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 Looked After 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 Pan Lancashire Policy and Procedures for Safeguarding Children Manual, 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 April 2017, Section 4, Child in Need/Statutory Visits – Guidance for Recording was added.
- Child in Need Planning Meetings
- Child in Need Plans
- Reviews of Child in Need Plans
- Child in Need/Statutory Visits – Guidance for Recording
1. Child in Need Planning Meetings
Child in Need Planning Meetings will follow an 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.
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.
All Child in Need Planning Meetings should be attended by the child (depending on age and understanding), parents/carers and those agencies whose potential/actual contribution is recommended as an outcome of an assessment.
The relevant 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 Planning Meeting will usually be chaired by the worker's line manager or direct report.
The social worker is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations.
A note 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.
2. Child in Need Plans
A Child in Need Plan will be developed in a Child in Need Planning Meeting.
Most Child in Need Plans will envisage that Children's Services intervention will end within 6 months. However, some children and families may require longer term support, for example children with disabilities.
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 time-scale 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;
- Include timescales that are not too short or unachievable;
- Not be dependent on resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
- Identify the Lead Professional and his or her responsibilities, including frequency of visits to the child;
- 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. However, Child in Need visits should be undertaken to a family every four weeks as a minimum (exceptions: see Children and Young People Aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure and Direct Payments Procedure);
- Lay down points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged.
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 (if old enough) and the agencies or other professionals involved in the provision of services under the Plan.
The Lead Professional 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.
3. Reviews of Child in Need Plans
Reviews will be conducted at intervals agreed with the Lead Professional's line manager, which will be at least every three 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 Pan Lancashire Policy and Procedures for Safeguarding Children Manual.
The Review will usually be carried out by the Lead Professional, who should invite or seek the views of the child, parents and any service providers. The responsible team will administer all Child in Need Reviews.
The Review will generally take place within a meeting, unless the manager agrees otherwise. The Lead Professional or line manager will usually chair the meeting. If the case is not allocated, the manager of the responsible team must undertake the review or arrange for it to be undertaken on his/her behalf.
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.
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.
Where the outcome of the Review is an amendment to the Child in Need Plan, the Lead Professional 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.
4. 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 and review 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 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? 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? 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 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 reducing the risk / meeting 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.
- 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 underlying risk indicators/high risk factors and/or protective factors identified in the visit?
This is where you record anything that you noted during the visit that is a risk or protective factor.
- This may be something linked to the plan or something new;
- Did the child disclose something that concerned you?
- Did Mum talk about an incident to which she responded appropriately?
- 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 & 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.
- 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.