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3.7 Developing and Implementing the Child Protection Plan

Contents  

1. Introduction
2. The Core Group
3. The Child Protection Plan
4. Child Protection Plans and Children Looked after by Social Services
5. Child Protection Plans and the Child in Need Planning Process
6. Developing Effective Plans and Interventions
  6.1 Plans
  6.2 Interventions
  6.3 Key Components
  6.4 Motivation to Change


1. Introduction

1.1 Where a Child Protection Conference determines that a child is at continuing risk of Significant Harm, a multi-agency Child Protection Plan is formulated to protect the child.  A Core Group of professionals, including the Social Worker, are responsible for keeping the Child Protection Plan up to date and co-ordinating inter-agency activities within it.
1.2 The Child Protection Plan is an important tool for professionals to use in working together with families to achieve the necessary outcomes for children. If a child is the subject of a Child Protection Plan, they have been assessed as being at identified risk of harm and the plan will be the vehicle through which the risk will be reduced. It is therefore vital that, although Social Services has lead responsibility for ensuring that a plan is in place, agencies named on the plan take an active role in ensuring that it is implemented. If family group meetings are to be used, then the wider family may have an agreed role in developing and taking forward a plan of action.
1.3 The Core Group is the vehicle through which professionals and families can work together to implement the plan and achieve positive change for children.
1.4 The Core Group can decide whether it is appropriate to use a Family Group Conference as a vehicle by which families and professionals can work together to implement the plan.


2. The Core Group

2.1

The Core Group is an important forum for:

  • Working with parents, wider family members, and children of sufficient age and understanding. Families may find Child Protection Conferences intimidating and the Core Group provides an opportunity for them to express their views regarding the help they need to improve the situation for their child;
  • Ensuring that all professionals develop effective working relationships based on trust and a full understanding of each other’s roles.
2.2

The Core Group meeting should:

  • Take place within 10 working days of the Initial Child Protection Conference. This meeting should not be held immediately after the Child Protection Conference. At this time everyone is likely to be tired and family members may be shocked or upset. Time to reflect on the meeting will be beneficial for all concerned and will enable the best use to be made of the Core Group meeting;
  • Be chaired by the Team Manager or Senior Practitioner of the team which holds case responsibility in Social Services. 
2.3

Subsequent Core Group meetings:

  • Should meet within the timescales specified at the initial or review conference;
  • May be chaired by the key worker with the agreement of the Team Manager.
2.4

All Core Group meetings should:

  • Be held at a venue which is accessible for all concerned and in which family members will feel comfortable and able to contribute.  Schools, health centres or children’s centres may be the most suitable venues;
  • Be minuted by a nominated member of the group (not the chair) and minutes circulated within 5 working days.
2.5

The Core Group is responsible for:

  • Developing the Child Protection Plan as a detailed working tool and implementing it within the outline plan agreed at the initial conference. The findings of the Core Assessment should inform the detailed development of the plan;
  • Monitoring the progress of the plan;
  • Assessing current risk to the child, including the impact of any changes in family circumstances which might increase the likelihood of the child suffering Significant Harm;
  • Ensuring that all aspects of the plan are carried through. The Key worker should alert the conference chair immediately if there are significant aspects of the outline plan which it will not be possible to implement;
  • Reporting progress on the plan to the Review Child Protection Conference.


3. The Child Protection Plan

3.1

The aim of the Child Protection Plan is to:

  • Ensure the child is safe and prevent them from suffering further harm;
  • Promote the child’s health or development, i.e. his or her welfare;
  • Support the family and wider family members to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of the Child.
3.2

The plan should use a format consistent with the information set out in the exemplar for the Child Protection Plan (Integrated Children’s System). This should include:

  • Identification of the child’s needs derived from the findings of the Core Assessment;
  • Specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes;
  • Realistic strategies and specific actions to achieve the planned outcomes;
  • A Contingency Plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
  • Clear identification of the roles and responsibilities of professionals and family members including the nature and frequency of contact. This should include professionals with routine contact as well as those providing specialist or targeted support;
  • Points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged.
3.3

The plan should:

  • Be based on the findings from the Core Assessment and draw on knowledge about effective interventions;
  • Take into consideration the wishes and feelings of the child, and the views of the parents, insofar as they are consistent with the child’s welfare;
  • Be constructed with the family in their preferred language/communication method and they should be given a copy in that format.  Where the parent has a learning disability, care must be taken to ascertain their level of understanding and give them a copy of the plan in a format that is accessible to them;
  • Acknowledge and give reasons for any disagreements with family members about how to best safeguard and promote the welfare of the child;
  • Be signed by all members of the Core Group including family members. The plan therefore will form a written agreement between all members of the Core Group;
  • Be adjusted as necessary at subsequent Core Group meetings and the amended copy signed and circulated.


4. Child Protection Plans and Children Looked After by Social Services

4.1

The Child Protection Plan should not exist in isolation from other child care plans. Where the child is Looked After, the Child Protection Plan should be integrated into the overall care planning process as follows:

  • The Key worker should send a copy of the detailed Child Protection Plan, developed at the first Core Group meeting, to the Independent Reviewing Officer responsible for the Child Care Review held under Review Regulations;
  • The Child Protection Review Conference should be timed to take place prior to the Child Care Review meeting in order to ensure that the information from the conference is taken to the review meeting and informs the overall care planning process;
  • Changes to the Care Plan can only be made at a Looked After Review Meeting and changes to a Child Protection Plan can only be made at a Child Protection Conference.


5. Child Protection Plans and the Child in Need Planning Process

5.1 Where a child has been subject to a Child in Need Plan prior to the Initial Child Protection Conference, the Child in Need Plan should be used by the Core Group to develop the Child Protection Plan. This should ensure that the focus of interventions is to reduce the likelihood of harm, as well as meeting the overall developmental needs of the child.
5.2 Where a child ceases to be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, a Child in Need Plan is likely to be necessary for a minimum of three months in order that the child and family continue to receive services. In this case, an inter-agency meeting should be held within 10 working days to agree the Child in Need Plan.


6. Developing Effective Plans and Interventions

6.1

Plans

  6.1.1 The Child Protection Plan should be a document which is owned and understood by the family and all relevant professionals. Thus great care should be taken at the first Core Group meeting to ensure that everyone is clear about their roles and responsibilities and what they should do if, for any reason, they are unable to fulfil their obligations in respect of the plan.
  6.1.2

In developing plans the following general principles should be taken into account:

  • Plans should be drawn up in agreement with the child/young person and key family members;
  • Objectives should be reasonable and timescales not too short or unachievable;
  • Plans should not be dependent on resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
  • The plan must maintain a focus on the child even though help may be provided by a number of family members as part of the plan.
  6.1.3

All plans need to define clearly measurable outcomes, i.e:

  • Objective of the plan;
  • Services to be provided and by whom;
  • Timing and nature of professional contact;
  • Purpose of services and professional contact;
  • Specific commitments to be met by the family;
  • What is negotiable/non-negotiable;
  • What needs to change - goals to be achieved;
  • What is unacceptable care;
  • What sanctions will be used if the child is placed in danger;
  • What preparation will service users receive if in court as a witness in criminal proceedings;
  • Contingency plans.
  6.1.4

Planned outcomes should be SMART, i.e:

  • Specific;
  • Measurable;
  • Achievable;
  • Related to the assessed needs of the child/young person;
  • Time related.

6.2

Interventions

  6.2.1 Interventions should be clearly linked to the developmental needs of the child, and based on knowledge of what is likely to work best to bring about good outcomes. There is more information about specific circumstances in Interventions with Neglect and; Interventions and Child Sexual Abuse Recognition of Significant Harm Procedure; Domestic Abuse, Interventions and Domestic Abuse and Parents with Learning Disabilities, Intervention with Parents with Learning Disbailities.  

6.3

Key Components

  6.3.1

Interventions are likely to have a number of inter-related components:

  • Action to make a child safe;
  • Action to help promote a child’s health and development;
  • Action to help parents/care givers in safeguarding a child and promoting his or her welfare;
  • Therapy for an abused child;
  • Support or therapy for a perpetrator of abuse.
  6.3.2

A good Child Protection Plan will include all of the above (if relevant). However, research has shown that plans do not always adequately meet them all. A report by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI (2006) Meeting the Needs of Parents with Children on the Child Protection Register noted that the needs of parents were not always taken account of when developing Child Protection Plans:

“Unless effectively addressed, adults’ problems can undermine the well-being of children, directly or indirectly, and in the short and long term. In a minority of cases these ‘adult’ problems can contribute to the neglect of children’s physical, emotional and psychological well-being. In certain circumstances, they can result in various forms of abuse.”
  6.3.3 Although the main objective of the plan must be to improve the situation for the child, all plans should take account of the needs of relevant adults and aim to provide services to support them in their parenting role. This may involve ensuring that relevant adult services are included in the Core Group.

6.4

Motivation to Change

  6.4.1 Interventions will need to be based on an assessment of parental motivation to change and whether change is likely to occur within a timescale compatible with the needs of the child. Where change cannot occur within the required timescale, the process of decision making and planning should be as open as possible and seek to involve parents and carers at all stages of the process.
  6.4.2 Where the child has been removed from the family and plans are to reunite the child, interventions should include the detailed work necessary to help the parents/care givers develop the necessary parenting skills.
  6.4.3 In situations where it is not possible to implement the Child Protection Plan for whatever reason this must be brought to the attention of the Review Conference Chair as a matter of urgency and a Review Conference convened.

End