WSCC logo 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children’s Social Care

 

 

Policy, Procedures and

Practice Guidance

 

Final Version

August 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

1. Vision. Values and Principles

1.1 Vision

1.2Signs of Safety

1.3Principles

1.4Family Support Strategy

 

2. Contact and referrals

 

2.1                  Children’s Access Point

2.1.1       Contact Information

2.1.2       Anonymous Referrals

2.1.3       Consent

2.2                  Contacts Progressing to Referrals

2.2.1       Responding to Referrals

2.2.2       Feedback

2.2.3       Transfers and notifications from other local authorities

2.2.4       Completing the Referral

 

3. Assessments

3.1 The Principles and Parameters of a Good Assessment

3.2 Child and Family Assessment: Children in need      

3.1.1 The CFA Process

3.1.2Assessment Practice Standards

3.1.3Planning the Assessment

3.2.4Refusal to cooperate with an Assessment

3.2.5Focus on the child

3.2.6Parent/carers involvement

3.2.7Contribution of Agencies Involved with the Child and Family

3.2.8Developing a clear Signs of Safety analysis

3.2.9Assessment Outcomes

3.2.10Updating Child and Family Assessment

3.3       Children experiencing Neglect: Graded Care Profile      

3.4Families with No Recourse to Public Funds

 

4. Pre-Birth Procedures

4.1        Response to pre-birth referrals          

4.2        Pre-birth Strategy Meeting

4.3        Pre-Birth Conference

4.4        Pre-Birth Assessment

4.5        Outcome of the Pre-Birth Assessment          

4.4.2            Child in Need and Pre- birth planning meeting

4.4.3            The use of PLO with Unborn Babies

4.4.4            Actions following the birth of the child

4.4.5            Child Protection

4.4.6            Legal Planning

4.6Children Looked After who are pregnant    

5.Children in Need

5.1             Child in Need

5.2             Guiding principles and practices

5.2.1Signs of Safety

5.2.2Focus on the child

5.3             The Child and Family Plan

Visiting Requirements for Children in Need       

5.4             The Child and Family Review

5.5             Chairing a Child and Family Review

5.6             Outcomes of the Child and Family Review Meeting

5.7             Uncooperative parents

5.8             Step down from Child in Need to Early Help

 

6.Children with disabilities

6.1Definition

6.2Protection of Children with disabilities

6.3Indicators of abuse / neglect

6.4Response

6.5Referrals

6.6Child Protection

6.7Child in Need

6.8Children Looked After

6.9Services to Children with Disability

6.10Visiting Requirements for Children with disabilities

 

7. Child Protection

7.1Strategy discussions

7.2Section 47 enquiries

7.3Communicating with the Child

7.4Missing or inaccessible children

7.5Recording of Section 47 Enquiries

7.6Outcome of the S47

7.7Initial Child Protection Conference

7.8Preparing for the conference

7.9Role and Function of the Child Protection Advisor (CPA)

7.10Professional dissent from the conference decision

7.11Complaints by children and/or parents

7.12Exclusion of Family Members from a Conference

7.13Core Group

7.14Timing

7.15Formulation of Child Protection Plan

7.16The Social Worker task

7.17Visiting requirements for children on Child Protection Plans

7.18Recording visits

7.19Review Child Protection Conferences

7.20Absence of the Social Worker

7.21Practice Manager Role

7.22Child on Child Protection Plans who become subject of

Court Proceedings

7.23Step Down from Child Protection

 

8. Legal proceedings

8.1The Public Law Outline (PLO)

8.2Legal Planning Meetings

8.3Meeting Before Proceedings

8.4Legal records

8.5EPO / ICO

8.6Care Orders

8.7Ensuring the Quality of Court work

8.7Supervision Orders

8.8Length of a Supervision Order

8.9Developing a Supervision Order Plan

8.10Reviewing of a Supervision Order Plan

8.11Extending a Supervision Order

8.13Protecting the Child

8.14Closing of Children’s Social Care Involvement

8.15Private Law Proceedings

8.16Step Parent Adoption

 

9.Care Planning and Decision Making for Children on the Edge of Care

9.1Family and Friends Care

9.2Child Arrangements Orders

9.3Provision of Accommodation for 16-17 year olds who already

have a child in need or child protection plan

9.4Existing CIN/CP plan 16 –17 years old, where homelessness

becomes an issue

9.5Children Looked After Monitoring (CLAM) Panel

9.6Emergency Accommodation

9.7WSCC Fostering Emergency Support Programme (FESP)

9.8S20 Accommodation

 

10.Children Looked After

10.1Duties and Responsibilities

10.2Placements with Connected Persons

10.3Special Guardianship Orders (SGO)

10.4Long term fostering

10.5Parent and child foster care placements

10.6Placement of Children Subject to a Care Order with Parents

10.7Supervision of Placement

10.8Termination of Placements

10.9Procedures for the consideration of placing a child in

Secure accommodation

10.10Foster Placements

10.11Placement Planning Meetings

10.12Notification of Placement

10.13Placing a Child Guidance

10.14The CLA Care, Placement and Pathway Plan

10.15Children looked after and child protection plans

10.16Visiting requirements for children looked after

10.17Work with the Child

10.18Life Story Work

10.19Recording visits

10.20Child Looked after Review

10.21Role and Function of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

10.22The Role of the Social Worker

10.23Education of Children Looked After

10.24Personal Education Plans (PEP’s)

10.25Virtual School for Children Looked After

10.26Delegation of authority

10.27Behaviour Management

10.28Overnight Stays and Holidays with or without the carers

10.29Protocol to reduce offending and Criminalisation of Children in Care

 

11. Transition and Leaving Care

 

11.1         The Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000             

11.2         Key objectives of West Sussex County Council’s work with

young people leaving care

11.3         Eligibility for Services           

11.4         Duties and powers towards an eligible child (currently looked after)

11.5         Duties and Powers toward Relevant Child (Not currently looked after)    

11.6         Duties and Powers to Former Relevant Child (18+)            

11.7         The Needs Assessment            

11.8         The Pathway Plan

11.9         Young person’s advisors

11.10    Financial Support for Eligible care leavers  

11.11    Financial support to relevant children  

11.12    Financial support to former relevant children and qualifying

children and young people over 16    

11.13    Complex Support Needs  

11.14    Staying Put 

11.15    Keeping in touch 

11.16    Children’s Homes 

 

 

12.Fostering

 

12.1Private Fostering

12.2Fostering

12.3Principles of Care

12.4Standards of Care

12.5Fostering Service Provision

12.6Fostering Panel  

12.7The Supervising social worker

12.8Allegations Against Foster Carers  

12.9Financial Support in Caring for Children

 

13.Adoption

13.1Values

13.2Planning, Permanence and Adoption

13.3Placing the child

13.4At 6 weeks

13.5Adoption of children subject to care proceedings and

looked after by the local authority

13.6Child Permanency Report (CPR)

13.7View of the Child

13.8Placement Orders

13.9Foster Carer Adoption

13.10Fostering for Adoption (FFA)

13.11    Adoption Panel Procedures         

13.12 Adoption Case Records  

 

14. Case Transfers

14.1Internal case transfers within West Sussex

14.2Case transfers into West Sussex from other Local Authorities          

14.2.1Transfer Child Protection Conference

14.2.2Children Looked After

14.2.3Care proceedings

14.2.4Child in Need

14.2.5Notification of a child on a child protection plan temporarily in our area

 

15. Case Closures

 

15.1Principles

15.2Process

15.3Case closure flowchart

 

 

 

16. Recording

16.1        Recording with Care Guidance

16.2        Hard/paper files and use of associated documents in the

child’s electronic records    

16.3        The Voice of the Child

16.4        Chronologies 

16.5        Warnings

16.6        Document management and security

 

17. Complaints and Representation

17.1 Children and Families

17.2 CSC Managers and Stage 1 Local Resolution 

17.3 Complaints about Case Conferences and Child Protection Plans 

17.4 Social Care Staff: Confidential Reporting Policy (Whistleblowing) 

 

18. Supervision and Management Oversight

18.1Supervision Policy and Procedures

18.2Ad Hoc Supervision and Management Oversight

18.3Quality Assurance of Supervision

 

19. Quality Assurance  

19.1 Definition and Purpose of Quality Assurance 

19.2Quality Assurance: Responsibilities of Staff

19.3Supervision

19.4Observing Practice

19.5Social Workers and unqualified workers

19.6Child Protection Conferencing and Children Looked After Reviewing

19.7Audit Activity

19.8Quality Assurance Forums

19.9Menu of approaches

19.10Quality Standards (Ofsted key judgements)

 

20. Safeguarding Children in Specific Circumstances

20.1 Child Sexual Exploitation

20.2 Children Missing from Home, Care or School

20.3 Responding to concerns of underage sexual activity

20.4 Young Carers

20.5 Children Vulnerable to Violent Extremism

20.6 Peer Abuse: Children Who Harm Other Children

 

 

How to use this guidance

 

This document updates and expands on our Management Instructions. It sets out the expectations and requirements of our important work with children and their families. In addition, there are links to other relevant policy, procedures, guidance, research and practice tools.

The full procedural safeguarding and child protection requirements are located in the Pan Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures This guidance complements and links to the Pan Sussex Procedures but has a specific focus on children’s social care.

We are a large County Council with teams based around West Sussex. This guidance will bring a consistency of practice across our teams so we are all working together under the shared ownership of values, guidance, expectations and standards to ensure good outcomes for all children.

This guidance will be updated regularly in line with new national and local procedures, best practice initiatives, good practice examples and learning from serious case reviews, quality assurance activity and audits.

 

  1. Vision, Values and Principles

 

1.1 Vision

Our vision is that all children receive the best quality of social work that leads to improve outcomes for all children; children are safer, healthier and happier as a result of our work with them and they are enabled to reach and achieve their fullest potential.

The Way We Do Things Here: Social Work in West Sussex

 

This document has been written to reflect the vision and aspirations of children’s services in West Sussex following service redesign. It sets out the Council’s ambitions, objectives, culture and expectations in our work with children and families.

It also provides an overview of service areas, roles and responsibilities, decision making, performance management, behaviour expectations, workloads, a description of Panel’s and Staying Put, Permanence and young people who are ‘out of touch’ policy and procedures.

This is required reading for all staff.

The Way We Do Things Here

1.2 Signs of Safety

Our vision is for Signs of Safety to be the underpinning approach for how we do Social Work in West Sussex. Our aim is to implement a whole systems approach across Children’s Social Care and to work with our partners to develop the use of Signs of Safety within universal and Early Help services, introducing a common language and approach to safeguarding and child protection practice, assessment and safety planning.

Signs of Safety summary

Signs of Safety guide for parents

Signs of Safety Mapping

Updated CFA Guidance

Three Houses (link)

Focusing on Fundamentals

Making a difference for children: The 3 ‘P’s’ (link)

1.3 Principles

1.3.1 A Child Centered Approach

Effective safeguarding systems are child centred. Failings in safeguarding systems are too often the result of losing sight of the needs and views of the children within them, or placing the interests of adults ahead of the needs of children.

Children want to be respected, their views to be heard, to have stable relationships with professionals built on trust and to have consistent support provided for their individual needs. This should guide the behaviour of professionals. Anyone working with children should:

 

WSCC acknowledges that children have different developmental needs at different ages, and their contributions will be determined by their age and abilities.

The term ‘child’ will be used for all children and young people under the age of 18 to reflect their status and rights as a child under the law and our duties and responsibilities to them under the Children Act 1989 and related statute.

1.3.2 The Voice of the Child

The participation of children and young people in decisions that affect their lives is central to a wide range of government policy including the Children Acts of 1989 & 2004 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1991.

 

This requires us to ascertain the 'views, wishes and feelings' of children and young people when determining what services to provide, or what action to take.

 

Every child should be involved in creating and know what the plan is to keep them safe.

 

What happens when Children and Young People are not listened to?

          Children are less safe

          Children are less happy and their wellbeing is lower

          Children become less visible; adult needs can dominate

          Assumptions are made about children’s lives

          Knowledge about children is limited to their relationships with adults

The Child’s Voice: What Does Good Look Like?

a)      Making the child central to the story being told.

b)     Child centred thinking.

c)      No child is too young to have a voice. Involve the child regardless of age.

d)     Creative methods used to involve the child or young person, meeting their learning and development needs, and their preferences.

e)     Co-production of plans, assessment and reviews; children and young people should participate in producing essential documents about their lives.

f)       The child or young person shouldn’t have to tell their story over and over again. Practitioners need to read was have already been written.

g)      Ownership and commitment across the structure through managers, social workers and assistants.

h)     Sharing understanding and meaning of the Child’s Voice across agencies. Other agencies will spend more time with the child and they need to be involved and recording the Child’s Voice.

i)       Not rushing contact with the child; even if you only have limited time, focus on them. Children and young people should not know how busy you are, or how many other meetings you need to attend.

j)       Managing how you leave a child or young person after a hard moment.

k)      Drawing a picture of the child or young person’s day to capture what their day is like.

l)       A one page Profile format including what the child looks like, their likes and dislikes, their personality, their fears and what makes their day good. This format is more than a form to fill in.

m)   Having a real understanding of what makes a child or young person’s day good or not so good. What is a good start to their day? This links to their specific likes and dislikes.

n)     Enabling choice for the child or young person. Where do they want to meet their worker?

o)      Feedback from the child or young person on the value of being included and involved is essential. This can also support professional and practice development.

p)     Recording the journey travelled; achievement and attainment is more than standard (national) indicators.

q)     Endings and change is social workers are important and need to be planned for.

r)       With the Child’s Voice well evidenced, handover between social workers is improved.

 

 

1.3.3 Diversity and Equality

The Equality Act 2010 which puts a responsibility on public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality of opportunity. This applies to the process of identification of need and risk faced by the individual child and the process of assessment. No child or group of children must be treated any less favourably than others in being able to access effective services which meet their particular needs.

Understanding and Respecting Diversity

 

Intercultural Communication

 

Diversity Poem

 

1.4 Family Support Strategy

 

1.4.1The need for a Family Support strategy within Children’s Social Care was identified to ensure the correct level of response to children, young people and their families, dependent upon their level of need and the statutory obligations of the local authority. This document does not cover the family support offered by Early Help which can be found in the West Sussex Thresholds Guidance document (www.westsussexscb.org.uk)

1.4.2The principles within Social Care are:

 

This strategy will set out the categories of children entitled to Family Support, and how and where the local authority will respond.

1.4.3Child in Need (CIN) S17 Children Act 1989

The Children Act threshold for Children in Need is the threshold for a service provision by Social Services (level 4) under S17 Children Act 1989.

A child shall be taken to be in need if:

(a) S/he is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him of services by a local authority under this Part;

(b) his/her health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for him of such services; or

(c) S/he is disabled,

1.4.4Direct payments

Provision may be made for a child or their family to secure the provision of services through a direct payment under S17 CA 1989 if they are:

(a) a person with parental responsibility for a disabled child,

(b) a disabled person with parental responsibility for a child, or

(c) a disabled child aged 16 or 17,

1.4.5No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)

Many people defined as having NRPF are not eligible for support under S17 but the local authority has the duty to assess all children, young people and families regardless of their status:

Families with No Recourse to Public Funds

1.4.6Young Carers

Young carers are not children in need by definition but can be assessed as such following a Child and Family Assessment. They can then receive S17 services as a CiN with a Child and Family Plan, or services at levels 1-3 through Early Help services.

1.4.7Short Breaks

In January 2011 the Government introduced a duty for local authorities to provide a short breaks services in their local area through the use of their powers under 17(6) of the 1989 Act. These children are therefore defined as Children in Need and have a Short Breaks Plan and review.

Short Breaks

1.4.8Supervision Order S35 CA 1989

A Supervision Order places the child under the supervision of the Local Authority. Children who are subject of a Supervision Order will also be case managed under Children in Need or Child Protection.

Supervision orders (S35) CA 1989 (www.legislation.gov.uk)

1.4.9Private law S37 CA 1989

The Court may direct the local authority to undertake an investigation of any child’s circumstances. This investigation should consider whether or not a Care Order or Supervision Order is required or whether services under S17 are indicated. If services under S17 are required then the young person will have a Child and Family Plan and become a CIN.

Private law (S37) CA 1989 (www.legislation.gov.uk)

1.4.10Private law S7 CA 1989

A court considering any question with respect to a child under this Act may ask a local authority to report to the Court on matters relating to the welfare of the child. These children will not be CIN by definition.

Private law (S7) CA 1989 (www.legislation.gov.uk)

1.4.11Special Guardian Support S14 CA 1989

The Act requires that each local authority should make arrangements for Special Guardianship support services. Financial support of the arrangement does not make the child ‘in need’ which would only be determined by an assessment.

Special Guardian Support (S14) CA 1989 (www.legislation.gov.uk)

Special Guardian Support (www.legislation.gov.uk) Adoption and Children Act 2002

1.4.12Post adoption support

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 introduced an entitlement for adoptive parents and their children to request and receive an assessment of their adoption support needs. Receiving support services does not make the child ‘in need’ which would only be determined by an assessment.

Assessments for adoption support services (S4) Adoption and Children Act 2 (www.legislation.gov.uk)

1.4.13Child Assessment Order (section 43) CA1989

A Court may order the local authority to carry out an assessment and following this the child may be deemed to be a Child in Need and a Child and Family Plan would need to be developed.

Child Assessment Order (S43) CA1989 (www.legislation.gov.uk)

1.4.14Step Parent adoption

An amendment to the Children Act 1989 (section 4A) in 2005 enabled a step parent to get Parental Responsibility (PR).

Any assessment of a child subject to a step parent adoption may identify child in need issues which would be met through the development on a Child and Family Plan but this is separate from the step parent adoption assessment that the local authority may be required to carry out.

Step Parent adoption (S4A) CA1989 (www.legislation.gov.uk)

1.4.15Contact Orders/Child Arrangements Orders /Prohibited Steps Order/Specific Issues Order S8 CA1989

Any child subject to these Order are not by definition Children in Need and would only be deemed to be so following a separate Child and Family Assessment.

Contact Orders (S8) CA1989 (www.legislation.gov.uk)

 

1.4.16Private fostering S66 CA1989

Privately fostered children are not, by definition, children in need and would only be deemed to be so following a Child and Family Assessment.

Private fostering (S66) CA1989 (www.legislation.gov.uk)


               

2. Mash: Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub

             

 

The full duties and responsibilities of agencies can be found in the Sussex LSCB’s Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures chapter 3.

 
2.1 How MASH operates 

  1. In WSCC, the children’s access point has been replaced by the MASH.
  2. The MASH is the single point of entry for all referrals from partner agencies and members of the public requesting support or advice, or for safeguarding matters relating to children and young people.

    MASH Model NB: This form is being updated and will be replaced prior to final sign off of these procedures.

  3. At the MASH staff social m
  4. anage referrals; give advice and support and make decisions about whether the referral information requires an intervention from a qualified social worker or some support via from an Early Help plan or Key working Service. Once this decision is made, the referrals are passed to the Assessment and Intervention service or to the Family Networks.
  5. There are professionals from Children Social Care, Think Family, the Youth Offending Service (YOS), Children and Family Centres, the Health Visiting Service, Police, Domestic Violence Service (WORTH), Drug and Alcohol Service and District Housing Authorities and CAMHS all working together in the MASH to manage referrals at point of entry.
  6. The professionals in MASH uses a Signs of Safety (SOS) approach to describe the presenting danger and harm and they complete initial Danger Statements, Safety Goals and Safety Plans.
  7. The MASH links closely to the Family Support Networks (FSN). There are 6 FSNs County wide delivering the Local Authorities Early Help offer which is a targeted and co-ordinated response to children and families within each district area. Once the family has been assessed through the MASH, information will be collated about the families by the multi-agency team and then passed to the local Family Support Network (FSN) with a recommendation regarding the level of support that is required.

2.2 MASH contact details

MASH

The MASH is located at WSCC County Hall North, Horsham.

Anyone who has concerns about the welfare of a child can contact a single countywide phone number, known as the 'MASH'. Monday to Friday between 9am-5pm:

Telephone:   01403 229900

Email: MASH@westsussex.gcsx.gov.uk

At all other times, including nights, weekends and bank holidays, contact the Emergency Duty Team: 03302226664

Designated Professionals

West Sussex Designated Nurse Safeguarding Children: 07770 800 247

Police Safeguarding Investigations Unit: Telephone 101 and ask for the Safeguarding Investigations Unit or in an emergency dial 999

 

2.2.1  MASH referral form

MASH Referral Form

 

2.3 Referrals into the MASH

2.3.1 All contacts into the MASH expressing concerns about the welfare of a child should initially be regarded as children in potential need.

 

2.3.2 Referrals from professionals

  1. Professionals contacting the MASH should have discussed the concerns with the family prior to and sought consent for the MASH referral.
  2. Consent is not needed if:
  1. A decision by any professional not to seek parental consent before making a referral to MASH must be recorded and the reasons given.
  2. Where a parent has agreed to a referral, this must be recorded and confirmed in the referral to MASH.
  3. Referrals from named professionals cannot be treated as anonymous unless there are exceptional circumstances.

 

2.3.3 Referrals by Members of the Public

  1. Anonymous referrals by members of the public will be investigated thoroughly by MASH.
  2. Some public referrers may prefer not to give their name to MASH.
  3. Alternatively the member of the public making the referral may disclose their identity, but not wish for it to be revealed to the parents / carers of the child concerned.
  4. Personal information about non-professional referrers should not be disclosed to third parties (including subject families and other agencies) without consent.
  5. Wherever possible, staff should respect the referrer's request for anonymity. There are however, certain limited circumstances in which the identity of a referrer may have to be given i.e. the court arena. 

The social worker taking the referral should gather the following information (absence of information must not delay child protection referrals):

  1. What are you worried about / Reasons for referral? (risks and complicating factors, and harm past and present i.e. safeguarding concerns, inappropriate caring role, CSE concerns, substance misuse, young person’s emotional wellbeing or functioning (e.g. Low mood / self-esteem, self-harm, suicidal ideation, education, anxiety, taking medication)
  2. What’s going well? (family strengths and proven ability to keep safe from harm/meet needs)
  3. What needs to happen next / change in order to support the family / young person? (I.e. Safety planning, any specific service recommendations for the family). 

2.3.5 Transfers and notifications from other local authorities (See Case Transfers Section 14)

If this is a contact concerning:

  1. Notification of a child who is looked after by another local authority in our area
  2. A child on a Child Protection Plan moving from another local authority to West Sussex
  3. Notification of a child on a child protection plan temporarily in our area

2.3.6 If the contact information suggests that another named person may be put at risk of domestic abuse then a ‘Right to Know’ application should be completed and sent to Sussex Police who will refer on to MARAC.

 

MARAC Information Sharing Protocol

Clare’s Law: Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme

2.4 Response to MASH referrals

 

 

2.4.2    Once the referral has been screened, the response to the referral will be one of the following:

1)    An immediate decision to convene a strategy discussion or

2)    No further child protection actions needed.

2.4.3    All referrals that do not progress to strategy discussion will be sent to the MASH for information sharing and decisions on the best actions needed to support the child and family. This will include:

 

2.4.5    The practice manager should be informed of any potential Section 47 Enquiries and authorise the decision to initiate a Strategy Discussion. If the child and/or family are well known to MASH and/or the facts clearly indicate that Section 47 Enquiries are required, it may be appropriate to hold a Strategy Discussion without further assessment.

2.4.6    For referrals to children’s social care, the practice manager must sign and approve the outcomes of the referral and ensure a chronology has been commenced and / or updated.

2.4.7    Case notes should be used to record any subsequent calls and enquiries on open cases. If necessary warnings are added. Relevant documents should be uploaded on the child’s file.

2.4.8    Where there is to be no further action, feedback should be provided to family and referrers about the outcome of this stage of the referral.

2.4.9    In the case of referrals from members of the public, feedback must be consistent with the rights to confidentiality of child and her/his family.

2.4.10  Where a referrer is dissatisfied with the outcome of the referral, they should contact the MASH practice manager for further discussion and resolution. If the referrer still remains dissatisfied, consideration to further action identified in Resolution of Professional Disagreements Procedure should be considered.

Immediate Protective Action

2.4.11  Where there is a risk to the life of a child or the possibility of serious immediate harm, the police officer or social worker must act quickly to secure the safety of the child.

2.4.12  Planned immediate protection will normally take place following a Strategy Discussion.

2.4.13  Immediate protection may be achieved by:

2.4.14  The social worker must seek the agreement of her/his group manager and obtain legal advice before initiating legal action.

2.4.15  MASH should only seek police assistance to use their powers in exceptional circumstances where there is insufficient time to seek an Emergency Protection Order or other reasons relating to the child's immediate safety.

2.4.16  Protective action’s must always consider whether action is also required to safeguard other children in

2.5            Emergency Duty Team: Statement of Purpose

 

 

b)     Should other referrers wish to remain anonymous, this must be recorded clearly to prevent any information breaches.

  1. Assessments

3.3   The Principles and Parameters of a Good Assessment

 

3.3.1       Assessment is a dynamic process which analyses and responds to the changing nature and level of need and/or risk faced by the child.

3.1.2       The purpose of assessment is always:

Signs of Safety Mapping
    
       Danger Statement Safety Goal

 

3.1.5       High quality assessments:

a)     Are child centred, focusing on the needs of the child and ensuring the voice and views of the child. Where there is a conflict of interest, decisions should be made in the child’s best interests;

b)     Use Signs of Safety that builds on strengths as well as identifying difficulties and concerns;

c)     Draw on, analyse and include the chronology of the child and family;

d)     Are rooted in child development and informed by evidence;

e)     Are focused on action and outcomes for children that lead to next steps and actions, including the provision of services;

f)       Are holistic in approach, addressing the child’s needs within their family and wider community;

g)     Reflect the unique characteristics of the child within their family and community context

h)     Ensure equality of opportunity;

i)       Involve children and families; ;

j)       Family structures, culture, religion, ethnic origins and other characteristics are respected

k)     Are integrated in approach;

l)       Are a continuing process not an event;

m)   Are transparent and open to challenge

 

3.2       Child and Family Assessment: Children in need

 

Children & Family Assessment Process Flow Chart (link)

 

3.2.1 The CFA Assessment Process

The Child and Family Assessment (CFA) process is outlined in the WSCC CFA Process flow chart. In summary:

a)      The assessment will progress gathering key information, addressing the concerns raised, starting safety mapping and identifying and ensuring interim safety planning.

b)     The child will be seen alone within 5 days of the allocation of the assessment.

c)      The Social Worker and Practice Manager will review the progress of the Child and Family Assessment within 10 working days. This review will decide:

d)     Between day 10 and day 15 the first Child and Family Network and Safety Planning Meeting which should include family and professionals.

e)     Child and Family Network and Safety Planning meetings will be chaired by the social worker.

f)       By the time of the (initial) Child and Family Network and Safety Planning Meeting, the allocated SW and their Practice Manager will have considered whether a Child and Family Worker has a role working alongside the allocated social worker. This would be as part of a Team around the Family, delivering specific interventions without delay. The plan of work with the child and family will be recorded by the Social Worker in a Child and Family Plan using the Signs of Safety mapping document (Link). The plan will record the Danger Statement, the Safety Goals and the family Safety Plan, along with the Intervention Plan. A safety scale will be completed with everyone involved.

g)      At least one week prior to the completion of child and family assessment a further Child and Family Network and Safety Planning meeting will be held. Within this meeting the Danger Statement, Safety Goals and Safety Plan will be reviewed along reviewing the safety scale. The Child and Family Plan will be reviewed and an evidence based, clearly informed decision made about Next Steps (which could be continuing with the plan in place and the possible need for transfer of case responsibility , stepping down to Early Help, or escalation to Strategy Discussion if required.

h)     The start date of the CFA will commence from the decision to undertake the assessment and the episode triggered on FWi. A Child and Family Assessment should be completed within 45 working days from the date of the referral, or for open cases from the date the decision was made to undertake a Child and Family Assessment.

i)       Pre-birth Assessments should follow the Pre-Birth Procedures Chapter 4.

 

3.2.2 Assessment Practice Standards

a)    The CFA will be allocated to and led by a qualified social worker. Student social workers, trainee social workers and child and family workers can be co-allocated and undertake assessment work under guidance and supervision. All assessments must be quality assured by a qualified social worker and signed off by the Practice Manager.

 

b)    The CFA should be centrally focused on the child’s needs in partnership with the parents/carers and include what the child’s views about their experience of living within their family.

 

c)     Where assessments are undertaken on sibling groups, consideration needs to be given to the specific needs and risks of each child and how the presenting concerns and strengths impact on each child. One CFA record can be used but a profile needs to be completed for each sibling and the risk analysis and next steps should be specific to each sibling.

 

d)    If at any time during the assessment process the threshold of significant harm is reached then a strategy discussion should be held (see 6.1 Strategy discussions). This includes

 

3.2.3 Planning the Assessment

The trajectory and timescales of the assessment and intervention should follow the Children & Family Assessment Process Flow Chart

 

All Assessments should be planned and coordinated by a social worker and the purpose of the assessment should be transparent, understood and agreed by all participants.

Questions to be considered in planning assessments include:

       

3.2.4 Refusal to cooperate with an Assessment

 

There will be occasions when an assessment is needed but a parent or older child refuses to become involved. In these instances, the social worker should endeavour to have a face-to-face meeting with that parent or child to explain the potential consequences of refusal and to see whether the reasons for refusal can be overcome. Where attempts to engage the parent or child within 15 days are unsuccessful:

a)             A risk assessment should be completed using all the known information to date on the Child and Family Assessment document;

b)            The first safety network meeting should review and risk assess the information available to:

 

 

3.2.5 Focus on the child

a)     Whilst services may be delivered to a parent or carer, the CFA should be centrally focused on the child’s needs and improving outcomes in partnership with their parents. The CFA should consider what the child has to say about their life and their experience of living within their family.

b)     Children should to be seen and listened to and included throughout the assessment process. Their ways of communicating should be understood in the context of their family and community as well as their behaviour and developmental stage.

c)     Children should be actively involved in all parts of the process based upon their age, developmental stage and identity. Direct work with the child and family should include observations of the interactions between the child and the parents/care givers.

Three Houses

3.2.6 Parent/carers involvement

a)      The parents/carers involvement in the Assessment will be central to its success. At the outset they need to understand how they can contribute to the process and what is expected of them to change in order to improve the outcomes for the child.

b)     The Assessment process must be open and transparent with the parents. However, the process should also challenge parents’ statements and behaviour where it is evidenced that there are inconsistencies, questions or obstacles to progress.

c)      All parents or care givers should be involved equally in the Assessment and should be supported to participate whilst the welfare of the child must not be overshadowed by parental needs. There may be exceptions to the involvement in cases of Sexual Abuse or Domestic Violence and Abuse for example, where the plan for the Assessment must consider the safety of an adult as well as that of the child.

d)     For children in contact with extended family, the views of extended family are recorded in the assessment and included in the analysis.

3.2.7 Contribution of Agencies Involved with the Child and Family

a)      All agencies and professionals involved with the child, and the family, have a responsibility to contribute to the Assessment process. This might take the form of providing information in a timely manner and direct or joint work. Differences of opinion between professionals should be resolved speedily but where this is not possible, the local arrangements for resolving professional disagreements should be implemented.

b)     It is possible that professionals have different experiences of the child and family and understanding these differences will actively contribute to the understanding of the child / family.

c)      The professionals should be involved from the outset and through the agreed, regular process of review

 

3.2.8 Developing a clear Signs of Safety analysis

The analysis will include:

a)      What on the current worries affecting the child including:

b)      What is working well including:

c)       A danger statement for each worry

d)      A safety scaling on the current risk factors for the child

e)      Future goals to meet the needs of the child

f)        The next steps and actions that need to be taken

CFA Guidance

Proforma for Assessing Risks Where a Parent is Experiencing Mental Health

Assessments on children with substance misusing parent’s

Substance Misuse SCODA assessment tool

3.2.9 Assessment Outcomes

The possible outcomes of the assessment should be decided on by the social worker and the manager signing off the assessment.

The outcomes may be as follows:

The outcome of the Assessment should be:


3.2.10 Updating Child and Family Assessments

Assessments should be updated to reflect the current circumstances and needs for children who remain open to interventions:

  1. At least every six months for children remaining on CIN plans
  2. Following a change of circumstances in the child’s living environment
  3. For review Child Protection Conferences and CLA review meetings
  4. If the child becomes looked after

 

3.4       Children experiencing Neglect: Graded Care Profile

 

3.3.1Children's Social Care will use the Graded Care Profile (GCP) when an assessment identifies that neglect is impacting on the well-being of any child under the age of about 10. It could be considered as a guide when assessing older children but some of the questions may need to be re-phrased.

3.4.2       The GCP should be used alongside a SOS approach following a Child and Family Assessment (C&FA), in all cases where there are elements of neglect including non-organic developmental delay, lack of supervision, a poor parental bond, poor attachments or isolation. This is likely to be in a high proportion of situations where there is a Child in Need (CIN) or at risk.

3.4.3       The GCP should be reviewed as a mechanism to measure distance travelled before a CIN plan is closed or to inform the review.

3.4.4       All children on a Child Protection Plan (CPP) where neglect is a feature of the identified risk should be subject to a GCP which is reviewed at strategic points and used to inform the review Conference.

3.4.5       A paediatric medical assessment should be strongly considered in all cases where neglect has been identified, so that a base line can be established and developmental progress tracked. Measurement against developmental norms can often be overlooked in situations where neglect is a long term feature of the family’s life.

3.4.6       Adolescents are likely to have adapted to parental neglect and may unconsciously collude to conceal it. This may be out of parental loyalty or because of parental problems with drugs or alcohol, mental health or learning difficulty where the adolescent has adopted a protective role or has a profoundly distorted expectation about their own needs being met.

3.4.7       There is a generic tool developed by the Youth Services that draws out key elements about the functioning of an adolescent which maps scores against risk indicators. This offers an approach to assessing actual or potential neglect in adolescents. Request for Targeted Youth Support Services form (PDF) (linked to MIN 21)

3.4.8       Children's Social Care will use the Graded Care Profile (GCP) when an assessment identifies that neglect is impacting on the well-being of any child under the age of 10. It could be considered as a guide when assessing older children but some of the questions may need to be re-phrased.

3.4.9       The allocated worker and the core group complete the tool and agree a plan, which will be regularly reviewed as part of the protection plan. The GCP is based on Maslow’s hierarchy of need and covers 4 dimensions; physical, safety, love and esteem. It can also be used with CIN where there are neglect issues, and for children who have been subject to a plan for 18+ months. This is not compulsory, but may be helpful for clarifying concerns, and the parents’ ability to respond to the needs of the child.

3.4.10   A tool for assessing risks to vulnerable young people, generally teenagers, has been developed in Northumberland and adopted by West Sussex. It is intended for use with young people who are at high risk of harm due to issues related to:

  1. It may be appropriate to use this to inform the assessment of a young person persistently missing (MIN 19) or engaging in under age sexual activity (MIN 20). Where accommodation is being considered for a teenager, this tool may help to provide a shared understanding of risks and protective factors. This form is not part of Frameworki and should be uploaded to a young person’s record once completed. There is associated guidance on completing the Vulnerability Checklist which is linked below.
  2. The Multi-dimensional Assessment of Caring Activities can be used alongside a Child and Family Assessment (C&FA) to assess the specific impact of a young person’s caring responsibilities.
  3. It should also be completed for any young carers subject to a Family Group Conference (FGC) where the aim is to reduce caring responsibilities that are having a significant impact on the health and well-being of the young carer.
  4. There is guidance on responding to young people experiencing a range of different high risk behaviours on the LSCB website.

 

Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures – Section 8 Children in Specific Circumstances

This includes guidance on assessing using the Framework for Assessment, and should be used in conjunction with any Child and Family Assessment where these issues have been identified.

 

Graded Care Profile – Information for families

Graded Care Profile – User Manual

Graded Care Profile – Scoring sheet and explanatory tables

Graded Care Profile

Missed opportunities: indicators of neglect – what is ignored, why, and what can be done? DoE Research Report 2014

Neglect Identification and Measurement Tool

Vulnerability checklist

Northumberland guidance on completing the vulnerability checklist

Guidance on the use of financial support under Section 17 Children Act 1989

This guidance sets out to clarify the legal responsibilities that the local authority has to provide support under S17 Children Act 1989, and what is permissive.

It offers a framework for consistent decision making within West Sussex Children’s Services so that social workers and managers have a clear rationale for the level of service it is possible to provide.

There are some situations where children and families are ineligible for assistance from other agencies and this guidance sets out what is possible for local authorities and what is denied.

Individual situations may present different challenges for workers and it is always advisable to seek legal advice if unsure how to apply this framework.

3.4 Families with No Recourse to Public Funds

In all NRPF cases consultation must take place with NRPF project manager (Julia Kirwan) before financial decisions are taken relating to provision of support with housing associated costs (e.g. rent payments, rent in advance, deposits) or subsistence. The budget decision remains with the relevant Group Manager once consultation has taken place.

In all Intentional Homeless cases please consult with Intentional Homeless project manager (Julia Kirwan) before financial decisions are taken on housing associated costs. The budget decision remains with the relevant Group Manager once consultation has taken place.

Section 17 policy

Families with no recourse to public funds

Intentionally homeless checklist

Local Assistance Network directory (LAN)

 

 

  1. Pre-Birth Procedures

 

4.1 Response to pre-birth referrals

4.1.1       The response to pre-birth referrals will be determined by the levels and indicators of current and future risk and concern. If the referral has not been made by health, the CAP should confirm the pregnancy with the Community Midwife.

4.1.2       If a pre-birth referral is received on an open case or the pregnancy has been identified by the social worker, the CAP Practice Manager will make the decision about the next course of action based on the referring information.

4.1.3       All pre-birth referrals to Children's Social Care must be considered in the first instance as requiring a Pre-Birth Child and Family Assessment and passed to the Child Assessment and Intervention Service.

4.1.4       Where Care Proceedings are planned, because it is possible that the mother and new born will need to be separated at birth, then the criteria for concurrency should always be followed, to evidence the likelihood of rehabilitation or any recommendation to remove. Criteria for referral to Concurrency Scheme

4.1.5       Referrals that indicate the likely hood of significant harm will progress to a Strategy Meeting.

 

4.2                  Pre-birth Strategy Meeting

4.2.1            A pre-birth Strategy Meeting should be held in the following circumstances:

Community midwife

Maternity services manager

GPs

Health visitor

Police

Social worker for the unborn baby and social worker for the parent(s) applicable

Other professions as appropriate e.g. obstetricians, mental health services, probation

Where required, a legal advisor

4.2.3       The purpose of the meeting is the same as that of other Strategy Discussion/Meetings and should determine:

Particular requirements of the pre-birth Child and Family Assessment;

Whether a Section 47 Enquiry is to be initiated;

Role and responsibilities of agencies in the assessment;

Role and responsibilities of agencies to provide support before and after the birth;

Identity of responsible social worker(s) to ensure planning and communication of information;

Timescales for the assessments and enquiries, bearing in mind the expected date of delivery

How and when parent(s) are to be informed of the concerns;

Required action by ward staff when the baby is born;

The need for a pre-birth conference, or (where this will depend on the outcome of assessments) establish the date by which this decision must be made.

If it seems likely that Care Proceedings will follow, there must be links made with the CLA team PRIOR to conference and any LPM MUST have input from CLA. Negotiation between Service Leaders about the most appropriate service to hold the case should focus on the likelihood of a placement at birth.

Criteria for concurrency should be a factor in the decision making about the most appropriate team.

 

4.3              Pre-Birth Conference

 

4.3.1       A pre-birth conference should be held when:

Pre- birth assessment gives rise to concerns that an unborn child may be at risk of Significant Harm

A previous child has died or been removed from parent(s) as a result of Significant Harm

A child is to be born into a family or household which already have children subject to a Child Protection Plan

A person identified as presenting a risk, or potential risk, to children resides in the household or is known to be a regular visitor.

4.3.2               The pre-birth conference should take place before 24 weeks or at least 3 months before the due date of delivery, so as to allow as much time as possible for planning support for the pregnancy and the birth of the baby.

4.3.3               Where there is a known likelihood of a premature birth, the conference should be held earlier.

 

4.4             Pre-Birth Assessment

 

4.4.1Timing of the Pre-birth Assessment

a)      Under the Pan Sussex Procedures, professionals are required to make and early Pre-Birth referrals.

b)     The pre-birth assessment should be completed by 18 weeks gestation in order that:

c)      Later notifications of pregnancy should start the pre-birth assessment immediately following the referral If there is a history of early delivery or any other factor that suggests there is less time to complete a full assessment this should be picked up at the Strategy meeting and the plan adjusted accordingly (e.g. there might be a decision to go direct to ICPC from the strategy discussion because of the level of risk and/or the lack of time to plan).

d)     Referrals received 24 weeks or more into the pregnancy should be considered under concealed pregnancy procedures Pan Sussex Procedures Section 8.9 and a strategy discussion should take place to determine the risks and planning for the unborn child.

 

4.4.2Completing the Pre-Birth Assessment

a)      The purpose of a pre-birth assessment is to identify any potential risks to the new born child, assess whether the parent(s) are capable of changing so that the identified risks can be reduced and if so, what supports they will need. A multi-agency pre-birth planning meeting should be held following allocation to plan the assessment and actions needed in preparation for safe parenting and the child’s birth.

b)     All relevant professionals, parents and extended family should be at the meeting.

c)      Pre–birth assessments will follow the processes of the Child and Family Assessment (Section 4) but should focus on whether or not, in the long term, the needs of the child can be adequately met by the parents.

d)     The pre-birth assessment must be of sufficient depth to inform future care planning and should include:

e)     Where the expectant parents are is very young and a dual assessment of their own needs as well as their ability to meet the baby’s needs is required.

f)       All pre-birth assessments should include both prospective parents not simply the expectant mother.

g)      A pre-birth assessment must be completed before a referral for a looked after placement.

 

Pre Birth Assessment Guidance

Pre Birth Assessment: Questions to Consider

Pre Birth Assessment Tool

Pre Birth Risk Assessment Guidance

4.5        Outcome of the Pre-Birth Assessment

 

4.5.1       A multi-agency and family network meeting should be convened at the end of a pre-birth assessment to agree the next steps:

a)Step down to Targeted Early Help services such as the Family Nurse Partnership and an Early help plan to be developed.

b)Child in Need planning

c)A Strategy Discussion and Child Protection Planning

d)Legal Proceedings

 

4.5.2       Child in Need and Pre- birth planning meeting

The focus of the Children In Need plan will be dependent on the stage of the pregnancy. It will either plan the completion of the pre-birth assessment and a support package to the parent/s prior to the birth or it will focus on the provision of support once the baby is born. A Family Network Meeting should also be held prior to birth to help identify whether there is realistic support available from family and friend network and identify alternative plans.

4.5.3       The use of PLO with Unborn Babies

If it is planned that an unborn child will be subject to the Public Law Outline (PLO) and the interim plan is for the child to be in foster care from hospital discharge, then there is no need for a child protection process.

When the PLO process is being followed the safety plan and future planning will be managed and owned within this, and the CLA process. There should, however, be consideration to holding an ICPC if the baby leaves the foster placement and moves into the community, even if the PLO is still being followed.

If the interim plan within the PLO is for the child to be looked after within the community then an initial child protection conference (ICPC) is required.

4.5.4                  Actions following the birth of the child

 

4.5.5       Child Protection

If the unborn child has been subject to a Child Protection Plan the allocated social worker should visit on the day following the birth. The social worker should meet with maternity staff prior to seeing mother and baby to gather information and determine whether there are any changes needed to the discharge and protection plan.

If the baby is subject to Child Protection Plan, a Core Group Discharge Meeting should be held to draw up detailed plan prior to baby’s discharge home. If it is not possible for a Core Group Discharge Meeting to be held then the core group should meet within seven days of the baby’s birth.

 

4.5.6       Legal Planning

If the decision of the Legal Planning Meeting is for the unborn baby to become subject of Care Proceedings then a Birth Planning Meeting should be convened at the hospital the expectant mother is booked into. This is a professionals meeting and should be chaired by the senior midwife. The meeting should be held within ten working days of the Legal Planning Meeting. The meeting should result in a detailed plan to protect the child at birth, ensuring that all parties are aware of the plan which is confirmed in writing. The plan should address the following:

How long the baby will stay on the ward;

How long mother with remain on the hospital ward

Whether hospital security and police should be notified;

If there are serious risks i.e. abduction of the baby the arrangement to immediately protect the child;

The plan for contact with parents and extended family members and whether it needs to be supervised;

The plan for baby upon discharge from the hospital;

Clear instructions regarding birth if it takes place out of work hours;

Contingency plan in the event of a change of circumstances;

EDT ‘out of hours’ service to be informed of plans.

 

4.5.7       If the decision is made to initiate Care Proceedings in respect of the baby then the social worker should keep the hospital informed of the timeline for the court application being made and informed of the outcome of any application and placement for the baby. A copy of the Order once obtained should be shared with the hospital.

The hospital midwife to inform the allocated social worker once the baby is born and close communication should be maintained around the time of labour and birth.

4.6               Children Looked After who are pregnant

 

4.6.1  Children placed in West Sussex by other authorities

Where a child is a mother/expectant mother is looked after and placed by the home authority in West Sussex, the home authority will continue to hold responsibility for their looked after child and West Sussex will be responsible for the baby in our area if ordinary residence in West Sussex is established. However in practice this is an area where there can sometimes be disputes regarding case responsibility. It is therefore important that case responsibility is negotiated at an early stage by managers and legal advice is sought if necessary.

4.6.2  West Sussex children placed in other authorities

West Sussex will continue to hold responsibility for pregnant children looked after placed out of area. Responsibility for the unborn baby will depend on which area the baby will be ordinarily resident, either WSCC or the authority where the looked after child is placed and the status of the baby.

Where this is unclear or undecided, case responsibility should be agreed at an early stage by managers in WSCC and the authority where the child looked after is placed and legal advice is sought if necessary. Responsibility for undertaking the pre-birth assessment should also be agreed and clarified between WSCC and the authority where the child looked after is placed. Where WSCC is not leading on the pre-birth assessment, it will be It will be important for the social worker to liaise closely with the given Local Authority that is completing the pre-birth assessment to help inform and be an integral part of the assessment process, as well as ensuring that a copy of the assessment is uploaded on child and mother’s case record.

If the threshold is met for a Strategy discussion, this should be attended by the CLA social worker and practice Manager. They should provide background history and chronology. Within the meeting consideration should be given to the young person’s care plan and any additional resources the young person will need during the pregnancy.

 

  1. Children in Need


5.1 Child in Need

In WSCC, Child in Need (CIN) assessment and planning under S17 Children Act 1989 is undertaken using The Child and Family Assessment and the Child and Family Plan.

The Child and Family Assessment will have concluded that the child meets the threshold for child in need planning. In essence, Children in Need have the universal needs of all children and more complex additional needs than those requiring an Early Help Plan but they do not require child protection safety measures at this time.

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.

Most Child in Need Planning will be time limited. However, some children and families may require longer term support, for example Children with disabilities. Specific requirements for Children with disabilities are located in section 6.

5.2 Guiding principles and practices

5.2.1 Signs of Safety

Child in Need interventions, planning and review will be based on Signs of Safety.

SOS Safety Plan Stress Testing Sheet

Signs of Safety Mapping

5.2.2       Focus on the child

a)      Whilst actions and services may be directed to a parent or carer, the child should be the central, focusing on the child’s needs and improving outcomes in partnership with their parents.

b)     Attendance at meetings by the child should always be encouraged and timings should avoid the school day for children of school age.

c)      Children should to be seen and listened to and included throughout CIN process. Their ways of communicating should be understood in the context of their family and community as well as their behaviour and developmental stage.

d)     Visits to the Child and CIN planning should help determine and understand what it is like for the child to live in his/her current circumstances.

e)     Children should be actively involved in all parts of the process based upon their age, developmental stage and identity. Direct work with the child and family should include observations of the interactions between the child and the parents/care givers.

f)       Timeframes for actions and improvements in outcomes need to determine by the age and needs of the child, taking into consideration the longer term impact on children where there are delays in planning progress.

5.2.3When services for children/ young people and their families are being planned and reviewed, certain principles should be considered:

The allocated worker must ensure that the parental consent form for information sharing has been completed and is held on file.

5.3 The Child and Family (CIN) Plan

5.3.1Once the Child and Family Assessment has started, the child and family plan should be completed using the SOS mapping document. The Mapping must be uploaded to the Child and Family (C&F) Plan episode.

5.3.2 The C&F Plan episode should be finished at each Review stage. This will allow Mappings, documentation and direct work to be found in chronological episodic order subsequently.

5.3.4The Child and Family Plan:

a)       Uses Signs of Safety mapping of harm, what is working well and strengths, danger Statements to show what the worries are and gives a scaling judgement of risk

b)       Sets out safety goals, how they will be met, by whom and by when.

c)       Considers the impact of and protecting children from Neglect.

d)       Identifies a contingency plan if the concerns increase or there is no progress in the child’s safety.

e)       It should be explicitly set out where and when professionals will see the child, including those with routine contact, along with a clear agreement as to how and when information will be shared.

f)        The next steps/actions outlined in the plan should be specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic and have set timescales. Terms like ‘ongoing’ and ASAP are vague and unclear. If actions are ongoing, the timeframe should be set for the next review and progress updated.

g)       It is the social workers responsibility to ensure that the child is involved with and knows about their plan.

h)       Consideration is given to factors which protect children from Neglect.

i)         Equality and diversity are explicitly addressed and actioned in the Child and Family Plan.

j)        Emphasis is given to encouraging things the family are already doing toward a safer family life.

k)       Reference is made to how information will be communicated and shared.

l)         The views of the parents, child and any other significant family members are recorded, including any dissent from the plan

m)     Children and family are informed of their rights to know what is recorded, why and how recording is utilised in our judgements and decisions

n)       The parents/carers and child are advised of the complaints procedure

o)       The practice manager reviews the plan, records his/her comments on the Plan, adds their verification details and articulates decisions in the relevant decision boxes.

p)       Records of supervision identify that a robust approach is taken by the manager regarding whether the actions in the Plan are being effective in keeping the child safe and any additional actions to be taken with timescales. Actions agreed previously are followed up.

q)       A copy of the Plan is sent to all professionals and family members within 10 working days of the meeting.

r)        If the plan is needed for legal proceedings, a signed paper copy this should be kept on a paper file or scanned and uploaded to the child’s electronic file. It is only necessary to do this if proof of agreement is needed for legal proceedings.

s)        Any costs of services identified in the plan have agreed approval by the relevant budget authoriser and the manager records this on a case note.

t)        The Plan or review must not be disclosed to any party who is not part of the CIN group without the parent’s consent unless it is necessary to safeguard the child.

u)       Where it becomes necessary to make minor adjustments to the Plan and services provided in between scheduled reviews, consultation with the parents and the child/young person (where appropriate) and key professionals from other agencies should always be sought. Additional services arranged in the interim should be agreed and added to the CIN plan at the next meeting.

5.3.5Visiting Requirements for Children in Need

a)              The visiting frequency should form part of the overall Child and Family Plan and should be recorded on the plan. Child in need visits should be undertaken by the allocated social worker at least every 15 working days.

b)              However, consideration should be given to the nature of involvement, safety planning, the age and vulnerabilities of the child, along with their wishes.

c)              In cases of high concern, visits should be more frequent. Where child protection concerns have been identified, visits should take place weekly until the child protection plan is in place.

d)              In adopting good practice in undertaking visits to a child / young person, consideration also needs to be given to both planned and unplanned visits.

e)              For a child subject to a Supervision Order the Child and Family Plan should follow the same visit timeframes as above, unless otherwise indicated on the Order.

5.4 The Child and Family Review

5.4.1The first Child and Family Review will be convened within 10 working days of the completion of the assessment or the end of the child protection plan. Following this, reviews will take place at least every 3 months. A review should be brought forward:

5.4.2For a child subject to a Supervision Order the Child and Family Plan should follow the same timeframes as 4.4.1 above, unless otherwise indicated on the Order.

5.4.3The following parties will be expected attend the review meeting:

5.4.4If a child or any family member is unable to attend the review meeting, they should be assisted to present their contribution in either written or verbal format.

5.4.5Consideration should also be given to the date/ time and location of the meeting, particularly if the family are likely to have transport difficulties or may have work or other commitments.

5.4.6If English is not the first language then arrangements for an interpreter should be made and issues of access for people with disabilities should be addressed. Where meetings fall around the time of religious festivals and times of particular religious observances which are undertaken by the family, particular consideration may need to be made to hold meetings at a time and venue suitable for the family to ensure their involvement.

5.4.7Ideally the venue should be familiar to the family and able to provide comfortable, family friendly surroundings. Consideration should be given to the accessibility of the venue for all those family members invited to attend.

5.4.8For all review meetings the Social Worker will act as lead professional and will arrange the invitations and the venue and will be responsible for ensuring that copies of relevant assessments are circulated beforehand and copies of the Child and Family Plan agreed at the meeting are circulated afterwards, within 10 days of the meeting. Agencies are responsible for accurately recording their agreed actions.

5.4.9Child and family reviews and any planning meetings should include both family/friends and professional networks.

5.4.10If the Child and Family planning fails to bring about significant positive change in a child’s circumstances, consideration needs to be given to stepping up to Child Protection.

5.4.11When the Review concludes that the outcomes specified in the Plan have been achieved and all concerns addressed, and satisfactory arrangements for the continuing promotion and safeguarding of the child’s welfare are in place, then the CIN Plan can close in a planned way.

5.4.12A Child and Family Plan should not be ended unless a review has been completed and a decision made that the Plan has achieved its objectives/is no longer required and that satisfactory arrangements for the sustained promotion and safeguarding of the child’s welfare are in place

5.5 Chairing a Child and Family Plan Network (CIN) Meeting

5.5.1Network Meetings are chaired by the social worker or an advanced practitioners.

5.5.2It is the primary role of the Chair to ensure the meeting is managed safely and effectively and that the focus remains on the child’s safety and welfare.

5.5.3To ensure a successful meeting the Chair should:

5.6 Outcomes of the Child and Family Network Meeting

The meeting may conclude:

The outcome of the child and review meeting needs to be agreed and signed off by the group manager.

5.7 Uncooperative parents

5.7.1When working with a family who is known, or discovered, to be uncooperative, Social Workers and practitioners should make every effort to understand why a family may be uncooperative or hostile. This entails considering all available information, including whether previous assessments such as an Early Help Plan have been completed and if so whether the family co-operated with the lead professional.

5.7.2When working with uncooperative parents, professionals can improve the chances of a favourable outcome for the child by:

5.7.3Older children can also decide not co-operate with their planning.

5.7.4.Issues of lack of co-operation or false compliance should be addressed in the Child and Family Review with recommendations and outcomes for next steps to secure the safety of the child.

5.8 Step down from Child and Family to Early Help

5.8.1The need for on-going support for the child and family via an Early Help plan should be considered and agreed with the family and relevant professionals prior to case closure’s to Children’s Social Care.

If the child’s planning and review conclude a step down to Early Help Planning, and informed consent has been obtained from the parents/carers and child a final child and family review meeting should be convened within 14 days to support the transition from Child and Family to early help.

5.8.2Early help should be represented at this final review meeting.

5.8.3The Social Worker retains the lead role in the case until the transfer is complete.

5.8.4Prior to the meeting the Social Worker must ensure that a copy of the closing summary detailing the ongoing needs, strengths and the action plan is available for Early Help together with the most recent Child and Family Assessment.

5.8.5At the meeting a new Lead Professional should be appointed with the input and approval of the family.

5.8.6The social worker must complete the required step down episode on FWi and ensure the plan is uploaded to Holistx.

5.8.7The child’s case can now be closed to children’s social care and case closure record completed on FWi.

  1. Children with Disabilities

 

The procedures in this guidance apply equally to Children with disabilities but should take into account the specific needs, abilities risk factors and circumstances of Children with disabilities.

6.1 Definition

The Children Act 1989 states that 'a child is disabled if he is blind, deaf or dumb or suffers from mental disorder of any kind or is substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity or such other disability as may be prescribed'.

The Equality Act 2010 says that someone is disabled if they

Any child with a disability is by definition a 'Child in Need' under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

6.2 Protection of Children with disabilities

Research indicates that the incidence of Emotional Abuse, Neglect and Sexual Abuse is much higher for Children with disabilities. The level of risk may be raised by:

 

6.3 In addition to the universal indicators of abuse / neglect listed in Recognition of Abuse and Neglect, the following abusive behaviours must be considered:

 

6.4 Response

6.4.1As part of the response, the Local Authority has a duty to meet the needs of parents and carers of Children with disabilities (under the Carers and Children with disabilities Act 2000) and this should be included as part of an assessment of the child.

6.4.2Where a child is unable to tell someone of her/his abuse, s/he may convey anxiety or distress in some other way, e.g. behaviour or symptoms and carers and staff must be alert to this.

6.4.3Each child should be assessed carefully and supported where relevant to participate in the child protection and criminal justice system. It should never be assumed that a disabled child cannot communicate and appropriate communication methods and professionals with the appropriate skills must always be considered. Advice, guidance and tools are available from the Children's Disability Team.

6.4.4A disabled child should be supported and enabled to give credible evidence and to withstand the rigours of the court process.

6.4.5The specific needs of Children with disabilities and young carers should be given sufficient recognition and priority in the assessment process. Further guidance can be accessed at Safeguarding Disabled Children – Practice Guidance (2009)


6.5 Referrals

6.5.1Where a child has disabilities which appear to meet the criteria and particularly call for specialist intervention, these cases will be referred to the Children's Disability Team for assessment.

6.5.2The criteria are that the child must have a permanent and substantial disability (diagnosed by a doctor or consultant) and be severely or profoundly impaired. Consideration will also be given to other children who have a significant number of moderate impairments.

6.5.3The criteria do not include children diagnosed with ADHD or HIV or a psychiatric illness.

6.5.4Any children diagnosed with ADHD or HIV or a psychiatric illness will only be eligible for referral to the Children's Disability Team, therefore, if they also have other disabilities which meet the criteria.

6.5.5Where mainstream social workers hold cases of children who might be considered to be disabled, appropriate advice and support can be made available from the specialist Children’s Disability Team.


6.6 Child Protection

6.6.1The Children’s Disability Team will usually undertake all Section 47 Enquiries, assessments and legal proceedings in respect of children who are already open cases, although appropriate consultation will be made with colleagues.

6.6.2In cases where there is a child with disability as one of a group of siblings under child protection procedures, discussions will take place between CAP manager and the Children's Disability Team as to the appropriate allocation of the case.


6.7 Child in Need

Reviews of Child in Need Plans for children with disability take place within 3 months of the start of the plan and thereafter at least annually. Reviews are conducted more frequently where circumstances require it, e.g. where there has been a significant change in the child's circumstances or with the resource or resources involved.

The review is usually conducted by the allocated worker contacting all those involved in the plan. The worker will then prepare a summary of the comments and observations made and present it to the Children with disabilities Practice manager for approval. Where necessary, changes to the Child in Need Plan will be made and the amended plan circulated to all involved as set out in Children in Need procedure.

 

6.8 Children Looked After

Decisions about the need to and provision of looked after services for Children with disabilities will be held by the Children with disabilities Service Leads. This is because the reasons for looking after these young people is more likely to result from their disability than from family breakdown, and therefore the long term planning will be subject to different considerations.

 

6.9 Services to Children with Disability

6.9.1As a general principle, where children and families can receive mainstream services, these should be provided as a way of minimising the impact of disability and avoiding any unnecessary segregation.

6.9.2Where the assessment identifies that specialist services are required, these may be provided by health or voluntary agencies as well as the local authority. The assessment will make recommendations as to the kind of services or equipment that are required to meet the child's needs.

6.9.3The support services that may be included in a support package for a disabled child and his/her family range from:


6.10Children with Disabilities Placement Panel (in progress)

6.11Continuous Health Care (in progress)

6.12 Frequency of Social Work Visits to Children with a disability

There may be exceptional circumstances where it would cause distress and would not be in a child’s best interest to be seen very regularly. If this is the case then the decision to vary the visiting frequency should be signed off by the Group manager with a management note setting out what the visiting frequency has been changed to, the rational for the decision and how it will be evidenced that the child is safe.

There has been the development of the Choice project which allows greater autonomy for parents and carers where there is no need for social work intervention. The criteria for the Choice service is for children who are scaled as an 8 or above in the Signs of Safety framework who are not in receipt of overnight short breaks. It is the expectation that children sitting in the Choice service will receive an annual visit and review.

For all other children with a disability the following frequency is required:

Cohort

SOS scaling

Example

Minimum visiting frequency

Children who are likely to need to be planned for under Child Protection Procedures

Between 0 and 5

Where there are increasing concerns about a child’s safety for instance where other agencies are raising concerns about neglect; multiple missed appointments, poor school attendance, developmental milestones are not being met.

Once every 15 working days

Children who are stepping down from a Child Protection Plan

Between 0 and 5

The concerns about domestic violence between the parents have been resolved as the perpetrator has left the family home and is not having any contact

Once every 15 working days for three months.

Children whose needs are very complex and who require active social work intervention due to the demands on the family and or risk of family breakdown.

Between 0 and 5

Where a child’s needs are such that the parents are not able to keep the child or their siblings safe due to challenging behaviours

Once every 15 working days

Children who are in receipt of services and this is likely to be long term

 

Between 6 and 8

Children who have complex needs, meet the criteria for continuing health care and whose condition is not likely to improve

Once every 6 weeks for the first 6 months

Children who are in receipt of services and this includes up to 75 nights of overnight short breaks.

Between 8 and 10

Children who are receiving overnight short breaks via a foster carer and have complex needs

Once every 3 months

Children who are in receipt of services and there is no need for active social work intervention

Between 8 and 10

Children where there are no social work interventions required and they are only open to the service due to Direct payments or Personal Budget

Annually in the Choice service


Transition to Adult Services (Under Review)

Graded Care Profile for Disabled children

West Sussex Transition Procedures

Children with sensory needs procedures 2011

 

  1. Child Protection

 

7.1 Strategy Discussions

 

Strategy Discussion Flow Chart (link)

7.1.1In deciding whether to call a strategy meeting / discussion, the LA children's social care manager must consider the:

 

7.1.2       Strategy discussions should take place when:

 

7.1.3       A Strategy Meeting may also be convened in response to neglect when:

 

7.1.4          A strategy discussion can take place following a referral or at any other time, including during the assessment process.

 

7.1.5       Emergency actions may need to be taken immediately and prior to a strategy discussion to safeguard the child (e.g.: Police Protection, EPO). The strategy discussion should then take place as soon as possible within 24 hours.

 

7.1.6       Responsibility for undertaking strategy discussions lies with LA children's social care in whose area the child lives or is found.

a)      'Found' means the physical location where the child suffers the incident of harm or neglect (or is identified to be at risk of harm or neglect), e.g.

Where a privately fostered or looked after child is living with their out of area carers

Boarding school,

Hospital,

One-off events, such as a fairground, holiday home or outing

b)     For the purposes of these procedures the LA children's social care in which the child lives, is called the 'home authority' and the LA children's social care in which the child is found is the child's 'host authority'.

c)      Whenever a child is harmed or concerns are raised that a child may be at risk of harm or neglect, the host authority is responsible for informing the home authority immediately.

d)     The home authority should be invited to participate in the strategy meeting / discussion to plan action to protect the child. Only once agreement is reached about who will take responsibility is the host authority relieved of the responsibility to take emergency and ongoing action. Such acceptance should occur as soon as possible and should be confirmed in writing.

 

7.1.7       Timing of strategy discussions

a)      Strategy discussions should be convened no later than three working days of child protection concerns being identified.

b)     Strategy discussions should be held on the same day the referral is received in the following circumstances:

c)      Where the concerns are particularly complex (e.g. organised abuse / allegations against staff) the strategy meeting / discussion must be held within a maximum of five working days, but sooner if there is a need to provide immediate protection to a child.

 

7.1.8       Strategy discussions on open cases will be chaired by the practice manager or group manager of the team the child is currently allocated to.

 

7.1.9       Strategy Discussions: Expectations and Standards

 

a)    The CAP manager informs the Safeguarding Nurse at the point of decision making to inform them of Strategy Discussion taking place so they can either provide relevant information or seek the relevant Health professionals and inform them of Strategy Discussion taking place.

b)    Strategy discussions about possible Child Sexual Abuse in under 14 year olds must involve a specialist paediatrician from the Paediatric SARC. Paediatricians are available 10.00 am – 4.00 pm by telephone: SARC telephone number 01273 242288 and will participate by conference call (for 14-17s contact adult SARC).

c)     If a child is under the age of 5 years, the Health Visiting Service or Midwifery Service or the Child’s GP must be contacted to gain relevant background and or current information in relation to the child.

d)    If the attempts to obtain this information would cause delay which would impact upon the child’s safety, this needs clearly recording in the Strategy Discussion notes, that attempts have been made to contact relevant colleagues in Health.

e)    If a child is over 5 years of age and in school, then the child’s School Nurse and/ or GP must be contacted to gain relevant background and current information in relation to the child.

 

7.1.10Strategy Discussion Attendees

a)             Strategy discussions should include as a minimum: Children’s social care, police child protection team and a health representative.

b)            The strategy discussion is led by the timeframes and presenting risks of the child. A strategy discussion should not be delayed or postponed due to the non-availability of professional’s. If health do not make themselves available for the strategy discussion, this should be recorded and sent to the head of safeguarding.

c)             There may been some circumstances that having Health input into the Strategy Meeting is not appropriate or proportionate. In these circumstances, this needs to be clearly recorded and rationale given for not involving Health colleagues.

d)            Other relevant professionals will depend on the nature of the individual case but may include:

e)     All attendees at strategy discussions should be sufficiently senior to make decisions on behalf of their agencies.

 

7.1.11   The family should not be informed that a strategy meeting is taking place as this could interfere with any Police action required. The outcome of the strategy discussion will be shared with the family following the meeting unless it was unsafe for child to do so.

 

7.1.12   The purpose of the Strategy Discussion

Strategy discussion is both a planning and a decision making meeting. The purpose of the strategy discussion/meeting is to:

a)      Share available information about the child and family and causes for concern

b)     Agree what action is required immediately to safeguard the child, and/or provide interim services and support and formulate a safety plan.

c)      Consider the need to protect other children in the same household or elsewhere.

d)     Consider any cultural, linguistic or disability needs which may need to be planned for in the investigation;

e)     Decide whether a Section 47 enquiry should be initiated and if yes who will conduct the enquiries, i.e. social worker, a social worker and representative of another agency, such as a health visitor, or a joint investigative team of social worker and police officer.

f)       Decide how, and by whom, the child should be interviewed.

g)      Consider whether a medical examination of the child is required and who is responsible for consulting with the designated consultant paediatrician

h)     Determine if legal action is required.

i)       Determine what information from the strategy discussion will be shared with the family, unless such information sharing may place a child at increased risk of abuse or neglect or jeopardize police investigations into any alleged offence(s)

j)       Determine the need for, and timing of, any further strategy meeting

 

7.1.13   Outcomes of strategy discussions

a)      Start S47 enquiries as part of a Child and Family Assessment jointly with the police child protection team or by Children Social Care:

  1. A joint investigation must always be initiated whenever there is an allegation or reasonable suspicion that one of the circumstances described below has been committed against a child, regardless of the likelihood of a prosecution:

Medical Assessment at SARC Guidance

  1. Cases of minor injury should always be considered for a joint investigation if the:

-          Age, special needs and vulnerability of the child

-          Any previous history of minor injuries

-          The intent of the assault e.g. strangulation may leave no marks, but is very serious

-          If a weapon was used

-          Previous concerns from a caring agency

-          Consistency with and clarity / credibility of the child's account of the injuries

  1. There will be times when, after discussion or preliminary work, cases will be judged less serious and it will be agreed that the best interests of the child are served by a Children's Social Care-led intervention, rather than a joint investigation.
  2. Where a minor crime, initially agreed by the Police CPT as inappropriate of further police investigation, is subsequently discovered to be more serious than originally perceived, the case must be referred back to the CPT.

b)     Complete or continue a Children and Family Assessment under S17

c)      A Police investigation where the:

d)     Referral for Early Help

e)     Arrange follow up strategy discussion:

f)       No further action:

g)      It is possible to choose more than one outcome of a strategy meeting.

h)     The plan made at the strategy discussion should reflect the requirement to convene an initial child protection conference within 15 working days of the strategy discussion at which it was decided to initiate the enquiry (if there were more than one strategy meetings).

 

7.1.14   Recording Strategy Discussions

f)               The strategy discussion record should reflect the discussions as in 6.1.14 above.

g)              The Chair of the strategy meeting must ensure that:

h)              Strategy discussions can initially be hand written and photocopied to provide a record of the meeting to those attending, to obtain the signatures of attendees and to progress the follow up actions. This must be uploaded to Frameworki following the strategy meeting.

i)                The Frameworki Strategy Discussion Episode should then be fully completed and signed off by the Chair.

Strategy Discussion Template

7.1.15   Strategy discussions convened under allegations against staff who work with children should follow the Pan Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures 8.2.
7.1.16  What needs to take place between the Strategy Discussion and ICPC

 

7.2 Section 47 enquiries

7.2.1Purpose of Section 47 Enquiries

A Section 47 enquiry is a child protection enquiry combined with a child and family assessment undertaken to assess the risks to a child(ren) and to decide whether and what type of action is required to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child who is suspected of, or likely to be, suffering significant harm.

During the Section 47 process, the SOS Mapping should be used to inform your risk analysis. Family and child involved safety planning should take place using Signs of Safety practice during the Section 47 process in order to provide safety for the child.

It should be completed within 15 days of the strategy discussion but where concerns are high and an Initial Child Protection Conference and/or legal planning have been decided, it should be completed as soon as possible within timeframes set by the strategy discussion.

7.2.2All Section 47 Enquiries must be undertaken by qualified experienced social workers

7.2.3The allocated Social Worker should:

 

7.2.4Generally consent is sought from parents prior to seeking such information, but managers may authorise 'checks' to be completed without such permission if:

 

7.2.5Exceptionally a joint enquiry/investigation team may need to speak to a suspected child victim without the knowledge of the parent or caregiver. Relevant circumstances would include the possibility that a child would be threatened or otherwise coerced into silence, a strong likelihood that important evidence would be destroyed or that the child in question did not wish the parent to be involved at that stage and is competent to make that decision.

7.2.6The child should be seen within 24 hours.

7.2.7The child should be seen alone with the following exceptions:

If the child has not been seen alone, the reasons why not should be recorded.

7.2.8Section 47 enquiries should always be carried out in such a way as to minimize distress to the child, and to ensure that families are treated sensitively and with respect. LA children's social care should explain the purpose and outcome of s47 enquiries to the parents and child/ren (having regard to age and understanding) and be prepared to answer questions openly, unless to do so would affect the safety and welfare of the child.

 

7.3 Communicating with the Child

7.3.1All children within the household must be directly communicated with during a Section 47 Enquiry. Those who are the focus of concern should always be seen and communicated with alone by the Lead Social Worker. The Record of Section 47 Enquiry should include the date(s) when the child was seen alone by the Lead Social Worker and, if not seen alone, who was present and the reasons for their presence.

7.3.2The objectives in seeing the child are to:

 

7.4 Missing or inaccessible children

If the whereabouts of a child subject to s47 enquiries are unknown and cannot be ascertained by the LA children's social care social worker, the following action must be taken within 24 hours:

 

7.5 Recording of Section 47 Enquiries

A Section 47 enquiry is carried out by undertaking an assessment using the Record of Outcome of S47 enquiries/Child and Family Assessment and the SOS Mapping to include:

 

7.6 Outcome of the S47

7.6.1Prior to signing off, the Practice or Group Manager should ensure that:

 

7.6.2The Manager’s decision should record whether the outcome is:

a)      Not substantiated. The level of further intervention (CIN, Early help, other) will indicated by the outcome of the S47/CFA assessment.

b)     Concerns are substantiated, but the child is not judged to be at continuing risk of significant harm. These children should progress to CIN planning.

c)      Concerns are substantiated and the child is at risk of significant harm. These children should progress to ICPC. An immediate safety plan should be recorded to ensure that risk is contained until the ICPC. This should include a record of when the social worker will visit.

d)     The manager may also agree / decide to initiate legal action.

The responsible manager should sign and date the record

7.7 Initial Child Protection Conference

7.7.1Timing and Booking the Initial Child Protection Conference

The Initial Child Protection Conference should take place within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion or, where more than one Strategy Discussion took place, of the Strategy Discussion at which the Section 47 Enquiry was initiated.

The Social Worker attending a Strategy Discussion must contact the Children’s Safeguarding Unit on the day of the Strategy Discussion (or the next working day in exceptional circumstances) and ask for a provisional slot for an ICPC if it seems likely that one will be required.

On or before the fifth working day after this contact, the Social Worker will contact the CSU again to either confirm or cancel the ICPC booking. If the Social Worker does not make contact, the CSU will contact the Social Worker to ascertain whether the booking is still required.

Booking of Initial Child Protection Conferences

7.7.2Purpose of the Initial Child Protection Conference

ICPC Flow Chart (link)

The Initial Child Protection Conference brings together family members, the child where appropriate, and those professionals most involved with the child and family. Its purpose is:

 

7.8 Preparing for the conference

7.8.1The conference report should be provided to parents and older children (to the extent that it is believed to be in their interests) at least three working days in advance of Initial Conferences, and five working days before Review Conferences, to enable any factual inaccuracies to be identified, amended, and areas of disagreement noted. Where necessary, the reports should be translated into the relevant language or medium.

7.8.2The report should be provided to the chair at least three days prior to the Initial Conference and five working days in advance of the Review Conference. The social worker must complete a SOS mapping to be provided along with the report to ICPC for the conference.

7.8.3Prior to the conference the social worker should consider, with the parent/carer, what assistance or support might be necessary to promote the child’s (where of an age and understanding) attendance and participation in the meeting, for example transport, child care, interpreter, supporter.

7.8.4Where the child does not wish to attend the conference or their attendance is considered inappropriate, the social worker is responsible for ensuring that their wishes and feelings are made known to the meeting.

7.8.5The social worker should inform the family members of the right to be accompanied by a legal representative, friend or advocate.

7.8.6The social worker should ensure that they advise the parent/carer and child (where of an age and understanding) to arrive 30 minutes prior to the agreed time of the conference to assist in meeting the conference Chair.

7.8.7The social worker is responsible for informing any parent/carer and competent child who did not attend the conference of the decisions made and for ensuring that they are understood.

7.9 Role and Function of the Child Protection Advisor (CPA)

7.9.1The CPA will Chair the ICPC and subsequent conferences.They will not have operational or line management responsibility for the case.

7.9.2When the decision is made by an Initial Child Protection Conference to make a child subject to a Child Protection Plan, the CPA will:

 

7.9.3The CPA plays an important part in the quality assurance function of the local authority's service for children on child protection plans. They will:

a)        Make checks on Frameworki that there have been enough core groups at agreed intervals.

b)        Recognise and report on good practice by individuals or teams.

c)        Where there is evidence of poor practice, the CPA will address these issues through the normal channels, contacting the social worker's manager and where necessary the Service Leader.

Independent Reviewing Officer and Child Protection Advisor Practice Acknowledgement and Issue Resolution (PAIR) Process

7.10 Professional dissent from the conference decision

7.10.1If the CPA is unable to achieve a consensus as to the need for a Child Protection Plan or the discontinuing of a plan, s/he will make a decision and record any dissenting views on the record of the conference minutes.

7.10.2If a social worker (or any other professional) dissents from the Chair's decision, they must consider whether s/he wishes to formally challenge the decision.

7.10.3   If the social worker believes that the conference decision places a child at (further) risk of Significant Harm, it is expected that (s)he will formally raise the matter with their group manager and decide if it is necessary to raise the dissent with the Head of Safeguarding.

 

7.10.4   The Head of Safeguarding will then review available documentation, liaise with the conference Chair and either:

a)      Uphold the decision reached by the conference Chair or

b)     Require the conference be re-convened

 

7.11 Complaints by children and/or parents

7.11.1Parents and, on occasion, children, may have concerns about which they wish to make representations or complain, in respect of one or more of the following aspects of the functioning of child protection conferences

 

7.11.2Complaints about aspects of the functioning of conferences described above should be addressed to the CPA Chair, who in turn will raise with the Principal Manager and Customer Relations.

7.11.3   Whilst a complaint is being considered, the decision made by the conference stands.

 

7.11.4   The outcome of a complaint will either be that a conference is re-convened under a different Chair, that a review conference is brought forward or that the status quo is confirmed along with a suitable explanation. Local Protocols may be in place and should be made accessible to parents and families.

 

7.11.5   Complaints about individual agencies, their performance and provision (or non-provision) of services should be responded to in accordance with the relevant agency's own complaints management process.

7.12 Exclusion of Family Members from a Conference

7.12.1Exceptionally it may be necessary to exclude one or more family members from part or all of a conference. These situations will be rare, and the conference Chair must be notified by the social worker, or a worker from any agency, if they believe based on the criteria below, that a parent should be excluded. This representation must be made, as soon as possible and at least three working days in advance of the conference.

7.12.2The worker concerned must indicate which of the grounds it believes are met and the information, or evidence, the request is based on. The Chair must consider the representation carefully and may need legal advice.

7.12.3The Chair should make a decision in response to:

 

7.12.4 If, in planning a conference, it becomes clear to the Chair that there may be conflict of interests between the children and parents, the conference should be planned so that the welfare of the child can remain paramount. This may mean arranging for the child and parents to participate in separate parts of the conference and for separate waiting arrangements to be made. Any exclusion period should be for the minimum duration necessary and must be clearly recorded in the conference record.

7.12.5It may also become clear at the beginning or in the course of a conference, that its effectiveness will be seriously impaired by the presence of the parent(s). In these circumstances, the Chair may ask them to leave.

7.12.6Where a parent is on bail, or subject to an active police investigation, it is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that the police can fully present their information and views and also that the parents participate as fully as circumstances allow. This may involve the Chair and police having a confidential meeting prior to the conference to agree a way of managing the process and the information.

7.12.7The decision of the Chair over matters of exclusion is final regarding both parents and the child (ren).

7.12.8If the Chair has decided, prior to the conference, to exclude a parent, this must be communicated to the parent prior to conference, ideally in writing. If this is not possible then the Chair must still confirm in writing the reasons for their decision. The social worker should have prepared the parent for the possibility that this may occur.

7.12.9The parent must be informed about how to make their views known, how s/he will be told the outcome of the conference and about the Complaints by Service Users Procedure. The parent should be advised on the possibility of preparing a contribution for the conference e.g. a letter, others attending on her/his behalf e.g. solicitors, advocate.

7.12.10 Those excluded should be provided with a copy of the social worker's report to the conference (three working days before an Initial Conference and five working days before a Review Conference) and be provided with the opportunity to have their views recorded and presented to the conference.

7.12.11If a decision to exclude a parent is made, this must be fully recorded in the minutes. Exclusion from one conference is not reason enough in itself for exclusion from a further conference.

7.13 Core Group

7.13.1Responsibilities

The Core Group is responsible for the formulation and implementation of the detailed Child Protection Plan, previously outlined at the conference.

All members of the Core Group are jointly responsible for:

 

7.13.2Where any member of the Core Group is aware of difficulties implementing the Child Protection Plan due to changed or unforeseen circumstances, the Social Worker must be informed immediately and consideration given to recalling the Core Group meeting to re-consider the Child Protection Plan.

7.13.3Circumstances, about which the Social Worker should be informed, include the inability to gain access to the child who is subject to a Child Protection Plan, for whatever reasons, on two consecutive home visits.

7.13.4If the difficulty in implementing the Child Protection Plan impacts on the safety of the child, the Social Worker and all Core Group members should consider the need for a Section 47 Enquiry and / or bringing forward the date of the Review Child Protection Conference and / or for immediate legal action.

7.13.5If members are concerned that there are difficulties implementing the Child Protection Plan arising from disagreement amongst professional agencies or a Core Group member not carrying out agreed responsibilities this must be addressed:

   

 

7.14 Timing

The first Core Group meeting must be within 10 working days of the Initial Child Protection Conference.

Subsequent Core Groups must meet at least every 6 weeks.

7.15 Formulation of Child Protection Plan

7.15.1The conference will outline the SOS mapping to assist the Core Group to form a clearer focus of work with the family and to explicitly define individual professional responsibilities.

7.15.2The Outline Child Protection Plan on the Mapping from the ICPC is developed at the Core Group to become the Child Protection Plan. The Mapping is also used as the record of Core Group meeting in this phase.

7.15.3Core Group meetings should always review the danger statement and safety goals to ensure the plan is child safety focussed, and consider contingencies if safety is not being progressed or met. The Mapping MUST be uploaded to the Core Group episode.

7.15.4If you are undertaking a comprehensive assessment as part of child protection planning, the Mappings and safety planning must feed into this assessment.

 

7.16 The Social Worker should:

 

7.17 Visiting requirements for children on Child Protection Plans

a) The purpose of child protection visits to children on CP plans     
b)  Children should be seen at least every 10 working days by the Social Worker. 

c)   Where possible the child should be seen alone on every visit (with parent's agreement).

d)   If the Social Worker has difficulty obtaining direct access to the child, the Practice and Group Manager must be informed, as well as other Core Group members.

e)     If access to a child is refused or obstructed, a core group meeting should be urgently convened to develop a plan to access the child/ren or decide on other safety actions, including a legal planning meeting. Where possible, another core group professional should try and visit/see the child for update/information on their immediate safety.

 

7.18 Recording visits

The Child Protection Visit episode should:

 

a)     Be recorded on Frameworki within 24 hours of the visit taking place and include the date of visit, where it took place and whether the child was seen alone. The detail of the visit should also be recorded separately as a case note to facilitate a coherent overview of the case.

b)      Confirm that the Social Worker spoke to the child, including if alone or a clear reason given why not.

c)       Evidence that discussion with the child has included matters relating to the reason for social work involvement.

d)      Brief note of purpose of visit, noting if visit was announced or unannounced. The purpose of the visit must relate to the reason for involvement e.g. a Child Protection visit may be to check that children are physically OK and this should be stated.

e)       An accurate and concise summary of the issues discussed.

f)         Any information gained or observations made during the visit relevant to the identified risks and unmet needs.

g)      Specific information about key subjects such as meals and sleeping arrangements and condition of home (the allocated Social Worker must observe the child’s bedroom at last once between conferences).

h)      Note any new factors that contribute towards risks child is exposed to.

i)         Clear distinction between fact, opinion, judgement and hypothesis. These should relate to the purpose of the visit and actions identified in the plan, and be succinct.

j)         Factual record of the child’s presentation and behaviour – specific and descriptive avoiding non-specific labels

k)    Date of next planned visit to the child.

l)         Significant information/events are recorded on the chronology.

 

7.19 Review Child Protection Conferences

7.19.1The Social Worker is responsible, in liaison with the conference Chair and administrator, for convening the Review Child Protection Conference, the dates for which should have been set at the previous conference for no more than:

 

7.19.2The Mapping along with any direct work undertaken must be provided for the RCPC, including the family/networks involved safety plan and service plan.

7.19.3 At the RCPC, the Chair will ensure that the danger statement and safety goals are reviewed and have been updated as the case has developed.

7.19.4The RCPC will review the family/networks involved safety plan alongside the service plan and ensure that this is maintaining a child safety focus, involving the family and their networks fully and that it is meeting the safety goal.

7.19.5The RCPC will consider what the contingency plan is if safety goals are not be progressed towards or met in the child’s timescales.

7.19.6Review conferences should be brought forward in the following circumstances:

The request to bring forward the date of a Review Conference should be made by a Strategy Discussion/Meeting of a Section.47 Enquiry or by the Lead Social Worker following consultation with Core Group members, the conference Chair, and must be authorised by the Group Manager.

 

7.20 Absence of the Social Worker

7.20.1It is the responsibility of the Social Worker, in liaison with the Practice Manager to ensure that clear cover arrangements are made when the Social Worker is absent on planned annual leave, training etc.

7.20.2The manager must arrange cover for the Social Worker in case of sickness and ensure including the checking and any necessary action, resulting from post, e-mails and telephone contacts.

7.20.3If the Lead Social Worker is to be absent from work for an extended period her / his manager should consider reallocating the case.

7.20.4Parents and child must be informed of planned absences of the Lead Social Worker, who will be covering the role and what contacts will be made.

7.20.5The manager must ensure that other members of the Core Group are informed of the Social Worker's absence and of cover arrangements.

7.21 Practice Manager Role

The Practice Manager has a vital role in managing the progress of the case and supporting the Lead Social Worker. They should:

 

7.22 Child on Child Protection Plans who become looked after

7.22.1Children who become subject of an interim care order

At every child protection conference the social worker will be expected to inform the child protection adviser (CPA), if there are any immediate proposals to make an application to court for an interim care order. If this is proposed, all conference attendees will be informed of this and the CPA will notify the conference that once confirmation of the order is received from the social worker (and the child is placed away from parent), the child/young person will no longer be the subject of a child protection plan with agencies notified of this.

The safeguarding unit will write to all agencies involved to advise them that the child protection plan will be discontinued with immediate effect and that the child’s future care needs and safeguarding will be managed via the looked after statutory procedures.

7.22.2Children who are subject to an interim care order (or no order) and placed with parents

If the local authority is unsuccessful in gaining agreement from court to remove a child from the care of parents whilst care proceedings are on-going, the social worker will inform the safeguarding unit.

An early review child protection conference will be timetabled in order to establish whether the child can/should be removed from a child protection plan.

7.22.3Children subject to section 20 accommodation

The allocated social worker will contact the safeguarding unit when the child becomes looked after.

The safeguarding unit will then timetable an early review child protection conference. If core group members are satisfied that the local authority would immediately seek emergency protection should attempts be made to remove the child from placement where there is risk of significant harm, the child should be removed from the child protection plan.

Children subject to section 20 accommodation should only remain subject to child protection plans in complex situations or where there is a planned short term time table for rehabilitation to care of parents.

Children and Young People Subject to Dual Status

7.23 Step Down from Child Protection

The decision to end a child protection plan will be made at a review child protection conference.

Prior to the review child protection conference, the recommendation to step down form child protection planning needs to be agreed by:

a)             The Core Group

b)             The Practice Manager

 

This should usually involve a step down to Child in Need.

 

  1. Legal Proceedings
8.1 The Public Law Outline (PLO) 
      
            PLO Sussex Manifesto

8.2 Legal Planning Meetings

8.2.1       A Legal Planning meeting should be held with the Social Worker, Practice Manager, Group Manager and a representative from the Legal Department.

8.2.2       There can, and should be, a last chance to prevent the need for Care Proceedings discussed and, if appropriate, offered to parents at the meeting before proceedings. Otherwise there should be a decision made that day to issue proceedings.

8.2.3       The Group Manager can, and should, decide to instruct the Legal Department to issue proceedings if (on the advice of the Social Worker and Practice Manager) the parents do not meet the requirements of the ‘last chance’ plan, and the risks to the child or young person warrant such action.

8.2.4       As part of the LPM, all potential options for achieving permanence should be explored, particularly when it appears a return to living with birth parent(s) is unlikely.

8.2.5       LPMs should always consider whether the child concerned needs to become looked after, or whether permanence can be achieved with family or other connected people, without the need for the child to become looked after by the local authority. With this in mind, exploration of Special Guardianship Orders and Child Arrangement Orders as alternatives to becoming looked after should always be discussed.

8.2.6       Any subsequent LPMs should consider progress towards permanence.

8.2.7       The Practice Manager must keep the allocated legal representative up-to-date with progress or otherwise of the ‘last chance’ plan.

8.2.8       At the LPM a clear plan of action will be agreed. The Service Leader should be informed of recommended actions from the LPM and ratify these actions.

8.2.9       A Pre Proceedings letter should be sent to the parents of the child(ren) setting out the concerns, what support has been offered and what the parents need to do to avoid legal proceedings being initiated. This should be written by the Practice Manager.

 

SOS letter before proceedings

8.2.10   The fact that legal advice was sought, and an outline of the advice given e.g. that the threshold criteria was met, must be recorded on the case file as a case note and included in the chronology.

8.2.11   If following the LPM it is agreed to start the PLO, the Social Worker must arrange for a Meeting Before Proceedings (MBP), chaired by a Group Manager, and attended by the parents, the parents’ solicitors, the Social Worker, Practice Manager, and the local authority solicitor.

8.2.12   If a Meeting before Proceedings (MBP) is the outcome, then the social worker from Assessment and Intervention will continue to work with the child and their family until the meeting takes place (maximum of 10 working days from the LPM).

8.2.13   The Group Manager from Family Support and Protection Service needs to identify a social worker to begin working with the family. A joint visit with the social worker from Assessment and Intervention needs to take place prior to the MBP.

 

8.3 Meeting Before Proceedings

8.3.1       At the MBP the responsibility for the child’s Safety Plan will be taken forward by the social worker from Family Support and Protection.

8.3.2       All contracts of expectations, and letters sent to parents covering pre-proceedings, and any other matter within legal proceedings, written by social workers must be reviewed and, if necessary, revised and co-signed by a Practice Manager.

8.3.3       Minutes of the MBP must be recorded on the case file and given to all those who attended the meeting. The decisions of the meeting must be recorded on the case file as a case note and included in the chronology.

 

SOS agenda for a meeting before proceedings

8.4 Legal records

Any written advice from the Legal Department is excluded from being disclosed under Freedom of Information or the Data Protection Act and should not be disclosed in response to an ‘Access to files’ request without specific consent from the Legal Department.

Written legal advice (including e mails) should be stored as ‘Documents’ on Frameworki and clearly entitled ‘Legal Advice’. They should be loaded up to the appropriate legal episode.

PLO with Unborn Babies: Please see Pre-birth procedures

8.5 EPO / ICO

a)      If a child is living within a family where there is a high level of risk then intervention via a legal order (EPO / ICO) should be immediately sought. In an emergency situation, the Legal Department will not automatically issue an application for an ICO when an application for an EPO is made. An application for an ICO should only be made in these circumstances after the Group Manager’s approval has been sought, given and recorded.

b)     The Service Leader from Contact, Assessment and Intervention needs to be fully involved in the decision making and ratify the plan to seek an EPO / ICO.

c)      The Group Manager from CLA Service must identify a social worker who will be responsible for working with the child and their family.

d)     Responsibility will move to the new social worker from CLA Service immediately after the ICO Hearing.

 

8.6 Care Orders

A Court may only make a Care Order if it is satisfied:

a)      That the child concerned is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm; and

b)     That the harm, or likelihood of harm, is attributable to:

  1. The care given to the child, or likely to be given to him if the order were not made, not being what it would be reasonable to expect a parent to give to him; or
  2. The child being beyond parental control.

 

8.7 Ensuring the Quality of Court work

8.7.1       All Court Proceedings work will be undertaken by qualified, experienced social workers.

8.7.2       Practice Managers will quality assure, approve and sign all Court assessments, statements and care plans written for Court and the care plan must be confirmed on the case file as a case note.

8.7.3       Social workers will use the approved Sussex Courts template for the initial statement.

8.7.4       The use of Independent Social Workers during Care Proceedings should not usually be supported unless this is necessary in the circumstances of the case.

8.7.5       Any child who is received into the care of the Local Authority (Section 20) or made subject to an ICO, CO or any other order that places them away from previous caregivers should not be made (or remain) subject to a Child Protection Plan.

 

Section of social work statement which considers placement options guidance

Sussex initial social work statementguidance

Social work initial statement template with guidance

8.8  Supervision Orders

 

8.8.1       When a child is the subject of a local authority application to the Family Court it is because the local authority believes there is information indicating that the child is suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm. If at the end of Care Proceedings a Supervision Order is considered by the local authority to be the most appropriate order to achieve the best outcome for the child it is essential to ensure that an appropriate level of planning, intervention and review is in place and carried through once the final order has been made. The following actions and responsibilities should be implemented to ensure that the local authority carries out its responsibilities set down in the Children Act 1989 (principally section 35 and Schedule 3).

8.8.2       Once the Care Proceedings have concluded the focus on the child’s needs, together with the management of the Supervision Order is to be met through Child in Need planning.

8.8.3       The management of the order and the focus on achieving the final plan that was presented to the Court is to be given equal weighting to those children for whom final Care Orders were made.

8.8.4       Supervision Orders are time limited, and may be extended where needed, on application to the Court, but at all times the care and safeguarding needs of the child should be primary considerations for all children’s services staff.

8.8.5       It is currently not common practice for a local authority to make an original application to the Court for a Supervision Order. Generally Supervision Orders emerge as being the most appropriate final Order in a case which commenced with an application for a Care Order.

8.8.6       A Supervision Order does not confer parental responsibility upon the local authority. Parental responsibility will remain with the parents or any other person who has obtained parental responsibility by the making of a Court Order or other methods.

8.8.7       The Supervision Order will remain in place for the period of time directed by the Court unless an application is made before it expires, for variation or discharge.

8.8.8       No Supervision Order may be made with respect to a child who has reached the age of seventeen (or sixteen, in the case of a child who is married).

8.8.9       Supervision Orders can be made with respect to a child who is subject to a Child Arrangements Orders, Special Guardianship Order (see Special Guardianship Orders Financial Support Policy), or any other Section 8 Order and will not end those Orders, being expected instead to support the carers in the best possible care of the child.

Special Guardianship Orders Financial Support Policy

8.9  Length of a Supervision Order

 

8.9.1       In the first instance, a Court will generally make a Supervision Order for a period of one year, (though this can be for a shorter period of time).

8.9.2       At the end of the initial period the local authority can apply to the Court to extend or further extend a Supervision Order for such period as the Court may specify. A Supervision Order cannot extend in total for a period beyond three years from the date on which the original Supervision Order was made.

8.9.3       If the application to extend the Supervision Order is made before the expiry of the current Supervision Order the local authority does not need to establish again the threshold criteria, the threshold criteria for harm established at the end of the original Care Proceedings can continue to be relied upon.

8.9.4       Whilst a Supervision Order is in force it shall be the duty of social work to:

a)      Advise assist and befriend the supervised child;

b)     Take all reasonable steps to give effect to the order; and

c)      To consider whether or not to apply to the Court for its variation or discharge where:

 

8.10          Developing a Supervision Order Plan

 

8.10.1   At the finalisation of the proceedings, a ‘Care Plan’ will have been presented to the Court detailing the aspects of the Supervision Order and setting out what support will be provided by the local authority to the child and family. This should form the basis of the CIN plan so that the link between the two is established.

8.10.2   Wherever possible the Care Plan should articulate the specific “next steps” of the plan to fully establish the safety plan. In addition the frequency of visits to the child should be explicit along with the review dates for the length of the Order applied for.

8.10.3   The final Care Plan must be signed off by the Group Manager.

8.10.4   Within five days of the Care Proceedings concluding and the Supervision Order being made, a completed CIN plan should be available to the child’s carers, parents and involved professionals. The Care Plan presented to Court should form the basis of the CIN plan. If the child has been looked after throughout the Proceedings a CLA review should be held to end the period of accommodation and to develop the CIN plan.

8.10.5   Consideration should be given in the Local Authority’s final Care Plan as to whether an Initial Child Protection Conference should be held. Within that conference consideration should be given to progressing and securing the safety plan through a Child Protection Plan.

8.10.6   The criteria for this are the same as for any other child subject to an ICPC, and are based on risk identification and management.

8.10.7   It may also be the case during the lifetime of the Supervision Order that further information of concern becomes available, in those circumstances an Initial Child Protection Conference may be held and where it is judged necessary a Child Protection Plan put in place.

8.10.8   The threshold for an ICPC as opposed to a return to Court should relate to the question of removal. If risk exists to such an extent that the child is no longer considered safe to live at home then a return to Court is indicated. If, however, the risk is not at this level but has escalated from CIN then an ICPC is indicated.

8.10.9   It is essential that the Child Protection Plan incorporates and progresses the Care Plan that was presented to the Court.

 

8.11          Reviewing of a Supervision Order Plan

 

8.11.1   The Child Protection process is clear about the timescales for review Child Protection Conferences and core groups which provide an appropriate forum for the plan to be reviewed.

8.11.2   If there is no Child Protection Plan in place then the child’s situation should be managed through Child in Need planning, with the plan actively considered through regular Child in Need meetings.

8.11.3   The Child in Need Plan for a child subject to a Supervision Order should be reviewed:

Within one month of the Supervision Order being made

Within three months of the last review

Two months prior to the date that the Supervision Order is due to expire

During every Child in Need meeting or review.

8.11.4   The issue of whether the Supervision Order will need to be extended should be specifically addressed. Specific consideration should be given to the commitments made by the local authority in the final Court Care Plan and any recommendations of the Court and whether these have been met.

8.11.5   There should be a recorded discussion as to whether each explicit goal/action set out in the final Court Care Plan has been achieved, and if not what aspect of the safety plan mitigates against this now being required. An explicit recommendation should be made about whether the Supervision Order is still required.

 

8.12          Extending a Supervision Order

8.12.1   During every Child in Need meeting or review, the issue of whether the Supervision Order will need to be extended should be specifically addressed. At the CIN meeting or review, to be held 2 months before the expiry of the Supervision Order if a decision is taken to make an application to extend the current Order the review and its recommendation should be discussed in supervision between the Social Worker and the Practice Manager.

8.12.2   If a decision is made not to seek to extend the Supervision Order the reasons for this decision must be fully recorded in the review minutes. This should be signed off by the Practice Manager.

8.12.3   If at the review a recommendation is made that the Supervision Order needs to be extended, the case should be referred back to the Group Manager and where agreed, a Legal Planning Meeting convened as soon as possible.

8.12.4   Good practice indicates that:

 

8.13 Protecting the Child

a)      If at any review it is recommended that the Supervision Order is not providing the level of safeguarding required for the child, consideration may be necessary about whether to make an application to the Court for a Care Order or other order as appropriate. In these circumstances this issue needs to be placed before the Group Manager.

b)     In an emergency a decision to place the matter before the Court can be taken by any Service Leader.

c)      An application for a Care Order whilst a Supervision Order is in force will require the local authority to prove the threshold criteria for the making of a Care Order as at the date of the new application.

 

8.14 Closing of Children’s Social Care Involvement

If following the expiry of a Supervision Order the decision is made to bring to an end the involvement of Children’s Social Care with the child and family then a comprehensive closure summary should be completed which details the safety plan in place and what, if any, criteria would lead to Children’s Social Care restarting their engagement.

8.15 Private Law Proceedings

8.15.1Section 7 and 37 Reports

If a child is already open to a social worker, that worker or a worker from that part of the service will be responsible for undertaking any Section 7/ 37 report requested from the Court.

All new requests for Section 7 / 37 Reports will be completed by a social worker within the Assessment and Intervention Service

8.15.1Child Arrangements Orders

An allowance may be paid to anyone caring for the child who is the subject of a Child Arrangements Orders to that individual, other than the parent of the child or the husband or wife of a parent of the child. The power to pay such an allowance is discretionary and is not intended to remove responsibility from the birth parents to make adequate financial provision for the care and upbringing of their children.

 

Child Arrangements Orders (formally Residence Orders) Allowance Procedures

8.16       Step Parent Adoption

 

8.16.1   A request to carry out a step parent adoption assessment should be recorded as a Contact > CYP referral and a dual outcome of Step Parent Adoption and Child and Family Assessment.

8.16.2   This should then be sent electronically to one of the teams in the geographical area in which the child lives.

8.16.3   Each team will work on a rota for receiving requests. The CAP will assign cases in rotation.

8.16.4   The Step Parent Adoption process is not a workflow on Frameworki but a form which is a log of key dates and information.

8.16.5   The assessment is intended to establish whether there are any Child in Need issues, and to assist the family to decide if this is the right course of action for them. Information about the legal implications of a step parent adoption should be discussed, as well as the alternatives that should be considered. The Court will need to be satisfied that an adoption is preferable to a Child Arrangements Orders.

8.16.6   If no CIN issues are identified and information has been provided to the family about their options and the process then the assessment can be outcomed to NFA.

8.16.7   The applicants will then lodge an application if they choose to go ahead and the social worker will be notified. Future activity will be noted on the Step Parent adoption log which can either have as an outcome ‘abandoned’ or ‘complete’.

 

Step-parent adoption process for FWi

Step-parent practice notes

 

  1. Care Planning & decision making for children on the edge of care
   

It is expected that all family and community support options will have been explored, and diversion from care strategies exhausted before seeking to accommodate a child.

9.1 Family and Friends Care2

       
This chapter needs to read in conjunction with the updated WSCC Family and Friends Policy. This document gives advanced practice guidance on Viability Assessments, Special Guardianship Assessments, and permanency and includes all the assessment formats plus other key forms and documents.  
 
Family Friends PPG



9.1.1 Values and Principles

a) A Family First approach must be considered when making any decisions about placement options for a child who is unable to live at home with his/her parents.

b) Where possible and safe, families should be assisted and supported to find their own solutions outside the formal care system e.g. informal family care or private fostering.

c) The local authority offers support to the carers of children living outside of their birth families, not just to children themselves.

d) Where a child cannot live within his or her immediate family and the local authority is considering the need to look after the child, we will make strenuous efforts to identify potential carers within the child’s network of family or friends who are able and willing to care for the child.
 
e) All family and friends care options must ensure permanency planning for the child.

See Children’s Social Care Policy, Procedures and Guidance Chapter 10.2.1 Permanency Planning for more details.

9.1.2 Legal Framework
 

a) The local authority does not have a general duty to assess all arrangements where children are living with their wider family or friends but it does have a duty where services may be necessary to safeguard or promote the welfare of a Child in Need.

b) A Child in Need is defined in Section 17(10) of the Children Act 1989 as a child who is disabled or who is unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision of services by the local authority.

c) Children in Need may live with members of their family or friends in a variety of different legal arrangements, some formal and some informal. Different court orders are available to formalise these arrangements (as below).

d) Children looked after will always come within the definition of Children in Need, whether they are accommodated under Section 20 with parental consent or in care subject to a Court Order. The local authority has a responsibility wherever possible to make arrangements for a looked after child to live with a member of the family (Section 22 of the Children Act 1989).

e) Section 20 accommodation:

· Informed consent from the parent(s) must be obtained at the outset of any s20 arrangement.
· Every social worker obtaining this consent is under a personal duty to be satisfied that the person giving the consent has the capacity to do so and understands what the arrangement means. In taking any such consent the social worker must actively address the issue of capacity and take into account all the relevant factors. If there are concerns about the capacity to give consent legal advice should be sought
· The consent of the parent(s) must be properly recorded in writing and evidenced by the parent's signature. The document should reflect that they are aware they can withdraw consent at any time and a parent should never be asked to give a ‘notice period’ before a child can be returned. 
 
S20 Agreement
 
· Upon a withdrawal of parental consent arrangements need to be made for the child/children to be returned to the parents care. If there are concerns about this urgent legal advice should be sought if it is not possible to reach agreement with the parents.

f) The Special Guardianship Regulations 2016 placed additional requirements on the assessment of carers and these have been updated in this guidance.

9.1.3 Different types of Family and Friends Care

I. Informal Family and Friends Care Arrangements

a) Where a child cannot be cared for within his or her immediate family, the family may make their own arrangements to care for the child within the family and friends network.

b) The local authority does not have a duty to assess any such informal family and friends care arrangements, unless it appears to the local authority that a Child in Need Plan may be necessary to safeguard or promote the welfare of the child.

c) In such cases, the local authority has a responsibility under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 to assess the child’s needs and provide services to meet any assessed needs of the child. Following assessment, a Child in Need Plan (referred to as a Child and Family Plan from this point) will be drawn up and a package of support will be identified. This can comprise a variety of different types of services and support, including limited financial support in specific circumstances.

d) Informal Family Care - Arrangements for adolescents: The WSCC Adolescent and Family Resource Team offer a range of Informal Family Care supports. See main policy document attachment below.
II. Private Fostering Arrangements

a) A privately fostered child is a child under 16 (or 18 if disabled) who is cared for by an adult who is not a parent or close relative, where the child is to be cared for in that home for 28 days or more. Close relative is defined as ‘a grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt (whether of the full blood or half blood or by marriage or civil partnership) or step-parent.’ It does not include a child who is Looked After by a local authority. In a private fostering arrangement, the parent still holds parental responsibility and agrees the arrangement with the private foster carer.

b) The local authority will become involved with all children in private fostering arrangements under the private fostering regulations. Additionally, where the child comes within the definition of a Child in Need. In such cases, the local authority has a responsibility to provide services to meet the assessed needs of the child under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989. Following assessment, a Plan will be drawn up and a package of support will be identified.

c) Private Fostering must be an arrangement made directly between the child’s family and the carer.
See Children’s Social Care Policy, Procedures and Guidance Chapter 12.1 Private Fostering for more details.

III. Family and Friends as Foster Carers

a) The purpose of family and friends care is that the child can live permanently and safely with family and friends rather than as a looked after child with the continued need for social work intervention and corporate parenting. Placing a child in foster care with family and friends would therefore only happen in exceptional circumstances based on the child’s best interests.

b) The assessment and approval process for family and friends who apply to be foster carers for a specific Looked After child will be the same as for any other foster carer, although specific consideration is given to the importance of attachments and connections for the child.

c) Once approved as foster carers, they will be allocated a supervising social worker from the fostering service to provide them with support and supervision; and they will receive fostering allowances for as long as they care for the child as a foster carer.

d) While the child remains a looked after child, as a foster carer, they will be expected to cooperate with all the processes that are in place to ensure that the child receives appropriate care and support, for example, contributing to reviews of the child’s Care Plan, cooperating with the child’s social worker and promoting the child’s education and health needs.

See Children’s Social Care Policy, Procedures and Guidance Chapter 12 Fostering for more details.

IV.  Child Arrangements Order

a) A Child Arrangement Order is a Court Order which sets out the arrangements as to when and with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact. These orders replace the previous Contact Orders and Residence Orders.

b) A Child Arrangements Orders is similar to a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) in that it is the carer who applies for the Order and it gives the carer parental responsibility. However, it is more of a shared parental responsibility than conferred by a SGO and the parent retains the right to apply for the Order to be revoked.

c) Child Arrangements Orders may be made in private family proceedings in which the local authority is not a party nor involved in the arrangements unless we are already working with the child as a Child in Need or child looked after.

d) West Sussex County Council holds the view that for most children and carers a SGO (see below) is a more secure option than a Child Arrangements Orders, and therefore, Child Arrangements Orders are only promoted in exceptional circumstances.
V. Special Guardianship

a) West Sussex County Council promotes the use of Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs) to secure permanence for children with their wider family or friends.
 
b) A SGO gives the carers parental responsibility.

c) This means that the Special Guardians can make most of the day to day decisions as a child grows up, such as where to go on holiday, which school is the best for the child and permission for medical treatment. The exceptions are that Special Guardians cannot take a child out of the UK for more than 3 months, or change his name, without permission from the birth parents.

9.1.4 Placements with Family and Friends: Viability Assessments and Special Guardianship Assessments

a) It is very important to establish at an early stage which relatives or friends might be available to care for the child or able to support those caring for the child. A Family Network Meeting must be held.

b) If it is assessed that the child cannot safely remain at home, every effort must be made to secure a permanent placement with relatives or friends under a Special Guardianship Order where it is safe and in the child’s best interests to do so.

c) A Permanency Planning Meeting must be held and attended by the Group Manager. The placement with family and friends must secure permanency for the child.

See Children’s Social Care Policy, Procedures and Guidance Chapter 10.2.1 Permanency Planning for more details.

d) Before a looked after child or child is placed with family or friends:
· The plan to place must be agreed by a Group Manager.
· A Special Guardianship assessment needs to be completed and recommend the carers.
· The assessment must go to the foster panel and the recommendation of the panel be agreed by the Fostering Agency Decision Maker (ADM). However, for children currently in open hearings before the Family Court, decisions may depend on and be directed by Court timeframes.

9.1.5 Temporary Approval

a) An emergency placement with family or friends for a looked after child, without any checks or assessments is unlawful.

b) The expectation is that temporary approval will be used exceptionally, in circumstances which could not have been foreseen and giving insufficient time to undertake a full SGO assessment prior to placement.

c) There may be occasions where it is in the child’s best interests to be placed with family and friends who want to offer the child a permanent home under Special Guardianship in preference to short term foster care with strangers.

d) The LA must be satisfied that the placement is the most suitable means to safeguard the child, and that placement cannot wait until the full approval process is completed.

e) Essential checks must be completed on the carers prior to any placement with them:
· Frameworki checks
· Safeguarding Unit checks
· Police record checks
· Verbal GP checks

f) Before the child is placed with family or friends, a Viability Assessment must be completed and temporary approval agreed by the Viability Assessment Agency Decision Maker (ADM).
Part C Viability Assessment

g) As The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010:

· Regulation 24 provides for there to be temporary approval of a family, friend or other connected person as a Foster Carer for up to 16 weeks.
· Regulation 25 also sets out three points that the LA must consider or undertake before a decision to extend the temporary approval is made:

 i. Consider whether the placement in question is still the most appropriate placement
 ii. Seek the views of the fostering panel, and
iii. Inform the IRO.

h) A letter needs to be sent to the family advising them of the Regulation 24 status and obligations. See Policy Document attached.

i) A Supervising Social worker will be allocated and a Placement planning meeting will take place within 72 hours.

j) A decision to extend the temporary approval must be approved by the Viability Assessment ADM. Extending the temporary approval is to be used in exceptional circumstances only.

k) If the period of temporary approval and of any extension to that period expires and it is not possible to approve the placement within 24 weeks then the placement becomes unregulated. There cannot be a further extension.

l) Unregulated placement arrangements need to be underwritten by the Head of Children’s Social Care.
 
m) During the period of temporary approval the social worker must visit the child in placement at least every 10 days rising to 15 days as the child settles in placement.

9.1.6 Alternatives to Temporary Approval

a) A child can be placed with family or friends under S17 CA 1989. The assessment must be that the child does not need the protection of being looked after, using the criteria in S20 CA 1989.

b) If a child is placed under S17 in these circumstances, family and friends are then able to apply for an Interim Child Arrangements Orders (an Interim Special Guardianship Order does not exist) followed by a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) if it is in the best interests of the child.    

9.2 Provision of Accommodation for 16-17 year olds who already have a child in need or child protection plan

9.2.1       The Southwark judgement in May 2009 gave clear guidance to local authorities about responding to young people of 16 and 17 presenting as homeless. In West Sussex a Homelessness Prevention Team is in place and there is a joint protocol with Housing. This team works to intervene early with young people who are vulnerable to homelessness, and seeks to find sustainable solutions from within the young person’s own networks or from mainstream services, without the need to accommodate under S20 CA 1989.

9.2.2       For young people who are actively being worked as CIN or on a CPP, or who are parents of CIN or CPP, and who become homeless, a different set of challenges is presented. This MIN seeks to clarify the response to such young people, taking into account the intention of the Southwark judgement.

9.2.3       A young person aged between 16 and 17 who has an active CIN or CP plan and who is threatened with homelessness should be dealt with in line with the joint protocol

9.2.4       A joint assessment will be arranged when a young person is homeless or threatened with homelessness, to determine housing and support needs. This should be undertaken by the allocated Social Worker working alongside a Young Persons Worker from the Homelessness Prevention Team.

9.2.5       OLAC workers based within the Homelessness Prevention Team can offer advice and information about the joint assessment process and early help options available to divert young people from care. The OLAC workers will work with the young person to consider their suitability for independent living. This will inform the assessment and assist in planning.

Joint protocol for the assessment of housing and support needs of homeless 16-17 year olds

 

9.3        Existing CIN/CP plan 16 –17 years old, where homelessness becomes an issue

9.3.1       Arrangements by Children’s Social Care or Housing Services to assist the young person to remain in their family home, or with another responsible adult, should be fully explored with the young person and their family.

9.3.2       Following assessment all 16/17 year olds who are identified as needing accommodation (under the provision of S20 CA 1989) will be provided with the accommodation and support that best meets their needs. The Social Worker should attend CLA Monitoring to present their assessment and recommendations.

9.3.3       If a young person declines accommodation under Section 20, or refuses to become or be treated as a looked after child, Children’s Social Care must be satisfied that the young person has been provided with all relevant information, is aware of the implication of this decision, and is competent to make such a decision.

9.3.4       As part of this discussion, planning for accommodation and support beyond the age of 18 should be included. The young person should be very clear that the legal responsibilities of Children’s Services in relation to support under S17 CA 1989 cease, and services would therefore end, on their 18th birthday, or sooner.

9.3.5       It is extremely important that there is a note made on the young person’s record covering the above points and the basis for the young person’s views about their legal status, and how the legal duties of the local authority were explained. This must be recorded fully.

9.3.6       The question of whether a young person should be treated as a ‘former looked after child’ and entitled to support services beyond the age of 18 may need to be considered by the OCLA Practice Manager. For this reason care should be taken to record the basis on which services, particularly those relating to securing accommodation were met.

9.3.7       Where a young person was on a CIN/CPP but social work intervention ended within the last 3 months, case responsibility should revert to the previous team for a new initial assessment. This team will then follow the process for joint assessment with Housing.

9.3.8       When social work intervention ends for 16-17 year olds but there are still concerns about the possibility of future homelessness, and it is felt that a multi-agency approach would be helpful, a “step-down” process to Early Help should be followed with the aim of preventing homelessness.

Southwark check list

9.4       Children Looked After Monitoring (CLAM) Panel

9.4.1                 All new requests to accommodate a child under Section 20, Interim Care Order or Care Order will need to be referred to the CLAM panel.

9.4.2                 Service Leaders must agree for a young person to be considered for accommodation prior to presentation to CLAM. In an emergency, Service Leaders can agree to accommodate a child; any placement agreed in external sector i.e. IFA/residential must be agreed by the Service Lead for Fostering, Adoption and Intervention; Mary Blanchard. (The Service Leader for CAP, Assessment and Interventions, Matt Ansell, will cover in Mary’s absence).

9.4.3                 The CLAM panel must consider and monitor:

a) All new requests for accommodation where this is the proposed care plan

b) All possible future requests for accommodation where although it is not the primary care plan parallel planning is taking place. This will include but not be restricted to all children subject to Public Law Outline process

c) Any request for placement change that will have a budgetary impact such as IFA or residential placement

d) WSSC placements budgets and total spend predictions

e)Responsibility for decision making for placement options

f) In house fostering, residential vacancies and open cases to placement finding

9.4.4  The purpose of the Panel is to ensure

a)                  That provision of care by the Local Authority is the best care plan for the child at that point and all other options have been explored

b)                  Where agreed, that

 

9.4.5       Prior to making a Referral

a)                  Planning to accommodate a child and find a suitable placement needs to start in supervision when the likelihood of the need for a placement should be discussed with the Practice Manager.

b)                  Contingency plans within the family and kinship network should be discussed with the family so that options are available if needed prior to the event. A SOS Family Network meeting including mapping and safety planning should be completed.

c)                  Agreement must be given by the Practice Manager/Group manager that a referral to CLAM is made.

d)                  Complete the Placement Finding Referral Form through Frameworki and ensure this is given QA by the Practice Manager.

e)                  All referrals must be agreed by the relevant Group Manager who, where possible should have sight of the information on which the Panel will be making its decision.

 

9.4.6       Making a Referral

a)                  The CLAM Panel will be held every Tuesday from 12:30 pm to 5pm alternately in Horsham and Worthing. The business part of the panel take place from 12.30-1:30 and social worker will present starting at 1:30pm.

b)                  Any referrals must be received by mid-day on a Friday by the Placement finding team, prior to the next Tuesday meeting.

c)                  All cases presented at CLAM must have evidence of a SOS family meeting mapping, as above, in order that we can be confident that all family options have been exhausted, or are going to be mobilised as part of a support plan.

d)                  The request, actions so far and plan will be presented by the social worker and reviewed at the next CLAM. The date and timing of attendance at CLAM will be booked/confirmed with the social worker by the Panel administrator.

e)                  It is expected that the allocated social worker attends the CLAM or is represented by their Practice Manager.

f)                   The social worker should ensure the following is available to the Panel:

The objective of the placement and timescale and the child’s needs

g)                  Panel members will ask questions that assist in understanding whether accommodation at this stage is the right option and understanding what the needs of the child are. This will include:

h)                  The decisions that are open to the panel are

  1. To approve or not approve the request to accommodate the child and type of provision needed including external options
  2. To approve or not approve a concurrent plan that ensure that if accommodation is required in the near future (6 weeks) then it can be made either:

i)                    In all situations the Panel process also means that the Placement Finding Team will be in a position with the right information to progress the placement finding following the Panel.

 

9.5 Emergency Accommodation

Approvals for emergency accommodation for the purposes of protection can be agreed by the relevant Service Leader and sent direct to the Placement Finding Team. Any such request should be accompanied by the same information as for the CLAM Panel.

Emergency placements (required within 24 hours) should be rare, usually following legal action or the child being taken into police protection.

All OOH placement decisions must be reviewed the next working day by ART and the Centralised Duty Desk (CDD) working jointly. The purpose of this is to ensure that the placement meets the needs of the child and is line with the ART placement protocol. A list of emergency foster carers will be provided daily to the EDT Manager, by the Centralised Duty Team. If accommodation is required out of core office hours then it will be dealt with by the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) service.

The EDT Manager can approve placements until the next working day, at which time the decision to accommodate must either be ratified or rescinded by the relevant Principal Manager. The EDT Manager must notify ART and CDT of any placement made.

9.6 WSCC Fostering Emergency Support Programme (FESP)

   

9.6.1 Purpose
 

a) The Children’s Complex Case Panel will collaborate to simplify and improve the work connected with children and young people with complex social, educational and health needs who require a co-ordinated multi-agency approach to particular difficulties they are experiencing.
 
b) The goal of the panel is to ensure that improving individual children’s health, educational, emotional and safety outcomes are the focus in decision making and reviewing the progress that is being achieved by our collaborative working.

c) The Panel will consider and review those cases which involve complex co‑ordination and a need for all professionals to work together, regardless of individual agency responsibility.

d) The Panel will also have the delegated authority to decide on the appropriateness of placements funded by SEN & Inclusion and/or Children’s Social Care within available resources. CAMHS funding decisions are made at a monthly panel. The Panel may also wish to suggest alternative approaches subject to representation at Panel.

e) The Panel will collect evidence to inform commissioning plans and development.

9.6.2 Aims of the Panel

The panel aims to:
· Monitor and review the progress of individual children.
· Respond to requests for co-ordination of complex multi-agency arrangements and thereby inform service development.
· Make decisions on individual placements/care/treatment packages.
· Make recommendations to resolve financial issues in terms of agency contribution.
· Assist and advise local teams and services in their joint work to create local solutions and avoid the separation of the child from their family or local community.
· Agree a joint risk management plan for individual young people as appropriate, to be owned by all agencies represented.
· Ensure there are effective links for transition planning for cases within scope of Group at points of change and development.
· Monitor expenditure on individual placements and inform future commissioning plans.
· Identify gaps in service that lead to requests for funding.

9.6.3 Referral Criteria 

a) The panel will plan and review children who have complex needs/high risk behaviours that require a multi-agency approach particularly with regards to placements and safety in their environment.

b) All children who are referred should already have been presented at CLAM and where appropriate taken to the therapeutic access panel, MACSE operational group and other relevant panels.

c) The referring manager must evidence that they have worked in partnership with individual agencies and other professionals to achieve a positive outcome for the child, and have sought to develop a multi-agency plan.

d) The referral and review of placement form should be used to both refer in and update on progress against outcomes.
 
Complex Case Panel - Referral Form 

e) The worker and/or their manager should attend to represent their referral and answer questions from the panel.

f) Written updates are always required and attendance for reviews expected where decisions are being requested. If there are no changes to the plan then a brief written up date on the review form is acceptable without attendance.
     
 
9.6.4 Referral Process
 

a) Placements agreed by professionals through the usual decision making channels of each agency do not necessarily need to be presented to Panel.

b) Referrals must be approved by the nominated lead from each agency prior to presentation.

c) Cases should be referred to the Panel Co-ordinator 10 working days in advance of the meeting so that Panel members can add additional comments.

d) E-mail/phone based discussion can be used for urgent cases.

e) The referral and review of progress report should be used for new referrals and updated for all reviews in the timescales agreed. Reports and supporting documentation should be typed and submitted electronically for ease of distribution.

f) The Panel Co-Ordinator will circulate documents to Panel Members five working days in advance of the meeting.

9.6.5 The Panel will be chaired by the Head of Children’s social care or their deputy to ensure continuity of decision-making with representation from: Children’s Social Care, Youth Support & Development Service, Youth Offending Service, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services; SEN & Inclusion, Head of virtual school, Children’s Commissioners and Access to Resources Team.

9.6.6 The Panel will meet monthly on Friday afternoons 1.30-4.30. The location is usually Centenary House in Durrington.

9.6.7 Notes relating to individual children will be placed on individual case records. If a parent requests a copy of the Panel record relating to their child, this will be dealt with under the Access to Records process

9.6.8 The panel operates an Appeals Procedure (distinct from the Complaints Procedure). An appeal can be made if it is considered that the outcome was significantly affected by:
· Inaccurate or incomplete information being provided to the Panel
· Unreasonable or insufficient weighting given to matters which are considered relevant or significant
· Information which should not have been considered relevant

9.6.9 Parents wishing to appeal on any of the above should contact the Chair of the Panel when their child was discussed who will endeavour to resolve the issue informally.

9.6.10 If the parents are unhappy with the outcome of their appeal they should be advised on how to access the relevant Complaints Procedure.    
   
CCP Terms of Reference
Complex Case Panel Referral Form

 

9.7 S20 Accommodation

9.7.1Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 is the LA’s duty to provide a child with somewhere to live because the child doesn’t currently have a home, or a safe home:

9.7.2Section 20

a)      The parent retains parental responsibility and it is not shared with the LA.

b)     S20 (4) says that the LA may provide accommodation for any child in their area, even if the child has a parent who is able to provide accommodation, if the LA thinks that they need to do this to keep the child safe.

c)      The LA cannot provide S20 accommodation for a child if there is someone who has PR for the child and objects to the LA providing the accommodation

d)     Any person who has parental responsibility can remove the child from LA accommodation at any time unless there are objections to this by someone who has a child arrangements order to say the child lives with him/her (formally Residence Orders), a special guardianship order or has care of the child by a special order of the High Court.

9.7.3Parental Consent

Parents or those with parental responsibility need to sign their agreement to Section 20 Accommodation using:
 
· The S20 Agreement Form
· The Frameworki document CYP111 Consent to Medical Treatment and Placement. This form should be completed on Frameworki and then printed off for the original parental signatures.
The signed copies should then be uploaded onto the child’s file.

a) All social workers should ensure that a parent/holder of PR has the capacity to consent to S20 accommodation and that they understand what they are agreeing to. This must be clearly recorded on the consent form.

b) It must be made clear to the parent/holder of PR that they can withdraw their consent at any time.    

9.7.4All children accommodated under S20 become children looked after and are subject to children looked after procedures as below.


  1. Children Looked After

 

10.1 Duties and Responsibilities

10.1.1Sufficiency Duties for Children Looked After

Since April 2010, all local authorities have been required to demonstrate how they will secure sufficient accommodation for the Children Looked After within their area and, where it is reasonably practicable have strategies in place to deliver these services locally. This is a vital step to improving outcomes, and relies on the ‘right child, in the right placement at the right time’

The Sufficiency Duty is based on a set of clear principles of:

Allowing the child to live near their home

Providing accommodation within the local authority’s area, unless that is not reasonable practicable

Not disrupting the child’s education or training

Enabling the child and a looked after sibling to live together, where this is in their best interests.

Meeting the particular needs of children with regard to disability, cultural, ethnicity and faith needs.

Sufficiency Strategy

10.1.2 Permanency Planning

Permanence is defined as “a framework of emotional, physical and legal conditions that gives a child a sense of commitment, security and continuity of care throughout their childhood and into adult life”.

The primary aim of permanence planning is to ensure that all children looked after and young people are provided with care arrangements that deliver continuity, consistency and security of care and support. Delivering this will promote the child’s attachment to their carers and develop a sense of security, self-esteem and identity.

Developing a permanence plan is a staged process involving parallel planning, where a number of options are explored at the same time before a final decision can be made.

The options for permanence are:

   

Avoiding drift

Care planning processes should be guided by the timescales and needs of the children and young people involved. Every reasonable effort should be made to avoid drift and delay in care planning, and to minimise the amount of time that children and young people are exposed to uncertainty about arrangements for their longer-term care.

Permanency planning should begin from the point of considering care proceedings.

The Adoption Team should be informed of any child aged 5 or under as soon as they become looked after. Where adoption is a potential outcome, the adoption team must be made aware of the potential need for an adoptive placement. With these issues in mind, fostering and adoption workers should be invited to all LPMs where these are possible outcomes.

West Sussex Permanence Policy 2014
Permanency Parallel Planning: SOS workflow

Permanency Tracking

Purpose of group:

Permanency Tracking Meeting Terms of Reference

10.1.3 Concurrency planning

When a child is being voluntarily relinquished or removed at birth from birth parents, consideration should be given to making a direct placement with prospective adopters who are also approved as foster carers. This should also apply to children of all ages.

Criteria for referral to concurrency scheme

10.1.4Placement Stability

Placement stability is central to supporting the needs of children in care.

Stable and nurturing placements directly influence the child’s ability to recover from previous and neglectful experiences.

Principles

 

WSCC Placement Stability, Policy and Guidance

10.2 Placements with Connected Persons

10.2.1If it is assessed that the child cannot safely remain at home, every effort must be made to secure placement with relatives or friends. This will be either as part of the plan to work towards a return home or, if a return home is clearly not in the child’s best interests, as the preferred permanence option. It is very important to establish at an early stage which relatives or friends might be available to care for the child or able to support those caring for the child and this being the case a Family Group Conference should be held unless there is clear evidence that this will be inappropriate.

10.2.2Before a looked after child is placed with family or friends there must be a viability assessment which checks that the proposed carers are able to meet the child’s needs. The plan to place must be agreed by a senior manager.

10.2.3The local authority has 16 weeks to assess the carers as foster carers, or 24 if there is a good reason for taking longer. The assessment must go to the foster panel and the recommendation of the panel be agreed by the agency decision maker.

10.2.4All foster carers have to meet the National Minimum Standards for fostering and will be expected to complete training as advised by their fostering support worker.

10.2.5The local authority has a duty to support all foster carers, including family and friends carers, and to make sure that any particular support needs of family and friends carers are met. All family and friends carers have an allocated fostering social worker.

10.2.6Often children are cared for by family members during Care Proceedings and the same carers will be planning to apply for a Special Guardianship Order, with the support of the local authority, at the end of proceedings. In these circumstances, the carers must have temporary approval as foster carers and must be assessed within 16 weeks even though they are not planning to be foster carers in the long term.

10.2.7Temporary Approval of a Connected Person

1)      An emergency placement with family or friends for CLA, without any checks or assessments is now unlawful. This means that before temporary approval is given to a connected person:

2)      The expectation is that temporary approval will be used exceptionally, in circumstances which could not have been foreseen and giving insufficient time to undertake a full foster carer placement prior to placement.

3)      The Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010 are a legal requirement upon the Local Authority.

4)      Regulation 24:

a)      Provides for there to be temporary approval of a connected person (relative, friend or other connected person) as a Foster Carer for up to 16 weeks.

b)     States that to “make immediate arrangements for the suitability of the connected person to be a local authority foster parent to be assessed in accordance with the 2002 Regulations (“the full assessment process”) before the temporary approval expires.” The full assessment should be recorded on BAAF Form C which also serves as approval for a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) should that be the plan for the child. The emphasis being for fostering assessment to begin immediately.

5)      Regulation 25:

Sets out the position when the expiry of the temporary approval occurs (i.e. the initial 16 weeks) and also sets out three points that the LA must consider or undertake before a decision to extend the temporary approval is made:

6)      A decision to extend the temporary approval must then be approved by the Agency Decision Maker (ADM). Extending the temporary approval is to be used in exceptional circumstances rather than just providing an automatic additional 8 weeks of temporary approval. The emphasis being that a full assessment would or should have been completed within the 16 weeks and the approval process via fostering panel undertaken.

7)      If the period of temporary approval and of any extension to that period expires and the connected person has not been approved as a local authority foster parent in accordance with the 2002 Regulations, the responsible authority must terminate the placement after first making other arrangements for the child’s accommodation.

8)      The argument of the child’s best interests would not weight against the principals of section 25 (6) and the Regulations also don’t allow for such. If it is not possible to approve the placement within 24 weeks then the legal basis of the placement will need to be changed.

9)      In exceptional circumstances and where a move would be prejudicial to the child (ren) a small additional period may be needed to rectify any issues in relation to the status of the placement. This must be limited, have good justification, be agreed by both a Principal Manager and the ADM and noted on the record.

10)  The only exception is where Fostering Panel has not approved the connected carers and the carers have invoked the Independent Review Mechanism. In these circumstances the placement continues until a decision is made. Otherwise, at 24 weeks the child must move.

11)  The Agency Decision Maker (ADM) for Fostering will be the nominated officer to grant temporary approval.

12)  All temporary approval assessments (viability assessments) will be screened by the SSWP Recruitment Team Fostering and sent to the ADM. No approval can be given without this.

13)  Social workers are strongly advised to work out their target Fostering Panel date as soon as they place a child.

14)  During the period of temporary approval the social worker must visit the child in placement every week.

 

Alternatives to Temporary Approval

a)      The guidance outlines circumstances when a child can be placed with family or friends under S17 CA 1989, and paid a regular allowance. The assessment must be that the child does not need the protection of being looked after, using the criteria in S20 CA 1989.

b)     If a child is placed under S17 in these circumstances, family and friends are then able to apply for an Interim Child Arrangements Orders (an Interim Special Guardianship Order does not exist) followed by a Special Guardianship Order (SGO) if it is in the best interests of the child.

 

10.3  Special Guardianship Orders (SGO)

 

10.3.1   West Sussex County Council promotes the use of Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs) to secure permanence for children within the wider family or circle of friends.

10.3.2   A SGO gives the carers majority parental responsibility.

10.3.3   This means that the Special Guardians can make most of the day to day decisions as a child grows up, such as where to go on holiday, which school is the best for the child and permission for medical treatment. The exceptions are that Special Guardians cannot take a child out of the UK for more than 3 months, or change his name, without permission from the birth parents.

10.3.4   The carer must apply for the SGO; the local authority cannot apply for an SGO on a carer’s behalf. Some carers apply for an SGO without any previous involvement by the local authority and some apply for an SGO because a child or children in the family or social network is looked after. All applicants for a SGO will be assessed by the local authority at the request of the court, and the assessment will include consideration of support needed.

10.3.5   This assessment is free of charge to the applicant.

10.3.6   Where carers apply for an SGO without any previous involvement by the local authority, legal costs are not payable by the local authority.

10.3.7   Where WSCC are supporting the making of a SGO, consideration will be given within care proceedings or the PLO process as to whether to meet the legal fees for a one off legal consultation to enable the family member/friend to apply for a SGO.

10.3.8   WSCC would not usually fund ongoing legal fees but would advise applicants to seek public funding from the Legal Aid Agency.

10.3.9   Carers who apply for an SGO and are already fostering a child will receive continuity of the financial package for the first two years and sometimes longer. Unlike foster carers, Special Guardians can apply for child benefit and child tax credit, and are expected to do so.

10.3.10            All foster carers (whether related to the child or not) have the legal right to apply for a SGO on a child they have been looking after for more than a year.

10.3.11            The birth parent of a child who is subject to a SGO does not have a right to apply for the Order to be revoked and can only do so with the leave of the Court. The Court requires substantial new information before leave will be granted. Holders of a SGO can appoint legal guardians in the event of their death and the birth parents would have to obtain the leave of the Court to oppose their choice.

10.3.12            As a Special Guardian, support will be identified and reviewed within a Special Guardianship Support Plan. The plan could include:

 

10.3.11 Special guardianship financial support policy

a)      Financial support may be paid to an individual caring for a child who is the subject of a special guardianship order to them. The payment of financial support is at the discretion of the Council and is subject to assessment of need. It is not intended to remove responsibility from the birth parents to make adequate financial provision for the care and upbringing of their children. State benefits and tax credits are available to special guardians in the same way as they are for any parent.

b)     Any financial support paid by the Council is not designed to replace benefits and tax credits and any such payments will be taken into account in consideration of financial support payments.

c)      The payment of financial support is governed by the Special Guardianship Regulations 2005. The Council shall normally make payments only:

 

Exceptional payments

 

a)      In exceptional circumstances the responsible manager will consider applications for financial assistance for one off or special expenditure for equipment, furniture, transport, clothing or other items deemed necessary when it is in the best interests of the child by reference to the child’s special needs or circumstances related to the child’s health, disability, any history of significant harm or behavioural difficulties. Applications will be made by a social worker following an assessment of the child’s circumstances.

b)     Consideration may also be given for financial support to meet some or all of the legal costs of an application for a special guardianship order, a private law order for a child who is the subject of special guardianship or an order to secure financial support for the benefit of the child. Such payment may be considered only when such an application is deemed necessary to secure the best placement for the child; likely to succeed; where legal representation is deemed necessary and where the funding is not otherwise available.

c)      The financial support payable by the Council may not include any element of remuneration for the care of the child by the special guardian unless:

d)     Special guardianship orders expire at the child’s eighteenth birthday. A payment beyond that date requires the express agreement of the Council and would normally only be made when the child is to continue in full time education and where the eligibility criteria apply.

Special Guardianship Financial Support Policy

10.4 Long term fostering

Within long term and permanent fostering arrangements the option of Special Guardianship should be regularly addressed within the statutory review. SGO is viewed as a preferable option for permanence as it normalises the arrangements for the child and bestows parental responsibility on those providing long term care for the child.

10.5       Parent and child foster care placements

 

10.5.1        Parent and child fostering placements have been used too often and for too long in recent years. At worst, this leads to placement for adoption of a toddler who has experienced multiple moves, a poor attachment with his parent(s) and confusion over who is his primary carer.

10.5.2        It is important to understand the purpose and legal basis of any such placement prior to it being agreed.

10.5.3        There are essentially two types of Parent and Child placement; placement for assessment during, or in preparation for, Care Proceedings, and the placement of a Looked After Child and her own child. This MIN is primarily concerned with the first although the principles of assessment and care planning apply equally.

10.5.4        Where the parent is either a young person (under the age of 18) or a care leaver it is important that their needs are considered separately from that of their child. In practical terms this means that there should be separate social workers for the parent and child, and that planning should look at a range of different options.

10.5.5        The purpose of a Parent and Child assessment placement is to assess the parent’s ability to care for a child to a good enough standard, and to plan ahead for a return home or for an alternative form of permanence should this prove unsuccessful.

10.5.6        The purpose of a placement for a CLA parent under the age of 18 with their child is to assess parenting capacity, to provide supervision and support and to plan for eventual independence. This may have a longer timescale than the assessment placement but the aim of permanence for the child must be the same in each case. Pre Birth Procedures

10.5.7        The Court may direct a parent and child placement during Care Proceedings. In this case, if there is an ICO, the Care Planning Regulations Assessment must be completed before placement. Information can also be found from the Legislation Government website (visit www.legislation.gov.uk) and type in Care Planning Regulations into the search engine.

10.5.8        A risk assessment of the parent to be in placement and any regular visitors must be completed before a placement decision is made (see Parent and Child Foster Care Placements 2012 (section 5. Responsibility of Parent(s)).

10.5.9        A pre-placement planning meeting and contract are essential tasks. The meeting should be chaired by the Advanced Practitioner for Parent and Child placements, Melissa Dance and placement forms completed (App 1: Contract for Parent and Child Placement - Parent and Child Foster Care Placement Policy 2012) This must set out the assessment required, day to day arrangements and expected duration of placement (a maximum of 14 weeks).

Placement reviews should be arranged at 2 weeks, 4 weeks via the first CLA review, then at 7 weeks and 10 weeks. Every review should consider the placement exit plan and future plans for family, with a clear trajectory in place to prevent unnecessary drift. Should placements continue for longer than 12 weeks and if agreed by the relevant service lead, there should be on-going placements reviews at a minimum of 4 weekly

10.5.10    The social worker for the child must visit fortnightly to see the parent, child and carer and maintain weekly contact with carer by phone and/or email. If the parent is also looked after, the allocated social worker for the parent must visit the placement a minimum of once every 4 weeks

10.5.11    The Foster Carer must:

a)       Complete daily reports which are shared with the parent, and forward them weekly to the social worker.

b)       Inform the social worker immediately if the parent leaves the placement or behaves in a way in a way which breaches the placement agreement.

c)        Accompany the parent to the initial service agreement meeting.


The Supervising Social Worker must: Visit in the first week of placement and three weekly thereafter to provide supervision and support as well as weekly phone contacts. SSW will also undertake unannounced visits.

SSW will read and sign off all daily record sheets and report any issues that are appropriate. SSW will discuss with the carer the recorded observation to ensure objectivity remains.

SSW to liaise with AP for Parent and Child Placements to update on placements.

10.5.12    The assessment must be started by the social worker before or at the point of placement. This should include the parent not in placement and significant others and should address the family history and context, with a focus on both risk and protective factors within the wider family and the parents’ history.

10.5.13    The child’s social worker must ensure that the parent is aware of and included in all planning for the child.

10.5.14    Social worker to inform the Adoption Team and YLAC if concurrent planning is needed (as it usually will be within Proceedings).


Appendix: Placement Agreement
Review Placement agreement


West Sussex placement of a child in care with parent procedures Appendix

10.6      Placement of Children Subject to a Care Order with Parents

 

10.6.1   Placing a child subject to a care order with their parent enables the Local Authority to continue to share parental responsibility for the child whilst enabling the child to live with their parent. The procedure only applies to any placement that meets the following criteria:

The child is subject to a care order or interim care order;

The placement is for 24 hours or more;

The placement is with a parent, other person with parental responsibility or any person who had a Child Arrangements Orders in respect of the child immediately before the interim care order/care order was made.

10.6.2   It is not ordinarily expected that the local authority, upon making an initial application for a care order or interim care order, will simultaneously be seeking to place the child at home subject to the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010. In such circumstances it may be more appropriate to seek an alternative order e.g. supervision order.

10.6.3   Placement of a child with parents under these regulations may often take place as part of a rehabilitation plan. It is therefore expected that if the placement continues, and the plan is for the child to remain with his or her parents, that consideration will be given to the making of an application for discharge of the Care Order.

10.6.4   Decision Making and Authorisation

a)            The decision to make a placement can only be made by the Nominated Officer; the Service Leader for Permanence and Resilience.

b)            The Nominated Officer must be satisfied that:

West Sussex placement of a child in care with parent procedures Appendix

c)            The Nominated Officer will make a decision within 5 working days of receipt of the information. However this may be a provisional decision if the results of background checks have not been received at that time.

 

10.6.5Placement of Child with Parents before a full assessment is completed

a)      Where the Nominated Officer considers it necessary and consistent with the child's welfare, the child may be placed with parents before the full Assessment of Parents' Suitability to Care for the Child has been completed. This may for example be necessary where a foster placement breaks down whilst a return home is being considered and a move to another foster placement is not in the child’s best interests. In those circumstances the following work must be undertaken before the placement can take place:

b)     After placement:


Placement of Children Subject to a Care Order with Parents Appendix A
Placement of Children Subject to a Care Order with Parents Appendix B
Placement of Children Subject to a Care Order with Parents Appendix C

 

10.7  Supervision of Placement

10.7.1           When a placement is made under these Regulations, the Local Authority continues to share parental responsibility for the child, and, the child remains Looked After. All the statutory monitoring mechanisms for Children looked after continue to apply. Looked After Reviews and Statutory Visits are still required.

10.7.2           Looked After Reviews are required to take place at the following intervals:

Within 20 working days of the start of the placement;

Within 3 months of the first review;

Thereafter at 6 monthly intervals.

10.7.3           In order to ensure that the first review can take place within 20 working days of the child’s placement with their parent the Social Worker should contact the IRO once the decision has been made to apply for approval of the placement.

10.7.4           The Looked After Review for a child placed with parents will be conducted in the same way as for a child in a local authority placement. All relevant paperwork and documents should be completed in the usual way by the Social Worker - Statutory Visits should take place at the following intervals:

 

10.8 Termination of Placements

If it is decided that the placement is no longer in the child's best interests, Children's Social Care have a duty to terminate the arrangement. This should be the subject of a specially arranged Looked After Review, and should be treated where possible like the breakdown of a local authority placement.

10.9      Procedures for the consideration of placing a child in secure accommodation

 

10.9.1   Placing a child in secure accommodation is one of the most serious actions open to children’s social care services. The deprivation of a child’s liberty denies him or her of basic human rights and should only be considered when all measures to keep the child safe in the community have been considered and tried.

10.9.2   The criteria for placing a child in secure accommodation are to be found in S.25 of the Children Act 1989. They are:

(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section, a child who is being looked after by a local authority may not be placed, and, if placed, may not be kept, in accommodation provided for the purpose of restricting liberty (“secure accommodation”) unless it appears that:

 

10.9.5Risk of Secure Accommodation Meeting

a)         The recommendation that secure accommodation is agreed must be made by an At Risk of Secure Accommodation Meeting.

b)        This meeting must be chaired by a Service Leader.

c)         Consideration must always be given to inviting the young person being considered and his/her parent (s) to such a meeting.

d)        Legal Services should be present at the meeting. If they are unable to send a representative, consultation must have taken place prior to the meeting to establish advice as to whether the child meets the criteria for secure accommodation.

e)         The IRO will be kept informed of the outcome of this process. If the IRO does not agree with the outcome of the meeting, they will have the opportunity to raise this through the Problem Resolution Process.(This also applies to the decision making process below)

 

10.9.6   Decision Making

 

a)             All decisions to place a child in secure accommodation must be made by the Operational Director, Children and Families, or by the Executive Director.

b)            The Operational Director can agree placement in secure accommodation for a period of time up to 72 hours without the Order of a Court when a child is in immediate danger. In these circumstances, the matter must be placed before the Court as quickly as possible.

c)             If a child under 13 is to be placed in secure accommodation, this must be agreed by the Secretary of State.

 

10.9.7Processes following placement in secure accommodation

a)        The social worker must arrange to visit the child within one week of placement. The social worker must arrange for a review of the secure accommodation criteria to take place within four weeks of placement. This review:

b)        Minutes must be sent to the Director of Operations, who may wish to be involved in decisions about the length of time that a child remains in secure accommodation.

c)        A Review of Arrangements for Children looked after must also be arranged. This may take place on the same day as the Review of Secure Accommodation criteria since much of the information shared will be relevant to both meetings.

 

Procedures for the consideration of placing a child in secure accommodation under welfare criteria

‘Secure Accommodation Reviews: A practical guide’ (2012) has been produced by VOICE. Please visit their website for further information (www.coramvoice.org.uk)

10.10    Foster Placements (See Section 12).

 

10.11 Placement Planning Meetings

10.11.1 Every child looked after must have a placement plan. This should be completed for and finalised in the first or introduction Placement Planning Meeting and uploaded onto the child’s initial CLA Care, Placement and Pathway Plan record.

10.11.2 Except in emergency placements, the Introduction Placement Planning Meeting should be held before the placement. Where this is not possible, it should be held at the latest within 5 working days of the placement.

10.11.3 Participants will include:

•The parent;

•The child;

• The foster carer;

• The supervising social worker;

•Any other relevant professionals, e.g. a representative from the child's school;

•Anyone else considered appropriate or who will have a role in the placement.

10.11.4 The purpose of the first Introduction Planning Meeting is to finalise the Placement Plan and the meeting the child's needs including:

 

10.12 Notification of Placement

a)             The child's social worker will update the child's electronic records with the details of the placement and ensure that notification is sent to:

The Specialist Nurse for Children looked after for a health assessment

The education service for a PEP

The Child’s GP

all those involved in the day to day arrangements for the child, including nursery/school and any health professional or YOT worker actively involved with the child.

The relevant local Children's Services (if the placement is in the area of a different local authority)

b)             The child's social worker will notify all family members consulted and involved in the decision-making process of the placement.

c)             The child's social worker must also notify the allocated Independent Reviewing Officer or, if it is the first placement, the Independent Review Service of the placement. This notification will trigger the appointment of an Independent Reviewing Officer if it is the first placement, and the setting up of arrangements for a Looked After Review.

d)             It will be necessary for the foster carer or the child's social worker to ensure the child is registered with a GP, Dentist and Optician, either retaining practices known to him or her (which is preferable) or in the area where they are placed.

 

10.13            Placing a Child Guidance

 

10.13.1    Where possible, a child should be placed within West Sussex.

10.13.2    National Guidance requires local authorities making distant placements to consult with Children’s Services in the area of placement, and for the Director of Children’s Services (DCS) of the responsible authority to approve these placements.

10.13.3    A ‘distant placement’ is defined as “a placement outside the area of the responsible authority and not within the area of any adjoining local authority”

10.13.4    All placements outside of West Sussex need senior manager approval. This means that those not classified as ‘distant’ should be signed off by the Service Lead and all distant placements should be agreed by the DCS. New forms and processes have been developed in Frameworki to enable this.

10.13.5    It is important to remember that removal from home and changes of placement are likely to be distressing events for children. This being the case it is very important that teachers are informed on the next available school day that change of placement has occurred including revised contact details and any changes to the delegation of responsibility. Likewise this information should also be shared with the child’s GP and the designated nurse.

10.13.6    Placements being made outside of West Sussex need to be notified to the relevant local authority prior to placement.



Initial Health Assessment Guidance for Social Workers
Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires Guidance

10.14            The CLA Care, Placement and Pathway Plan

10.14.1         In all circumstances where a decision is made to look after a child, the child must have a Care Plan completed by the social worker and signed by the relevant practice manager. The initial plan will be completed during the placement planning meeting and updated in line with the Child’s looked after reviews.

The contents will include:

The child’s details

Placement Details

The child's Permanence Plan (setting out the long term plans for the child's upbringing including timescales);

The Care or Pathway Plan (where appropriate, for young people leaving care);

Contact arrangements

The child's Health status and arrangements

The child's education and arrangements for the Personal Education Plan;

For pathway plans, the child’s self-scaling

Social worker recommendations and the contingency plan;

Views and contributions

Notification of arrangements

Agreements and Signatures

10.14.2    Where there is no recent Assessment in relation to the child, the Care Plan must provide for an Assessment to be completed.

10.14.3    The child's social worker is responsible for drawing up and updating the Care Plan in consultation with:

The child;

The parent(s);

Providers/Carers - if no Care Plan has been drawn up prior to the child's placement, the social worker must ensure that the providers/carers understand the key objectives of the plan, and how the placement will help achieve these objectives;

The Fostering Service, where the child is in foster care. NB the Care Plan should be filed in the confidential section of the foster carer's file and returned to the child's social worker when the placement ends;

10.14.6    Whenever a new placement is made or the child moves placement, the child's Chronology should be updated.

10.14.7    A Looked After Review must take place before any significant change is made to the child's Care Plan, unless that is not reasonably practicable, including a decision to cease looking after a child.

 

10.15 Children looked after and child protection plans


Reviews, Care Planning and Conferences
In most cases where a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan becomes Looked After, it will no longer be necessary to maintain the Child Protection Plan - see Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan.

There are however a relatively few cases where safeguarding issues will remain and a Looked After child will also have a Child Protection Plan. These cases are likely to be where a local authority obtains an Interim Care Order but the child subject to a Child Protection Plan remains at home, pending the outcome of the final hearing; or where the child's behaviour is likely to result in Significant Harm to themselves or others.

Where a Looked After child remains the subject of a Child Protection Plan, consideration should be given to how best to ensure that the child protection aspects of the child's Care Plan are reviewed.

Looked After Reviews and Child Protection Conferences are separate meetings with different purposes. The plans made at Looked After Reviews must be consistent with the Child Protection Plan and this may be achieved by the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) who chairs the Looked After Review also chairing the Review Conference. Where this is not possible the IRO should attend the Review Conference and the timing of both processes should coincide to ensure that the most up-to-date information informs the overall care planning process.

Where a Looked After Review or other local authority planning meeting proposes the return of a child subject to a Child Protection Plan to their parents or carers - or any other change which might significantly affect the level of risk - the decision (unless this formed part of the original protection plan) must not be implemented until it is considered by a Review Conference.

Where there is disagreement within the subsequent Child Protection Conference the situation must be brought to the attention of the operational service manager, who in consultation with the senior child protection manager, will decide whether or not to proceed with the plan made at the child care review.

Where a child subject to a Child Protection Plan is removed from accommodation by parents or where a child in care is returned to parents or carers in court proceedings, against the recommendation of the local authority, a Review Child Protection Conference must be convened to consider the risks to the child and the implications for the Child Protection Plan. If necessary the local authority must take action to protect a child prior to a Review Conference. This must not be delayed until a Review Conference is convened if a Section 47 Enquiry or assessment indicates it is required sooner.

Discontinuing Child Protection Plans

When a Looked After child is no longer living in the situation which gave rise to the child protection concerns that resulted in the Child Protection Plan, and there is no current plan for them to be returned, the Child Protection Plan should be discontinued by the decision of the Review Conference. This would automatically apply if the child is subject to a full Care Order. (Any discontinuation of a CPP requires a convening of a RCPC)

Should the Care Plan subsequently include returning the Looked After child to the situation that previously resulted in the Child Protection Plan, consideration should be given to holding a Child Protection Conference first to consider if a Child Protection Plan is required.

- See more at: http://sussexchildprotection.procedures.org.uk/tkoo/children-in-specific-circumstances/looked-after-children

 

10.16 Visiting requirements for children looked after

a)                  Placements with Connected Persons

If the child is placed with a Connected Person with temporary approval, visits must take place at least once a week until the first Looked After Review, thereafter at intervals of not more than 4 weeks.

b)                  Foster Placements of less than one year's duration

Once a week until the first review, then six weekly for the first year and thereafter at intervals of no more than 6 weeks.

For placements over 12 months that have been presented to panel and the Agency Decision Maker has agreed a long term fostering or permanent fostering match, visits can be completed at intervals of not more than 3 months.

c)             Residential Placements

Once a week until the first review and then six weekly thereafter.

d)            Placement with Parents under an Interim Care Order (ICO)

For the duration that the child is placed with their parents under an ICO, visits must take place weekly until the first review and then at intervals of not more than 2 weeks.

e)             Placement with Parents under a Full Care Order

Once a week until the first review and then at intervals of at least 6 weeks thereafter.

10.17 Work with the Child

The social worker's general responsibilities for work with children looked after includes: