In April 2020, this chapter was updated to reflect local practice.
- Formulation of the Child Protection Plan
- The Lead Social Worker Role
- The Core Group
- Difficulties in Implementing the Child Protection Plan
- Local Information
When a conference decides that a child should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, a qualified social worker must be appointed as the lead social worker to co-ordinate all aspects of the inter-agency Child Protection Plan.
The 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 Child Protection Plan should set out what work needs to be done, why, when and by whom. If there are obstacles to progressing the Child Protection Plan that cannot be satisfactorily addressed, then the Social Worker will discuss this with Conference Chair to decide whether a review conference will be convened.
The Child Protection Plan can be used as evidence in any legal proceedings of the services which have been put in place to work in partnership with the child and family to reduce the level of risk.
The Core Group is the forum to co-ordinate this multi-agency, collaborative work and the membership will have been identified at the Initial Child Protection Conference.
2. Formulation of the Child Protection Plan
Purpose of Child Protection Plan
The purpose of a Child Protection Plan is to facilitate and make explicit a co-ordinated approach to:
- Ensure that each child in the household is safe and prevent them from suffering further harm;
- Promote the child's welfare, health and development;
- Provided it is in the best interests of the child, to support the family and wider family members to safeguard and promote the welfare of their child.
The Child Protection Plan should be made accessible to parents and their supporters and should clarify:
- What the causes for concern are that have resulted in the decision that a child needs a Child Protection Plan;
- What needs to change and the contingency plan if change does not happen;
- What the intended outcomes of the intervention and services are;
- What is expected of them as part of the plan for safeguarding the child.
The Child Protection Plan should take into consideration the wishes and feelings of the child, and the views of the parents, insofar as they are consistent with the child's welfare. The lead social worker should make every effort to ensure that the child/ren and parents have a clear understanding of the planned outcomes, that they accept the plan and are willing to work to it.
The completed Child Protection Plan should be explained to the child in a manner which is in accordance with their age and understanding. A copy of the plan should be accessible to children/young people taking into account their age and understanding, and in their preferred language.
Professionals should ensure that the parents understand:
- The evidence of the child having suffered significant harm, or the likelihood of such harm, which resulted in the child becoming the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
- What needs to change;
- What is expected of them in the plan to safeguard the child.
If the parents' proposed safeguarding measures have not been accepted in the plan the reasons for this should be explained.
All parties should be clear about the respective roles and responsibilities of family members and different agencies in implementing the Child Protection Plan.
Any disagreements should have been discussed at the Core Group meeting, recorded with reasons and reflected appropriately in the written plan . It is permissible to rely on electronic signatures or emails confirming acceptance of an agency's responsibilities under the Child Protection Plan, but all such signatures and emails must be collected in the child's social care record.
The Child Protection Plan should also be entered on the adult service user's record if the parent is known to adult social care or health services.
All agencies are responsible for the implementation of the Child Protection Plan.
3. The Lead Social Worker Role
It is important that the role of the lead social worker is fully explained in preparation for at Initial Child Protection Conference.
The lead social worker should:
- Observe the child (infants and babies ideally awake on every visit) as agreed in the Child Protection Plan but usually by 10 working days. The frequency of visiting must be determined in the Child Protection Plan and reviewed by the Core Group;
- See the child on their own on at least alternate occasions;
- Explain the plan to the child in a manner which is in accordance with their age and understanding and agree the plan with the child;
- See the child's bedroom as agreed in the plan usually on alternate occasions;
- For any visit not undertaken in the home, a rational needs to be provided as to the purpose of that visit, and why this would constitute as a statutory Child Protection visit. Those with parental responsibility need to be informed;
- Undertake direct work with the child and family in accordance with the Child Protection Plan, taking into account the child's wishes and feelings and the views of the parents in so far as they are consistent with the child's welfare;
- The first Core Group meeting should be chaired by the lead social worker's manager. Subsequent Core Group Meeting will then be chaired by the lead social worker, although under some circumstances, complex cases will continue to be led a social work manager;
- Core Group meeting written record (this could include minutes or agreed actions) to be circulated within 5 working days of the meeting to all Core Group members and to anyone else who has an active role in implementing the Child Protection Plan;
- Ensure that the outline Child Protection Plan is developed, in conjunction with members of the Core Group, into a detailed multi-agency protection plan;
- Clearly note and include in the written record any areas of disagreement and if necessary escalate concerns in line with the 'Resolving Professional Disagreement and Escalation Procedure;
- Obtain a full understanding of the family's history, which must involve reading previous social care files as well as current records in use within Children's social care, including those relating to other children who have been part of any households involving the current carers of the child. Information should be obtained from other relevant individuals, agencies and local authorities. Appropriate weight should be given to such information following robust scrutiny and verification of its accuracy;
- Complete the assessment of the child and family, securing contributions / information from Core Group members and any other agencies with relevant information;
- Co-ordinate the contribution of family members and all agencies in putting the plan into action and regularly reviewing the objectives stated in the plan;
- The lead social worker must maintain a complete and up-to-date signed record on the child's current file, electronic or manual.
4. The Core Group
Responsibilities Child Protection Plan
The Core Group is an inter-disciplinary body, responsible for the detailed formulation and implementation of the Child Protection Plan, previously outlined at the conference. Agencies should ensure that all members of the Core Group undertake their shared roles and responsibilities effectively in accordance with the agreed Child Protection Plan. The role and purpose of the Core Group should be clarified at the initial Core Group and referred to in all subsequent meetings.
All members of the Core Group are jointly responsible for:
- Collecting information to assist the lead social worker in completing the assessment;
- Participating in the compilation and analysis of the assessment;
- The formulation and implementation of the detailed Child Protection Plan, specifying who should do what, by when;
- Carrying out their part in implementing the plan including the commitment of identified resources;
- Monitoring and evaluating progress against specified outcomes for the child of the detailed Child Protection Plan;
- Making recommendations to subsequent Review Child Protection Conferences about future protection plans and the child's needs being met stipulating specific outcomes;
- Attending Core Group meetings and reviewing progress to ensure that there is no drift in achieving the aims of the Child Protection Plan;
- The Core Group must ensure that the Child Protection Plan sets out the frequency for all Core Group members to see the child and family. All action points must be clearly recorded, analysis of the risk of harm to the child should be made and all the information should be shared with the lead social worker and the Core Group. All Core Group members are responsible for their actions and also for the storage of the record of the core group meeting notes. If the lead social worker or any other involved professional has difficulty obtaining direct access to the child, the Children's social care manager and child protection Chair should be alerted, as well as other Core Group members. This must result in a plan of action agreed between Core Group members and the police including consideration of convening a Review Conference.
If the lead social worker or any other involved professional has difficulty obtaining direct access to the child, the Children's social care manager / child protection adviser should be alerted, as well as other Core Group members. This must result in a plan of action agreed between Core Group members and the police including consideration of convening a Review Conference.
Membership of the Core Group will have been identified at the Initial Child Protection Conference and must include:
- The lead social worker/ first line manager. Which one of these professionals chairs/ leads the Core Group is dependent on the complexity of the case;
- The child if appropriate;
- Parents and relevant family members;
- Professionals involved with the child and / or parent;
- Foster carers or residential care staff who will have direct contact with the family.
Core Groups are an important forum for working with parents, wider family members, and children of sufficient age and understanding. Where there are conflicts of interest between family members in the work of the Core Group, the child's best interests should always take precedence.
The date of the first Core Group meeting must be within ten working days of the Initial Child Protection Conference to develop the outline child protection plan.
After that the Core Group should meet at least six weekly following the first core group held after the Initial Child Protection Conference and after subsequent Review Conferences. More regular meetings may be required according to the needs and age of the child.
The first Core Group meeting date must be arranged at the end of each conference.
Where a meeting needs to be rescheduled, this must be confirmed in writing to all concerned by the lead social worker.
5. Difficulties in Implementing the Child Protection Plan
Where any member of the Core Group is aware of difficulties implementing the Protection Plan, the lead social worker must be alerted immediately and a Core Group meeting / discussion co-ordinated to agree a reconsidered Child Protection Plan. Alternatively a Strategy Discussion/Meeting should be convened where immediate safeguarding action is required (e.g. where Police Powers are required to gain access to a child), to consider duties under Section 47 CA 1989and the appropriateness of any other legal action. The need to hold an early Child Protection Conference should be considered and where necessary a separate legal planning meeting should be considered by the lead social worker with their line manager.
Circumstances about which the lead social worker should be informed include inability to gain access to a child who is subject to a Child Protection Plan, for whatever reasons, on two consecutive home visits (the second visit being a second attempt to see the child in close succession of the first attempt).
If members are concerned that there are difficulties implementing the protection plan arising from disagreement amongst professional agencies or a Core Group member not carrying out agreed responsibilities this must be addressed by:
- First, discussion with Core Group members;
- Second, if required, involvement of respective managers / child protection advisers (e.g. child protection manager for Children's social care, designated / named safeguarding children doctor / nurse, teacher or police DCI);
- If the situation remains unresolved see Resolving Professional Disagreement and Escalation Procedure.