4.6 Strategy Discussions
- Strategy Discussion or Meeting
- Purpose of Strategy Discussion/Meeting
- Participants to Strategy Discussion/Meeting
- Location of Strategy Discussion/Meeting
- Recording of Strategy Discussion/Meeting
- Timing of Strategy Discussion/Meeting
Strategy Discussion or Meeting
If there is reasonable cause to suspect a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer Significant Harm, Children's Social Care should convene a Strategy Discussion.
Depending on the nature of the concerns and the urgency of the situation, this may be undertaken via an actual meeting and / or through a series of telephone discussions with the participants.
Strategy Discussions by telephone will usually be adequate to plan a straightforward enquiry or joint investigation. Meetings are likely to be more effective in complex types of maltreatment or neglect such as when there is:
More than one Strategy Discussion may be required.
Purpose of Strategy Discussion/Meeting
The discussion should be used to:
Relevant matters will include:
Participants to Strategy Discussion/Meeting
The Strategy Discussion requires professionals sufficiently senior to be able to contribute, although exceptional circumstances may arise where others may usefully contribute.
The Strategy Discussion should ordinarily be coordinated by the Children's Social Care first line manager, who will chair any Strategy Meetings held.
The discussion must involve, both Children's Social Care and the Safeguarding Investigations Unit, Health and other agencies involved with the child including, in particular the referring agency, the child's nursery / school, any health services the child or family members are receiving and (where relevant) the registered owner of the service involved and the registration authority (for example Ofsted). All participants should be aware that a Strategy Discussion/Meeting is a confidential professionals meeting and as such notes of the meeting should not be shared within anyone without the permission of the Chair.
Where issues have significant medical implications, or a paediatric examination has taken place or may be necessary, a paediatrician should always be included.
If the child is or has recently been receiving services from a hospital or child development team, the discussion should involve the responsible medical consultant and, in the case of in-patient treatment, a senior ward nurse or medical consultant must be considered essential.
The local authority solicitor's involvement may be appropriate.
Consideration should be given to the need to include a professional with expertise in particular cases of complex forms of alleged abuse and neglect. Where parents or adults in the household are experiencing problems such as domestic abuse, substance misuse or mental illness, it will also be important to consider involving the relevant adult services professionals.
Location of Strategy Discussion/Meeting
Discussions that take the form of a face to face meeting should be held at a convenient location and time for the key attendees e.g. Children's Social Care office, police station, hospital, GP surgery or school.
Recording of Strategy Discussion/Meeting
It is the responsibility of the chair of the Strategy Discussion/Meeting to ensure that the decisions and agreed actions are fully recorded using the agreed form. A copy should be made available as soon as possible and within one working day for all participants.
For telephone discussions, a copy of the notes authorised by the first line manager should be distributed to all participants.
Parents seeking access to these records should follow the appropriate agency's disclosure processes. All parties need to be consulted prior to disclosure of the records.
Timing of Strategy Discussion/Meeting
Initial Strategy Discussions and any follow up discussions should generally be held within 3 working days, but see exceptions below.
In the following circumstances, a Strategy Discussion must be held on the day of the referral:
Where immediate action was required by any agency to safeguard and protect the child prior to a Strategy Discussion, a discussion must be held within one working day of the action - see also Immediate Protective Action of the Referrals Procedure.
Where the concerns are particularly complicated e.g. complex abuse, a Strategy Discussion must occur on the day of the referral, but the (first) face to face meeting may be delayed to within a maximum of 5 working days, unless there is a need to provide immediate protection to a child.
The plan made at the Strategy Discussion/Meeting should reflect the requirement to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion/Meeting or, where more than one Strategy Discussion has taken place, within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion that initiated the Section 47 Enquiry.