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1.2.10 Care Planning - Children in Need


This chapter refers to care planning for children in need and children in need of protection. See Planning For Children Looked After for chapters in relation to Looked After Children.


Care Planning Procedure

This chapter is currently under review.


1. Introduction

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Good quality care planning leads to better outcomes and so should take place at every stage of a child's involvement with Children's Social Care (CSC).

In many circumstances a child's needs are at a lower threshold and can be planned for and met with short-term services. In all circumstances, social workers, deputy managers and team managers should therefore consider if an initial plan is sufficient to address the needs of the child. Where needs cannot be met through an initial plan or meet a higher threshold, a Child and Family Assessment (Single Assessment) will be required and the child's plan will follow this.

2. The Purpose of the Initial Plan / Child's Plan

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The purpose of both the initial plan and the child's plan is to ensure that children's assessed needs are appropriately met through services that will realise identified positive outcomes and that consideration is given to factors that safeguard the child. Both the initial and child's plan should reflect the child's wishes, feelings and views and, where possible, act on them and should ensure that the child's family understands who is involved, why and what is expected of them.

The initial plan will also ensure that children and their families receive short-term services.

The child's plan will also ensure that children and their families receive more in-depth services, over a period of time.

Whilst both the initial plan and the child's plan should be responsive to the factors listed below, the child's plan will do so to a greater extent as it is in place for a longer period of time:

  • The child's identified developmental needs;
  • Any changes in their needs or circumstances;
  • Factors which impact on parental capacity to respond to those needs; and
  • Wider family and environmental factors which may have an impact on the child or young person and family.

3. Recording the Initial Plan / Child's Plan

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The initial plan / child's plan should include:

  • The objectives of the plan and the outcomes that are expected;
  • The services to be provided by all the agencies involved in the plan and what their role is in relation to the outcomes;
  • The timescale for the provision of the services / actions to be undertaken;
  • Any referrals made to other agencies;
  • Which agency/individual is responsible for each aspect of the plan;
  • Which agency/individual is responsible for monitoring the outcomes to be achieved and how this will be done;
  • Review arrangements;
  • The possible consequences, or further action to be taken if the plan is not followed.

An initial plan / child's plan will always work better when it includes the child's views and so the plan should record the level of involvement of the child and her/his family.

Whilst different members of the child's family may receive services, the child's plan must focus on the needs of the child and on the outcomes that are expected for the child.

Caption: Table with Outcomes
Practice Guidance - writing child focused outcomes
Outcomes should be clearly linked to the child's current situation, the needs/strengths as recorded on the plan and the improvements that are being sought for the child. They should be SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant & Time-limited) so that it is possible when reviewing them to say whether the outcomes have been achieved in full, partially achieved or not achieved. Some examples are given below:
Need/Strength Outcome

Child is 4lbs underweight, as a result of some feeding difficulties. Child needs to be a healthy weight.

Child to gain 4lbs within the next month.
Child's school attendance is 60%. She truants on average 1 or 2 days per week, particularly on days when she has a PE class. Child needs to be supported to attend school so that s/he can achieve good outcomes. Child to attend school 100% and participate in PE classes, to ensure she maintains a healthy, active lifestyle.
Child says that she does not want any contact with mother at the moment because she is angry with her. Child has not seen her mother for 8 weeks. Child's wishes and feelings need to be considered alongside his/her long term attachment to mother. Child's mother remains a significant person. The possibility of future contact and of child re-building a relationship with her mother needs to be kept open.

4. Approving the Initial Plan

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The initial plan is approved as part of the assessment process.

All initial plans must be agreed for a maximum of six weeks. Should the child and family and social worker wish to extend the period of intervention then this must be agreed through a Children in Need review meeting. At this point the initial plan can be extended for a maximum of a further six weeks. After this twelve week period the case should be closed or referred to the Team Manager.

5. Approving the Child's Plan

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The social worker should devise the child's plan following the single assessment and first CIN meeting. The social worker's manager should review and agreed the child's plan within seven working days. Once the manager has approved the child's plan the social worker should send a copy to the family. As the plan represents the written agreement with the family, the parent(s)/carer(s) and child should be encouraged to sign and date the child's plan.

A copy of the child's plan should be given to the child (where the child is old enough to read and understand the contents of the plan, parent(s)/carer(s) and older siblings (where appropriate) and to other participants in the CIN meeting.

Reluctance or unwillingness to engage with the process may indicate that the child's level of vulnerability is increased or that the parent(s)/carer(s) and/or child were not sufficiently involved in producing the plan and the situation should be reviewed. Increased vulnerability may indicate a risk of significant harm, in which case a strategy meeting or discussion should be convened by a CSC manager and the London Child Protection Procedures adhered to.