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1.3 Planning & Implementation

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1. Introduction


The MK Council LCS system provides for the use of a 'child's plan' for all Children in Need who are not being Looked After or leaving care. Children's Social Care is responsible for ensuring these plans are developed and implemented.

A Child's Plan should cover how the following will be addressed:

  • Identified developmental needs of the child;
  • Attributes which impact on the parents'/carers' capacities to respond to the child's needs;
  • Wider family and environmental factors which may have an impact on the child and family.
1.2 The plan, using the appropriate Signs of Safety pro-forma, should be specific about the actions to be taken, identifying who is responsible for them, services/resources required, planned outcomes and agreed time-scales.

An Initial Child's Plan or a Child's Plan should be developed for those Children in Need where


Further information on Child's Plans will be found in the local Children's Social Care child care procedures.


Where a child protection conference has been held and an outline Child Protection Plan agreed for a child, a Child Protection Plan must be implemented. The procedures for these are in this chapter.

1.6 A Lead Social Worker from Children's Social Care is appointed to co-ordinate and lead all aspects of the inter-agency Child Protection Plan and the forum to undertake this co-ordinated multi-agency work is the Core Group, whose membership will have been identified at the child protection conference.
1.7 Family Group Conferences (FGCs) may be used both as part of a Child's Plan and as part of a Child Protection Plan.

2. Core Group


2.1 The Core Group is responsible for the formulation and implementation of the detailed Child Protection Plan, previously outlined at the conference.

All members of the Core Group are jointly responsible for:

  • Collecting information to assist the Lead Social Worker in compiling and completing the Children and Families Assessment;
  • Ensuring membership of the Core Group is appropriate and attendance at Core Group meetings is sufficient for formulating and implementing the Child Protection Plan as a detailed working tool;
  • Monitoring progress of the plan against specified objectives;
  • Seeing the child, in accordance with the member’s role, as determined by the Child Protection Plan;
  • Making recommendations to subsequent review conferences about the need for and content of any future Child Protection Plans.
2.3 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.
2.4 Circumstances, about which the Lead Social Worker should be informed, include inability to gain access to a child subject to a Child Protection Plan, for whatever reasons, on two consecutive home visits.
2.5 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 Child Protection Review 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 by:

  • Firstly, discussion with Core Group members;
  • Secondly, if required, referral to respective professional advisers ie Independent Chairs for Children's Social Care, designated/named doctor, nurse, teacher;
  • If the situation remains unresolved, the matter should be referred to the social work manager.
2.7 For additional information see Complaints, Non-Compliance and Conflict Resolution Procedure.


2.8 Membership of the Core Group will have been identified at the Child Protection Conference and must include the Lead Social Worker as chair.
2.9 It will include parents/carers, child (if appropriate) and other relevant family members.
2.10 Professionals and foster carers in direct regular contact with the child should also be included.


2.11 The date of the first Core Group meeting must be set at conference and take place within 10 working days of an initial conference.  Review conferences will clarify the date of the next Core Group meeting following the conference.
2.12 Subsequent Core Groups meetings must be held at least every six weeks. More frequent meetings may be required according to the needs of the child.


3. Formulation of Child Protection Plan


The aim of the child protection plan is to:

  • Ensure the child is safe from harm and prevent him or her from suffering further harm;
  • Promote the child's 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.

Parents must be enabled to understand:

  • Causes for concern which resulted in the decision to formulate a Child Protection Plan;
  • What is working well and existing strengths;
  • What needs to change in the future; and
  • What is expected of them as part of the plan for safeguarding the child.
3.3 All parties must be clear about the respective roles and responsibilities of family members and different agencies in implementing the plan.
3.4 The plan will be outlined at the conference. The Lead Social Worker and the Core Group are responsible for ensuring it is drawn up in detail and acted upon.
3.5 The Core Group will, as described above, regularly review and where necessary modify the Child Protection Plan.
3.6 The Child Protection Plan will constitute an agenda item at each review conference.
3.7 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

3.8 An outline plan, for each child, must be drawn up at initial and review conferences, following any decision that a child should have or continue to have a Child Protection Plan.
3.9 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.

The outline plan should identify:

  • Any immediate action required to safeguard the child/ren;
  • Broad objectives for child's welfare, identifying specific developmental needs, strengths and difficulties in each domain of the Assessment Framework diagram (child's developmental needs, parenting capacity and family & environmental factors);
  • Services or actions designed to respond to the identified needs and to promote the child's health and development;
  • Start date, frequency, nature and length of each input;
  • Person/agency responsible, including family members;
  • Planned outcomes of each intervention, including required progress to be achieved within specified timescales.

The planned interventions should address:

  • Identification of risk factors and actions required to protect the child from Significant Harm;
  • Time limited short and longer term objectives;
  • Required outcomes linked to promoting the child's welfare and a reduction in the risk;
  • Time scales for the completion of a Children and Families Assessment, if not already done;
  • Identification of any specialist assessments of the child and family that may be required to ensure sound judgements can be made on how best to safeguard the child and promote their welfare;
  • Method of monitoring and evaluating progress, including identifying which professional is responsible for checking required changes, frequency and nature of contact by agency members;
  • Consideration of a contingency plan and the circumstances that would necessitate its use.
3.12 The outline plan should include an indication of what the conference believes needs to change before the Child Protection Plan can be discontinued.
3.13 There should be no reduction in service level or significant change to the Child Protection Plan without child protection conference approval.

Child Protection Plan

3.14 The Core Group is responsible for drawing up in more detail the Child Protection Plan for each child.

Contents of the plan should be based on findings of the Children and Families Assessment and decisions of the Child Protection Conference and should cover:

  • The domains of the Children and Families Assessment;
  • Specific and achievable services or actions designed to respond to the identified needs;
  • Start date, frequency and length of each input;
  • Person/agency responsible, including family members;
  • Roles and responsibilities of professionals in routine contact with family, including specialist resources;
  • Explicit description of the nature (i.e. frequency, location, presence of parents) of contact with the child of each core group member;
  • Planned outcomes of each intervention, including required progress to be achieved within specified timescales;
  • Frequency of reviews of the plan and the date of the next Core Group meeting.

The planned interventions should additionally address:

  • Ethnic / cultural / religious considerations - e.g. necessity for an interpreter, avoidance of appointments with family on significant religious festivals;
  • Issues arising from any disability;
  • Identification of risks to the child and means of protection;
  • Identification of parenting strengths;
  • Identification of what needs to change to reduce the risk of significant harm;
  • Identification of actions to promote the child's health and development and actions to support the family and wider family members in promoting the welfare of the child;
  • Identification of any further Children and Families Assessments and/or specialist assessments;
  • Establishment of specific short and long term aims and objectives, with clear time scales;
  • Identification of measurements for success (how will the family and professionals know there has been change?);
  • Method of monitoring and evaluating progress, including identifying professional/s responsible; 
  • Consideration of a contingency plan if circumstances change quickly, or if insufficient change occurs.
3.17 If the plan's contents have not been discussed with any of the parties / agencies concerned, the reasons must be stated on the plan.
3.18 Any dissent about the plan, by family or professionals, must be recorded, with reasons.

Agreeing the plan with the child

3.19 The plan must consider the wishes and feelings of the child. It must be explained to her/him (in accordance with age and development), using an interpreter if required.
3.20 The child should be given a copy of the plan written at a level appropriate to her/his understanding and in her/his preferred language and be provided with the opportunity to record her/his comments, including areas of disagreement.

Negotiating the plan with the parent / carer

3.21 The plan must consider the views of the parents, insofar as they are consistent with the child's welfare. Parents should be provided with the opportunity to record their comments, including areas of disagreement.
3.22 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 and professionals as part of implementing the plan. They should be given a copy of the plan in their preferred language.
3.23 The family must be told about its right to complain and the procedure for so doing.

Circulation of Child Protection Plan and Core Group Meeting Minutes to Core Group

3.24 The Lead Social Worker will distribute the revised Child Protection Plan and Core Group Meeting minutes to Core Group members and the Conference Chair within five working days of the Core Group meeting.

Agency & professional responsibility

3.25 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.


4. Lead Social Worker Role

4.1 At every Initial Child Protection Conference or pre-birth conference, where a decision is made that a child should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, the chair will name a qualified social worker, identified by the social work team/group manager, to fulfil the role of Lead Social Worker for the child.

The Lead Social Worker should:

  • Convene and chair Core Group meetings;
  • Ensure the outline plan is developed, in conjunction with Core Group members into a detailed multi-agency Child Protection Plan;
  • Clearly note and include in the written record any areas of disagreement;
  • Ensure Core Group members, the child (where appropriate) and the family have the opportunity to see and understand the Child Protection Plan and that it is copied and circulated to all signatories and maintained on the child's social care record;
  • Obtain a full understanding of the family history (which must involve reading Children's Social Care records, including those relating to other children who have been part of any households including the current carers of the child - additional information should be obtained from relevant other agencies and local authorities);
  • Complete the Children and Families Assessment of the child and family (if not previously completed), 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 reviewing the objectives stated in the plan.

The Lead Social Worker must:

  • See the child themselves, in accordance with the plan.  This is usually every two weeks, and at least every four weeks;
  • See the child at home at least every other visit, to a minimum of eight-weekly;
  • See the child alone (with parent's agreement), or babies awake, at least every other visit, to a minimum of eight-weekly;
  • See the child’s bedroom at least once between each Conference;

    OR more frequently in accordance with the requirements of the Child Protection Plan as agreed by the Chair with the core group members;
  • If parents refuse permission the Children's Social Care line manager must be informed
4.4 The frequency of Lead Social Worker contact above is the minimum standard.
4.5 In exceptional circumstances the Core Group may decide that the required contact level should be less frequent than stated in 4.2. Any such decision should be authorised by Children's Social Care line manager/Child Protection Conference Chair.
4.6 If the Lead Social Worker has difficulty obtaining direct access to the child, the Children's Social Care line manager must be informed, as well as other Core Group members.
4.7 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, authorised by managers of the agencies concerned and agreed in the Child Protection Plan.
4.8 Any proposed changes to the Child Protection Plan, including the frequency of visiting and monitoring arrangements, must be negotiated and agreed with the Child Protection Conference Chair.

Routine written records


The Lead Social Worker must maintain a complete and up-to-date signed record on the social care record, to include:

  • 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;
  • Circumstances of all family members;
  • Specific information about key subjects such as meals and sleeping arrangements (the Lead Social Worker must observe the child's bedroom at least once between conferences);
  • Factual reports of child's presentation and behaviour (these should be specific and avoid non-specific labels such as 'disturbed');
  • Any new incidents or injuries, which must be subject to full enquiries using the Section 47 forms;
  • A chronology on the front of the file/in the electronic record to include significant events in the child's life, including incidents, injuries, family changes etc;
  • Date, time and content of any communication which relates to the child and family (distinguishing between fact and opinion).

Responsibility for convening conferences


The Lead Social Worker is responsible, in liaison with the child protection chair and administrator, for convening the Review Child Protection Conference, the dates for which should have been set at the previous conference and be no more than:

  • 3 months after the initial conference (91 days);
  • 6 months after a review conference (183 days).

Consideration should be given to bringing forward the date of a review conference in the following circumstances:

  • Following a new and significant incident relating to concerns about child protection, usually involving a Section 47 Enquiry;
  • When there is a significant change in the circumstances of the child or family;
  • When there are significant difficulties in carrying out the Child Protection Plan.
4.12 The request to bring forward the date of a review conference should be made by aStrategy Discussion/Meeting of a Section 47 enquiry or by the social worker following consultation with Core Group members, conference chair, and must be authorised by the team/group manager.

Absence of the Lead Social Worker

4.13 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.
4.14 Parents and children must be informed of planned absences, the cover and contact arrangements.

5. Children's Social Care Team Manager Role

5.1 The team 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, assessments and decisions on the child's file / electronic record, including the chronology;
  • Discuss the progress of the Child Protection Plan and any concerns in supervision, including ensuring that there has been adequate direct contact with the child/ren;
  • Ensure supervision and management case decisions are clearly visible and dated in the child's record;
  • Read and countersign conferences reports and the protection plan;
  • Review the plan with the Lead Social Worker when unexpected developments or crises occur, and together make a decision whether to recommend that a Review Child Protection Conference date be brought forward.

Absence of the Lead Social Worker

5.3 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.
5.4 If the Lead Social Worker is to be absent from work for an extended period their manager should consider reallocating the case.

6. Further Assessment

6.1 The Lead Social Worker and team/ group manager must, in supervision, regularly consider the risks to the child and whether further Children and Families Assessments or specialist assessments should be undertaken.

Further assessments may be helpful in the following circumstances:

  • On transfer of a case;
  • Prior to consideration of discontinuing the Child Protection Plan
  • When a child has been subject to a Child Protection Plan for a year;
  • When consideration is being given to the implementation of Care Proceedings;
  • In particularly complex cases.

7. Intervention

7.1 Intervention must be provided to give the child and family the best opportunities of achieving the required changes, identifying and developing the strengths within the family.
7.2 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. In these circumstances, consideration must be given to identifying alternative safe placements in the child's family and community.
7.3 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.
7.4 Critically, decision making must consider if the child's developmental needs can be responded to within the family and within timescales appropriate for that child.

8. Death of a Child Subject to a Child Protection Plan

8.1 When a child who is subject to a Child Protection Plan dies, from whatever cause, the Lead Social Worker or their manager must immediately inform the Independent Conference Chair who will notify the Team Manager for Safeguarding and MK Together.
8.2 Working Together statutory guidance, ch 4 has further information about the local authority's responsibility for submitting serious incident notifications.
8.3 If it appears likely to the designated safeguarding manager that a Child Safeguarding Practice Review will be initiated, the manager should arrange for the child's file to be secured.

9. Family Group Conferences

9.1 A Family Group Conference (FGC) is a meeting in which family members themselves, including children and young people, design their own plan to overcome identified problems and to respond to the concerns of professionals.
9.2 The FGC is convened by an independent co-ordinator, not directly responsible for assessing or providing services to the family, who ensures relevant family and friends are invited and adequately prepared.  Children are actively encouraged to attend and may be supported by an advocate.
9.3 The meeting has 3 stages: Information exchange, private family time and planning.
9.4 Agencies and professionals should agree to support the family's plan if it does not place the child at risk of Significant Harm and if the requested resources can be provided.
9.5 There may be subsequent review meetings to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the plan.

Circumstances where a FGC should be considered

9.6 Where possible, FGC's should be considered for Children in Need at an early stage i.e. for cases that have not reached the threshold of child protection. They can also be used after this threshold has been identified.

Circumstances when a FGC might be appropriate include where:

  • A plan is required for the future welfare of a Child in Need;
  • A Section 47 Enquiry does not substantiate concerns about Significant Harm, but where support and services are required;
  • A Child Protection Conference decides the child should not be the subject of aChild Protection Plan, but that a FGC would be an appropriate part of the child's plan / the vehicle used to devise the plan;
  • Section 47 Enquiries progress to a child protection conference, the Core Groupmay agree that a FGC is an appropriate vehicle to use as part of the Child Protection Plan e.g. to develop the outline plan into a fully worked-up plan.

FGC and child protection

9.8 FGC's may also be used for children who have been the subject of a Section 47 Enquiryor Child Protection Conference. They do not replace or remove the need for a child protection conference, which should always be held when the relevant criteria are met.
9.9 The social worker should consult with police prior to a referral to the FGC project if a criminal investigation is on-going or prosecution pending.
9.10 In cases where drug / alcohol use is prevalent or there is inter-generational sexual abuse, caution should be used when considering use of FGC's, especially if denial and collusion are identified as features of the extended family dynamics. This should not prevent discussion with the FGC project, but there must be clarity about the levels of risk.
9.11 Consideration should be given to referral to a FGC at each child protection conference, as family circumstances change and a referral may become appropriate at any stage in the child protection process.
9.12 There will be occasions when the family's plan reduces risks of Significant Harm to the child, such that a Child Protection Plan will no longer be needed. On these occasions the team/group manager must decide whether a review conference be convened to consider discontinuing the Child Protection Plan.

Information provision

9.13 Parents / carers with Parental Responsibility need to give their permission for information in relation to themselves and the children to be shared with extended family members.

Effective planning within FGC's relies on the provision of accurate information for the family, who need to understand that they are the primary planning group in the process. The family and involved professionals should be clear about:

  • Professional findings from any assessments of the child and family;
  • The family's understanding of its current situation;
  • Decisions required;
  • Decisions already taken;
  • Any non-negotiable issues / decisions: i.e. the scope of the family's decision making;
  • Available resources to implement the plan.
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