4.6 Strategy Discussions
Last reviewed in September 2020
Next review in September 2022
- Strategy Discussion(Jump to)
- Purpose of Strategy Discussion(Jump to)
- Participants to Strategy Discussion(Jump to)
- Inquorate Strategy Discussion(Jump to)
- Location of Strategy Discussion(Jump to)
- Recording of Strategy Discussion(Jump to)
- Timing of Strategy Discussion(Jump to)
If there is reasonable cause to suspect a child is suffering, has suffered 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, the Strategy Discussion may be undertaken via an actual meeting, whether face to face or via virtual means or through a telephone discussion 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.
When the information on which the decision-making of a previous Strategy Discussion is based changes significantly, a further Strategy Discussion should be convened to review that earlier decision-making. Attendance requirements are the same as for the first strategy discussion.
Strategy Discussions and subsequent Review Strategy Discussions must be convened when appropriate and at timely, child centred intervals where there are ongoing allegations to specifically co-ordinate and plan responses (including the investigation) and to progress outstanding actions. For children who are looked after it is particularly important for multi-agency discussion to continue at regular intervals. This ensures that children and young people who are in care have their ongoing needs met (e.g. therapeutic support).
Purpose of Strategy Discussion
The discussion should be used to:
Relevant matters will include:
Participants to Strategy Discussion
The Strategy Discussion requires professionals sufficiently senior to be able to contribute and to attend with relevant information from their agency. Exceptional circumstances may arise where other professionals may usefully contribute.
The Strategy Discussion should ordinarily be coordinated by the Children's Social Care first line manager, who will chair any Strategy Discussions held.
The discussion must involve, Children's Social Care, the Police and health practitioners. Other relevant agencies who are involved with the child should also be included such as, the referring agency, the Sexual Assual Referral Cetnre (SARC), 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 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 include, or consulted.
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 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.
Inquorate Strategy Discussion
If a pre-arranged Strategy Discussion does not go ahead because of a late notice withdrawal from a key agency, this should be escalated by the Children's Social Care lead with the absent agency's lead through the line management within the agency.
If Children's Social Care fail to attend the Police MASH Officer allocated to attend the Strategy Discussion should immediately escalate non-attendance to the Children's Social Care Duty Manager.
The absent agency Lead’s details and time of notification of absence should be recorded on Children's Social Care and police systems.
Incidences of late notification of non-attendance by an agency should be reviewed to identify learning.
Location of Strategy Discussion
Discussions that take the form of a face to face or virtual meeting should be held at a convenient location and time to enable the key attendees to join e.g. Children's Social Care office, police station, hospital, GP surgery or school.
Recording of Strategy Discussion
It is the responsibility of the chair of the Strategy Discussion 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, and invitees, including the GP.
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
Initial Strategy Discussions should generally be held within 3 working day of receipt of referral, 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 involve complex forms of abuse and neglect a Strategy Discussion must take place as soon as practicable whilst ensuring the need to have the relevant expertise and professionals present.
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 or, where more than one Strategy Discussion has taken place, within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion that initiated the Section 47 Enquiry.