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3.2.1 Child in Need, Visits, Plans and Reviews

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter does not apply to children who are the subject of a Child Protection Plan. Where the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan, this will be drawn up in outline at the Initial Child Protection Conference and in detail at the Core Group meeting(s). It will be reviewed by a Child Protection Review Conference. Where resources are required to support a Child in Need Plan the necessary budget holder approval must be sought (for details of delegated authority see Scheme of Delegation to Officers Procedure). Where significant resource allocation is proposed this must be agreed by the Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel (H.A.R.P) (see Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel (H.A.R.P) and Delegated Authority for Resource Agreement Procedure). This chapter does apply to children who are subject of a Supervision Order.

This should be implemented in Safeguarding Teams (Assessment, Family Safeguarding, and Children Looked After (CLA)) and Targeted Youth Support Teams (TYS). The volume of work and different levels of intervention in the 0-25 Together Service necessitate slightly different pathways but the same principles of risk assessment and proactive case management will apply. TYS has a slightly different structure to the Family Safeguarding Teams, and will need to ensure that cases are directly managed by Team Managers.

See Step Up/Step Down Process and Transfer Protocol. A child will usually have a service from Specialist and Safeguarding Services as a Child in Need for at least three months after the ceasing of his/her Child Protection Plan.

Refer to The Voice of the Child and Family to always seek feedback from service users.

AMENDMENT

In March 2017, a new Section 2, Written Agreements, was added to this chapter including links to the associated form and guidance.


Contents

  1. Child in Need Planning Meetings
  2. Written Agreements
  3. Child in Need Plans
  4. Reviews of Child in Need Plans
  5. Supervision Orders
  6. Visits to Children in Need
  7. Disabled Children and Children in Need Process
  8. Management Arrangements for Children In Need Services
  9. Children in Need Flowchart


1. Child in Need Planning Meetings

Child in Need Planning Meetings will follow a Child and Family Assessment where the assessment has concluded that a package of family support is required to meet the child's needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989. Planning Meetings should be held for children with complex needs and particularly those at risk of s47 enquiries and / or becoming looked after.

The Planning Meeting provides an opportunity for a child and his or her parents/carers, together with key agencies, to identify and agree the package of services required and to develop the Child in Need Plan.

This needs to clearly explain the parents’ individual responsibilities in terms of meeting the Plan’s targets, and the expectations in relation to their co-operation and behaviour.

All Child in Need Planning Meetings should be attended by the child (depending on age and understanding), parents/carers, other family members / support network as appropriate, and those agencies whose potential/actual contribution is recommended as an outcome of an assessment. If the child does not wish to attend or it is not considered appropriate, the reasons for this should be recorded. The Social Worker must ensure that the child’s views are given to the meeting in a format acceptable to the child e.g. drawing, written, verbal.

If the child is subject of Care Proceedings, the Children’s Guardian must be invited, and copies of minutes and plans distributed to him/her.

The child's social worker should discuss potential attendees for the Planning Meeting with the child and the parents/carers prior to arrangements being made for the meeting.

It will be important that an appropriate venue suitable for the child and his or her family are used for the meeting. Consideration must be given to transport, timing and any child care issues. Where a child is attending a meeting and is of school age the meeting should be held outside of school time, wherever possible.

The first meeting will be arranged and chaired by the Team Manager of the Children’s Safeguarding & Specialist Services (CS&SS) Team which has carried out the most recent assessment. This is likely to be the Assessment Team who can also use this meeting to handover to a Social Worker from the Family Safeguarding Team where longer term work is indicated, or to step down to other professionals.

The child's social worker is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations.

A note of the meeting will be taken by the Chair, recording the general areas of discussion, and the decisions and recommendations made, using the relevant LCS CiN planning or review forms (there is no need for separate minutes). These forms must be signed off by the Chair and the family as soon as possible, and distributed to all participants. Click here for LCS Guidance.

The meeting should be chaired by the Consultant Social Worker (CSW) or Team Manager. Equality and diversity issues and how the child’s need will be met in these areas should be explicitly address as part of the meeting’s agenda.


2. Written Agreements

Written Agreements should only be used as an exception in the assessment service where there is no CIN or CP plan in place or when an emergency situation arises in a CIN or CP case in Family Safeguarding 0-25 Together Service where a written agreement is required to ensure that the primary carer understands the expectations and their responsibilities to keep the child/ren safe in the absence of a plan or review of a plan.

See Written Agreements Guidance and Written Agreement Form.


3. Child in Need Plans

All children identified as a child in need following a Child and Family Assessment, and who are provided with/require ongoing services coordinated by CS&SS, will have a Child in Need Plan. A Child in Need Plan may be developed in a Child in Need Planning Meeting where appropriate, in line with Section 1, Child in Need Planning Meetings.

Most Child in Need Plans will envisage that Children's Safeguarding & Specialist Services intervention will be time limited. However, some children and families may require longer term support, for example disabled children.

The Child in Need Plan must identify any resources or services that will be needed to achieve the planned outcomes within the agreed timescales, who is responsible for which action and the time-scale involved. If resources have to be outsourced/financed it may be necessary to go to Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel (H.A.R.P) (see Hertfordshire Access to Resources Panel (H.A.R.P) and Delegated Authority for Resource Agreement Procedure) for a funding agreement.

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, taking into account the 5 Every Child Matters outcomes;
  • Include realistic strategies and specific actions to achieve the planned outcomes;
  • Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of professionals and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by professionals with children and family members;
  • Include timescales that are not too short or unachievable;
  • Lay down points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged, i.e. measures to show the impact and effectiveness of the social work interventions into the child and family life;
  • Build in a review where scarce resources are recommended which are then not available;
  • Include a contingency plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action or in the event of objectives not being met;
  • Follow the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures if there are concerns about significant harm to the child;
  • Include the views of the child and family.

The Chair of the Child in Need Planning 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 (depending on age and understanding) and the agencies or other professionals involved in the provision of services under the Plan, and the Children’s Guardian if the child is subject of Care Proceedings.

The social worker will be responsible for implementing the plan including making referrals to appropriate agencies for services as described in the Plan.

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.

All Child in Need Plans must be agreed and signed off by the Team Manager. Click here for LCS Guidance.


4. Reviews of Child in Need Plans

Child in Need Plans must be reviewed by meeting  at 6 weeks of the initial plan. If there are significant changes in the family circumstances, an early review should take place.

Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of a Child in Need Plan must be responded to in line with Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures.

The first CiN Review should be chaired by the Team Manager. Subsequent meetings should be chaired by the CSW or TYS Manager, and the risk assessment of the case checked carefully. No meetings should be chaired by the Children’s Practitioner. Children’s Practitioners can hold CIN cases, but NOT Supervision Orders. Re-allocation may be required, or the application of different processes e.g. Child Protection or Step Down.

Further reviews should take place at not less than 3 monthly intervals. At 9 months, the Plan should be reviewed carefully to identify if the CIN Plan is likely to be concluded by 12 months. If this is not to be the case, then the child should be raised with the relevant PM or TYS Manager to see if Child Protection processes are required. No child should remain subject to a CIN Plan over a year in Safeguarding or TYS unless there are exceptional circumstances or see below in relation to Supervision Orders (see Section 5, Supervision Orders). If a case is open more than 18 months the meeting should be chaired by the Service Manager. Exceptions to this will be those cases where the plan acknowledges the need for longer term support, for example in relation to children who meet the criteria for the 0-25 Together Service.

At each CIN Review:

  • The child’s social worker, who should invite or seek the views of the child, parents and any service providers;
  • Equality and diversity issues and how the child’s needs will be met in these areas should be explicitly addressed as part of the meeting’s agenda;
  • The purpose is to assess whether outcomes have been achieved sufficiently to end involvement, reduce the level of input, or identify any changes in need that require addressing in a new plan.

All decisions made should be recorded on the child’s electronic record (LCS), together with reasons, and dated.

A copy of the record should be sent to the child (depending on age and understanding), parent and all other participants in the Review process within ten working days for the meeting. The Plan must be updated as required.

The outcome of a Review will be:

  1. That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring CS&S Services intervention, which will result in a recommendation to the Team Manager that the case be closed. This may include a Stepping Down for further services - see Step Up/Step Down Process and Transfer Protocol. The child’s social worker must ensure that a lead professional takes responsibility before the case is closed;
  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 s/he requires additional services to safeguard and promote his or her welfare such as to justify a Child and Family Assessment;
  4. 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. Follow the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures if there are concerns about significant harm to the child.

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 (depending on age and understanding), parents, and other agencies/professionals involved in providing the services set out in the amended Plan, including any new services to be provided. Click here for LCS Guidance. Also to the Children’s Guardian if the child is subject of Care Proceedings.


5. Supervision Orders

See East of England Joint Protocol on Supervision Orders.

Children who are subject of a Supervision Order are Children in Need and the processes in this chapter; applies. The initial agreement should be drawn up as part of the court proceedings and should identify who should make the child available to the social worker, and how often and where the social worker should meet the child. There are likely to be other child specific parts of the agreement. The agreement should inform the Child in Need Plan. A Review of the Child in Need Plan should be held at least 6 weeks later, and at least three months thereafter as with other CiN processes. At a Child In Need Review held at about nine months a decision must be made whether to seek an extension of the Supervision Order to three years, or to allow it to lapse.

Legal advice should be sought in this decision making process and consideration given to a renewed application for Care Orders if appropriate. The actual usefulness of an extended Supervision Order should be considered in terms of the intervention into the family.

Children in Need who are subject to a Supervision Order will be allocated within the Family Safeguarding Teams or 0-25 Together Service.


6. Visits to Children in Need

All children who are worked with as Children in Need under s17 (Children Act 1989) will be visited with a minimum frequency of 6 weekly. This brings visiting frequency in line with the minimum required for a child subject to a child protection plan. However, the frequency of visits should be dependent upon the needs of the child and family and will be more frequent with children just removed from child protection plans, for example.

When planning visits the following needs to be considered:

  • The frequency of visits is determined at the initial Child in Need meeting, where the plan is determined and reviewed at subsequent CiN review meetings;
  • Visits must involve seeing the child alone (i.e. without the main parent or carer);
  • Visits can be both announced and unannounced;
  • Visits should have a defined purpose and impact and outcomes should be recorded on LCS after each visit.


7. Disabled Children and Children in Need Process

See the 0-25 Together Service Procedure.


8. Management Arrangements for Children In Need Service

CIN cases in the Family Safeguarding Teams are the responsibility of the Consultant Social Worker with the lead for CIN across a group of Family Safeguarding Teams. This may include up to 30 cases. (This scope of responsibility will remain subject to regular review). The CSW is not the allocated worker or necessarily the supervisor of the allocated worker. It is his or her responsibility to maintain oversight of the cases, and to conduct the reviews. In some circumstances, it may be appropriate for the PM to retain direct responsibility for a case (e.g. a very high risk Supervision Order), and this should be considered on a case by case basis. In TYS, the responsibility for all this work will sit with the relevant Team Manager. The TYS Manager should ensure that the case recording transfers from IES to LCS, as the threshold has been met for social care intervention.

CIN cases must be allocated in the Family Safeguarding or TYS Team. The decision about allocation to a QSW or PA should be made by the Team Manager in the Family Safeguarding Team, and be based on a documented risk assessment and consultation with the CSW. In TYS, the Team Manager will carry out the same assessment, and ensure that the casework is recorded appropriately on LCS.

The allocation of each child who is a full-time or part-time member of a household to the same caseworker should always be considered. When household members are allocated to different caseworkers the respective social workers must keep themselves aware of the care plans for each child so that these are consistent and the work is well coordinated.

The CSW or TYS Manager should keep a spreadsheet of all the CIN cases, and discuss patterns and trends in relation to the work, as well as concerns about individual cases. Information collected should include:

  • Number of cases per Team (% of overall work);
  • Number of Supervision Orders;
  • Demographic information, especially in relation to ethnicity, age and gender;
  • Nature of CS involvement e.g. neglect/ domestic abuse;
  • Parental Issues e.g. MH problems; drug and alcohol; LDs;
  • Areas of unmet need in terms of resources;
  • Length of intervention;
  • Outcome;
  • Multi-agency involvement.


9. Children in Need Flowchart

Click to view the Children in Need Flowchart.

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