SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
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. Please see the Leicester City, Leicestershire and Rutland Local Safeguarding Children Boards Procedures Manual, Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure in relation to the implementation of the Child Protection Plan.
For children who are in receipt of Short Breaks, see also the Short Breaks Procedure.
- Definition and Criteria
- Working within a Practice Framework
- Early Help and Child in Need
- Single Assessment
- Children with Disabilities
- Stepped Down Child in Need Plans
- Supervision Orders
- The Child in Need Plan
- Multi-Agency Family Network Meetings
- Child in Need Reviews
- Chairing Child in Need Planning Meetings
- Ending Child in Need Plans
1. Definition and Criteria
Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 imposes a general duty on Children's Social Care (CSC) to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are 'in need' and to promote the upbringing of children in need by their families by providing a range and level of services to meet those children's needs.
Following acceptance of a referral by the Local Authority Children's Social Care (CSC) must determine the needs of a child and the support that they and their family may require. CSC will allocate a qualified social worker to carry out a single child and family framework assessment (SAF).
The assessment will involve finding out and giving due regard to the child's wishes and feelings regarding the provision of those services (age and understanding appropriate). The assessment will also involve talking to parents, other family members where relevant, and professionals involved in the child's life such as health visitor or school or early years setting.
2. Working within a Practice Framework
We know that families are more likely engage in a plan they helped to develop and when they are recognised as the experts on their own lives. Working in this way means that ownership of change rests with the family and they are more likely to become confident, resilient and independent in their parenting.
The approach is characterised by an inclusive partnership approach. All plans and decisions affecting children and families are made with them and their networks together. The family's networks of support are seen as the cornerstone for sustaining safety in the longer term for children, particularly as the department reduces and withdraws support. Workers must help to build capacity in families to develop their networks of support even when children are living in challenging circumstances or where those networks are limited.
CSC works with children in need and their families on the basis of consent. From the outset those with parental responsibility should be informed of the referral to CSC and consent sought to undertake a single assessment. Children's Social Care (CSC) will firstly assess the child to see if the child is in need (Section 17, Children Act 2004) of a service and or is in need of protection (Section 47, Children Act 2004).
Information must be collected from agencies who know the child for these decisions to be made and consent is not required for this activity. These are statutory requirements under the Children Act and thus covered by the Data Protection Act 1998, Schedules 2 and 3.
Parents’ agreement to any social work intervention or to services for their child is necessary. Young people of an age of understanding, particularly those aged 16 or over should be asked for their consent as well.
4. Early Help and Child in Need
Whilst CIN plans need to be led by a qualified social worker, the delivery of specific interventions to deliver a CIN plan should involve a range of professionals from team different teams (including targeted early help teams) as well as professionals from other agencies.
For children and families who are assessed by CSC and who do not meet the threshold for CIN, they may benefit from targeted early intervention. In these circumstances, CSC should pro-actively work with early help services to ensure that families’ needs are considered and can be addressed.
5. Single Assessment
All Child in Need work begins with an Assessment using the Single Assessment Framework. This should be completed, written up and signed off by a manager within 40 working days.
The Assessment should involve:
- Working with the child or children to capture their views, wishes and feelings;
- Working with the family to agree clear goals and for the family and their support network to help create a plan to achieve these goals;
- Reviewing historical information and getting information from other professionals involved (with parental consent).
The completed assessment should always be shared with the family. Language used should be plain and easily understood.
6. Children with Disabilities
Following a social work assessment in respect of a child with disabilities, the level of visiting and review of the plan will be determined with the family, in proportion to the assessed level of need and the agreed package of support. For children with complex disabilities this may include a visiting pattern and review of the plan as outlined in section 5 above. For more settled packages, including short breaks that require a review, a proportionate response will mean that visits are less frequent. At a minimum the Reviewing Officer in the disabled children's team (DCT) will contact the family and review the package on a 6 monthly basis. The guiding principle is that the level of intervention/monitoring is proportionate to the needs of the child and family.
7. Stepped Down Child in Need Plans
In many circumstances, following intervention with families’ needs decrease and risks are reduced for example following a period on a child protection plan or where a child in care (section 20) returns home to their family.
In these circumstances, a child in need plan should be developed to ensure that all changes made by the family can be sustained and effectively monitored by the family network.
8. Supervision Orders
Children made subject to a Supervision Order to the LA are ‘Children in Need’. The process followed will be the same unless there are specific circumstances set out in the court order for a different and prescribed visiting and review pattern.
9. The Child in Need Plan
Children in Need work must actively promote change. Engaging with a child and their family is critical. The work undertaken should be creative and innovative and informed by what is going to work best for this particular child in this particular family. Ultimately, the plan should be generated by the family and goals agreed by the professional network. The child in need plan should be developed with the family and involve all of the relevant agencies. The initial plan must be agreed within 10 working days of completion of the assessment (see section 6 for children with a disability). There should be no delay between developing the plan and ensuring services are in place to support the family.
The initial Child in Need plan should be discussed at a child in need planning meeting which will involve family members and their connected network of support. Practitioners from other teams or agencies (such as the children centre programme, health visitor, school nurse) contribute as part of the professional network of support. Wherever possible, the first meeting should be convened within 10 days. If the meeting cannot be convened with all of the necessary people an initial plan should be put in place and the first CIN meeting set up as early as possible. In all circumstances it must take place within one month of completion of the SAF.
The first CIN meeting is crucial in setting clear goals with an explicit time scale and therefore, this meeting should be chaired by a Team manager/ Senior Practitioner. The chair's role is in supporting the network to develop and agree a plan and trajectory. The plan for achieving change is the family's plan. They describe the steps they will take to improve their situation and extra attention needs to be paid to making sure it is ‘SMART’. The professional network will contribute to the plan and monitor the family's progress. The plan may well need to be adapted and changed as it is tested in real family life.
- Specific (concrete descriptions of behaviours required, frequency required);
- Measureable (what will we all see more of or less of that tell us the plan is working?);
- Achievable (the goals are focused on the issues of need and well defined);
- Realistic (the family and the professionals are all confident the plan fits with daily life and the family's unique circumstances);
- Timely (all goals should have a timeline).
10. Multi-Agency Family Network Meetings
Successful child in need work is based on good assessment of need and engaging the family proactively in developing clear goals to address need and create change. It is important that all partners to the CIN plan work together to drive the plan and regularly review progress. It is highly likely that the plan will need to be refined and adapted as it is tested by real situations in family life. For a CIN plan this will be done in Family Network meetings. As a minimum these meetings, which also involve relevant professionals, should take place at 6 weekly intervals but the frequency will be determined at each CIN Review meeting and will be proportionate to the level of need and complexity of the plan.
11. Child in Need Reviews
The frequency of Child in Need Reviews will depend on the pace of progress, the scale of change required and the quality of the network support and any services identified to support the family. However, the first review should be held within the required period, see Local Information for details. of the start of the CIN plan and further reviews should take place at least every 6 months thereafter. Children who have been identified as at some level of risk and/or needing a high level of support and services may need to be reviewed more often than those who require a minimum level of intervention. The review of more settled CIN packages for children with disabilities will be reviewed at an agreed interval of 6 months by the DCT Reviewing Officer.
A review meeting should discuss and record:
- Where the family is in relation to the agreed goals;
- What the family has done so far in moving towards the agreed goals;
- What has gone well;
- How have any challenges been overcome;
- How well is the network working – how is it helping the family make and sustain changes;
- What has not gone so well;
- How did people get back on track/what needs to happen to get the plan back on track;
- How does the plan need to be changed;
- What else, if anything still needs to be done;
- How the changes are made so far impacting on children living in the home. (The review should listen to and record child and family feedback about the impact of changes made, impact of any professional intervention or services).
Each review should result in an updated CIN plan, unless the review concludes that the plan can end. Where child protection/S.47 enquiries arise resulting in a CP plan, or if a child comes into care, the CIN plan must be ended.
12. Chairing Child in Need Planning Meetings
The initial CIN planning meeting held following or as part of the assessment should be chaired by a Team Manager/Senior Practitioner. Subsequent meetings can be chaired by the social worker or in respect of children with disabilities the DCT Reviewing Officer. If the meetings are likely to be more difficult it is expected that a Team Manager will make the decision about who is best to chair review meetings.
13. Ending Child in Need Plans
In most cases CIN plans should end with agreement when it is clear that the goals of the plan have been met and everyone is confident that progress can be sustained without the need for professional oversight/monitoring. This is best done at a CIN Review meeting. However, it is recognised that very occasionally in some situations change can be achieved quickly and a formal review meeting might not be practicable. In these circumstances full consultation must take place and be properly documented to set out these circumstances and the rationale for the plan ending.
First review timescale: 3 months.
For further information see: Local Resources.