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Child in Need Plans and Reviews


This chapter does not apply to children who are the subject of a Child Protection Plan. Where the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan, this will be drawn up in outline at the Initial Child Protection Conference and in detail at the Core Group meeting(s). It will be reviewed by a Child Protection Review Conference. Please see the Local Safeguarding Children Board's Inter Agency Procedures in relation to the implementation of the Child Protection Plan.

For children who are in receipt of Short Breaks, see also the Short Breaks Procedure.

See also Children and Young People Aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure.


This chapter was updated in June 2018 by adding a new Section 5, Children in Need Moving to Another Authority – Principles. Information and communication is important between the respective local authorities to ensure appropriate services continue for the child and family and, where relevant, any risk of harm is recognised and identified with the receiving local authority. It should be noted that the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child lies with the local authority where the child is to be found.


  1. Child in Need Planning Meetings
  2. Child in Need Plans
  3. Reviews of Child in Need Plans
  4. Reviewing Child in Need Status
  5. Children in Need Moving to Another Authority – Principles
  6. Transfer of Cases
  7. Process for the Closure of Cases

1. Child in Need Planning Meetings

Child in Need Planning Meetings will follow an Assessment where the assessment has concluded that a package of family support is required to meet the child's needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

The Planning Meeting provides an opportunity for a child and his or her parents/carers, together with key agencies, to identify and agree the package of services required and to develop the Child in Need Plan.

All Child in Need Planning Meetings should be attended by the child (depending on age and understanding), parents/carers and those agencies whose potential/actual contribution is recommended as an outcome of an assessment.

The relevant social worker should discuss potential attendees for the Planning Meeting with the child and the parents/carers prior to arrangements being made for the meeting.

It will be important that an appropriate venue suitable for the child and his or her family are used for the meeting. Consideration must be given to transport, timing and any child care issues. Where a child is attending a meeting and is of school age the meeting should be held outside of school time, wherever possible.

The first Planning Meeting will usually be chaired by the social worker's line manager.

The social worker is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations.

A note of the meeting will be taken by the Chair. This record will be copied to those involved, including the child and parent/s, who will need to sign their agreement.

2. Child in Need Plans

A Child in Need Plan will be developed in a Child in Need Planning Meeting.

Most Child in Need Plans will envisage that Children's Services intervention will end within twelve months. However, some children and families may require longer term support, for example children with disabilities.

The Child in Need Plan must identify the Lead Professional, any resources or services that will be needed to achieve the planned outcomes within the agreed timescales and who is responsible for which action and the time-scale involved.

In particular, the Child in Need Plan should:

  • Describe the identified developmental needs of the child, and any services required;
  • Include specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child;
  • Include realistic strategies and specific actions to achieve the planned outcomes;
  • Include a contingency plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
  • Include timescales that are not too short or unachievable;
  • Not be dependent on resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
  • Identify the Lead Professional and his or her responsibilities, including frequency of visits to the child;
  • Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of other professionals and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by professionals with children and family members;
  • Lay down points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged.

The Chair of the Child in Need Planning Meeting is responsible for the distribution of the Child in Need Plan. A copy of the Child in Need Plan should be provided to the parents, child (if old enough) and the agencies or other professionals involved in the provision of services under the Plan.

The Lead Professional will be responsible for implementing the plan including making referrals to appropriate agencies for services as described in the plan.

Where it becomes necessary to make minor adjustments to the plan and services provided, any changes to the plan must be made in consultation with the parents and the child (where appropriate) and key professionals from other agencies.

3. Reviews of Child in Need Plans

Reviews will be conducted at intervals agreed with the Lead Professional’s line manager, which will be at least every three months, unless there are exceptional circumstances when timescales can be longer. This can include disabled children whose circumstances remain consistent and the services provided do not require such a regular review.

If there are significant changes in the family circumstances, an early review should take place.

Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of a Child in Need Plan must be responded to in line with Local Safeguarding Children Board's Inter Agency Procedures.

The Review will usually be carried out by the Lead Professional, who should invite or seek the views of the child, parents and any service providers. The responsible team will administer all Child in Need Reviews. 

The Review will generally take place within a meeting, unless the manager agrees otherwise. The Lead Professional or line manager will usually chair the meeting. If the case is not allocated, the manager of the responsible team must undertake the review or arrange for it to be undertaken on his/her behalf.

The purpose of the Review is to ensure that the services provided are contributing to the achievement of the objectives within the time-scales set.

Where it is proposed that a complex package of support being provided under a Child in Need Plan should continue beyond 12 months there should be a specific review chaired by the manager of the responsible team. Exceptions to this will be those cases where the plan acknowledges the need for longer term support, for example in relation to children who meet the criteria for a service in relation to a disability.

All decisions made should be recorded on the child’s electronic record, together with reasons, and dated.

A copy of the record should be sent to the child (if old enough), parent and all other participants in the Review process.

The outcome of a Review will be:

  1. That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Social Care Services intervention, which will result in a recommendation to the team manager that the case be closed although the child may continue to receive services from a single agency or under a multi-agency plan not involving Children's Social Care;
  2. That the child continues to be a Child in Need requiring the same level of services, resulting in the continuing provision of services and minor amendment, as necessary, of the Child in Need Plan;
  3. That the child's needs are sufficiently complex and/or the child requires additional services to safeguard and promote his or her welfare such as to justify a specialist assessment to be undertaken;
  4. That the child appears to be at risk of Significant Harm, resulting in the need for a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and possible Section 47 Enquiry.

Where the outcome of the Review is an amendment to the Child in Need Plan, the Lead Professional should circulate a copy of the amended Plan to the child, parents, and other agencies/professionals involved in providing the services set out in the amended Plan, including any new services to be provided.

Where the outcome of the Review is that a Team Around the Child (TAC) should be set up, the members of the TAC should be agreed, an action plan drawn up, a date set for the first TAC review and a Lead Professional from the preventative services identified to coordinate the action plan.

Where the outcome of the Review is to progress to Child Protection, the Team Manager should consider the thresholds and whether to call a Strategy Meeting

4. Reviewing Child in Need Status

Once the actions from the Child in Need Plan have been met in full and with joint agreement from the family, Children's Services and other agencies involved, it may be decided that the case should be closed to Children's Services.

Where a case is to be closed to Children's Services this should be decided within the Child in Need meeting and be fully documented and a new Lead Professional appointed if another agency is to continue providing services. Please refer to the Process for the Closure of Cases.

If however, following ongoing support from all agencies, it is apparent that identified outcomes and changes have not been achieved, the Social Worker and their Team Manager should consider whether to hold a Strategy Meeting to decide whether the Safeguarding thresholds have been met for the case being moved into Child Protection. This decision can only be taken on a case by case basis and a Section 47 commenced. Where there is sufficient evidence to show that the cumulative impact of inaction by the family is having a detrimental effect on the child(ren) and can be considered as 'significant harm or likelihood of it', then the option of calling a Strategy Meeting must be considered.

5. Children in Need Moving to Another Authority - Principles

This section deals with children who are subject to Children in Need Plans and who move to another local authority. The principles apply to local authorities in the circumstances of both transferring out and receiving in Children in Need.

In a number of situations, children and their families moving to another local authority offers a positive option. However, and particularly where children and their families may have moved on more than one occasion in a short space of time, any assessment should consider whether the child is subject to trafficking or modern slavery (see Assessments Procedure).

For Children Looked After see Out of Area Placements Procedure.

  • When a Child in Need moves from one local authority area to another, the Children Act 1989 is clear that the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child lies with the local authority where the child is to be found;
  • Given the child has already been identified as having particular needs or is vulnerable in some way, or urgent consideration / assessment should be given as to the impact of the move for the child in respect of their vulnerability, for example, through changes in the protective factors, increased risk with known perpetrators or whether they might be subject to trafficking or modern slavery;
  • Given the circumstances, and in line with the above, a timely response should be made with regard to levels of assessed risk;
  • The parent/carer should be made aware of their responsibility to ensure the child receives appropriate education and health support in the area they plan to move to, together with any other specialist service required for the child;
  • The social worker should assist and promote the family accessing relevant and appropriate services with regard to meeting the child’s needs. Any deficits in services to meet specific needs by the receiving local authority should be noted;
  • The local authority Children’s Social Care Services where the child and family are moving to should be formally notified and all relevant information should be shared:
    • Social work assessment;
    • Child in Need Plan;
    • Minutes of latest Child in Need Review;
    • A summary / case report.
  • Parent / carer’s permission should be sought to share this information with the receiving local authority in line with Information Sharing Advice for Safeguarding Practitioner.

    However, the Data Protection Act should never be a barrier to ‘sharing  information where the failure to do so would result in a child or vulnerable adult being placed at risk of harm’ or indeed on those occasions where seeking consent might increase the risk of harm.

    Otherwise, the social worker or team manager, should consider seeking advice from their Caldicott Guardian or their Legal Services;
  • The social worker should ensure that other agencies involved in the Child in Need Plan are made aware and prepared to ensure that their relevant information is shared as soon as possible with their respective counterparts in the area the family have moved to, (for example school and GP records, etc.);
  • The social workers and team managers of the respective authorities should ensure there is clear and good communication during any transition and any risks are clearly communicated and understood.

    Where possible, the social worker should seek to meet their counterpart and where geography allows, to consider a joint visit and attendance at the Child in Need Meeting, so that the issues can be fully shared. The process should reflect the family’s needs and any associated risks;
  • Where there is dispute about case responsibility; delay in the receiving local authority accepting responsibility of the case, or a dispute about Children in Need thresholds, the team manager should promptly notify the Service Manager who should make a decision regarding next steps, including, where necessary, to take legal advice;
  • The family should be kept informed of any respective responsibilities during a transition stage and when the receiving local authority, (where the family reside), take full responsibilities;
  • Receiving local authorities should seek to convene a Child in Need Meeting within 20 working days of the family being resident in their area and include all relevant agencies and, where possible, the social worker and other specialist staff where the child and family have moved from;
  • All actions, decisions and arrangements should be fully recorded on the child’s case record during this process. This should include management decisions, which should identify the rationale for any decisions made, especially where specific services cannot be provided and/or it is considered the child is no longer a Child in Need.

6. Transfer of Cases

The Referral and Assessment Team will complete Child and Family Assessments within 35 days. If the Assessment recommends continued support and services to the child, a Child in Need meeting should be convened.

Those cases identified as a child in need and requiring continued support at tier 3 or 4 should be considered for transfer to the appropriate team (either Family Support or CWDs if the child is disabled). If a transfer is being considered, the receiving team manager should be advised of the date and venue of the meeting in advance and asked to attend to enable smooth transfer of the case.

If the assessment concludes that there is no role for Children's Social Care, then consideration should be given to whether there is a role for family intervention through the Early Intervention Service. In this case, the Social Worker carrying out the assessment should discuss with the family the option of using the Common Assessment Framework to provide appropriate support and the case should be referred to the MASG. It is essential that the Social Worker seeks consent (and clearly records this) as part of the Assessment process to share the information from the Assessment with the Early Intervention Service and to progress the case under the common assessment framework.

All cases due for transfer will be agreed and confirmed at weekly allocation meetings. These will be held weekly. Referral and Assessment are responsible for timetabling these and team managers are responsible for ensuring attendance. Meetings will always include managers from Referral and Assessment team and Family Support Team. LAC and CWDs representatives should attend alternate meetings as scheduled. These meetings will consider case transfers to any other teams (refer to Children’s Social Care Transfer Protocol).

The Transfer Protocol must be adhered to including the transfer from Referral and Assessment to Family Support which should happen within 7 days of the completion of the Assessment (unless there is agreement that the case will be closed by Referral and Assessment after a short focused piece of work with the family), at the first CIN Meeting, the first LAC Review Meeting or the first Core Group Meeting (whichever route is taken).

R&A managers will alert the FST managers in advance about cases for transfer. This should initially be done by e-mail with follow-up telephone calls if required.

The R&A Social Worker and the Social Worker who is allocated from the receiving team should undertake a joint visit to the family and will both attend the Initial Child in Need Planning Meeting.

Additionally, where a Social Worker is leaving the case (e.g. if they are leaving the authority or the case is being handed over to a new Social Worker, both Social Workers should undertake a joint visit).

Transfer summaries must be informative and include important dates and urgent things that may need following up on. The case should be viewed electronically to ensure everything is up to date including chronologies and verified by the Team Manager.

7. Process for the Closure of Cases

Before the Case is Closed

Consultation must take place with the other agencies involved and a joint decision reached that the case may be closed. This will ensure clarity in decision making and be helpful for other agencies to understand why the case is closed to Children's Services. It does not mean that all services with other agencies will cease, as there may well be work being done by Health, Education or a Voluntary Agency Partner. It will demonstrate closer working with the other agencies involved in the case. In these cases, de-escalation to manage the case through a CAF may be appropriate and the case should be referred to the MASG in order to allocate a lead professional.

All cases to be 'stepped-down' from Children's Social Care to a CAF should follow the practice guidance in Step down from Children's Social Care to CAF / TAC by taking the case to the appropriate panel to make the decision.

If the children/ young people are subjects of CIN or a CP Plan, the decision should be made to close the case within a Child in Need meeting or Child Protection Conference attended by the relevant professionals and wherever possible the child and family. If the child and/or family are unable to attend, consultation must take place between the Social Worker the child and the family to discuss the issues around closure.

Where there is a step down from CP to CIN, the chair must draft an initial CIN plan with the family at the meeting where it is agreed to step down to CIN for agreement at the first CIN review meeting. The CIN meeting must take place within 10 days of the decision to de-escalate.

This decision should be documented in the minutes of the meeting and sent to all partners detailing:

  • The date of the decision;
  • Why the decision was taken;
  • Who the decision was taken by.

The minutes will be held on the child's file within Liquidlogic. Any dissent from the decision to close should be noted including disagreement from the family and/or child(ren).

Disagreement by Other Agencies with the Decision to Close a Case

If other agencies disagree with the decision to close the case a meeting should be set up to discuss the issues. It is preferable that the issues could be resolved without the need for a meeting; however, it may be more practical for a multi-agency meeting to be established to ensure clarity and for each agency to voice their concerns. This meeting should be minuted and copies sent to each of the agencies involved with providing services for the child(ren) and family.

Having met to discuss possible disagreement to close a case it may well be that there could still be disagreement following the meeting. The team manager responsible for the case may still decide to close even though there is disagreement. In such a case the disagreeing party should be advised to put their disagreement in writing so this can be documented on the case file. Equally the team manager should write to the party in disagreement to acknowledge their views.

Once it is agreed that the case is to be closed

The Social Worker will ensure that:

  • All fields have been correctly filled in on Liquidlogic including Date of Birth, Involvements, Relationships and Ethnicity;
  • A closing summary is completed;
  • The Chronology is up to date (including the decision to close the case, who was involved and when the decision was made);
  • A letter is sent to the family informing them of the closure of the case, when the decision was made, why the decision was made and what the outcome was of the case;
  • Check to ensure that a copy of the Access to Files leaflet was sent along with the Comments, Compliments and Complaints leaflet at the time of the initial appointment for the IA. If it was not sent, ensure that at this point it is sent out.

Note: The Service User Feedback survey should be sent out at the same time that the completed Assessment is sent out.

The Social Worker's manager / supervisor will:

  • Read and sign the closing summary;
  • Audit the file electronically on Liquidlogic;
  • Send alert to the named admin to close the case on Liquidlogic check that all outcomes are correctly recorded in the following areas: referral, reviews, provisions, services, plans, needs, assessments, registrations, legal status, child protection and that all involvements including Key Worker and Key Teams have been ended and with the reasons why;
  • Pass the file to the team administrators to have the files prepared for archiving - details of where the paper file is to be stored should be logged on the appropriate tab in.

Conference and Review Service will:

Scan and attach any additional paperwork in addition to that which is routinely sent during the course of a child protection case to the child's electronic file. Once scanned into the system and stored appropriately the paperwork may be confidentially destroyed. CRS should notify the child's Social Worker that the additional paperwork has been attached to the file.

The Step down process from Children's Social Care to CAF / TAC

It is important to ensure that movement of cases between Children's Social Care and the CAF environment is properly managed. The flow chart below details the "Step Down" processes. See Step Down from Children's Social Care to CAF / TAC for further details.

De-escalation from Referral and Assessment to CAF / TAC

De-escalation from Children's Social Care to CAF / TAC