Child in Need Plans and Reviews
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter applies to children in need who have been assessed by Children's Social Work Service (e.g. Duty and Advice Team, Assessment and Intervention Service or Disabled Children's Service) as requiring ongoing social work intervention via a Child in Need Plan.
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.
This chapter was updated in September 2018 when a new Section 5, Children in Need Moving to Another Authority - Principles was added to stress the importance of information sharing and communication when a Child in Need moves to another local authority area.
In Kirklees children in need of a social work service are predominantly, but not exclusively, allocated to social workers within Assessment and Intervention, Disabled Children Service, Connected Team and the Adoption Support Team.
The definition of Children in Need from statutory guidance states:
A child in need is one who has been assessed by children's social care to be in need of services. These services can include, for example, family support (to help keep together families experiencing difficulties), leaving care support (to help young people who have left local authority care), adoption support, or disabled children's services (including social care, education and health provision). (source: Dept of Education)
In Kirklees children in need obtain this status as a result of:
- A comprehensive assessment by Duty and Advice Team including the creation of a Child in Need Plan. The case transfers once the Child in Need Plan is in place;
- A decision made at an Initial Child Protection Conference that the child should not be made subject of a Child Protection Plan but made subject to a Child in Need Plan as an alternative option;
- A decision made at a Child Protection Review Conference that the child no longer needs to be subject to a Child Protection Plan, but that ongoing social work provision is required;
- The conclusion of care proceedings resulting in a decision that a Supervision Order is required;
- The conclusion of care proceedings resulting in a decision that no order is required, but that the local authority should provide ongoing social work support to the child and family;
- Agreement that a package of either short or long term support for a disabled child is required;
- The making of a Special Guardianship Order supported by a Special Guardianship Order Support Plan;
- The making of an Adoption Order, an assessment of need and the decision to offer adoption support.
Children in Need who do not meet the threshold for social work intervention (in that they do not require an allocated social worker in order to receive services) are allocated to workers within the Early Intervention and Targeted Support Service or the Integrated Youth Support Service. There are separate policies and procedures in place to enable children and their families to receive services from the Early Intervention and Targeted Support Service or the Integrated Youth Support Service which provide practitioners with the scope to deliver a range of support and Early Support, before thresholds for statutory action are met.
2. Child in Need Planning Meetings
Child in Need Planning Meetings will follow a Single Assessment, where the assessment has concluded that a package of family support is required to meet the child's needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.
The Planning Meeting provides an opportunity for a child and their parents/carers, together with key agencies, to identify and agree the package of services required and to develop the Child in Need Plan.
All Child in Need Planning Meetings should be attended by the child (depending on age, understanding and level of disability), parents/carers and those agencies whose potential/actual contribution is recommended as an outcome of an assessment.
The relevant 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.
It will be important that an appropriate venue suitable for the child and their family is used for the meeting. Consideration must be given to transport, timing and any child care issues. Where a child is attending a meeting and is of school age the meeting should be held outside of school time, wherever possible. For children with disabilities, joint child in need / SEN reviews are often held in school.
The first Planning Meeting will usually be chaired by the social worker's line manager.
For assessments for disabled children for short breaks only, the meetings can be chaired by the Child in Need reviewing officer or the allocated social worker.
The Business Support Officer is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations in consultation with the allocated social worker.Minutes of the meeting will be taken by the Chair or Business Support Officer. This record will be copied to those involved, including the child and parent/s, which will need to sign their agreement.
3. Child in Need Plans
A Child in Need Plan will be developed in a Child in Need Planning Meeting. The Child in Need Plan template should be used.
The Child in Need Plan should be a dynamic and continuous process which should build upon the history of every individual case, responding to the impact of any previous services and analysing what further action might be needed. Social workers should build on this with help from other practitioners from the moment that a need is identified.
Decision points and review points involving the child and family and relevant practitioners should be used to keep the assessment and child in need planning on track. This is to ensure that help is given in a timely and appropriate way and that the impact of this help is analysed and evaluated in terms of the improved outcomes and welfare of the child.
Social workers, their managers and other practitioners should always consider the Plan from the child's perspective. A desire to think the best of adults and to hope they can overcome their difficulties should not trump the need to rescue children from chaotic, neglectful and abusive homes. Social workers and managers should always reflect the latest research on the impact of neglect and abuse when analysing the level of need and risk faced by the child. This should be reflected in the Child in Need Plan.
Most Child in Need Plans will envisage that Children's Services intervention will end within 12 months. However, some children and families may require longer term support, for example children with disabilities.
The success of a Child in Need Plan id dependent on the quality of the Plan in the first instance and Plans should be regularly updated, comprehensively address all the issues identified through assessment, explicitly identified how neglect or abuse is to be addressed, focus on both parents' and children's needs and contain clear and specific actions together with realistic timescales. Additionally, they should clearly identify the different forms of neglect and risks for children. The changes needed should be clearly set out with well-targeted actions, and the consequences of no change made explicit within the Plan. There is a close relationship between improved outcomes and the effective engagement of parents. Where most progress is made, agencies employ a range of approaches to work with parents which are consistent and clear, with frank and open discussions about the nature of their concerns and the changes that are expected.
The Child in Need Plan must identify, 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.
- Describe the identified developmental needs of the child, and any 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;
- Included timescales that are not too short or unachievable;
- Not be dependent on resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
- Identify the Lead Practitioner and their responsibilities, including frequency of visits to the child;
- Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of practitioners and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by practitioners with children and family members;
- Lay down points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged.
The Business Support Officer in consultation with the Team Manager or, in the case of children with disabilities, the Child in Need reviewing officer or social worker) who chaired the Child in Need Planning Meeting 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, child (if old enough) and the agencies or other practitioners involved in the provision of services under the Plan.
The social worker will be responsible for implementing 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 practitioners from other agencies.The Child in Need Plan should specify the Contingency Plan so that all practitioners and the parents/carers are clear about the action to be taken. If there are changes in the level or nature of risk, consideration should be given to options available.
4. Reviews of Child in Need Plans
The purpose of the Review is to ensure that the services provided are contributing to the achievement of the objectives within the time-scales set;
The frequency for review should be specified in the Child in Need Plan.
A review should take as specified below, unless there are exceptional circumstances when timescales can be shorter.
- The first review of the Child in Need Plan will be held within 6 weeks of the Initial Child in Need Planning Meeting;
- Thereafter reviews of the Child in Need Plan will take place at least every 3 months (or more frequently if required) for the duration of the Plan;
- In the case of disabled children the frequency of review will depend on the type of service provided, at the team manager's discretion, and may be at 6 monthly or annual intervals in some cases (e.g. direct payments provision may require annual review). Annual review is the minimum requirement.
The Review should be chaired by the social worker's line manager.
In the Disabled Children Service the review is chaired by the Reviewing Officer;
The Business Support Officer is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations in consultation with the allocated social worker.
Minutes of the meeting will be taken by the Chair or Business Support Officer. This record will be copied to those involved, including the child and parent/s, who will need to sign their agreement.
If there are significant changes in the family circumstances, an early review should take place.
If the case is under management review, a manager of the responsible service must undertake the review or arrange for it to be undertaken on their behalf.
The purpose of the Review is to ensure that the services provided are contributing to the achievement of the objectives within the time-scales set.
Where it is proposed that a complex package of support being provided under a Child in Need Plan should continue beyond 12 months there should be a specific review chaired by the manager of the responsible team. 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 the Children with Disabilities Team.
All decisions made should be recorded on the child's electronic record, together with reasons, and dated.
A copy of the record should be sent to the child (if old enough), parent and all other participants in the Review process.
- 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. The case will continue to be allocated to a named social worker;
- That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Social Care Services social work intervention, which will result in a recommendation that the case be closed;
- That the child is a Child in Need but does not require Children's Social Care Services social work intervention but will continue to receive services from a single agency or under a multi-agency plan (Early Support Plan) not involving a social worker from Children's Social Care. A Lead Practitioner must be identified. The case must not be closed by Children's Social Care Services Social Work Service until a Lead Practitioner has been identified and an Early Support Plan created;
- That the child is at risk of Significant Harm, resulting in the need for a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and possible Section 47 Enquiry leading to a Child Protection Conference or Public Law Outline Meeting being convened.
Where the outcome of the Review is an amendment to the Child in Need Plan, the Business Support Officer in consultation with the Social Worker should circulate a copy of the amended Plan to the child, parents, and other agencies/practitioners involved in providing the services set out in the amended Plan, including any new services to be provided.
5. Children in Need Moving to Another Authority - Principles
This section deals with children who are subject to Children in Need Plans and who move to another local authority. 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 area offers a positive option. However, and particularly where children and their families move at short notice, or have moved on more than one occasion in a short space of time, any assessment should consider whether the child is subject to trafficking or modern slavery. (See Practitioner Assessment Resource Pack).
For Children Looked After see Out of Area Placements 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, or 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;
- 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. 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;
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 team manager, should consider seeking advice from their Caldicott Guardian or their 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 team 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 team manager should promptly notify the Service 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.
- Receiving local authorities should seek to convene a Child in Need Meeting within 20 working days of the family being resident in their area and include all relevant agencies and, where possible, the social worker and other specialist staff where the child and family have moved from.
- 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.
6. Contingency Plan
The Child in Need Plan should specify the Contingency Plan so that all practitioners and the parents/carers are clear about the action to be taken. If there are changes in the level or nature of risk, consideration should be given to options available.
Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of a Child in Need Plan must be responded to in line with West Yorkshire Consortium Child Protection Procedures.