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2.1 Child in Need Meetings

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter, which outlines the process for working with Children who are in Need and including Child in Need Meetings and developing the Child in Need Plan, was updated in June 2014. Section 1, Early Help and Section 2, Family Group Conference were added as examples of preventative work with families.


Contents

  1. Early Help
  2. Family Group Conference
  3. Child in Need Meetings and the Child in Need Plan


1. Early Help

Universal and Targeted Services will meet the needs of the majority of children and families. It is an expectation that where families need support, their needs should be identified and addressed through an Early Help Assessment and support provided through universal or targeted services.

Practitioners working with families can seek advice and information via a conversation with the Duty and Advice Team or the relevant Targeted Services Leaders (TSLs). The Integrated Processes team can advise about TSLs and other key contacts in clusters tel: 0113 2476830.

More information about Early Help and our approach to responding to the needs of children and families in Leeds, early in the life of the problem through Right conversations, right people, right time, is available from the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board website.

An outcome of a conversation with Duty and Advice or with a Targeted Service Leader might result in a referral to Duty and Advice. When a referral has been accepted, a Child and Family Assessment is carried out.

Following the conclusion of the Child and Family Assessment, the outcomes include:

  • Needs can be met through Universal or Targeted Services - this should be discussed with the relevant Targeted Services Leader or the Early Start service;
  • Support is required as a Child in Need under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989;
  • An Assessment under Section 47 of the Children Act is required due to concerns that the child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm.


2. Family Group Conference

Family Group Conference (FGC) work is at the heart of our restorative approach to support families where there is a safeguarding issue. It aims to help families to develop their own solutions to the difficulties they are facing.

A FGC is a decision making meeting in which a child's wider family network come together, discuss concerns and make a plan about the future arrangements for the child. Parents, children, members of the wider family and family friends are given clear information about safeguarding concerns and are asked to produce a plan that addresses those concerns.

Each FGC is co-ordinated by a specially trained FGC co-ordinator who is neutral and independent from the social work service. Most families, social workers and other professionals value this level of independence. The planning for each FGC involves the Co-ordinator spending time with each family member and preparing them for the meeting and for private time at the FGC.

Where there are safeguarding concerns about a child the expectation is this will be openly discussed, the family will be asked to address such concerns and that provided their plan adequately does so, it will be agreed by the referring team, resourced and worked with moving forward. All FGC referrals come from the Children's Social Work Service.

The priorities for the FGC service currently are unborn babies where a pre-birth assessment is being undertaken and under-fives on the edge of care, this can include children subject to Child in Need plans.


3. Child in Need Meetings and the Child in Need Plan

Following the decision that a package of family support is required to meet the child’s needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, a Child in Need plan must be developed and confirmed at a Child in Need plan meeting.

The Child in Need plan meeting is an opportunity for the child, parents / carers and other key agencies to identify and agree the most effective inter-agency services to meet assessed need and develop / update the CIN plan.

The family must be supported and encouraged to attend the meeting. Consideration should be given to involving the child and supporting their attendance. CIN meetings can take place in a variety of locations to support full attendance for the family. Thought 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. A record of attendees is maintained and the new attendance / consultation form is available from the Resources and Forms Library.

The relevant social worker should discuss potential attendees for the CIN Meeting with the child and the parents/carers prior to arrangements being made for the meeting. Parents / carers must give consent as it is a voluntary service. If consent is not obtained, consideration must be given to how the child’s needs will be best met. For example:

  • Instigate Section 47 Child Protection enquiries and potentially an initial child protection conference;
  • Meet the child’s needs via Universal or Targeted Services; and or
  • Single agency response.

It is an expectation that the child should not be subject to a Child in Need plan any longer than 12 months. The relevant Service Delivery Manager will review the case at the 9 months milestone to understand and consider:

  • What support has been provided;
  • What actions were agreed and progress achieved;
  • Why is this still a Child in Need, could the child’s needs be met through Universal or Targeted Services;
  • What are the next steps identified.

The Service Delivery Manager will provide a decision which is recorded on the child’s Mosaic case record.

Timescales and Frequency of CIN Meetings

A Child in Need initial meeting must be convened within 15 working days of a decision that the CIN meeting is required. This decision may be made during or on the completion of the Child and Family Assessment.

The frequency of subsequent CIN meetings will be determined at the initial CIN meeting. However, subsequent CIN meetings should be held at least every three months.

In the case of disabled children, the CiN meeting will take place every six months unless it is decided by the Team Manager in consultation with the team around the child that a more frequent timescale is indicated. 

Practice

Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of working with a Child in Need must be responded to in line with the West Yorkshire Consortium Procedures.

It is an expectation and a requirement that Child in Need plans are reviewed actively and the required response for the child is provided at the right time. This relies on reviews taking place within timescales and that the child is visited, seen alone and their views heard and recorded throughout the lifetime of the plan.

The frequency of visits should be:

  • Agreed with the team manager on a case-by-case basis;
  • at least once every 20 working days.

Or more frequently if indicated in the CIN plan.

Key Responsibilities

The social work team manager, AP or social worker may chair the initial CIN meeting and an agreement must be reached at this meeting regarding who will chair subsequent CIN review meetings. This would normally be the allocated social worker, however there may be occasions where it is agreed that the team manager assumes  this role.

A social work practitioner is the Lead Professional and they are responsible for the following:

  • Convening CIN meetings;
  • Arranging meeting invitations;
  • Recording agreed updates to the plan;
  • Circulation of the plan.

The Team Manager must maintain oversight of progress against the Child in Need plan through supervision and is responsible for discussing next steps with the relevant Targeted Services Leader.

The Service Delivery Manager is responsible for reviewing the case prior to the 12 month period of any Child in Need plan that has not concluded.

Key professionals are responsible for the formulation and implementation of the plan and for ensuring their services are delivered as part of the plan and for their own attendance.

Prior to the CIN Meeting

Recording on Mosaic should follow the Child in Need workflow.

Arrangements should be made to organise the meeting, book a room etc.

Three to four weeks in advance of the meeting, invitations must be sent out using the template letters available. The social work practitioner must visit the child and family to prepare for the meeting and to seek their views. This must include exploring ways in which to engage the child in the meeting and consider advocacy services if required. Separate invitation letters for professionals and family are located in the Resources and Forms Library.

If the child has communication needs, consult with parents / carer / school and consider creative methods of communication including: visual aids, toys, Boardmaker, Makaton and photographs.

If professionals are unable to attend the meeting they must update the social worker and provide a written update regarding their involvement with the family. The new attendance / consultation form is available from the Resources and Forms Library.

The Initial CIN Plan Meetings and Plan Reviews

The purpose of the initial CIN meeting is to agree and clarify the actions of the CIN plan and to challenge the plan to ensure that it is robust enough to reduce any identified risks and develop strengths. Actions must be challenged to ensure that they are SMART:

  • Specific;
  • Measurable;
  • Achievable;
  • Realistic;
  • Timed.

All actions must have identified people responsible for them. In addition, decisions and actions agreed are recorded. Planning and intervention though the CIN meeting must be underpinned by a thorough assessment and continuing evaluation and re-assessment.

In particular, the CIN plan must:

  • 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 unachievable;
  • Not be dependent on resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
  • 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;
  • Establish points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged.

The purpose of the subsequent CIN meetings is to review and monitor progress against the intended outcomes set out in the plan. In addition, at CIN review meetings, the plan must be amended and updated as required and action taken if risks escalate / de-escalate.

Following the start of the CIN plan, the second CIN meeting (first review) will be held at three months with subsequent CIN meetings held three monthly with the exception of where the child is disabled and it is decided by the team manager that the meetings can be held every six months.

All attendees should be introduced and the attendance list must be maintained. The invitee list must be reviewed and consideration given to whether anyone else should be invited including other family members or friends or other professionals.

There should be discussion, review and challenge on the progress of agreed actions. Any written information provided by professionals not at the meeting must be shared. In addition, updates to the plan must be noted and issues identified that cannot be resolved. If there is agreement for the child's needs to be met in universal or targeted services, a lead professional must be identified and agreed. If the Child in Need plan is to continue following the review, a date should be set for the next CIN meeting.

Following the CIN Meeting

The social work practitioner must update the plan within two working days and circulate the updated plan to the family, child/ren and key professionals within five working days. The updated plan must be recorded on Mosaic.

If there are any identified issues that were not able to be resolved at the meeting, these should be raised with the social work team manager.

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.

Any newly proposed invitees should be contacted and invited to the next meeting.

After the initial meeting (and again if there are any significant changes to the plan), the CIN plan must be shared with the family and signed by them. In addition the initial plan should be shared with the team manager and signed by them and again for each subsequent plan review.

Next Steps

When it is decided that social work involvement is no longer required to meet the child’s needs, the work undertaken and areas addressed should be recorded in a closing summary. This should give the reasons for the end of the plan and include the views of the professionals involved, and the views, wishes and feelings of the child / young person and their parent / carers.

Most CIN plans will envisage that Children and Families' Services intervention will end within twelve months. However, some children and families may require longer term support, for example disabled children and those with complex needs.

Decision for the child in plan to conclude should always be made in consultation with those practitioners who were part of the Child in Need plan. This should always include the Social Work Team Manager and the relevant Targeted Services Leader to clarify the next steps and identify the lead professional.

The next steps may include support being provided through Targeted Services or cluster working or may be that the child is no longer in need of services to meet their needs.

Where it is proposed that the package of support being provided under a CIN plan should continue beyond 12 months and this has been agreed by the Service Delivery Manager there should be a specific review chaired by the Social Work Team 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 children health and disability teams (CHAD).

The outcome of a CIN review meeting will be:

  1. That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Social Work Service intervention, with a recommendation for the next steps. Next steps may include support provided by Targeted Services;
  2. That the child continues to be a CIN requiring the same level of services, resulting in the continuing provision of services and minor amendment, as necessary, of the CIN 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 an update of the 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.

Recording on Mosaic

Recording on Mosaic should follow the Child in Need workflow.

The social work practitioner must record the CIN meeting on Mosaic within two working days using the CIN meeting template. This is located in the Resources and Forms Library with two good practice examples. The updated plan must be copied into the Mosaic activity directly from the completed CIN meeting template. The social work practitioner should also set up the next CIN meeting activity.

To ensure quality of recording, the social work practitioner must check that all actions have allocated responsibilities and action by dates. They should be mindful of the purpose of the recording and mindful of the potential audience for the recording (young people, families, inspectors etc).

Key discussions at the meeting can be recorded using bullet points, ensuring that significant events, areas of disagreement are recorded with a level of detail to appropriately reflect the discussion held.

The social work practitioner must record the CIN meeting on Mosaic within two working days.

The social work practitioner should also set up the next CIN meeting activity.

See Child in Need Meetings Guidance Table.

End