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1.8 Implementation of Child Protection Plan - Lead Social Worker and Core Group Responsibilities

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in June 2013 to take account of the changes in Working Together to Safeguard Children which removed the requirement to carry out separate Initial and Core Assessments and emphasised the need for assessments to be child and family focused, evidence based and to have actions and objectives based on clear analysis.


Contents

  1. The Child Protection Plan
  2. Explaining the Child Protection Plan to the Child and the Parents
  3. The Role of the Lead Social Worker
  4. Role of the Lead Social Worker's Manager
  5. The Core Group


1. The Child Protection Plan

Each child considered to be suffering Significant Harm must have a written Child Protection Plan.

The overall aim of the Child Protection Plan is to:

  • Ensure the child is safe and reduce the risk of future harm by supporting the strengths, addressing the vulnerabilities and risk factors and helping meet the child's unmet needs;
  • Promote the child’s welfare, health and development; and
  • Support the family and wider family members to safeguard and promote the welfare of their child provided it is in the best interests of the child.

The Child Protection Conference which decides that the child should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan must:

  • Outline the proposed plan, making sure it is detailed enough to protect the child until the first Core Group meeting;
  • Suggest in outline the areas the continuing assessments should cover;
  • Identify the Lead Social Worker and who will be members of the Core Group;
  • Obtain agreement to the date for the first Core Group meeting, which must take place within 10 days of the conference.

The outline Child Protection Plan drawn up by conference members should include:

  • The identified risks of Significant Harm and the ways in which the child can be protected through the plan;
  • Short term and longer term aims and objectives that are clearly linked to reducing the likelihood of harm to the child and promoting the child’s welfare, including contact with family members;
  • Responsibility for tasks ascribed to specific members of the conference, including family members - and within what timescales;
  • The monitoring and evaluation of progress against the planned outcomes set out in the plan;
  • Clarity about which professional is responsible for checking that the required changes have taken place and what action will be taken, by whom, when they have not.

The details of the plan will then be developed in the Core Group - see Section 5, The Core Group.

The detailed Child Protection Plan must make clear to the child, family, and all relevant professionals the exact nature of the concerns which resulted in the child requiring the plan.

The detailed Child Protection Plan should set out what work needs to be done, why, when and by whom. The Plan should:

  • Describe the identified developmental needs of the child, and what therapeutic services are required;
  • Include when and in what situations the child will be seen by the child's Lead Social Worker, both alone and with other family members or caregivers present;
  • Be culturally sensitive and appropriate for those with disabilities;
  • Include specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to safeguard and promote the welfare of and reduce the risk to the child;
  • Include realistic strategies and specific actions to achieve the planned outcomes, including any further specialist assessments of the child and the family;
  • Include a Contingency Plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
  • Clearly identify roles and responsibilities of professionals and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by professionals with the child or children and family members;
  • Lay down the points at which progress will be reviewed, and the means by which progress will be judged;
  • Set out clearly the roles and responsibilities of those professionals with routine contact with the child – e.g. health visitors, GP's and teachers as well as professionals providing specialist or targeted to the child and family.

It is important that services are provided to give the child and family the best chance of achieving the required changes. If a child cannot be cared for safely by his or her parent(s), he or she will have to be placed elsewhere whilst work is being undertaken with the child and family.

Irrespective of where the child is living, interventions should specifically address:

  • The developmental needs of the child;
  • The child’s understanding of what has happened to him or her;
  • The abusing parent/child relationship and the parental capacity to respond to the child’s need;
  • Family relationships; and
  • Possible changes to the family’s social and environmental circumstances.

Interventions may have a number of inter-related components:

  • Action to make a child safe;
  • Action to help promote a child’s health and development;
  • Action to help a parent in safeguarding a child and promoting his or her welfare;
  • Therapy for an abused child; and
  • Support or therapy for a perpetrator of abuse.

The Plan can be used as evidence in any legal proceedings of the efforts which have been made to work in partnership and reduce the level of risk.


2. Explaining the Child Protection Plan to the Child and the Parents

The child (depending on his or her age and understanding) and the parents should be clear about the evidence of Significant Harm, which resulted in the child becoming the subject of a Child Protection Plan, what needs to change and what is expected of them as part of the plan for safeguarding and promoting the child’s welfare. This should be the subject of continuing discussion with the Lead Social Worker and other professionals involved.

The child (depending on his or her age and understanding) and the parents should receive a written copy of the plan in their preferred language so that they are clear about their own role and responsibilities as well as the roles and responsibilities of others, and the planned outcomes for the child. The child’s copy should be written in a way appropriate to the child’s age and understanding.

The parents should be clear about the evidence of Significant Harm which resulted in the child becoming the subject of a Child Protection Plan, what needs to change and what is expected of them as part of implementing the plan.


3. The Role of the Lead Social Worker

Each child with a Child Protection Plan must have a Lead Social Worker.

The Lead Social Worker coordinates the multi-agency work under the Child Protection Plan. 

The Lead Social Worker will always be a suitably qualified and experienced social worker from within Children, Education and Families.

The Lead Social Worker must take a pro-active role in ensuring that:

  • A detailed Child Protection Plan is developed;
  • The Assessment is completed and that appropriate contributions are made by Core Group members and others as necessary;
  • The safety of the child is monitored;
  • The child’s wishes and feelings are ascertained;
  • The child is kept up to date with the Child Protection Plan and any changes or developments;
  • Risks are kept under regular review;
  • Any specialist contribution to the required assessment is commissioned on behalf of the Core Group.

It is important that the role of the Lead Social Worker is fully explained at the Initial Child Protection Conference and at the Core Group.

Where no Lead Social Worker can be appointed in time for the initial Core Group meeting or the Lead Social Worker becomes unavailable, it becomes the responsibility of the Lead Social Worker’s Manager to ensure that the Lead Social Worker‘s role and functions are met, or to notify their own manager that they cannot be met.

The specific responsibilities of the Lead Social Worker are:

1.

To promote good communication between agencies and with the family, ensuring:

  • Parents and, where appropriate, children, are clear about the role and responsibility of the Core Group and that they are properly involved in developing the Child Protection Plan;
  • Any parent who has been excluded from the Core Group is informed of discussions and outcomes as appropriate to the child’s welfare and safety;
  • Core Group members are aware of significant events in the family’s life and consulted about proposed changes to the Child Protection Plan;
  • All Core Group meetings are recorded and copies of the notes are sent to all involved including the Independent Conference Chair;
  • The Lead Social Worker’s manager is consulted about and/or informed of any changes in circumstances as appropriate.
2. To draft the practical and detailed proposals for the Child Protection Plan in line with the recommendations of the preceding Conference, as the basis for discussion at the initial Core Group meeting.
3.

To have face to face contact with the child as agreed in the Child Protection Plan in order to monitor his/her well-being and be aware of his/her wishes and feelings. This must include seeing the child alone or a baby when awake at least every 2 weeks and seeing the child’s bedroom at least once between each Child Protection Conference.

Where the Core Group agrees in the review period that:

  1. The main risk factors have been addressed by the actions and help provided via the Child Protection Plan;

    AND

  1. The Core Group recommendation is that Child Protection planning should end at the next Child Protection Conference.

a reduced level of visiting to at least every 4 weeks by the lead social worker can be agreed in supervision with the Team Manager and approved by the Independent Chair.

This does not reduce the need for other agencies to visit the family home as appropriate.

Where Child Protection has been effective and brought about sustained reduction in risks, consideration should be given to bringing forward the Child Protection Review Case Conference.

If Child Protection Planning does not cease at the next CP Review, then visiting frequency should be reviewed and set at the Review Conference.

If contact with the child is refused or avoided and the child remains unseen, this must be viewed as a serious breach of the Child Protection Plan. Immediate discussion with the Lead Social Worker’s line manager may deem it appropriate to seek legal advice about statutory protective action. There must also be discussion with the Core Group members and with the Conference Chair about the need for an urgent Child Protection Review Conference. Where there are concerns that a child or family are missing, see also Children Missing from Home Procedure.

In exceptional circumstances, responsibility for personal contact with the child may have to be delegated. If so, this must be agreed and recorded under an explicit, written agreement, agreed by the manager of the Lead Social Worker and the worker to whom the contact is delegated, and must be monitored by the Lead Social Worker.

Contact with the child should be recorded on the child’s file and the record should include:

  • The time and date of every home visit, stating who was present, confirmation that the Lead Social Worker spoke with the child (including if alone), or providing a clear reason why not;
  • Any information gained or observations made during the visit relevant to the identified risks to the child;
  • Specific information about key subjects such as meals and sleeping arrangements;
  • Factual reports of the child’s presentation and behaviour (these should be specific and avoid non-specific labels such as ‘disturbed’);
  • Any new incidents or injuries.
4. To take lead responsibility for monitoring the progress of the Child Protection Plan and alert their manager where the Plan cannot be progressed and it is necessary to consider alternative action.
5. To convene, chair and record the Core Group meetings after the initial meeting following on from the Conference.
6. To ensure Core Group meetings are held at the agreed frequency.
7. To invite additional members to the Core Group as needed.
8. To ensure that all members of the Core Group are aware of the next Conference date.
9. To circulate the record of Core Group meetings and the Child Protection Plan to members of the Core Group, including parents and the child (depending on his or her age and understanding), and the Independent Conference Chair - see 5.5 below.
10. To ensure that where a child subject to a Child Protection Plan is also subject to statutory reviews as a Looked After Child, active consideration is given by the Lead Social Worker’s line manager and in discussion with the Independent Conference Chair to coordinating the meetings wherever possible or appropriate.
11. To take lead responsibility for ensuring that any specialist assessment identified as necessary is commissioned.
12. To prepare the report of the Core Group for the Child Protection Review Conference.


4. The Role of the Lead Social Worker’s Manager

The first line manager has a vital role in managing the progress of the case and supporting the Lead Social Worker.

The manager should:

  • Read and countersign all significant recordings and assessments on the child’s file;
  • Chair the first Core Group Meetings and subsequent meetings as necessary;
  • Discuss the progress of the Child Protection Plan and any concerns in supervision, including the need for any further risk assessment;
  • Read and countersign Conferences Reports and the Child Protection Plan;
  • Review the Child Protection Plan with the Lead Social Worker when unexpected developments or crises occur, and together make a decision whether to recommend that a Child Protection Review Conference date be brought forward;
  • Attend Initial Child Protection Conferences and Child Protection Review Conferences as necessary;
  • Monitor the visiting frequency of the Lead Social Worker and the frequency of Core Group meetings;
  • Arrange cover for the Lead Social Worker in case of sickness and ensure arrangements are in place when the Lead Social Worker is on annual leave and training.


5. The Core Group

5.1 Purpose of Core Group

The Core Group’s task through the Child Protection Plan is to reduce the risks, or prevent the occurrence of further Significant Harm to the child, and safeguard the child’s well being to the point where the child no longer requires a Child Protection Plan.

The Core Group achieves this by:

  • Producing an agreed, detailed Child Protection Plan;
  • Completing an assessment of the family;
  • Co-ordinating and communicating their efforts;
  • Meeting regularly to monitor progress;
  • Providing an evaluation of their work for the Child Protection Review Conference;
  • Requesting a new Conference if the plans cannot be achieved or need to be significantly altered.

5.2 Membership of the Core Group

Membership will be agreed by the Child Protection Conference and should include the Lead Social Worker, who leads the Core Group, the child if appropriate, family members, carers and professionals who have direct contact with the family.

5.3 The first Core Group Meeting

The first meeting of the Core Group will take place on the date set at the Initial Child Protection Conference. This will be within 10 working days of the Conference.

Using either the full minutes of the Child Protection Conference or a copy of the decisions and recommendations, the Chair of the Core Group must help the group complete the detail of the Child Protection Plan. 

The detailed Child Protection Plan, together with any other decisions made and actions agreed at the Core Group should be recorded and circulated by the Lead Social Worker.

The Chair will set the dates of Core Group Meetings to be held prior to the first Child Protection Review Conference.

5.4 Subsequent Core Group Meetings

The Core Group should meet sufficiently regularly to facilitate working together, monitor actions and outcomes against the Child Protection Plan, and make any necessary alterations as circumstances change.  

The second Core Group meeting will usually be held within 6 weeks of the first meeting, unless the conference decides that meetings should be more frequent.

Meetings will usually be held every 2 months after the first Child Protection Review Conference, although the needs of the child may require more frequent meetings.

Core Group Meetings will usually continue to be chaired by the Lead Social Worker or his/her manager.

5.5 Recording Core Group Meetings.

Core Group Meetings, including the Child Protection Plan must be recorded and circulated promptly to Core Group members and the Independent Conference Chair. 

A copy must be sent for the attention of the Independent Conference Chair.

The Lead Social Worker should also ensure that the Child Protection Plan is amended as necessary and the amended Plan is attached to the child’s record.

5.6 Agreement of detailed Child Protection Plan

Core Group members must agree a plan which adds detail to the outline Child Protection Plan agreed at the Initial Child Protection Conference.

The Core Group should not alter any of the specified outcomes agreed at the conference although they can agree additional outcomes if required. The Plan will have active intervention by members of the Core Group, agreed monitoring through visits to the home and in cases where relevant areas have not been covered sufficiently in the Assessment, it will identify further assessments that enable the family to gain insight so that they and the professionals involved can build on their strengths and reduce any risk to the children of future Significant Harm.

5.7 The roles and responsibilities of Core Group Members

Child Protection Plans should be formulated with the specific roles of the Core Group members in mind so that everyone is clear about the individual and shared responsibilities.

Although the Lead Social Worker has the lead role, all members of the Core Group are jointly responsible for the formulation and implementation of the Child Protection Plan, refining the plan as needed, and monitoring progress against the planned outcomes set out in the plan.

Supervision and/or managerial and professional support to individual Core Group members remain with their agency. However, the Independent Conference Chair may provide advice to the Core Group on any remaining inter-agency problems which the Core Group is unable to resolve.

The specific responsibilities of individual Core Group members are to:

  1. Accept that the child’s needs remain paramount and maintain a child-centred focus;
  2. Contribute to the multi-agency assessments;
  3. Make suggestions or approaches, if appropriate, for the involvement of other specifically skilled professional or agency seen as relevant to its completion;
  4. Attend and participate in Core Group meetings or other relevant meetings;
  5. Carry out agreed tasks in accordance with their own agency functions: if this is not possible the Lead Social Worker must be consulted before any plans regarding the child or family are altered;
  6. Provide specialist advice which will inform the Child Protection Plan;
  7. Provide the Lead Social Worker with written reports as requested and produce an individual agency report for Child Protection Review Conferences;
  8. Communicate regularly with the Lead Social Worker about the progress of their role in the agreed Child Protection Plan;
  9. Inform the Lead Social Worker of any change in circumstances relevant to the Child Protection Plan;
  10. Alert the Lead Social Worker to the need to convene either a Core Group meeting or to reconvene the Child Protection Review Conference early;
  11. Help identify unmet need.

5.8 Delays

Any delays in implementing the Child Protection Plan should be monitored and appropriate action taken by the Lead Social Worker, their supervisor, and at Core Group meetings.

5.9 Failure to achieve the desired outcomes of the Plan

There always has to be the possibility that intervention, monitoring or further assessment will reach the conclusion that the situation is not safe and the child will need to be removed in order to protect them from harm.

In these circumstances, and/or where there is a failure to obtain or retain the cooperation of the parents or child in working on the plan or changed or unforeseen circumstances, this must be brought immediately to the attention of the Lead Social Worker. 

The Lead Social Worker must inform his or her manager and, in consultation with other agencies, a decision will be made as to the need for any immediate protective action and/or a Child Protection Assessment and/or reconvened Child Protection Conference to be considered.

If any member or members of the Core Group at any time (including following a Core Group meeting when the danger/risks to the child should have been routinely re-evaluated) considers and can evidence that there has been a significant increase in the risk/danger posed to the child, they must inform the Lead Social Worker and the Independent Conference Chair within 24 hours to determine:

  • Whether the Child Protection Plan can be amended in such a way that it is likely that the increase in danger can be mitigated without the need to reconvene a Child Protection Conference; 
  • Whether the Child Protection Review Conference needs to be brought forward to reassess danger and safety and develop new outcomes and plans;
  • What, if any measures or steps are planned or may need to be taken to ensure the child's immediate and short-term safety.

Where there are concerns that a child or family are missing, see Children Missing from Home Procedure.

If there are concerns that there are difficulties implementing the Plan as a result of disagreement among professionals or a Core Group member not carrying out his or her responsibilities, this must be addressed by discussion between Core Group members and, if required, the involvement of relevant managers and/or the Designated Professional within agencies.

End