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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.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in November 2018 when a new Section 6, Children in Need Moving to Another Local Authority - Principles. Whenever a Child in Need moves to another authority, information sharing and communication between the respective authorities is important to ensure appropriate services continue for the child and family and, where relevant, any risk of harm is recognised and identified with the receiving local authority.

This chapter is currently under review.


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. Children in Need Moving to Another Local Authority - Principles
  7. 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 is informed by the social work assessment and requires regular and systematic review so that children, young people, their parents or carers and the multi-agency professional group working with 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.

Regular Child in Need Meetings enable multi-agency discussion in consultation with parents and carers to review the Child in Need Plan. Save for children open to the Children’s Health and Disability Team these are chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer who will make a recommendation to the Practice Manager of the Child in Need Team regarding thresholds, and 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 needs to be convened.

Child in Need Meetings should be held with sufficient frequency to ensure that progress towards the identified outcomes for the child is being achieved. As a minimum these take place within 3 months of an assessment recommending Child in Need services and every 6months thereafter, more frequently as need requires it.


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.

Where it is determined that a child requires the provision of services under Section 17 Children Act 1989 the social worker or Independent Reviewing Officer will 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 than 3 months 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 once every 6 months.

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 Practice Manager or 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 (Independent Reviewing Officer) 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 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 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 review by the Chair of the risk and protective factors identified through assessment work and subsequent Child in Need Review Meetings, where applicable. This will particularly assist the multi-agency group members who were not 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 multi-agency group to develop or ‘flesh out’ the Plan. The Review Meeting should 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 stresses 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 Chair 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 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 10 working days.

The minutes should be distributed to all parties involved in the Child in Need Team, within 10 working days.


6. 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.


7. 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.

It is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that, where a child is ‘stepped down’ to Team Around The Child, that a Family Early Help Plan is formulated, a lead professional is identified, with a date and venue agreed for review. Those minutes will be distributed within 10 working days.

End