SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter does not apply to children who are the subject of a Child Protection Plan. However, there is some guidance contained within this chapter around statutory visits which include Child Protection, Children in our Care and Child in Need visits. 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. Please see the Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Lancashire Children's Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP) Procedures, Developing the Child Protection Plan in relation to the implementation of the Child Protection Plan.
For children who are in receipt of Short Breaks, see also the Short Breaks Procedure.
In November 2021, minor amendments were made throughout in line with local practice.
- Children in Need
- Child in Need (Support) Plans
- Child in Need Planning & Review Meetings
- Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND)
- Child in Need/Statutory Visits – Guidance for Recording
1. Children in Need
Statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children sets out:
A child in need is defined under the Children Act 1989 as a child who is unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable level of health or development, or whose health and development is likely to be significantly or further impaired, without the provision of services; or a child who is disabled. Children in need may be assessed under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, in relation to their special educational needs, disabilities, as a carer, or because they have committed a crime.
To determine whether a child is 'in need' according to the above definition a Child & Family assessment will need to be carried out by a qualified social worker. For assessing children in need, see Assessments Procedure.
For assessing Children in need who are disabled, see Children and Young People Aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure.
If the Child & Family assessment concludes that the child is 'in need' and requires a statutory social work service the social worker should develop a multi-agency Child in Need Support plan with the family.
2. Child in Need (Support) Plans
A Child in Need Plan must be co-produced with the family and not solely by the social worker and professionals. The plan should be developed in a Child in Need Planning Meeting or at a Child Protection Conference if one has been held. The social worker and professionals should assist the family to explore strengths, needs, and what support will help them to make changes required to improve outcomes for the whole family.
A good plan will be clear and specific about:
- Strengths – what is working well that can be built on to increase support around the child and family;
- What we are trying to achieve;
- What family /professionals identify as the family's needs (this can be parent/carer or young person's needs), how and who will support and how we will know when this has been achieved;
- Ensuring the changes being sought are realistic and achievable;
- Who in the family can help support and motivate the parents/carers/family to make the necessary changes and what will they do;
- What support/services are needed to help the family achieve the changes;
- Who will do what, by when, setting out clear timescales for action (that are realistic and achievable), change to be achieved and review of the plan;
- How we will know when we have achieved those outcomes, how will the child's experience look different, how will we measure it;
- Should include frequency of minimum visits to the child.
3. Child in Need Planning & Review Meetings
The Initial Child in Need Planning Meeting
Child in Need Planning Meetings will follow an Assessment where the assessment has concluded that a family would benefit from support to meet the child's needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989. Parent/carer must consent to support.
The Planning Meeting provides an opportunity for a child and their parents/carers, together with key agencies, to identify and agree in a collaborative way the actions and support needed to achieve the changes everyone has agreed for the child(ren) and family. This is captured by the social worker in the Child in Need Plan.
All Child in Need Planning Meetings should be attended by the child (depending on age and understanding) or an advocate, or their views and opinions sought and presented through other formats such as MOMO app. Parents/carers and those agencies whose potential/actual contribution and support is recommended as an outcome of an assessment.
The 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. The social worker is responsible for convening the meeting invitations. The first meeting should take place within 10 days of the completion of the Child & Family assessment. The initial Child in Need Planning Meeting should be chaired by a manager.
It will be important that an appropriate venue suitable for the child and their family are used for the meeting. Consideration must be given to transport, timing and any childcare issues. Where a child is attending a meeting and is of school age the meeting should be held outside of school time, wherever possible.
Notes of the meeting will be taken by the Chair. This record will be copied to those involved, including the child and parent/s, who will need to sign their agreement.
It must always be remembered that Child in Need support is with consent from the parent or guardian.
Child in Need Review Meetings
Reviews will be conducted at intervals agreed with the social worker, which will be at least every 3 months, unless there are exceptional circumstances when timescales can be longer. For children with disabilities, whose circumstances remain consistent, the maximum duration between reviews would usually be 6 months / 26 weeks but in some circumstances, it may be appropriate for a longer period to occur between reviews.
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 Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Lancashire Children's Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP) Procedures.
The Review will usually be chaired by the social worker, who should invite or seek the views of the child, parents and any service providers. The social worker will administer all Child in Need Reviews.
The Review will generally take place within a meeting, unless the social worker agrees otherwise. The review will be chaired by a qualified social worker or manager. In collaboration with the child(ren), family and professionals, the purpose of the Review is to:
- Monitor the progress of the plan;
- Share information between family and professionals all on any changes and significant events;
- Ensure that the tasks are being completed within the timescales set;
- Acknowledge progress and steps towards reaching the outcomes;
- Review the outcomes and make necessary adjustments to the plan;
- Consider whether or not the child continues to be 'in need' and review that the services provided are explore changes or any other services required;
- If the child's circumstances have not improved and/or have deteriorated, then consideration must be given to whether there is risk of Significant Harm, resulting in the need for a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and possible Section 47 Enquiry;
- Agree next steps.
Where it is proposed that a complex package of support being provided under a Child in Need Plan should continue beyond 8 months there should be a specific review chaired by the team manager of the responsible team. 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 a service in relation to a disability.
All decisions made should be recorded on the child's electronic record, together with reasons, and dated.
A copy of the record should be sent to the child (if old enough), parent and all other participants in the Review process.
The outcome of a Review will be one of the following:
- That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Social Care Services 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;
- 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;
- 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 the core document capturing the aims and actions for family and professionals the Child in Need Plan should be updated frequently and least at each Review. Any updated Child in Need Plan should be circulated to the child(ren), parents, and other agencies/professionals involved in providing the services set out in the amended Plan, including any new services to be provided.
4. Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND)
The Inclusion Team work with children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
The Inclusion Teams work with complexity in relation to special educational needs and disability (SEND), which includes health and medical needs and has to be considered in the context of the child/young person's needs and the additional caring demands of these needs on parents/carers.
4.1 Allocation of SEND Child in Need to a Field Work Support Officer (Non-Qualified Worker)
The following will be considered when allocating a case to a SEND Field Work Support Officer:
- Children/young people who are considered Children in Need under Section 17, Children Act 1989 solely through having a disability;
- The child/young person has a minimal package of support from social care (and other professionals);
- Stability of child/young person's condition;
- Level of need/risk;
- Families who wish to have support with a minimal level of intervention from the local authority.
Where the child / young person's needs require an updated assessment following a package of support being in place for a period of time, the assessment will be allocated to a Social Worker to undertake with the Fieldwork Support Officer remaining involved with the family.
As part of case management processes, where a child/young person's needs or circumstances change, consideration would be given to whether a Social Worker needs to be the allocated worker and take overall responsibility for the child/young person. All child protection enquiries are allocated to a Social Worker.
4.2 Allocation of a SEND Child in Need to a Qualified Social Worker
The following will be factors which determine allocation to a Social Worker:
- The child/young person has a significant health need;
- The child/young person has a life-limiting/degenerative or unstable condition;
- Extensive packages of support are in place from social care and health;
- The child/young person has extensive specialist equipment needs;
- The needs of the child/young person place significant demands on parent/carers;
- High risk indicators and underlying risk factors;
- Significant parental needs including learning disability, health conditions, mental health needs, substance misuse issues;
- Young people who need extensive and early transition planning;
- Significant number of professionals involved in supporting the child/young person.
5. Child in Need/Statutory Visits – Guidance for Recording
Child in Need and Child Protection visits are an essential part of what we do. They give us an opportunity to see children in their home environment with the people who care for them. The exact visit pattern is clarified within the Child in Need meeting or Child Protection conference. However, a minimum of a visit every four weeks is required.
One of the main purposes of these visits is speak to the children on their own, gain their views and co-produce plans and support with them as well as reviewing the progress of the child in need / child protection plan with them. This is NOT the same as reviewing it in a CiN review or core group; it should be a natural/age appropriate conversation that is thoughtfully recorded.
NOTE: Remember to put the date and time of the visit on LCS and tick who was seen / seen alone / bedroom seen.
Guidance for what to explore, observe and record on LCS
- Who is in the house during the visit?
- Is anyone missing? (Don't forget about children's Dad's or Mother's partners);
- Are the family welcoming/hostile?
- What are the family members doing on arrival?
- What are the children wearing?
- Anything unusual that strikes you on arrival?
- Make sure you are clear who everyone is, both during the visit and when you record it. It's fine to use first names if they are the immediate family you are working with but be clear who additional people are by stating their name and role for example, stating that Sally is maternal Nan.
Sarah welcomed me in. She was at home with Luke and Charlotte. Charlotte was playing with her teddies in the living room and Luke was upstairs playing on his computer. Sarah shouted up to Luke and asked him to come downstairs when he finished his game. Dad was not at home today as he had gone to see his brother. This is where you 'say what you see'.
Wishes, feelings, opinions and observations of the child / young person
This is where you record your discussion and/or observation with the child or young person.
- Can the child verbalise their wishes, feelings & opinions? NO – observe them and record what you see:
- Where was the child when you observed them?
- Any new incidents or injuries?
- Are they happy, calm, content or distressed? Evidence this i.e. they were smiling?
- Are they doing something that shows they are meeting their developmental milestones (burbling, crawling, sitting up)?
- Are their parent/carers responding to their needs?
- Can the child verbalise their wishes, feelings & opinions? YES – talk to them and record what they say:
- Use this time in the visit to get to know the child a bit better;
- Where did you speak to the child / young person? If in their bedroom you may wish to describe it;
- Have you completed an activity or piece of direct work with them? Attach it and discuss it;
- Have you had a conversation with them? Record it. What did they talk about? What makes them happy? What is going well for them at the moment? Is anything worrying them?
- If they are on a plan because of emotional harm due to domestic violence the aim of the visit is to see if this harm is reducing or increasing. Talk to them in a way that is appropriate for their age and understanding about their family / arguments / violence / their feelings. If you don't talk to the children about the issues that are impacting them – how will you know that the harm has reduced?
- Also record the other things that you talked about; the 'normal life' things that show the child for who they are as well as why we are working with them;
- If it makes it easier – add sub-headings for the things you talked to the child about.
Example of a two children who cannot verbalise their wishes & feelings (aged 22 months and 8 weeks):
Both children were clean and well-presented. Sam was in a grey baby grow and Lucy was in leggings and a flowery t-shirt. Sam was calm and settled and took a bottle really well. Lucy was passing me items/toys and said "there you go" on a couple of occasions. She was interested in Sam and was gentle with him, despite touching his head when her Mum told her not to! I had no concerns regarding either of the children during the visit today and Mum responded to both of the children appropriately.
Example of a child who can verbalise their wishes & feelings (aged 12):
Family Life – Reece's computer game froze so he restarted it and didn't want to come down to see me. He was happy for me to go up and see him however. He was sat on his Mum's bed in his school uniform playing football. Whilst Reece is a Liverpool Supporter he was playing with Man City as they had the money! Reece and I talked about contact with his Dad. He said it is good; he didn't elaborate and when I asked what he had done with his Dad he said "not much". Reece told me that his relationship with his Mum is good. They had a little argument yesterday as he didn't tidy his room when asked. They dealt with this though and Reece said it was only a little argument and there was no drama! Reece has no alcohol worries regarding his Mum or Dad.
School - Reece continues to be in trouble for various things at school. Reece said he doesn't want to be in trouble but is finding it hard to behave. He is talking and messing about when he should be working. School are using sanctions to try and reduce these issues and Reece didn't feel that he needed any additional support for school or his behaviour at the present time.
I told Reece I would see him again in about 5 weeks and if all is going well this is likely to be my last visit with him. He was happy with this and is aware that he can ask me to visit earlier if he wants me to. As it was the last visit I asked Reece to let me play football with him next time I come - and he laughed!
Discussion with Parents/Carers as part of the statutory visit
This is where you record your discussion with the parents/carers.
- Remember the aim of the visit is to see how the plan is supporting the needs of the child. Whilst you can talk about 'normal life' ensure the conversation with the parents helps you in your analysis of progress of the plan;
- Are family members working on actions they have committed to? Have they attended relevant appointments / support groups? How are they helping?
- Has anything happened that the parents are worried about since you last spoke?
- What do the parents feel need to change in the family to help the child?
- If it makes it easier – use sub-headings when you record to help you see the progress of the plan.
Police involvement – Emma was upset because she has received a letter from the police stating that John has been given a Dispersal Notice and told he is not allowed in the area at certain times. Emma did not understand this and gave consent for me to speak to the police regarding this. As far as she is aware however, John has not been in trouble with the police on any further occasions but remains on bail until later this month.
Guidance & Boundaries - Emma told me that John's behaviour at home has been better. He is getting on really well with his sister's boyfriend, Luke Smyth (03.09.1997). He was previously looked after and has been giving advice to John and supporting him and appears to be having a good influence on John. John has not seen his father for a bit as he is back in Nottingham for a trial on an old offence related to a robbery.
Mentoring – Emma has not yet heard from MALS and I advised I would chase this up for her. Emma feels that this would be a good support for John to help him get out and about more and involved in positive activities.
What are the concerns/risks or protective factors identified in the visit?
This is where you record anything that you noted during the visit that is a concern/risk or protective factor.
- This may be something linked to the plan or something new;
- Did the child disclose something that concerned you?
- Did a parent describe an incident to which they responded positively to?
- If there is nothing new that you noted it is ok to record this, for example: "There were no new/specific risks or protective factors identified during this visit".
It is important that Mum remains aware of concerns and issues of domestic violence as she may be embarking on a new relationship. Mum continues to have support from domestic violence service and Family Support Services and they will be able to offer guidance and support at this time.
A protective factor is that Anthony and his Mum had an argument but they were able to resolve this themselves in a way that no-one was worried about it.
Analysis/Progress of the plan
This is where you analyse the information.
- Was this a positive visit or a concerning visit? Why?
- What does the information gathered today tell you about the child?
- What does the information gathered today tell you about the parents/carers?
- What does the information gathered today tell you about the progress of the plan? Is it working?
This visit was a positive visit. Mum has attended her mental health assessment and is willing to work with the team on a weekly basis. Tom was happy today and seemed relaxed in his Mum's care. He told me that he is happy at home and I had no concerns during this visit. The plan continues to progress and it is important that Mum now attends her mental health meetings to ensure that progress continues.
This is where you record specific actions that need to be undertaken as a result of this visit. Remember the more collaborative this is the better.
- What did you agree to do?
- What did the parents / carers agree to do?
- What did the child agree to do?
- What are the timescales for this?
- Mum to attend mental health appointment on Monday;
- Social Worker to phone police for update on investigation by Wed 3rd March;
- Next CiN / CP visit booked for Thursday 17th March at 4pm.