, the need for confidentiality and that a record of the discussion will be made. The Chair should request/nominate a Minute Taker from the professionals in attendance;
  • Record of Attendance and Apologies:
    The Chair should ensure that an accurate record of attendees is made and share any apologies. It is important that the Chair clarify the address of each attendee for the distribution of Minutes of the meeting.

    A record of who Chaired the Meeting should also be made.
  • A Brief Summary of the Risk and Protective Factors identified:
    A starting point to frame the subsequent discussion is a reminder from the Chair of the risk and protective factors identified through assessment work and possibly added to at subsequent Child in Need Review Meetings. This will particularly assist Child in Need Team Members added to the Team or who may not have been present at the last Review Meeting.
  • A Discussion to develop/review each element of the Child in Need Plan:
    If the Child in Need Review Meeting is the first since the Child in Need Plan was established following assessment, it is incumbent upon the Child in Need Team Members to develop or ‘flesh out’ the Plan. The Review Meeting should look to ensure that the outline Plan is developed into a clear working tool for each Child in Need Team Member over the weeks and months ahead. This means that each element of the outline Plan should be broken down into five clear, straight forward statements answering the following questions:
    1. What are we worried about?
    2. What actions are required to bring about change?
    3. Who will do what?
    4. By when?
    5. What should the result be?

This may take time, but the effort taken at the first Child in Need Review Meeting will benefit the progress of the Plan.

At any point, including the first Child in Need Review Meeting, additional elements of concern can be added and addressed. It is important that the Chair stress that the Child in Need Plan is a working and ‘living’ document.

At subsequent Child in Need Review Meetings, each element needs to be reviewed. Two areas of discussion are required and should be facilitated by the Chair:

  1. An update regarding progress since the last Child in Need Review Meeting;
  2. Any actions that result from the update to progress the Child in Need Plan.

Some updates may be brief, some more detailed. It is important that the Minute Taker summarises both update and actions in sufficient detail that someone with no previous knowledge of the case would have sufficient information to make reasonable safeguarding decisions and understand what actions were required. 

  • Any additional discussion
    At the end of the substantive discussion about the development/review of the Child in Need Plan the Chair should ensure that there is an opportunity for wider discussion. Any discussion should be minuted. This is an opportunity to review with multi-agency professionals in consultation with parents and carers as to whether the intervention can be ‘stepped down’ from Children’s Social Care to a Team Around the Child, maintained as Child in Need or whether safeguarding concerns are such that a multi-agency Strategy Discussion need be convened.
  • The views and wishes of the Child/ren
    It is an essential part of the practice of the Child in Need Team that the voice of the child informs the work undertaken. If the child or young person is present, the Chair should ensure that there is an opportunity for the Team to hear and record the views and wishes of the child or young person. If not present, family and professionals may wish to represent the views and wishes of the young person as they are understood. Any discussion should be recorded.
  • The views and wishes of the parents/carers of the child
    It is an essential part of the practice of the Child in Need Team that the views and wishes of the parent or carer be understood and recorded. The Chair should ensure that there is an opportunity for the Group to hear and record the views and wishes of the parent or carer and, if not present, for family and professionals to represent the views and wishes as they are understood.
  • Agreement and Disagreement to the discussion held and the proposed actions of the Child in Need Review Meeting.
    It is an essential part of the practice of the Child in Need Team that all Team Members should be given the opportunity to express their views about any aspect of the Child in Need Review Meeting and Child in Need Plan. The Chair should, in particular, seek to elicit express agreement to the actions discussed, recording any disagreement and the reasons why.
  • Multi-Agency Update of when the child has been seen.
    Before closing the meeting, the Chair must facilitate the sharing by professionals of dates since the last Child in Need Review Meeting when the child was seen, by whom, where and whether the child was alone or not. This will enable a ‘rolling record’ of visits to the child to be kept. This will ensure professional accountability and identify any difficulties an agency may have in meeting its responsibilities so that a solution can be found. The Child in Need Team may wish to plan future visiting patterns at this juncture.
  • Agreement and recording of the venue, date and time for the next Child in Need Review Meeting.
    Finally, before closing the meeting, the Chair must ensure that those present agree to a new time, date and venue for a further Child in Need Review Meeting. Child in Need Review Meetings should be held with sufficient frequency to ensure that progress toward the identified outcomes for the child are being achieved.

The Chair should conclude by ensuring that the written Minutes are provided to the Social Worker at the end of the meeting or an arrangement that this be done within 2 working days. The Chair should close by reminding Members that copies of the Minutes will be circulated to all Child in Need Team Members, whether they attended or not, by Children’s Social Care within 10 working days.

The Child in Need Review Meeting record on Mosaic

It is essential that every Child in Need Review Meeting is minuted in compliance with the Child in Need Review Minutes Pro Forma (See Meeting Record Template in the Forms Library) so that Children’s Social Care can store the minutes onto Mosaic and provide copies to all members within ten working days. Therefore, if Minutes are completed by another agency professional, they must be provided to the Social Worker for input within two working days so that Minutes can be provided within ten working days. Deviation from the Child in Need Review Agenda may result in difficulties formatting the Minutes.

The minutes should be distributed to all parties involved in the Child in Need Team, within ten working days.


6. Concluding a Child in Need Plan

Regular and systematic review of a Child in Need Plan enables multi-agency discussion in consultation with parents and carers as to whether the intervention can be ‘stepped down’ from Children’s Social Care to a Team Around the Child, maintained as Child in Need or whether safeguarding concerns are such that a multi-agency Strategy Discussion need be convened.

End