SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter was introduced into the manual in February 2014. It describes how the Child Protection Plan will be developed, implemented and monitored by Core Group Members.
Multi-Agency Record of Core Group Meeting – these forms should be used to record the discussions and outcomes of meetings.
In January 2018, this procedure was updated to reinforce the following practice point:
- When a child is being returned to carers in whose care the significant harm originally occurred, a Child Protection Plan should be considered appropriate for a minimum of 6 months.
- Core Group
- The Child Protection Plan
- The Lead Social Worker Role
- Difficulties in Implementing the Child Protection Plan
When a Child Protection Conference decides that a child should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, a qualified and appropriately experienced local authority Children's Social Worker must be appointed as the lead Social Worker to co-ordinate all aspects of the inter-agency Child Protection Plan.
The Core Group is the forum by which the multi-agency work to safeguard the child is co-ordinated, and the membership will have been identified at the Initial Child Protection Conference.
2. Core Group
The Core Group is responsible for the detailed formulation and implementation of the Child Protection Plan, which will have been previously outlined at the conference. Agencies should ensure that members of the Core Group undertake their roles and responsibilities effectively in accordance with the agreed Child Protection Plan.
All members of the Core Group are jointly responsible for:
- Collecting information to assist the lead Social Worker in completing an assessment;
- The formulation and implementation of the detailed Child Protection Plan, specifying who should do what, by when;
- Carrying out their part in implementing the Plan including the commitment of identified resources;
- Monitoring and evaluating progress against specified outcomes for the child;
- Making recommendations to subsequent Review Child Protection Conferences about future protection plans and the child's needs being met stipulating specific outcomes;
- Attending Core Group meetings and reviewing progress to ensure that there is no drift in achieving the aims of the Child Protection Plan;
- The Core Group must ensure that the Child Protection Plan sets out the frequency for all Core Group members to see the child and the frequency of all contacts.
All action points must be clearly recorded, an analysis of the risk of harm to the child should be made and all the information should be shared with the lead Social Worker and the Core Group. A nominated Core Group member will be responsible for keeping a record of the outcome of each meeting, to be circulated within 5 days of the meeting.
If the lead Social Worker or any other involved professional has difficulty obtaining direct access to the child, the local authority Children's Social Care Manager / Child Protection Adviser should be informed, as well as other Core Group members. This must result in a plan of action agreed between Core Group members and the Police including consideration of legal action or convening a Review Child Protection Conference.
Membership of the Core Group will have been identified at the Initial Child Protection Conference and must include:
- The lead Social Worker who will chair Core Group meetings;
- If appropriate the child and/or their Advocate;
- Parents and relevant family members and where appropriate their Advocate;
- Professionals involved with the child and/or parent;
- Foster Carers or Residential Care Staff who will have direct contact with the family.
Absence of one member of the Core Group, including the Social Worker, should not prevent a meeting going ahead. Another member of the group should then chair the meeting.
The date of the first Core Group meeting must be within 10 working days of the initial child protection conference. After that the Core Group should meet within 6 weeks of the first meeting and at a minimum frequency of once every 2 months following the first Review Conference. More regular meetings may be required.
The first Core Group meeting date must be arranged at the end of the conference, along with the required frequency of subsequent meetings.
Dates for future meetings must be agreed at the first Core Group meeting following each conference. Where a meeting needs to be rescheduled, this must be confirmed in writing to all concerned by the lead Social Worker.
5. The Child Protection Plan
The purpose of a Child Protection Plan is to facilitate and make explicit a co-ordinated approach to:
- Ensure that each child in the household is safe and prevent them from suffering further harm;
- Promote the child's health and development (i.e. welfare);
- Provided it is in the best interests of the child, to support the family and wider family members to safeguard and promote the welfare of their child.
Implementation of the Child Protection Plan must begin immediately after the Initial Child Protection Conference. A Child Protection Plan should be considered appropriate for a minimum of 6 months where a child is returning to carers in whose care the significant harm originally occurred.
Review of progress on achieving the outcomes set out in the Child Protection Plan and consideration as to whether changes need to be made should be an agenda item at each Review Conference and Core Group meeting. Contingency plans should be made, if there is no evidence of change in relation to the child's safety and welfare.
The Child Protection Plan may be used as evidence, in any legal proceedings, of the efforts that have been made to work in partnership (this must be made clear to parents).
Detailed Child Protection Plan
The lead Social Worker must ensure that they formulate the detailed Child Protection Plan and ensure that it signed by the family and agencies involved.
The Child Protection Plan should take into consideration the wishes and feelings of the child, and the views of the parents, insofar as they are consistent with the child's welfare. The lead Social Worker should make every effort to ensure that the child/ren and parents have a clear understanding of the planned outcomes, that they accept the plan and are willing to work to it.
The completed Child Protection Plan should be explained to the child in a manner which is in accordance with their age and understanding.
Professionals should ensure that the parents understand:
- The evidence of the child suffering significant harm, or likely significant harm, which resulted in the child becoming the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
- What needs to change;
- What is expected of them in the plan to safeguard the child.
If the parents' preferences have not been accepted in the plan about how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, the reasons for this should be explained. Parents should be told about their right to complain and make representations, and how to do so.
All parties should be clear about the respective roles and responsibilities of family members and different agencies in implementing the Child Protection Plan.
Copies of the signed plan should be circulated to Core Group members within 5 working days of the first Core Group meeting.
Any disagreements should have been discussed at the Core Group meeting, recorded with reasons and reflected appropriately in the written plan. Each agency is deemed to have agreed the plan and their role unless they raise an objection within 5 working days of receipt of the plan.
The Child Protection Plan should be clearly accessible on the child's record held by each agency, and on the adults' records held by Health services including GP's, Social Care and other agencies as appropriate.
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.
6. The Lead Social Worker Role
At every initial or pre-birth conference, where a Child Protection Plan is put into place, the Conference Chair must name a qualified Social Worker, identified by the local authority Children's Social Care Manager, to fulfil the role of lead Social Worker for the child.
The lead Social Worker should complete an Assessment of the child and family, securing contributions from Core Group members and others as necessary. They should co-ordinate the contribution of family members and other agencies to plan the actions which need to be taken, put the Child Protection Plan into effect, and review progress against the planned outcomes set out in the plan.
The lead Social Worker should also regularly ascertain the child's wishes and feelings, and keep the child up to date with the Child Protection Plan and any developments or changes.
The lead Social Worker should:
- See the child (infants and babies to be seen awake) as agreed in the Child Protection Plan. The frequency of visiting must be determined in the Child Protection Plan and reviewed by the Core Group;
- See the child on their own on as agreed in the plan;
- See the child's bedroom as agreed in the plan;
- Undertake direct work with the child and family in accordance with the Child Protection Plan;
- Convene and chair / lead Core Group meetings;
- Ensure a written record of meetings is taken by a Core Group member in the agreed format and including any areas of disagreement and circulated within 5 days;
- Ensure that the outline Child Protection Plan is developed, in conjunction with members of the Core Group, into a detailed multi-agency protection plan;
- Ensure that the plan is signed by the family and agencies involved, maintained on the child's file and copies circulated to the Core Group members;
- Obtain a full understanding of the family's history by compiling or adding to a chronology, which must involve reading previous local authority Children's Social Care files as well as current records in use in local authority Children's Social Care, including those relating to other children who have been part of any households involving the current carers of the child. Additional information should be obtained from relevant other agencies and local authorities;
- Complete the assessment of the child and family, 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 regularly reviewing the objectives stated in the plan;
- The lead Social Worker must maintain a complete and up-to-date signed record on the child's current file.
7. Difficulties in Implementing the Child Protection Plan
Where any member of the Core Group is aware of difficulties implementing the protection plan, the lead Social Worker must be informed immediately and a Core Group meeting / discussion co-ordinated to agree a reconsidered Child Protection Plan. Alternatively a Strategy Discussion / Meeting should be convened to consider the need for immediate emergency Police action to gain access to a premises where appropriate, a Section 47 Enquiry, legal action, and/or to bring forward the date of the Review Child Protection Conference. Arranging a legal planning meeting should be considered by the lead Social Worker with their line manager.
Circumstances about which the lead Social Worker should be informed include inability to gain access to a child who is subject to a Child Protection Plan, for whatever reasons, on 2 consecutive home visits (the second attempted visit being in close succession of the first attempt).
If members are concerned that there are difficulties implementing the protection plan arising from disagreement amongst professional agencies or a Core Group member not carrying out agreed responsibilities this must be addressed by:
- First, discussion with Core Group members;
- Second, if required, involvement of respective managers / child protection advisers (e.g. Child Protection Manager for local authority Children's Social Care, Designated / Named Safeguarding Children Doctor / Nurse, Teacher or Police DCI);
- Thirdly, if the situation remains unresolved refer to the Derby and Derbyshire Multi Agency Dispute Resolution and Escalation Policy (see Documents Library, Guidance Documents Section). In addition, professionals in Derbyshire should refer to the Child Protection Conference Professional Dissent and Escalation Process.