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2.2 Step Down Procedure


Procedure for:
Social workers in the Children in Need service

Purpose to:

  • Manage the process of stepping down/ case closure so that there is a transparent process and evidence based decision making;
  • Manage the transition between services to promote engagement and effective service delivery to children, young people and families;
  • Handover and share information and thresholds in a suitable and relevant way so that:
    • Consent is given by families to share and handover information from assessments and plans;
    • The family does not have to tell their story again.


This chapter was entirely revised and replaced in December 2015 and should be re-read in full.


  1. Preliminary Note
  2. Step Down

1. Preliminary Note

Step down should not be viewed as a default process and should only be used where a family requires support from universal or targeted services with specified desired outcomes.

Good practice would be that the targeted service is suggested at the penultimate Child in Need review and then evaluated to ensure smooth transition at the point of step down.

2. Step Down

  1. Progress in addressing the needs and concerns highlighted through the social work assessment and plan should be discussed at CIN Review Meetings / Team around the Child meetings and recorded. The decision to close or step down is reviewed against expected/identified outcomes within the plan which focus on the needs of the child and the discussions should include reasons why other agencies’ involvement is necessary or appropriate;
  2. When considering step down, the line manager should ensure that all actions outlined in the CIN or child protection plan are completed and evidenced on ICS;
  3. The line manager should take into consideration the impact of Children’s Social Care involvement, assessment findings and risk assessment in making a decision on whether the case should be stepped down. Specifically, changes in the child’s or family’s circumstances which have occurred should be considered – particularly comment on how risks for the child have reduced and what is requested of the targeted service in terms of work with the family to maintain their progress;
  4. In cases where domestic violence was a factor, it is recommended that a DV risk assessment is undertaken;
  5. The decision to step down the case needs to be clearly recorded on ICS by the line manager with evidence based reasons why the case is being stepped down to a universal or targeted service or closed;
  6. If the decision is to step the case down to a targeted service, the social worker should seek consent from the family for this, and additionally seek consent to share the latest assessment and/or plan, along with the reasons for step down and what outcomes are sought from the targeted support service;
  7. All step down cases must be submitted to the Targeted Allocations Meetings (TAM) held weekly) to include:
    • Family consent to the step down service;
    • Consent must be ‘informed’ – consent by a parent/carer or young person after achieving an understanding of the relevant facts and the likely outcomes. The young person should be aware of why information is recorded and held and the reasons for why it may be shared;
    • Obtaining explicit consent is good practice and it can be expressed either orally or in writing. Explicit consent means specific consent to carry out a specific action, particularly in relation to an individual's personal information. Individuals have the right to withdraw consent after they have given it;
    • The latest assessment and/or plan (subject to family consent);
      • Reasons for step down and what outcomes are sought from targeted support service (in bullet points);
      • Names of any other professionals currently or recently part of the team around the family to enable them to be invited to the TAM if required.
  8. TAM has representatives from Children’s Centres Family Support, Targeted Youth Support and Families First. CIN Provider Services (IFIT, Specialist Family Support Team, AMASS), CAMHS and CSCT are invited and attend when relevant. Step down can be to Children’s Centres Family Support, Targeted Youth Support, IFIT or Families First if appropriate. Any of these services can be agreed by the panel representatives or other recommendations made;
  9. If TAM agreed step down to the service specified, the request sent by the allocated CIN team/ CIN social worker to TAM (see g above) is forwarded to that service (i.e. no additional paperwork is required);
  10. The targeted service will contact the CIN social worker to let them to whom the case will be allocated;
  11. The allocated CIN team/ CIN social worker can then liaise with the targeted service to arrange:
    • A handover meeting;
    • A clear transfer date from the social work team to the new service; and
    • If possible, a joint visit to the family.
  12. It may be the case that the step down service specified by the social work team is not appropriate, either because they have already provided a full intervention to the family or because the family has not engaged, despite persistent attempts by a targeted service. In this case, the allocated social worker must remain in the role of the lead professional until a resolution has been achieved following a professionals’ meeting or a team around the family meeting and a decision reached whether to continue with plan or proceed to closure;
  13. The TAM will clearly identify who has responsibility for taking the lead on the case and who is responsible for informing the referrer about the decision on service provision;
  14. Recording of the final decision on step down should be made on ICS by the line manager making the decision to step down the case;
  15. It is expected that transfer would be completed within two weeks of the TAM decision and progress on each case will be reviewed after a month by the TAM chair.