Child in Need Procedures

Figure 1: Child in Need Procedure Flowchart

Click here to view Figure 1: Child in Need Procedure Flowchart.

Section One: Referrals into Children's Social Care

1. Consent, Confidentiality and Information Sharing

1.1 All information about children and families held by professionals and agencies is subject to a legal duty of confidentiality and should not normally be disclosed without the consent of the subject. However the law overrides the need to seek consent to the sharing of information between professionals where it is necessary to safeguard a child or children.
1.2 In the majority of cases and only where safeguarding is not an issue, consent to disclosure must be obtained. Families should also be given a copy of the 'Access to Records' leaflet.
1.3 Where there are disputes and conflicts within families and a number of parental figures obtaining consent may not be straightforward. The consent of any one parent acting alone, rather than all those with parental responsibility, is required to disclose information about a child (Section2(7) of the Children Act 1989).
1.4 All records will be stored confidentially on the Liquidlogic system.

2. Contacts


A contact will normally be a request for information or for a service (which may lead to a referral):

  • A request for general information/advice or assistance (Examples: Childminding List; Benefits query, Notification of Intention to Undertake a Statement of Educational Needs);
  • Offering a service. (Example; Foster Carer, Childminder).
2.2 The Contact Centre receives all enquiries, contacts and referrals in regard to the Referral and Assessment Service.
2.3 Contacts are always dealt with and recorded immediately as contacts within Liquidlogic. It must be determined whether they are to be closed on Liquidlogic as NFA or whether they are to be progressed to referrals within 24 hours. The Contact Centre Manager will record the outcome of the contact and the reason for this decision on the Contact Record within that first 24 hours i.e. NFA / Progress to referral.

3. Referrals


A 'referral' will normally follow from a contact where:

  • Information received about a child, adult or family points to the need for further (professional) assessment, enquiry or intervention to promote the welfare or safeguard the child;
  • A request for an assessment/or service where the thresholds for service may be met;
  • Any significant one-off pieces of work that are necessary to ensure the presenting risks or needs are safely addressed by a social care professional.
3.2 Where a referral is received, the Contact Centre Manager will make a recommendation that the case is to be passed to the appropriate service (Early Intervention Service, if below a Level 3 or referral to the Referral and Assessment Team if the case reaches Level 3).
3.3 On open cases where Child and Family Assessments have already been completed, incoming contacts relating to new risks should be recorded as a new episode. General Information remains as a case note.
3.4 Where the case relates to a child with disabilities, receiving an on-going resource package where there are no other concerns (e.g. Direct Payments, Short Breaks, OT support) this will be managed through Commissioning Health and Wellbeing. Where there is identified additional need (e.g. due to parental neglect, failure to thrive etc) the following procedure is to be followed.

The process for Social Care teams is:

  • Referral recorded on Liquidlogic;
  • Check case status, i.e. not known, open, closed or if the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan. (If relevant, the Social Worker should record a CP enquiry on the Liquidlogic system). If the child has been the subject of two or more enquiries an alert should be sent to the Team Manager and a discussion held with the duty Review Manager;
  • If a CAF is received with a referral, ensure that the Integrated Processes Team is aware that it has been referred to Children's Social Care;
  • Locate any previous records or files;
  • A qualified Social Worker (Team Manager) must make a decision within one working day of the referral being received about the type of response that is required. If a referral may relate to a criminal offence, the police must be notified as they have a duty to investigate any allegations of crime;
  • Team Manager to sign and date decision;
  • Children's Social Care should provide feedback to the person who made the referral on decisions made and next steps;
  • A qualified Social Worker must see the child as soon as possible if the decision is taken that the referral requires further assessment;
  • All organisations, including GPs, police and teachers when appropriate, should contribute to this assessment process and share appropriate information when required;
  • Children's Social Care should work with all professionals who are known to the child and family to agree timings of meetings to discuss the individual case. Timing of meetings need to balance the needs of the child and family with the demands of other professionals and must follow the key assessment principles of timeliness, proportionality and transparency; and
  • The lead Social Worker must ensure that services are delivered to the child and family in a transparent and coordinated way.
Managing Cases: The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families


Sibling Referrals

3.6 Referrals may be received in relation to families where there is only one child or where there is a sibling group. The referral may also connect to siblings living in other households/families. In all cases, a decision will need to be made as to whether a referral should be opened in respect of any or all of the siblings.
3.7 Sibling referrals must be opened at the point of the initial referral being made in all cases where the concerns relate to child protection, neglect or domestic violence and when the concerns impact on other children/young people.
3.8 Sibling referrals do not need to be opened in cases where the concerns are specific and limited to an individual child or young person, e.g. teenage pregnancy or learning disability. Consideration should be given in all cases to the impact of the concerns on other children/young people in the household or extended family.
3.9 In some cases where the decision at the point of the initial referral was not to open sibling referrals, a decision may be made at a later stage to open them retrospectively. In these cases, the sibling referral should include the new information which has informed the decision to open the new referral and should also include information relation to the original referral.
3.10 Cloning of complete file information from one child to another is not permitted and is in breach of confidentiality and the Data Protection Act 2018
3.11 The only exception with regard to information being cloned is a received 'contact' which contains relevant information about a sibling group. All other reports and documents should be attached to each sibling referral and not cloned.
3.12 In all cases where a Child and Family Assessment is completed in respect of siblings, a separate assessment should be opened and completed in respect of each sibling with an open referral. Whole assessments must not be cloned. Where appropriate, relevant information can be cut and pasted from one document / assessment to another.


Unborn baby referrals

3.13 The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Safeguarding Partnership Procedures and timescales to be applied when there are concerns about the welfare of a child, should also be followed when there are concerns about the welfare of an unborn child.
3.14 A referral on an unborn baby to a family unknown to Children's Social Care will be responded to by the Referral and Assessment Team.
3.15 A referral on an unborn where sibling are open to Children's Social Care will be discussed between the manager of the referral and Assessment Team and the team manager for the open case to decide which team should progress the assessments on the unborn baby.
3.16 When the referral is regarding a baby that is going to be relinquished for adoption, the Assessment will be undertaken by a Social Worker from the Referral and Assessment Team and a Social Worker from the Adoption Team to ensure that any other concerns are addressed. However, where concerns are identified as above the case will transfer to the Referral and Assessment Team and the Assessment Process and Planning for Unborn Babies.
3.17 Where the parent of the unborn is identified as a young person in care or eligible for care leavers' support, the unborn child is referred in their own right and the young person regarded as the parent. The appropriate worker from Leaving Care will contribute to the assessments.


Referrals of 16 and 17 year olds

3.18 Where a 16 or 17 year old has been referred as a Child in Need, Children's Services still have a duty to support them. The referral should be passed directly to the Adolescent Intervention Service (AIS). Where it is apparent that the young person cannot remain living at home, the Protocol for the Assessment of Homeless 16 and 17 year olds should be followed.


Referrals involving an allegation against a member of staff, carer or volunteer

3.19 Where a referral is received by the Referral and Assessment Team in relation to an allegation against a member of staff, carer or volunteer, the details of the allegation should be taken and the Duty Manager must make contact with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) immediately. The Duty Manager and LADO should liaise with to ensure the safety of the child primarily and to ensure that Strategy Discussions or Achieving Best Evidence interviews are undertaken as soon as possible.
3.20 In matters of urgency where a child is at imminent risk or where they have sustained an injury, any immediate safeguarding action must be taken and the LADO contacted as soon as possible.
3.21 The LADO will manage any investigation, but may require Children's Social Care to undertake an immediate Strategy Meeting in the event that the child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm. These meetings will be chaired by Children's Social Care Team Managers.
3.22 The PCSB procedures in relation to Allegations Against Staff, Carers and Volunteers Procedure must be followed.


Timescales and Managerial Decision Making

3.23 A duty manager will make a decision within 24 hours based on the information available whether the referral will progress to an Assessment or not.
3.24 Children's Social Care must acknowledge the receipt of the referral in writing to the referrer within 24 hours and notify the referrer of the outcome of their referral in writing within 7 days. In complex matters a telephone call may be required to confirm receipt and support decision.

It is the responsibility of the referrer to:

  • Contact Children's Social Care again if they have not received a written acknowledgement within 3 working days of receiving the referral;
  • Record in their own agency records the decisions taken following referral;
  • To take responsibility for engaging in required processes depending on whether the referral is in relation to a child in need, or a child in need of protection or Looked After.


Outcome of referral


There will be several outcomes to a referral:

  • No further action required by Children's Services (but it may be "supported" back to the community / TAC / Lead Professional) - CAF;
  • Advice may be given to the referrer;
  • A Child and Family Assessment is undertaken which could lead to a Strategy Discussion / Meeting under the Child Protection Procedures or an Assessment is undertaken which could lead to a Child and Family Assessment and Child in Need Plan;
  • An Assessment is undertaken which could lead to a referral to the DIS team following presentation to PASP;
  • Input from the HLFS may be required;
  • The Local Authority Designated Officer may be involved and will work alongside Children's Social Care.

Section Two: Assessments within Social Care

4. Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families by Social Care Practitioners

4.1 Liquidlogic is based on The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families and will be used by Children's Social Care practitioners in assessing the needs of children and their families. If a CAF/Multi-Agency referral has been received the assessment process will take this into account.

Assessments will determine:

  • If a child is in need and what the specific needs are;
  • If a child is at risk and what levels of risk are found with services and actions identified to reduce these;
  • Their level of vulnerability;
  • How needs can be met;
  • Which of their needs should be met as a priority;
  • Outcomes sought;
  • Which resources or professionals can best meet the identified needs.
4.3 The Assessment Framework is an established systematic approach to the process of gathering information about children who may be in need and their families.
4.4 The decision to gather more information following a referral constitutes an Assessment this may take the form of a brief assessment of each child in the family referred to this department where there is a request for intervention or for the provision of services. Agency checks will be required to gather information.
4.5 If the case is closed there should always be a new Assessment even if the last assessment was less than 7 days before. The 10 day timescale for any Assessment commences from the date of the linked referral.
4.6 Assessments should be in proportion to the child's needs. Assessments can be short i.e. if at an early stage in the Assessment progression to a more detailed assessment and/or Section 47 is indicated. However, the Assessment and managerial decisions for progression to Child and Family Assessment must be completed on the Further Action part of the Assessment Form.
4.7 This must be signed by the manager with their name and role clearly printed. The Social Worker needs to write a synopsis of why this has been done and the Team Manager must sign off electronically through the workflow system.
4.8 If at any point during the Assessment there are concerns about actual or a risk of significant harm to a child, the practitioner must discuss the case with their Manager (or their nominated deputy) immediately so that the threshold for Section 47 enquiries can be considered.
4.9 The Child and Family Assessment is an in-depth multi agency assessment of the child's needs and the capacity of the child's parents/care-givers to meet these needs within the wider family and community context. The Assessment is led by Children's Services. Agency checks and partnership working will need to continue.
4.10 The involvement of the child, parent and/or carer is essential to the assessment process as is the focus on each individual child and his/her needs.


Seeing the Child

4.11 Children should feel that they are active participants and engaged in the process when adults are trying to solve problems and make decisions about them. When plans are being made for the child's future, s/he is likely to feel less fearful if s/he understands what is happening and has been listened to from the beginning. When a child has difficulty in expressing his/her wishes and feelings about any decisions being made about him or her, consideration must be given to securing the support of an advocate.
4.12 The child must be seen by Children's Services as part of the Assessment and preferably spoken to alone or communicated with using whatever methods of communication the child uses. If for any reason the child has not been seen, this must be agreed by the Team Manager and the reasons clearly documented within the Assessment and specifically commented on and confirmed by the manager with their reasons and decision. The visit details should be recorded in Liquidlogic.
4.13 If at any point during the Assessment there are concerns about actual risk or a risk of significant harm and the case enters Section 47, a Strategy meeting will determine the timescale within which the child should be seen by Children's Services. This should be no longer than within 24 hours.

The Assessment will briefly address the dimensions of the Assessment Framework, determining:

  • Whether the child is in need is at risk;
  • What the needs are and what outcomes are intended for the child;
  • The nature of any services required;
  • From where and within what timescales these services are to be provided;
  • Whether a further assessment should be carried out.

Assessments will involve gathering appropriate information on the three areas of the assessment triangle:

  • Child developmental needs;
  • Parenting Capacity;
  • Family and environmental factors. By:
    • Interviewing family members;
    • Seeing the child interact with others and by communicating appropriately with the child, taking into account age, disability, where the first language is not English and any other communication needs;
    • Collating and analysing information from other agencies and organisations.
4.16 It is important that the child's views and perspective are sought recorded, where this is appropriate and that the actions recommended are based on this.
4.17 Where a parent / carer refuses to let the Social Worker see the child, the Social Worker must seek approval from the Team Manager. The decision and the reasons for it must be clearly recorded on the child's file. The Manager must first establish that there are no concerns for the safety or welfare of the child/ren before agreeing the reasons for the child/ren not being seen or spoken to.


Timescales and Managerial Decision Making

4.18 Within 24 hours a manager will make a decision based on the information available whether the referral will progress to an assessment
4.19 All work on Assessments must be completed within 10 working days from the point of referral including managerial sign off.
4.20 The manager must record, date and sign off a decision in relation to the completed Assessment clearly stating their reasons for the decision made.
4.21 In all cases where the Assessment indicates a need for a more in depth assessment of the child's needs and parental capacity to care for the child the case should progress to a further Assessment. A completed Assessment is still required if progressing to a more detailed Child and Family Assessment (however this may be completed as described in above providing the managerial decision is noted with the reasons and that it is electronically signed off and dated by the manager).
4.22 The decision to complete a more detailed Assessment should be taken by the Team Manager in conjunction with the Social Worker and recorded on the Assessment Form. There should be no Assessments worked beyond the 10 day timescale. There will always be exceptions for many different reasons. However, those that do so over 10 days should have a clear record of the reasons why and managerial sign off completed.
4.23 An Initial Child in Need Planning Meeting should be convened within 10 days following completion of the Assessment. This should include all relevant professionals and the family.
4.24 If it has been decided as part of a Strategy Meeting that an Assessment is required, it will not be necessary to hold the Initial Child in Need Meeting if the case is progressing to an initial child protection conference.
4.25 The Section 47 child protection enquiry and completion of a Child and Family Assessment can result in a step down to child in need plan pending the outcomes of the enquiries. If this is the case a child in need meeting should be convened and the Chair of the Conference will prepare an outline Child in Need Plan to be discussed and updated at the Child in Need Review Meeting.
4.26 Child and Family Assessments must be completed within 35 working days from completion of the decision at a Strategy Meeting to commence Section 47 enquiries and/or a Child and Family Assessment.

If not progressing to Child Protection within 7 days of the completion of the Child and Family Assessment a Child in Need Review meeting must be held. This will determine:

  1. Whether there is no further action required;
  2. Whether to transfer the case to the Family Support team or whether to complete the required work (if the plan is to complete within 3 months from the date of the Child in Need Review meeting);
  3. To develop the Child in Need Plan;
  4. To refer back to the Lead Professional;
  5. If the case is a Child Protection case or a high level family support case it should be referred to PASP for additional services;
  6. If as a result of an assessment having been completed the threshold for Significant Harm or risk of significant harm is deemed to be met a Strategy meeting must be convened.
4.28 At any stage in the assessment process, should there be suspicions or allegations that the child may be suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm (see Appendix 1: Considerations of whether Harm is Significant), there must be discussion with the manager so that a Strategy Meeting / Discussion can be held to decide whether a Section 47 enquiry is required and to plan interagency action in accordance with the Peterborough Safeguarding Children Board Safeguarding Children Procedures. The key elements of this meeting should be recorded as a list of points on the Strategy Discussion form. In Section 47 enquiries the child MUST be seen within 24 hours unless there is Team Manager agreement based on sound evidential reasons.
4.29 Assessment of a child in these circumstances is not a separate activity but continues the same process - although the pace and scope of the assessment may have changed. A key part will be to establish whether the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm and whether any emergency action is required to secure the safety of the child.
4.30 Once it is decided that the matter comes under Section 47 then the case should automatically progress to Child and Family Assessment. Although there will be 35 working days to complete the Assessment, Section 47 enquiries will need to progress within a timescale which is commensurate with the identified safeguarding needs of the child. Assessment and s47 enquiries should occur alongside each other.
4.31 If the Strategy Meeting / Discussion decide that the case should continue under Section 17 (CIN) the assessment also automatically progresses to an Assessment.


Outcomes of Assessments


Possible outcomes of a Child and Family Assessment will include:

  • No Further action (child is not 'in need');
  • Provision of services to address needs - it may be appropriate to refer to TAC for Community based services rather than Social Care or step down to CAF;
  • Continue assessment process by undertaking an Assessment whether or not this is in the context of a section 47 enquiry;
  • Emergency provision of services where needs are significant and urgent i.e. accommodation, such decisions will be taken by PASP (Peterborough Access to Support Panel), in an emergency contact the Commissioning Team directly;
  • The convening of a 'Child in Need' Meeting and the development of a Child in Need Plan;
  • The convening of a Strategy Meeting to decide whether a Section 47 enquiry is required and to plan this if so;
  • A copy of the Assessment will be given to the family.


4.33 All Assessments must be recorded on Liquidlogic. Full training on the use of Liquidlogic is given to all Social Workers. Training guides are available on INSITE and on SCIP.
4.34 Team Managers will monitor the timescales for all the above processes giving support to Social Workers to complete as soon as possible where appropriate and recording the reasons for delay where necessary.

Section Three: Ongoing Work with Children in Need

5. Child in Need Meetings (CIN)


The purpose of the Child in Need Meetings

5.1 If a matter does not meet the thresholds for Section 47 Enquiries, children and their families may still have identified needs which should be met under Section 17 of the Children Act ('Child in Need').
5.2 The Initial Child in Need Planning Meeting provides an opportunity for a child and his or her parents/carers, together with key agencies to identify and agree what needs to happen and the timescales for this including the package of services required.
5.3 The Child in Need Plan will be developed by deciding what future actions and/or services are required to promote the child's welfare following the completion of the Child and Family Assessment. It will clearly record who will do what, when and why in relation to needs and outcomes identified so that progress can be tracked and reviewed by family and professionals involved in future Child in Need Review meetings.
5.4 It gives a focus to the people involved to collate and analyse the multi-agency information about the child's health and development and the parental capacity to promote the child's welfare.
5.5 It allows the groups to judge if the child is unlikely to achieve or maintain or have the opportunity to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision of services.
5.6 Regular Child in Need Review meetings help avoid escalation to s47 and beyond and they also help identify issues at an early stage.
5.7 Child in Need Meetings may identify that no further intervention is required from Children's Social Care and may consider if a TAC or CAF is required and de-escalation to Early intervention services.




The intended outcomes are for the child and their family to be able to manage their circumstances. In order to do this the Child in Need Meeting processes include:

  • Arrangement for completion of a Multi Agency Assessment with family to identify and analyse the child's needs;
  • The development of a 'Child in Need' Plan to promote the welfare of the child and meet his/her needs and identify those that will implement the plan;
  • Reviewing the effectiveness of actions and services against the intended outcomes for the child;
  • If the decision at a Child Protection Conference is not to make the child(ren) subject to a Child Protection Plan then the conference may formulate an outline Child in Need Plan addressing the outstanding areas of need and establishing the intended outcomes for the child and family. A Child in Need Meeting should be held within 10 days of the Child Protection Conference. Work with the child and family may then progress using the provisions of Section 17;
  • Identify and agree the Lead Professional (if a Social Worker is involved they will generally be the Lead Professional);
  • Step back to CAF/TAC should take place within 20 working days of Child in Need meeting decision.


Timings and Frequency


To ensure that Child and Family Assessments are completed in a timely fashion:

  • Child in Need Planning Meetings should take place where possible;
  • A Child in Need Meeting should be held within 10 working days of the completion of the Assessment and should continue no less than 6 weekly. If the case is more complex, the Team Manager may take the decision to hold the review meetings more frequently. It is important to allow managers discretion about the level of meetings to ensure needs and risks are addressed effectively. Managers' decisions about the frequency of these meetings should be recorded including the reasons for these timescales.


Involvement of Child and Family


The child and family should be consulted about the meeting and invited and prepared for attendance. It is good practice to involve children and families in meetings where appropriate. However there may be times this is not possible, e.g.

  • The child/young person objects to parental/family involvement;
  • The child/family failed to attend - In these circumstances a member of the meeting should be appointed to inform the child/family of the outcome (this should usually be the allocated Social Worker).
5.11 Parents / carers and the child / young person (where appropriate) should wherever possible attend the Child in Need Meetings and reviews and their views be recorded.
5.12 If parents or carers do not attend the review a record of the review should be given to them and they should be asked to sign this. Where children, parents or carers do not wish to attend, records should show how their views have been sought and represented at the meeting.
5.13 In all circumstances the views and wishes of all children old enough to express their views and wishes should be ascertained using what ever medium is appropriate. If necessary, support of an advocate should be considered.
5.14 Attendance at reviews by the child should always be encouraged and timings should avoid the school day for children of school age.
5.15 If English is not the first language then arrangements for an interpreter should be made and issues of access for people with disabilities should be addressed.
5.16 Where reviews and meetings fall around the time of religious festivals and times of particular religious observances which are undertaken by the family, particular consideration may need to be made to hold meetings at a time and venue suitable for the family to ensure their involvement.


Involvement of Other Professionals


The Social Worker should discuss potential attendees with the child and the parents / carers but should include:

  • The Social Worker and/or Team Manager if appropriate;
  • Those with a direct and relevant involvement with the child and family;
  • Those who hold relevant information that can be shared in the meeting;
  • If, in exceptional circumstances, those working with the child/family feel that it is necessary to convene a meeting where the child and family are not invited or notified of the meeting, this will be considered a Professionals Meeting and not called a Child In Need Meeting. These should only occur where it is believed the child or young person could be put at greater risk if parents were present initially.



5.18 The Social Worker is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations with the support of the Business Support Officers.
5.19 The child and family should be invited and given clear guidance about the purpose of the meeting and the importance of their attendance and the Social Worker should discuss the list of potential attendees.
5.20 The meeting should be chaired by the Social Worker unless it is a particularly complex Child in Need or Child Protection case, in which case the Social Worker should discuss with their Team Manager who should chair the meeting.
5.21 The Assessment of the child will be available to the meeting and copies distributed to appropriate members of the family and all involved professionals.
5.22 A clear analysis of the needs, difficulties and concerns that have led to the need for a Child in Need Meeting should be discussed at the meeting.
5.23 The meeting will agree the Child in Need Plan that addresses the needs difficulties and concerns in relation to the child.
5.24 The co-ordination and review of the plan and the membership of any future review meeting will be decided at the initial meeting. The plan will be recorded on the Child in Need Plan in Liquidlogic.
5.25 If the plan is not actioned or has failed to meet the child's needs the chair of the meeting must be informed and a decision taken whether to reconvene the Child in Need Meeting before the planned review date.
5.26 The meeting minutes will be recorded on the Sect 47 & 17 Meetings Form within Liquidlogic.

6. Child in Need Plans

6.1 A Child in Need Plan will be developed in the Initial Child in Need Planning Meeting and will be updated at every subsequent Child in Need Meeting.
6.2 Most Child in Need Plans will envisage that Children's Social Care intervention will end within twelve months. However, some children and families may require longer term support.
6.3 The Child in Need Plan must identify the Lead Professional, 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 timescale involved.

In particular, the Child in Need Plan should:

  • 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 un-achievable;
  • Identify the Lead Professional and his or her responsibilities, including frequency of visits to the child, which should be a minimum of once every six weeks;
  • Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of other professionals and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by professionals with children and family members;
  • Lay down points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged.
6.5 Where the services that are required are to be provided by an external provider, a referral to PASP must be made (see Peterborough Access to Support Panels Policy and Procedure) at the earliest opportunity.
6.6 The Chair of the Child in Need 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 of other professionals involved in the provision of services under the Plan.
6.7 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 professionals from other agencies.

7. Child in Need Visits

7.1 Visits to children in need and their families should take place no less frequently than 6-weekly and may take place more frequently, for example, where there are intensive packages of family support and intervention being given.
7.2 At the visit, the Social Worker must see the child, and where possible talk to them, using the most appropriate communication method, depending on age, ethnicity, level of understanding and disability. Where possible, the Social Worker should ask to see the child's bedroom.
7.3 Where a parent / carer refuses to let the Social Worker see the child/ren, the Social Worker must seek approval from the Team Manager. The decision and the reasons for it must be clearly recorded on the child's file. The Manager must first establish that there are no concerns for the safety or welfare of the child/ren before agreeing the reasons for the child/ren not being seen or spoken to.
7.4 The Child in Need Plan should be discussed with the family and any issues in relation to the completion of their actions explored and noted on the Child in Need Visit proforma. These issues should be addressed at the earliest opportunity and should inform the agenda for the Child in Need Review meetings.

Section Four: Reviewing Services for Children in Need

8. Reviews of Child in Need Plans

8.1 Whilst Child in Need Plans are reviewed and updated at each Child in Need meeting and discussed at each case supervision, plans that have been going for 6 months should be formally reviewed to ensure that work is progressing and that there is no drift in the case. Reviews will be conducted at intervals agreed with the team manager, but at least every 6 months. Decisions and the reasons for them relating to the frequency of the review must be recorded on Liquidlogic.
8.2 Child in Need plans should not normally last longer than 12 months. Exceptions to this will be those cases where the plan acknowledges the need for longer term support.
8.3 If there are significant changes in the family circumstances, an early review should take place.
8.4 Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of a Child in Need Plan must be responded to.
8.5 The Social Worker should invite or seek the views of the child, parents and any service providers in preparation of the Review. The responsible team will administer all Child in Need Reviews.
8.6 The Review will take place within a scheduled Child in Need meeting, unless the Team Manager agrees otherwise. The Lead Professional or Manager will usually chair the meeting. If the case is not allocated, the manager must undertake the Review or arrange for it to be undertaken on his/her behalf.
8.7 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.
8.8 All decisions made should be recorded; they should be signed, dated and placed on file, including the reasons for reaching any decision.


Outcomes of the Child in Need Review Meeting


The outcome of a Child in Need Review Meeting will be:

  1. That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Social Care intervention, which will result in a recommendation to the team manager that the case be closed although the child may continue to receive services from a single agency or under a multi-agency plan not involving Children's Social Care for example through the Early Intervention Service and Team Around the Child approach, if the child and parents agree. Where this outcome is likely to be the case, the Social Worker should make contact with the Early Intervention Service in advance of the meeting to ensure that a relevant practitioner attends the meeting;
  2. 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;
  3. That the child's needs are sufficiently complex and/or the child requires additional services to safeguard and promote his or her welfare such as to justify a specialist assessment to be undertaken;
  4. In addition to (c) above, that the child appears to be at risk of Significant Harm, resulting in the need for a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and possible Section 47 Enquiry as part of the Assessment.
8.10 The outcome of the Review should be recorded on a Review Record in all cases and a copy of the record sent to the child (if old enough), parent and all other participants in the Review process.
8.11 Review outcomes must be recorded on LiquidLogic.
8.12 Where the outcome of the Review is an amendment to the Child in Need Plan, the Social Worker should circulate a copy of the amended Plan to the child, parents, and other agencies/professionals involved in providing the services set out in the amended Plan, including any new services to be provided.
8.13 Where the outcome of the Review is that a Team Around the Child (TAC) should be set up, the members of the TAC should be agreed, an action plan drawn up, a date set for the first TAC review and a Lead Professional from the preventative services identified to coordinate the action plan.
8.14 Where the outcome of the Review is to progress to Child Protection, the Team Manager should consider the thresholds and whether to call a Strategy Meeting (see 8.17).


Reviewing Child in Need Status

8.15 Once the actions from the Child in Need Plan have been met in full and with joint agreement from the family, Children's Services and other agencies involved, it may be decided that the case should be closed to Children's Services.
8.16 Where a case is to be closed to Children's Services this should be decided within the Child in Need meeting and be fully documented and a new Lead Professional appointed if another agency is to continue providing services. Please refer to the Process for the Closure of Cases.
8.17 If however, following ongoing support from all agencies, it is apparent that identified outcomes and changes have not been achieved, the Social Worker and their Team Manager should consider whether to hold a Strategy Meeting to decide whether the Safeguarding thresholds have been met for the case being moved into Child Protection. This decision can only be taken on a case by case basis and a Section 47 commenced. Where there is sufficient evidence to show that the cumulative impact of inaction by the family is having a detrimental effect on the child(ren) and can be considered as 'significant harm or likelihood of it', then the option of calling a Strategy Meeting must be considered.

Section Five: Case Transfer and Closure

9. Transfer of Cases

9.1 The Referral and Assessment Team will complete Child and Family Assessments within 35 days. If the Assessment recommends continued support and services to the child, a Child in Need meeting should be convened.
9.2 Those cases identified as a child in need and requiring continued support at tier 3 or 4 should be considered for transfer to the appropriate team (either Family Support or CWDs if the child is disabled). If a transfer is being considered, the receiving team manager should be advised of the date and venue of the meeting in advance and asked to attend to enable smooth transfer of the case.
9.3 If the assessment concludes that there is no role for Children's Social Care, then consideration should be given to whether there is a role for family intervention through the Early Intervention Service. In this case, the Social Worker carrying out the assessment should discuss with the family the option of using the Common Assessment Framework to provide appropriate support and the case should be referred to the MASG. It is essential that the Social Worker seeks consent (and clearly records this) as part of the Assessment process to share the information from the Assessment with the Early Intervention Service and to progress the case under the common assessment framework.
9.4 All cases due for transfer will be agreed and confirmed at weekly allocation meetings. These will be held weekly. Referral and Assessment are responsible for timetabling these and team managers are responsible for ensuring attendance. Meetings will always include managers from Referral and Assessment team and Family Support Team. CiC and CWDs representatives should attend alternate meetings as scheduled. These meetings will consider case transfers to any other teams (refer to Transfer Guidance).
9.5 The Transfer Protocol must be adhered to including the transfer from Referral and Assessment to Family Support which should happen within 7 days of the completion of the Assessment (unless there is agreement that the case will be closed by Referral and Assessment after a short focused piece of work with the family), at the first CIN Meeting, the first CiC Review Meeting or the first Core Group Meeting (whichever route is taken).
9.6 R&A managers will alert the FST managers in advance about cases for transfer. This should initially be done by e-mail with follow-up telephone calls if required.
9.7 The R&A Social Worker and the Social Worker who is allocated from the receiving team should undertake a joint visit to the family and will both attend the Initial Child in Need Planning Meeting.
9.8 Additionally, where a Social Worker is leaving the case (e.g. if they are leaving the authority or the case is being handed over to a new Social Worker, both Social Workers should undertake a joint visit).
9.9 Transfer summaries must be informative and include important dates and urgent things that may need following up on. The case should be viewed electronically to ensure everything is up to date including chronologies and verified by the Team Manager.

10. Process for the Closure of Cases


Before the Case is Closed

10.1 Consultation must take place with the other agencies involved and a joint decision reached that the case may be closed. This will ensure clarity in decision making and be helpful for other agencies to understand why the case is closed to Children's Services. It does not mean that all services with other agencies will cease, as there may well be work being done by Health, Education or a Voluntary Agency Partner. It will demonstrate closer working with the other agencies involved in the case. In these cases, de-escalation to manage the case through a CAF may be appropriate and the case should be referred to the MASG in order to allocate a lead professional.
10.2 All cases to be 'stepped-down' from Children's Social Care to a CAF should follow the practice guidance in Step down from Children's Social Care to CAF / TAC by taking the case to the appropriate panel to make the decision.
10.3 If the children/ young people are subjects of CIN or a CP Plan, the decision should be made to close the case within a Child in Need meeting or Child Protection Conference attended by the relevant professionals and wherever possible the child and family. If the child and/or family are unable to attend, consultation must take place between the Social Worker the child and the family to discuss the issues around closure.
10.4 Where there is a step down from CP to CIN, the chair must draft an initial CIN plan with the family at the meeting where it is agreed to step down to CIN for agreement at the first CIN review meeting. The CIN meeting must take place within 10 days of the decision to de-escalate.

This decision should be documented in the minutes of the meeting and sent to all partners detailing:

  • The date of the decision;
  • Why the decision was taken;
  • Who the decision was taken by.
10.6 The minutes will be held on the child's file within Liquidlogic. Any dissent from the decision to close should be noted including disagreement from the family and/or child(ren).


Disagreement by Other Agencies with the Decision to Close a Case

10.7 If other agencies disagree with the decision to close the case a meeting should be set up to discuss the issues. It is preferable that the issues could be resolved without the need for a meeting; however, it may be more practical for a multi-agency meeting to be established to ensure clarity and for each agency to voice their concerns. This meeting should be minuted and copies sent to each of the agencies involved with providing services for the child(ren) and family.
10.8 Having met to discuss possible disagreement to close a case it may well be that there could still be disagreement following the meeting. The team manager responsible for the case may still decide to close even though there is disagreement. In such a case the disagreeing party should be advised to put their disagreement in writing so this can be documented on the case file. Equally the team manager should write to the party in disagreement to acknowledge their views.


Once it is agreed that the case is to be closed


The Social Worker will ensure that:

  • All fields have been correctly filled in on Liquidlogic including Date of Birth, Involvements, Relationships and Ethnicity;
  • A closing summary is completed;
  • The chronology is up to date (including the decision to close the case, who was involved and when the decision was made);
  • A letter is sent to the family informing them of the closure of the case, when the decision was made, why the decision was made and what the outcome was of the case;
  • Check to ensure that a copy of the Access to Files leaflet was sent along with the Comments, Compliments and Complaints leaflet at the time of the initial appointment for the IA. If it was not sent, ensure that at this point it is sent out.
Note: The Service User Feedback survey should be sent out at the same time that the completed Assessment is sent out.

The Social Worker's manager / supervisor will:

  • Read and sign the closing summary;
  • Audit the file electronically on Liquidlogic;
  • Send alert to the named admin to close the case on Liquidlogic check that all outcomes are correctly recorded in the following areas: referral, reviews, provisions, services, plans, needs, assessments, registrations, legal status, child protection and that all involvements including Key Worker and Key Teams have been ended and with the reasons why;
  • Pass the file to the team administrators to have the files prepared for archiving - details of where the paper file is to be stored should be logged on the appropriate tab in.

Conference and Review Service will:

  • Scan and attach any additional paperwork in addition to that which is routinely sent during the course of a child protection case to the child's electronic file. Once scanned into the system and stored appropriately the paperwork may be confidentially destroyed. CRS should notify the child's Social Worker that the additional paperwork has been attached to the file.


The Step down process from Children's Social Care to CAF / TAC

10.12 It is important to ensure that movement of cases between Children's Social Care and the CAF environment is properly managed. The flow chart below details the "Step Down" processes. See Step Down from Children's Social Care to CAF / TAC for further details.
  De-escalation from Referral and Assessment to CAF / TAC
  De-escalation from Children's Social Care to CAF / TAC
  Figure 2: Stepping down from Children's Social Care to CAF / TAC

Appendix 1: Considerations of whether Harm is Significant

To understand and establish significant harm, it is necessary to consider:

  • The nature of harm, in terms of maltreatment or failure to provide adequate care;
  • The impact on the child's health and development;
  • The child's development within the context of their family and the wider environment;
  • Any needs as a result of the child's medical condition, physical or mental impairment that may affect the child's development and care within the family;
  • The capacity of the parents to meet adequately the child's needs; and
  • The wider and environmental family context;
  • Whether there is a proven person posing a risk to children living in the house or having contact with child/ren and the likely implications of this.

Consideration of whether harm is significant should therefore include:

  • Accuracy of what has been alleged/reported;
  • Impact on this particular child - evident now or probable given research studies/ information available regarding children in similar situations - taking into account:
    • Whether what has been done to, or omitted regarding a child's care form a 'pattern' of behaviour towards this child - or was it a one off and is it likely that it will recur or not?
    • Severity of abuse/impact - and how the child may have reacted / changed as a result;
    • The overall wellbeing and/or robustness of the child;
    • Specific vulnerabilities of the child stemming from young age or impairment;
    • The views of the child.
  • The context in which the act or omission occurred - is all the available past information available and does any still need to be sought - how important might missing information be?
  • Causal link to parents/carers against what would have been reasonable/is reasonable to expect of any parents in relation to this child and its needs (with or without provision of services);
  • Parental reaction - both immediately and in the long term;
  • What protective/positive factors or individuals (e.g. extended family) are there?
  • What engagement with professionals in recognition of the need for change is there? What acceptance of responsibility / what insight /what capacity and what motivation for changing and sustaining change is there? Are the causes of problems identified and needs established so that clear targets for parents and agencies can be set and linked to clear outcome expectations?

Appendix 2: Deciding when to refer

Click here to view Appendix 2: Deciding when to refer.

Appendix 3: Resources and Weblinks