Planning and Review

1. Principles of Planning

Children receiving a service / intervention from Children's Social Care will normally be the subject of a Children's Plan. This can be either a Children in Need (CIN) Plan or a Child Protection (CP) Plan.

Plans will usually be based upon a Child & Family Assessment (C&F Assessment), as either a new referral or a 'refresh' of a previous assessment. At the start of the Child in Need process, the social worker's manager will provide case direction, recorded within the case transfer record, to give structure to the early work whilst the assessment is completed. New Child Protection Plans are agreed at the Initial Child Protection Conference.

In some circumstances it may quickly become evident that brief intervention would address / resolve the presenting concern such that the case could be closed without a C&F Assessment or CIN planning. This must be specifically agreed by the worker's line manager before case closure and this management oversight evidenced through a case note on the child's file.

A child who is the subject of a Supervision Order will receive regular multi-agency monitoring and Child in Need planning as with any other child under Section 17 (unless the subject of a CP Plan).

For any type of plan, social workers must ensure:

  • They are based on an assessment and robust understanding of each child's needs. This should always be informed by an understanding of social differences, considering a range of factors often referred to as the GGRRAAACCEEESSS (Gender, Geography, Race, Religion, Age, Abilities, Appearance, Culture, Class, Ethnicity, Education, Employment, Sexuality, Sexual Orientation and Spirituality);
  • All children and young people have clearly stated objectives to ensure their safety and to support them to gain maximum life chance benefits from education, health care and social opportunities and achieve their full potential;
  • The lead professional is identified for each family and the roles and responsibilities of other professionals are clear;
  • The planning is 'SMART' meaning that all actions are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and have clear timescales;
  • Consideration is given to factors which protect children from emotional, physical and sexual abuse and neglect as well as any risks;
  • The family's involvement in planning is actively promoted and work is undertaken in partnership with parents, children and other professionals;
  • There is a Safety Plan and contingency plans are clear; (safety plans are only used in cases where a child has a disability, or where a child is in care and there are concerns over child sexual/criminal exploitation or missing);
  • The role of, and potential support available from, the wider family and friends network is considered at every stage;
  • Child's views wishes and feelings and an understanding of their experience are captured, evidenced and inform planning;
  • Children and families understand what is happening, how they can contribute (particularly in reducing risk, addressing concerns, etc) and how decisions are made. It is also important that the social worker is clear which plans/resources are confirmed and which are subject to a decision making process such as going to a panel.

Young people should be consulted about how they might best participate in the planning processes that affect them. The following considerations have been recommended by a group of young people:

  • They should always be asked where they would like to meet such as home, school, out in the community and appointments should be made prior to visits;
  • They liked speaking to workers on their own. They did not like being sent upstairs or excluded when the worker visited parents and carers, so visit them at another time when the young person isn't there;
  • The way that their worker dressed and acted was important to them, but the most important thing is that the worker always did what they had agreed to do;
  • When preparing a child or young person for a meeting, the worker should not visit too much in advance as this made the build up to the meeting stressful - the day before the meeting was preferred;
  • Meetings could be boring as information was being repeated, however being in the meeting for half an hour and then waiting outside for two hours was worse - the young people would like the option of something to do whilst waiting for meetings to end;
  • Some of the young people would like the minutes and plans and would like their worker to go through them with them.

2. Child 'In Need' Planning Meetings

The following should be read in conjunction with the Child in Need Flowchart.

Meetings should normally be held in a venue accessible and convenient for the family with their views being sought. A child may prefer that the meeting is not held in school. The Social Worker should consider what may be needed at the meeting, for example, water, stationery for parents, suitable furniture, etc.

A senior practitioner, with the allocated Social Worker in attendance, should chair the first Child in Need meeting which should take place within 10 days of the completion and sign off of the C&F Assessment (refer to Child in Need Flowchart for full details of all timescales within this process).

Subsequent meetings will normally be chaired by the allocated Social Worker. The Social Worker and their manager (if chairing) are responsible for:

  • Ensuring the right people are invited. Parents and children / young people may bring supporters / advocates where this is helpful. This may include a solicitor by prior arrangement with the chair;
  • Considering any issues around safety or potential violence that might be directed, or threatened, towards children, parents, staff or other professionals;
  • Considering any additional needs of parents / carers and children to ensure maximum participation / engagement. These might include learning difficulties, need for an interpreter, timing of meetings (including any clash with religious festivals), etc.;
  • Planning the agenda to specifically address the key concerns and the components of the CIN Plan;
  • Taking brief, summary minutes and ensuring these are both circulated and uploaded to Liquid Logic within 10 working days;
  • Completing / updating the CIN Plan;
  • Considering the formulation of a multi-agency integrated chronology for more complex cases.

Any young person aged 12 and above should be routinely invited to be involved in the Child in Need meeting. The Social Worker should meet with them to discuss if / how they would like to participate. This could involve attending the meeting, or providing their views in a format of their choosing. If the child does not wish to be involved, the reasons given should be recorded. The views of any child below this age should be represented at the meeting by the Social Worker, having used appropriate tools to ascertain their views. In some cases, it may be appropriate to invite a younger child to part of the meeting, but care should be taken in exposing young children to adult discussions. In some cases, it may be more appropriate for another professional, such as a teacher, to ascertain their views and represent them at the meeting.

Other potential barriers to participation should be considered and addressed to ensure maximum participation e.g. language; health / disability of the parent. Additionally, any religious festivals, events or observances should be considered when scheduling meetings.

Parents / carers will always be invited (though there may be situations where it is not appropriate for both to attend) and the Social Worker should meet with them to explain the meeting's purpose and get their views regarding the plan.

Other invitees should include any professional working closely with the family who is likely to be part of the plan, with the agreement of the child and family. There is no set level for quoracy at the meeting, however the meeting must be able to achieve its objectives of formulating a plan, so information and reports should be sought from key professionals unable to attend.

All actions etc. arising from the meeting should be recorded on the Plan. Any further significant information shared at the meeting should be logged on a detailed record within Liquid Logic as should any specific differences or disagreements.

All those involved should sign and date the latest copy of the CIN Plan, or sign the signature sheet and receive their own copy of the plan within 10 working days of the plan being drawn up. Where a Plan is not to be shared with someone, for example. a violent parent, the reasons for this must be clearly recorded on a detailed record within Liquid Logic. The social worker and their manager must agree what, if any, detail can be shared with that person.

3. Review Child 'In Need' Planning Meetings

The Review CIN Meeting should involve those that were responsible for drawing up the original plan and who are still involved, along with anyone who has become involved in the meantime.

The meeting must:

  • Ensure that the plan made at the last meeting was understood / agreed and has been actioned; check that the minutes were received and are agreed by all;
  • Evaluate progress against the planned outcomes;
  • Consider the child's 'lived experience' and the impact of intervention;
  • Discuss and record the actual outcomes;
  • Re-evaluate the original concerns and needs of the child to see what progress has been made;
  • Agree and what still needs to be done;
  • Renegotiate and re-draft the working CIN Plan (clearly dating and marking the version: 2 / 3 / 4 etc.);
  • Consider what information should be added to the multi-agency integrated chronology.

The review meeting must make a clear decision, to be recorded, as to whether:

  • The child is no longer 'in need' and Children's Social Care can close the case. In this case, a new Lead Professional from the current network of support should be identified and relevant guidance followed to transfer the case on the system. In some cases, it might be appropriate to step down to a targeted Early Help service. For PCC, the Step Down guidance is available below. CCC'S Step Down Procedure is currently under review and will be added to this procedure in February 2021.

    See Guidance for Stepping-down from Children's Social Care to Early Help.
  • The child remains a Child in Need;
  • There are safeguarding concerns requiring investigation under Section 47; if the child is in need of immediate protection, the District Safeguarding Manager must be consulted immediately regarding possible legal action.

4. Key Timescales and Requirements

Arrangements for the initial Child in Need (CiN) will be held within 10 days of the sign off of the Children and Family Assessment.

  • The senior practitioner or 2 year post qualified Social Worker must chair the initial CIN meeting and the case accountable Social Worker will normally chair subsequent meetings;
  • Where the case involves 'stepping down' from a Child Protection Plan, the CIN Meeting must be held within 10 days of the CP Plan ending;
  • CIN meetings, including those for disabled children, must be held at maximum intervals of 12 weeks. The senior practitioner can authorise more frequent CIN meetings if required, on the basis of the assessment of risk, need and/or any identified issues with implementing the plan;
  • CIN visits, including those for disabled children, will take place at maximum intervals of 6 weeks, but more frequently during assessment and according to the requirements of the case. The plan will be continually discussed with the child / young person / family / carers during visits and meetings to ensure it remains effective in meeting the child's needs;
  • Where a child has Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) the Education and CIN reviews can be combined unless there is a particular reason not to. If there are particular issues that it is not appropriate to discuss in a joint review, consideration should be given to covering them immediately¬†before / after the combined meeting with the relevant people. Where the meetings are not combined the reason should be recorded on Liquid Logic;
  • Liquid Logic, meeting minutes and CIN Plans are to be recorded and distributed within ten working days and evidence that they have been sent, and to whom, recorded on the system.

Professionals Meetings

All meetings would normally involve parents, and children where appropriate. Exceptionally, where a child has complex needs it might be beneficial that these needs are reviewed by involved professionals alongside the Child In Need meetings, though parents should be kept informed and the views of the child and the parents sought and represented, as appropriate. The reason for holding such a meeting might include:

  • That meeting the needs of the child present a challenge to the services currently available and an alternative approach requires exploration;
  • It may be appropriate for professionals to deal with resource issues or professional differences without the involvement of parents;
  • That there is a recognised likelihood that the child or young person will become looked after in the short, medium or long term;
  • Where it has been recommended by senior management that a creative care package needs to be considered or additional resources should be sought from other partners.

5. Children in Need Moving to Another Area

This following applies when children who are the subject of a CIN Plan move to another local authority area. The principles also apply to children in need who move into Cambridgeshire.

  • 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 located;
  • Given the child has already been identified as having particular needs or is vulnerable in some way, consideration should be given to the impact of the proposed move on the child and whether it might increase their vulnerability;
  • The parent / carer should be reminded of their responsibility to ensure the child receives appropriate education and health support in the area they are moving to, together with any other specialist services required by the child;
  • The social worker should assist and promote the family accessing relevant and appropriate services in the new area to ensure the child's needs are met. Any gaps in services within the receiving local authority area should be noted and raised with the receiving worker;
  • The Children's Social Care Services where the child and family are moving to should be notified in writing and all relevant information should be shared:
    • Social work assessment;
    • CIN Plan;
    • Minutes of latest Child in Need Review;
    • A summary / case report.
  • Parent / carer permission should be sought to share this information with the receiving local authority in line with Information sharing: advice for safeguarding practitioners.

However, concerns about sharing information should never be a barrier where the failure to do so could result in a child or vulnerable adult being placed at risk of harm or where seeking consent might increase the risk of harm.

Otherwise, the social worker in discussion with their Team Manager, should consider seeking advice from their Caldicott Guardian or seeking agreement for a consultation with LGSS Law.

Further actions:

  • The social worker should ensure that other agencies involved in the CIN Plan are made aware of the move to ensure that relevant information is shared as soon as possible with their counterparts in the 'receiving' area;
  • The SW / TM should ensure there is clear and good communication during any transition and any risks are clearly communicated and understood by the 'receiving' authority;
  • Where there is a dispute about case responsibility, any delay in the receiving local authority accepting responsibility or a disagreement about Children in Need thresholds, the Team Manager should discuss next steps with their line manager;
  • The family should be kept informed of any respective responsibilities during a transition stage and when the receiving local authority, (where the family now reside), take full responsibility;
  • All actions, decisions and arrangements should be fully recorded on the Liquid Logic. 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;
  • The case should not be closed to Cambridgeshire until the receiving authority has taken on the case or confirmed in writing that, although the family are now living in their area, they do not intend to provide a service;
  • For children moving into Cambridgeshire, a Child in Need Meeting should normally be convened within 20 working days of the family's arrival and include all relevant agencies and, in exceptional circumstances, the social worker and other specialist staff previously involved.

6. Child Protection Conferences, Child Protection Plan and Core Groups

The following should be read in conjunction with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Partnership Board:

The recommendation to request an Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC) would normally come as an outcome from a s47 investigation and requires the approval of the District Safeguarding / Service Manager. Requests for an ICPC are made via the ICPC request form on Liquid Logic.

Initial Child Protection Conference

An Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC) is normally convened at the end of a Section 47 Enquiry when the child is assessed as either having suffered Significant Harm or is thought to be at risk of ongoing significant harm.

The social worker must prepare a report for the conference and ensure this is shared in person with parents at least 24 hours before the Initial Child Protection Conference.

The Initial Child Protection Conference must be held within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion, or the Strategy Discussion which initiated the Child Protection Enquiry if more than one has been held.

If a child or children are the subject of a CP Plan and their mother is pregnant, there may be occasions when it would be good practice to hold a combined ICPC / RCPC. Following the Section 47 enquiry, if an ICPC is required, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Pre-Birth Protocol Procedure should be followed. The ICPC should be held within 15 days of the strategy meeting and the social worker should immediately discuss with the chairperson the possibility of bringing forward the Review Conference for the other child/ren to ensure effective planning. Where this does not happen, the RCPC for the new-born would normally be arranged to coincide with the next RCPC for the older child/ren.

Child Protection Review Conference

Child Protection Review Conferences (RCPC) are convened in relation to children who are already the subject of a Child Protection Plan. The first Review Conference must be held within three months of the ICPC and then at intervals of not more than six months.

The social worker must prepare a report for the conference and ensure this is shared with parents at least 3 working days before the review conference.

The purpose of the conference is to review the safety, health and development of the child in view of the Child Protection Plan), to ensure that the child continues to be adequately safeguarded and to consider whether the Plan should continue or change or whether it can be discontinued. The multi-agency chronology should be reviewed and updated.

Participation

The full engagement of parents in conferences must be encouraged and supported. As well as sharing the contents of their report with parents before each conference, social workers must explain the role and purpose of conference, who will attend, implications and function of a Child Protection Plan, etc.

Parents should be encouraged to make arrangements for the care of younger children during the conference and, where there is a possibility of the conference running beyond the end of school, for older children to be collected.

They may wish to have someone with them as a supporter or advocate. The chair should be notified in advance where possible. Parents should be encouraged to take notes if it will help them keep track of discussions, and also to ask questions and participate fully in discussions.

Any young person aged 12 and above should be routinely invited to be involved in Child Protection Conferences that concern them. The Social Worker should meet with them to discuss if / how they would like to participate. This could involve attending the meeting, with or without a supporter / advocate, or providing their views in a format of their choosing. If the child does not wish to be involved, their reasons should be recorded. The views of any child below this age should be represented by the Social Worker. In some cases, it may be more appropriate for another professional, such as a teacher to ascertain the child's views and represent them to the conference They can be supported in attending by an advocate or can request that an advocate attends on their behalf.