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1.2.10 Strategy Discussions/Meetings

RELATED READING

This chapter should be read in conjunction with Chapter 4, Action to be taken where a child is at risk of Significant Harm of the Peterborough Inter Agency Safeguarding Children Procedures.

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

Section 47, Children Act 1989

Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2013

AMENDMENT

This chapter was last updated in May 2012 when additional information was inserted in Paragraph 1.3 relating to the required discharge arrangements for children who are in-patients in hospital and subject to a Section 47 Enquiry.


Contents

  1. Criteria and Purpose of Strategy Discussions/Meetings
  2. Timing of Strategy Discussions/Meetings
  3. Who should Attend Strategy Discussion/Meetings
  4. Chairing Strategy Discussions/Meetings
  5. Outcomes
  6. Recording a Strategy Discussion/Meeting


1. Criteria and Purpose of Strategy Discussions/Meetings

1.1 A Strategy Discussion must take place following a referral, or at any other time, where there are reasonable grounds to believe that a child is suffering or is at risk of suffering Significant Harm. This may emerge, for example, in respect of a child receiving support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989.
1.2 The purpose of a Strategy Discussion is to share information with other agencies to determine whether a Section 47 Enquiry should take place and if so, to plan the initial stages of the Section 47 Enquiry which will take place alongside a Core Assessment.
1.3

This will include the following:

  • Considering the need for a medical assessment;
  • Agreeing what action is required immediately to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, and/or provide interim services and support. If the child is in hospital, decisions should also be made about how to secure the safe discharge of the child;*
  • Determining what information from the Strategy Discussion will be shared with the family, unless such information sharing may place a child at increased risk of Significant Harm or jeopardise Police investigations into any alleged offence(s)
  • Agreeing who should be interviewed, by whom, for what purpose, and when;
  • Agreeing when the child will be seen alone by the Lead Social worker (unless inappropriate) in order to ascertain the child's wishes and feelings in regard to decision making;
  • In the light of the race and ethnicity of the child and family, considering how this should be taken into account, and establishing whether an interpreter will be required; and
  • Considering the needs of other children who may affected, for example, siblings and other children, such as those living in the same establishment, in contact with alleged abusers.

*If the child is subject to a Section 47 Enquiry, a Strategy Meeting involving the social worker, the police, the consultant paediatrician and the named nurse/midwife for child protection or other senior member of nursing/midwifery staff will take place at the earliest opportunity. There will be a written agreement between parents and Children’s Social Care regarding contact, visiting arrangements and level of supervision required. The terms of this will be documented in the child’s medical notes. Supervised visiting will be arranged by children’s social care. There will be written agreement between parents and children’s social care with regard to discharge. All of this information will be documented in the child’s medical notes along with a copy of the plan.

Any child/neonate subject to a Section 47 Enquiry will not be discharged until a discharge strategy meeting with all professionals involved has taken place. In relation to the neonate, full planning may have taken place in the antenatal period and a copy of the hospital plan with discharge details will be in their notes.

2. Timing of Strategy Discussions/Meetings

2.1 The initial Strategy Discussion will take place within 24 hours of the receipt of information giving rise to concerns about Significant Harm. This will usually take place by telephone between the relevant team manager of Children's Social Care and an officer in the Police Central Referral and Tasking Unit in Huntingdon.
2.2 Chapter 4, Action to be taken where a child is at risk of Significant Harm of the Peterborough Inter Agency Safeguarding Children Procedures sets out the precise circumstances when a Strategy Meeting should be held. In such cases the first Strategy Meeting should take place within a maximum of 5 working days of the Strategy Discussion.


3. Who should Attend Strategy Discussions/Meetings

3.1 The Strategy Meeting should involve the social worker who has undertaken the Initial Assessment and/or who will be undertaking the Section 47 Enquiry and the Police. In addition to the Police, other agencies should be involved as appropriate (for example education and health care representatives) and, in particular, any referring agency.
3.2 Where parents 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.
3.3 Chapter 4, Action to be taken where a child is at risk of Significant Harm of the Peterborough Inter Agency Safeguarding Children Procedures sets out in more precise details who should attend Strategy Meetings.
3.4 It is not usual for family members to take part in Strategy Meetings.


4. Chairing Strategy Discussions/Meetings

4.1 Strategy Meetings will usually be chaired by the responsible team manager but a more senior manager will chair Strategy Meetings where more complex abuse is suspected, such as alleged abuse by a foster carer or professional - see also Chapter 7, Protecting Children in Specific Circumstances of the Peterborough Inter Agency Safeguarding Children Procedures for procedures in relation to Organised and Complex Abuse and Allegations of Abuse Made Against a Person who Works with Children


5. Outcomes

5.1

The outcome may be that:

  • There are grounds to suggest the child is suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm. In these circumstances, a Section 47 Enquiry will be undertaken, and a Core Assessment will be commenced. 
  • There are no grounds to suggest the child is suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm but the child may still be a Child in Need and the team manager may decide to initiate a Core Assessment (for example if the child’s needs appear to be complex) and/or the provision of services from within the authority or from other agencies.
  • There are no grounds to suggest the child is suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm and the child does not appear to be a Child in Need in which case the team manager may decide to signpost the family to another agency or agencies or decide that no further action is required or, where a Common Assessment has been completed and a Lead Professional identified, confirm that the Lead Professional will continue to coordinate services to the child and family.
5.2 In some cases, the Strategy Discussion/Meeting may conclude that further information gathering and assessment is needed before a decision can be made about initiating a Section 47 Enquiry. In such cases, an additional task of the Strategy Discussion/Meeting will be to fix a date to reconvene.


6. Recording a Strategy Discussion/Meeting

6.1 All Strategy Discussions will be recorded by the team manager, using a Record of Strategy Discussion.
6.2

The Record of Strategy Discussion is attached to LiquidLogic; it is also placed in the child protection section of the child’s file. NB It is the responsibility of the team manager to ensure this is carried out. Copies must be circulated to all who were parties to the discussion within one working day.

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