6.1 Implementation of the Child Protection Plan – Lead Social Worker and Core Group Responsibilities
Last reviewed in December 2019
Next reivew in July 2022
Agreement about how local authorities and Cafcass can work effectively in a set of care proceedings and pre-proceedings in the English family courts (Association of Directors of Children’s Services [ADCS] and Cafcass, February 2017)
- Introduction(Jump to)
- Core Group(Jump to)
- Formulation of Child Protection Plan(Jump to)
- Lead Social Worker Role(Jump to)
- Children's Social Care First Line Manager Role(Jump to)
- Further Assessment(Jump to)
- Intervention(Jump to)
- Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan who go Missing(Jump to)
- Death of a Child Subject to a Child Protection Plan(Jump to)
- Discontinuing a Child Protection Plan(Jump to)
The aim of the child protection plan is to:
• ensure the child is safe from harm and prevent them from suffering further harm
• promote the child’s health and development
• 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
All members of the Core Group are jointly responsible for:
Where any member of the Core Group is aware of difficulties implementing the Child Protection Plan due to changed or unforeseen circumstances, the Lead Social Worker must be informed immediately and consideration given to recalling the Core Group meeting to re-consider the Child Protection Plan.
Circumstances, about which the Lead 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.
If the difficulty in implementing the Child Protection Plan impacts on the safety of the child, the Lead 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.
If 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:
See Resolution of Professional Disagreements Procedure for additional information on the procedure to be followed.
It will include both parents/carers, child (if appropriate) and other relevant family members. If the Core Group is unable to include both parents due to risk or because one or other of the parents is unable to attend due to work or other commitments, then the lead Social Worker should ensure that his or her participation can be achieved by alternative means, e.g. the views being sought prior to the Core Group, reported to the Core Group meeting and a copy of the minutes of the Core Group being provided to the non-attending parent.
Professionals and foster carers in direct contact with the child should also be included.
Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018, Flowchart 5, What happens after the child protection conference, including the review? states that the date of the first Core Group meeting must be within 10 working days of the Initial Child Protection Conference. This date must be arranged at the end of the conference, along with an indication of the required frequency of subsequent meetings.
Good practice would be for the Core Group to meet within 6 weeks of their initial meeting, and at a minimum frequency of once every 2 months following the first Review Conference. More regular meetings may be required according to the needs of the child.
Dates for future meetings must be agreed at the first Core Group meeting following each conference.
Formulation of Child Protection Plan
The purpose of this plan is to facilitate and make explicit a coordinated approach to the protection from further harm of each child subject to a Child Protection Plan.
The parents should be clear about:
All parties must be clear about the respective roles and responsibilities of family members and different agencies in implementing the plan.
The Child Protection Plan will constitute an agenda item at each Review Conference.
The Child Protection Plan should be used to clarify expectations and assist in joint working towards shared goals. It can also be used as evidence, in any legal proceedings, of the efforts made to work in partnership (this must be made clear to parents).
Outline Child Protection Plan
An outline plan must be drawn up at Initial and Review Conferences, following the decision to develop a Child Protection Plan or continue with that plan. (see Actions and Decisions of the Conference Procedure, Outline Child Protection Plan) . The aim of the outline plan is to assist the Core Group to form a clearer focus of work with the family and to explicitly define individual professional responsibilities.
There should be no reduction in service level or significant change to the Child Protection Plan without:
The Detailed Child Protection Plan
Ensure the child is safe from harm and prevent him or her from suffering further harm by supporting the strengths, addressing the vulnerabilities and risk factors and helping meet the child's unmet needs;
Promote the child's health and development, i.e. his or her welfare; and
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 based on the findings from the assessment, following the dimensions relating to the child's developmental needs, parenting capacity and family and environmental factors, and drawing on knowledge about effective interventions. Where the child is also the subject of a Care Plan, the Child Protection Plan should be part of the Looked After child's Care Plan.
The content of the Child Protection Plan should be consistent with the information set out in the Child Protection Plan Record (on ICS). It should set out what work needs to be done, why, when and by whom. The plan should include:
The Child Protection Plan should take into account the wishes and feelings of the child, and the views of the parents, insofar as they are consistent with the child's welfare. Both child and parents should be provided with the opportunity to record their comments, including areas of disagreement. If the aim and content of the plan has not been discussed with any of the parties / agency concerned, the reasons must be stated on the plan.
Any dissent about the plan, by family or professionals, must be recorded, with reasons. If family members' preferences are not accepted about how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, the reasons for this should be explained. Families should be told about their right to complain and make representations, and how to do so.
The Lead Social Worker should make every effort to ensure that the child and parents have a clear understanding of the planned outcomes; that they accept the plan and are willing to work to it. If the parents are not willing to cooperate in the implementation of the plan the local authority should consider what action, including the initiation of Care Proceedings, it should take to safeguard the child's welfare.
The plan should be constructed with the family in their preferred language and they should receive a written copy in this language.
The Child Protection Plan should be explained to and agreed with the child in a manner which is accordance with their age and understanding.
All agencies are responsible for the implementation of the Child Protection Plan and all professionals must ensure they are able to deliver their commitments, or if not possible, that these are re-negotiated.
Lead Social Worker Role
At every initial conference, where a child is made subject to a Child Protection Plan, the chair will name a qualified social worker, identified by the social work team manager, to fulfil the role of Lead Social Worker for the child.
The Lead Social Worker should:
Seeing the Child
The frequency of contact by Lead Social Worker or Core Group members detailed above is the minimum standard. In exceptional circumstances the Core Group may decide that the required contact level should be less frequent. Any such decision should be authorised by Children's Social Care line manager / child protection adviser.
In these circumstances formal agreement must be reached that a member of another agency carry out the face-to-face contact, or that a Review Conference is called. Such a decision must be recorded and authorised by managers of the agencies concerned and agreed in the Child Protection Plan.
Routine Written Records
The Lead Social Worker must maintain a complete and up-to-date signed record on the current electronic record, to include:
Responsibility for convening conferences
The Lead 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:
Consideration should be given to bringing forward the date of a review conference 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 first line manager.
Absence of the Lead Social Worker
It is the responsibility of the Lead Social Worker, in liaison with the social work manager to ensure that clear cover arrangements are made when the Lead Social Worker is absent on planned annual leave, training etc.
Parents 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.
Children's Social Care First Line Manager Role
The first line manager has a vital role in managing the progress of the case and supporting the Lead Social Worker.
The manager should:
Absence of the Lead Social Worker
The manager must 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, including the checking and any necessary action, resulting from post, e-mails and telephone contacts.
If the Lead Social Worker is to be absent from work for an extended period her / his manager should consider reallocating the case
The Lead Social Worker and first line manager must, in supervision, regularly consider the risks to the child and whether updated Family Assessment (also referred to a Child and Family Assessment or Strengthening Families assessment) or further specialist assessments should be undertaken
Updated assessments may be helpful in the following circumstances:
Intervention must be provided to give the child and family the best opportunities of achieving the required changes. If a child cannot be cared for safely at home, (s)he will need to be placed elsewhere whilst work is undertaken with both child and family.
Intervention should address the child's needs and may involve action to promote her or his health, development and safety, particularly with regard to the need to develop a secure parent-child attachment.
Critically, decision-making must consider if the child's developmental needs can be responded to within the family taking account of the Assessment Framework andwithin timescales appropriate for that child.
Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan who go Missing
If a professional/agency becomes aware that a child who is subject to a Child Protection Plan has gone missing, or is absent from school/educational or daycare settings, they should inform the Lead Social Worker immediately
Death of a Child Subject to a Child Protection Plan
When a child who is subject to a Child Protection Plan dies, from whatever cause, the Lead Social Worker or her/his manager must inform the senior child protection manager, who will notify the safeguarding partners.
Consideration will need to be given to the need for a child safeguarding practice review.
Discontinuing a Child Protection Plan
A child should no longer be the subject of a child protection plan if:
• the child and family have moved permanently to another local authority area. In such cases, the receiving local authority should convene a child protection conference within 15 working days of being notified of the move. Only after this event may the original local authority discontinue its child protection plan
• the child has reached 18 years of age (to end the child protection plan, the local authority should have a review around the child’s birthday and this should be planned in advance), has died or has permanently left the United Kingdom
Social workers should:
• notify, as a minimum, all agency representatives who were invited to attend the initial child protection conference that led to the plan
• consider whether support services are still required and discuss with the child and family what might be needed, based on a re-assessment of the child’s needs