Risk Assessment and Planning


The Enjoyment and Achievement Standard

The Care Planning Standard

This chapter was added in November 2022.


  1. Introduction
  2. Purpose of Risk Assessment
  3. Managing Risk
  4. Levels of Risk and Control Measures
  5. Risk Assessing Planning
  6. Monitoring and Reviewing the Risk Assessment

    Further Information

1. Introduction

Risk can be broadly defined as 'the probability that an event will occur with beneficial or harmful consequences'.

Risk-sensible not risk-averse practices should be followed when completing any risk assessment so a realistic and proportionate approach to risk is in place which enables children and young people to grow and learn.

Risk assessments must be in place to support staff and the child or young person in relation to any identified risks.

Risk assessments are carried out by all agencies involved in Children's Social Care and the children's social worker should provide the Home with all up-to-date risk assessments relating to the child or young person they support.

2. Purpose of Risk Assessment

The purpose of any risk assessment should be to reduce harm or the risk of harm and evidence that these risks are now minimised. It should consider all the risks as well as control measures that need to be in place; it should be fit for purpose and consider every issue relevant. It must provide enough information to all relevant people so that they can care for the children safely and appropriately.

Risk assessments are completed in relation to premises, equipment used for the child such as oxygen use in the Home, risks from other people and activities.

3. Managing Risk

Staff should continually and actively assess the risks to each child and the arrangements in place to protect them. Where there are safeguarding concerns for a child, their Placement Plan, agreed between the Home and their placing authority, must include details of the steps the Home will take to manage any assessed risks on a day to day basis.

As children will spend significant periods of time away from the Home, for example in education or training, at appointments with the YOT or for engagement in leisure activities, any assessed risks should be shared with the education provider or service the child is attending if appropriate, so that the service is clear on the action they must take if the child puts themselves at risk while using their service.

Staff should take reasonable precautions and make informed professional judgements based on the individual child’s needs and developmental-stage about when to allow a child to take a particular risk or follow a particular course of action. Staff should discuss the decision with the child’s placing authority where appropriate. If a child makes a choice that would place them or another person at significant risk of harm, staff should assist them to understand the risks and manage their risk taking behaviour to keep themselves and others safe.

Where a child runs away persistently or engages in other risky behaviours, such as frequently being absent from the Home to meet with inappropriate adults, the registered person, in consultation with the child’s placing authority, should convene a risk management meeting to develop a strategy for managing risks to the young person. The strategy should be agreed with the child’s placing authority, the local authority where the Home is located and the local police.

See also: Missing Children Procedure.

4. Levels of Risk and Control Measures

Risks can be seen as the following:

  • Low - where something may be likely but the consequences are likely not to have a huge impact;
  • Moderate - where the consequences may be high but specialist support or skills can mitigate the risk;
  • High - where the risk cannot be mitigated.

Control measures take the form of Advice, Protect and Avoid.

  • Advice - where skills, appropriate training for staff; supervision and observation can reduce the risks;
  • Protect - where specific equipment or specialist expertise can support the situation such as hoists, fire doors, advice in relation to moving and handling, signage;
  • Avoid - where the risk cannot be mitigated by advice and protection.

All risk assessments should state what the risk is and how it will be safely managed. All risk assessments should be signed and dated and reviewed when situations change.

5. Risk Assessing Planning

Children and young people who are placed in the Home  may have experienced a number of events in their lives which may impact on the level and type of care they require to keep themselves and others safe.

Possession of a risk assessment does not guarantee safety and cannot prevent unpredictable situations. However a risk assessment can be a useful tool to help prevent a situation occurring. Staff should always seek advice around dangerous behaviours.

See also: Positive Relationships and Behaviour Management Procedure.

All risks should be known before placing a child or young person.

When social workers complete a Placement Referral form this will include a risk assessment. The risk assessment will inform the placement process and ensure that any risks posed are known and can be managed by the Home. The risk assessment should distinguish between fact and opinion. The risk and frequency of risk should be recorded and how this should be managed in different environments. All known vulnerabilities should be recorded for the child and set out any actions to address these risks. The Home and staff should feel they can provide the child with appropriate and safe care.

5.1 Safer Caring Plan

The Home  should complete an individualised Safer Care Plan for each child/young person in their care and this should be regularly reviewed in supervision. The Safer Care Plan should include agreed measures that can be put in place to manage and reduce risk.

The child/young person should also be involved in this assessment. The child or young person's age and level of understanding and their attitude to risks should also be considered as part of the risk assessment.

See also: Personal Care and Physical Contact with Children Procedure.

5.2 Health and Safety Risk Assessment

See Health and Safety Procedure.

5.3 Other Risks

Risks may come from a variety of sources and there may be external factors to the immediate placement (family/environment, peer relationships, sexual exploitation, county lines). The risk assessment should be child focused and identify how the child/young person can be supported in their development.

6. Monitoring and Reviewing the Risk Assessment

The level of risk may change over time and regular review of risk should take place noting how risk has been successfully managed. Staff  will make an active contribution to the risk assessment based on their experience of caring for the child/young person.

Whilst it is important to consider risks that may have been previously identified, caution should be taken in labelling children/young people and the level of current risk should be continuously assessed.

Changes in risk should be considered as part of on-going work with the child/young person such as in staff supervision; as part of risk management meetings; and as part of looked after child reviews.

The Home has a responsibility to make sure risk assessments are being followed by staff and that they are up to date and updated as and when necessary.

The Placement Plan should consider the risks and how this will be managed for both planned and unplanned placements. Intervention may be necessary by others to keep the child or young person safe.

Training around how to complete a risk assessment should be in place for staff to aid them in considering how risks and control measures should be addressed.

If a child/young person moves to another placement the risk assessment should follow them and be updated as appropriate.

Further Information

Legislation, Statutory Guidance and Government Non-Statutory Guidance

Promoting the Health and Well-being of Looked-After Children (Department for Education)

Assessing Risk in Children's Homes (Ofsted)