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1.2.3 Children in Need


If child protection concerns arise at any time during the referral and assessment provision of services to children in need, then see London Child Protection Procedures, Referral and Assessment Procedure.


This chapter was updated in August 2018 by adding a new Section 7, 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. Introduction
  2. Child in Need Plan
  3. Initial CiN Meetings and Subsequent Reviews
  4. Recording the Plan
  5. Frequency of Planning and Review Meetings
  6. Following the Review Meeting
  7. Children in Need Moving to Another Authority - Principles
  8. Step Down Process
  9. Step Up Process
  10. Visiting Requirements for a Child/Young Person Subject to CiN Procedures

1. Introduction

These procedures form guidance for all agencies involved in providing services to children and young people who are deemed to be ‘children in need’, at Levels 3 and 4 of LB Redbridge Threshold Model.

The Children Act 1989 provides a definition of a Child In Need (CiN). Section 17.10 A child shall be ‘in need’ if:

  1. He/she is unlikely to achieve or maintain or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him of services by a local authority;
  2. His/her health and development is likely to be significantly impaired or further impaired, without the provision for him of such services;
  3. He/she is disabled.

Agencies/Practitioners will work with children across the Continuum of Need:

  • All practitioners may attend TAC/CiN meetings;
  • Generally social care social work teams will be the Lead Practitioner in complex Level 3 cases and will;
  • Social care social work teams will always be the Lead Practitioner in cases that are deemed to be Level 4;
  • At Level 2 and 3 of the Continuum of Need other practitioners may be the Lead Practitioner, responsible for planning and reviewing a child’s plan.

Level 3 (Children in Need)

  • Highly complex needs (including Children with complex and profound disabilities who meet the criteria for Children with Disabilities Social Care Teams);
  • A need for multi-agency high level support for children/ young people who are experiencing compromised parenting;
  • A significant risk of family breakdown;
  • A likelihood of significant harm but where the risk can be managed outside of a Child Protection (CP) Plan.

Level 4 (Children in Need of Protection)

  • Children and young people who are suffering or likely to suffer significant harm;
  • Children whose needs can only be met through a CP Plan;
  • Children who have made subject to a legal order as a result of Children and Families Service initiating Care Proceedings.

2. Child in Need Plan

A Child in Need (CiN) Plan should be developed following a Child and Family Assessment where it has been determined that services are to be provided to a child and whereby there will be continued involvement by Children’s Social Care. Every CiN receiving a service should have an individual CiN Plan which details and records:

  • Any unmet needs of the child/young person and reflects their ethnicity and diversity;
  • Overall objectives of the Plan setting out achievable outcomes that will address the areas of identified need;
  • Tasks to be achieved to meet the objectives;
  • Services to be provided and what their purpose is;
  • Who has key responsibility for each aspect of the Plan;
  • Timescales for the tasks to be achieved;
  • The child’s voice;
  • Review arrangements.

Before starting a CiN Plan, the practitioner should have already checked to see if a Common Assessment Framework (CAF) has previously been completed.

The CiN Plan ensures that:

  • All children and young people have clearly stated objectives for them to gain maximum life chance benefits from education, health care and social opportunities;
  • There is a strategy for achieving these objectives;
  • Consideration is given to factors which protect children from emotional, physical and sexual abuse and neglect.

3. Initial CiN Meetings and Subsequent Reviews

When a decision is made that a CiN Plan is required, social work intervention/family support work should continue whilst the Plan is formulated.

The CiN Plan should be developed at a meeting which includes the child/ren (age appropriate), parents, extended family and relevant professionals who can usefully contribute to the collation of the information and the formulation of the Plan. The meeting is arranged by the allocated social worker and should be convened within 15 working days of the decision that a CiN Plan is required.

It is important that workers and their supervisors take into account history and what plans and interventions have worked or not worked historically. Workers should not fall into the “start again trap/syndrome”.

If any family member of the planning group is unable to attend the meeting they should be assisted to present their contribution in either written or verbal format. Key professionals who are unable to attend should provide a written report.

It is important that the child/ren and family attend the meeting and arrangements are made to facilitate their attendance. Consideration should therefore be given to accessibility, location, timing and the need for an advocate/interpreter. The age at which children should attend these meetings cannot be rigidly set. Each child should be assessed and the decision made as to the suitability of them attending using the following criteria:

  • Does the child have sufficient understanding of the process?
  • Has the child expressed a wish to attend?
  • Will attendance cause the child any harm?

The Chair will ensure that:

  • The meeting is as open and informal as possible;
  • Particular attention is given to the use of language and any special terms explained;
  • The child and parent(s) are given appropriate encouragement, assistance and opportunity to say what they wish;
  • Differences and disagreements are respected and recorded;
  • Any needs with regard to age, disability, culture, religion or race must be given specific consideration.

The Chair will summarise and reiterate agreed actions, roles and tasks, and all participants will be asked to sign the attendance sheet and their agreement to the proposed.

4. Recording the Plan

The objectives and individual responsibilities agreed at the CiN meeting should be recorded on the CiN Plan. Where the decision to commence a Plan is the outcome of the Child and Family Assessment, a CiN ‘Event’ will be opened on the Integrated Children’s System (ICS) by the social worker and authorised by their Team Manager. Where a CiN Plan is to be commenced alongside a Core Assessment, a CiN ‘Event’ will be opened by the allocated social worker and authorised by their Team Manager. The event must be closed when the Plan ceases.

The Plan and reviews will be held on a child’s electronic Social Care Record. Every Child in Need Plan should be outcome focused and achievable and should have SMART objectives that are measurable.

The Plan or review must not be disclosed to any party who is not part of the planning and review group without the parent’s consent unless it is necessary to safeguard the child. The allocated worker must ensure that the multi-agency parental consent form has been completed and is held on the child’s electronic Social Care Record.

Copies of the Plan should be provided to the child/ren, family and participants in the planning and review group within 10 working days of the meeting. Copies should be sent to all relevant parties irrespective of whether they attend the meeting or not.

5. Frequency of Planning and Review Meetings

Every child/ young person where there is social work involvement must have a CiN Plan within 3 months of the case being open to Children and Families Social Work Teams.

The initial CiN Plan should be reviewed at 6 weeks and thereafter at a minimum frequency of 6 months. Some plans may require review on a more frequent basis, depending on the complexity of the case. Where it becomes necessary to make minor adjustments to the Plan and services provided in between scheduled reviews, any changes to the Plan must be made in consultation with the parents and the child/young person (where appropriate) and key professionals from other agencies. Additional services arranged in the interim should be agreed and added to the Plan at the next meeting.

If a Plan has been in place for 12 months the next review must be chaired by a Team Manager or Senior Practitioner who will review the effectiveness of the Plan and its impact on improving the outcomes for the child/young person involved.

The following should be considered:

  • Should the Plan end?
  • Should the Plan continue?
  • Should it change because needs have changed?
  • Is it appropriate to step down to Early Intervention?
  • Have the concerns progressed to L4 of the Continuum of Need and may it be more appropriate to initiate S47 and convene a CPCC.

6. Following the Review Meeting

It is important to ensure planning and reviewing of Plan is in place to ensure children’s needs are met and that cases do not drift.

A CiN Plan should not be ended unless a review has been completed and a decision made that the Plan has achieved its objectives/is no longer required and that satisfactory arrangements for the continuing promotion and safeguarding of the child’s welfare are in place. This may include continuing provision of services within an Early Intervention Plan and through the identification of a Lead Practitioner.

If a key agency is not present at the review then their views must be sought before a decision is made to close a case to Social Care or step down to early intervention.

7. 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 Practitioners;

    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.

8. Step Down Process

When children and families social work teams have decided that the families no longer require social work involvement but do need some targeted support, they will offer the family’s ongoing support from the Early Intervention and Family Support Service. Once accepted by the service they will be offered bespoke package of support ranging from parenting programs, CAF/TAC’s, or on going Family support work.

The Social Worker must discuss with the manager the need for ongoing target intervention. They will then complete the paper work for the case to be discussed at the step down Panel. Once it has been accepted the Social Worker will hold a final Child In Need (CIN) meeting to hand over the case to an Early Intervention and Family Support (EI&FS) worker and agree jointly with the family what the new arrangements and plan will be. This must be done with the child and family’s consent.

The case will then be worked with in the Early Intervention and Family Support Service, either under the auspices of the CAF service – who will offer regular TAC meetings and support for the family, or offered a parenting course, or a family support worker they will manage the work going forward and that the Children’s Social Care social work team will close the case. To avoid the need for the child and family to tell their story again, the existing Initial/Core Assessment and/ or Child in Need Plan will be shared and used as the basis for the ongoing support. The new Lead Practitioner will therefore only complete the family’s personal details to log the team around the family assessment. However they will still need to complete the consent agreement and the action plan with the family. The action plan must make reference to the CiN Plan/Child and Family Assessment.

9. Step Up Process

Unless the risk to a child or young person has immediately fast-tracked to a level that places the child at risk of significant harm (level 4), then, before referring to Children’s Social Care, other services that have previously been involved with a child, young person and their family must compete a team around the child/family assessment and action plan.

Any work undertaken at Level 3 and 4 must take into account any previous assessments. The practitioners involved with a child or young person before they enter Level 3 or 4 services should share information with specialist services/Social Care social work teams. Sharing the early assessment documentation is a good way of doing this. At the point of escalation, the existing assessment and action plan should be updated and shared with the appropriate specialist services/Social Care social work teams. The assessment should be kept open until it has been agreed that a specialist service will have ongoing involvement with the child, young person and family and only then is it appropriate to close any assessment. If a child is referred to and accepted by Children’s Social Care then the role of the lead practitioner should be reviewed. If you make a referral to Social Care but it is not accepted you should discuss with your line manager in line with the escalation procedures.

10. Visiting Requirements for a Child/Young Person Subject to CiN Procedures

There are no specific minimum requirements for visiting a child/young person subject to CiN procedures. The visiting frequency should form part of the overall CiN Plan and should be set out in any planning or review meeting and agreed with team mangers or supervisors and recorded on ICS. However, consideration should be given to the nature of involvement, the age and vulnerabilities of the child/ young person, along with their wishes. In adopting good practice in undertaking visits to a child/young person, consideration also needs to be given to both planned and unplanned visits.