Skip to main content
City of York Logo


Top of page

Size: View this website with small text View this website with medium text View this website with large text View this website with high visibility

3.1 Children in Need Procedure

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

RELATED GUIDANCE

Guidance on Outcome Focused and SMART Child Protection and Child in Need Plans

AMENDMENT

This chapter was throughout in September 2020.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Statutory Framework
  3. The Child in Need Plan
  4. Visits
  5. Arranging a Child in Need Plan
  6. The Child in Need Review Meeting
  7. Children in Need Moving to Another Local Authority - Principles
  8. Concluding a Child in Need Plan


1. Introduction

Where a Social Worker has undertaken assessment and determined that an ongoing a package of support is required to meet a child’s needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, a Child in Need plan must be developed with the child (where appropriate), their family and the identified multiagency support network.

Intervention provided under a Child in Need plan requires regular and systematic review by way of a Child in Need Meeting to ensure children, young people, their parents or carers are clear of what is expected of them and what support is available to them to effect change. The Child in Need Meeting process is also essential in facilitating a coordinated plan with the multi-agency professional group working to ensure they and the family are clear about their roles and responsibilities including the timescales for interventions and outcomes to be achieved such that the child no longer requires the provision of services under Section 17 Children Act 1989. On all occasions, the family must be encouraged, and supported if necessary, to attend and participate within the meeting.

The voice of the child should be heard and considered within the meeting and a discussion should be held with them and/or their primary carer to determine the most appropriate way to obtain and share this. If appropriate, the child should be encouraged to attend and participate within their meeting and if this is not achievable, meaningful direct work should be undertaken with the child/young person to ensure their wishes, feelings and experiences are heard and considered.

Child in Need Meetings can be held in a location determined between the family and Social Worker to promote full attendance. Consideration needs to be given to the time of the meeting to incorporate the child’s attendance (if appropriate) and/ or any childcare or equivalent issues the family may be experiencing.

Child in Need Meeting attendees should be discussed with the child (where appropriate) and their family in advance, and consent provided for their attendance within as Child in Need intervention is consent based. If consent is not provided, this needs to be appropriately explored to determine the reason and whether the lack of attendance/information sharing raises concern for the safety and wellbeing for the child.

Whilst providing intervention under a Child in Need plan, it may become necessary to consider safeguarding measures where there has been a significant incident, or whereby a change (or lack of) in circumstances has identified potential risk of significant harm to a child. This will always be in discussion with a manager and where appropriate through a single assessment to ascertain whether escalation is proportionate and required.

Child in Need Meetings should be held with sufficient frequency to ensure that progress towards the identified outcomes for the child are being achieved. An initial Child in Need meeting must be convened within 10 working days of a decision that Child in Need intervention is required and at a frequency of 4-6 weeks thereafter. The initial Child in Need Meeting will be chaired by the Team Manager or Senior Social Worker to ensure the Child in Need plan is purposeful, achievable and SMART:

  • Specific;
  • Measurable;
  • Achievable;
  • Realistic;
  • Timed.

See also Guidance on Outcome Focused and SMART Child Protection and Child in Need Plans.

Subsequent Child in Need meetings will be chaired by the allocated Social Worker thereafter.

The final Child in Need Meeting, whereby a case closure/step down of support is recommended will be chaired by the Team Manager or Senior Social Worker to ensure review of all information before the decision is made for a child to be closed to the service.

It is the expectation that a child will be subject to a Child in Need plan for no longer than 9 months. Any children remaining on a Child in Need plan at 6 months will be considered through a Peer Management Review to ensure that Child in Need remains the most appropriate and proportionate intervention.

For children supported by the Health and Disability team, the expectation is an Initial Child in Need meeting within 28 days of the conclusion of the single assessment. The first review Child in Need Meeting should be held within 3 months of the initial and subsequent reviews at least 6 monthly.

Visit should be a minimum of 12 weekly. The visit frequency must be agreed within the initial Child Need meeting and must take into consideration the unique situation of the child and family. A more frequent level of visiting would be expected during single assessment and up to initial Child in Need review meeting.


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 is established when an assessment identifies the child as ‘in need’ (see Section 2, Statutory Framework); 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 Children and Young People in Care 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.

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?


4. Visits

Capturing the voice and lived experience of the child is fundamental to effective planning and achieving agreed outcomes. The practice standard for frequency of visits is at least every 20 working days, however, this will be considered with the Manager on a case by case basis. The recording of the visit on the visit workflow should be completed within 48 hours of the visit taking place to ensure accurate recording and data analysis.


5. 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.

As detailed above, 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 Team 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.


6. The Child in Need Review Meeting

The purpose of the Child in Need Review meeting is to review and monitor progress against the intended outcomes set out in the plan. In addition, at CIN review meetings, the plan must be amended and updated as required and action taken if risks escalate / de-escalate.

A Child in Need Review Meeting must always consider adapting the plan to meet such needs. The family should play a key role in this. Decisions will be made, where possible, with agreement 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. Each review meeting should actively consider the threshold criteria as set out in the City of York Threshold Document - Levels of Need Descriptors (2020).

Child in Need Review Meeting Agenda

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

  • Introductions:
    The Chair (Team Manager or Senior Social Worker for initial and end Meetings, allocated social worker for all mid way meetings) 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 will take minutes of the meeting.
  • 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 to 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 why the Child in Need Plan was implemented, revisiting the desired outcome for the child in order for the Child in Need Plan to end:
    A starting point to frame the subsequent discussion is a review by the Chair of the strengths and vulnerabilities identified through assessment and subsequent Child in Need Review Meetings, where applicable;
  • A Discussion to develop/review each element of the Child in Need Plan:
    A discussion and update of each identified element of the Child in Need Plan is required to review and monitor progress against the intended outcomes set out in the plan. In addition, an update regarding family dynamics / circumstances impacting the child since the last Child in Need Review Meeting should be sought. There should be discussion, review and challenge on the progress of agreed actions. Any written information provided by professionals not at the meeting must be shared;
  • The views and wishes of the Child/ren
    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 Social Worker should share the voice of the child obtained through the direct work they have undertaken;
  • The views and wishes of the parents/carers of the child
    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;
  • The outcome of a Child in Need review meeting will be:
    1. That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Social Work Service intervention, with a recommendation for the next steps. Next steps should always include discussion about support provided by the Early Help;
    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’s needs are sufficiently complex and/or they requires additional services to safeguard and promote their welfare such as to justify an update of the Single Assessment;
    4. 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.
  • 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 at a duration of 4-6 weeks to ensure that progress toward the identified outcomes for the child are being achieved.

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 so that Children’s Social Care can store the minutes onto Mosaic and provide copies to all members within 10 working days.

The minutes should be recorded onto the system within 3 working days and distributed to all parties within 10 working days.


7. Children in Need Moving to Another Local Authority - Principles

This section provides guidance for children who are subject to Children in Need Plans and who move to another local authority area. 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 can be a positive option. However, and particularly where they have moved on more than one occasion in a short space of time, or the move appears unplanned this may be a cause for concern and any assessment should consider whether the child is subject to trafficking or modern slavery. (See Single Assessment 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, 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 on receiving a Contact and Referral
  • 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 during completion of a Contact and Referral. 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 Practitioners (DfE).

    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 manager should consider seeking advice from 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 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 manager should promptly notify their line 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;
  • 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.


8. Concluding a Child in Need Plan

Regular and systematic review of a Child in Need Plan enables multi-agency discussion in consultation with children, 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 Step Down to Early Help Procedure should be followed when stepping down a case. When it is identified and agreed that a child should step down, the Early Help Coordinator should be contacted in advance of the final review meeting which will ratify this decision, in order to ensure that an Early Help practitioner can attend.

In this meeting it is expected that a plan for future work will be agreed and a Lead Practitioner will be assigned.

The chair is responsible for sending out the minutes of this meeting within 10 working days.

End