View Working Together View Working Together

1.5.5 Implementation of a Child Protection Plan - Lead Social Worker and the Core Group Responsibilities


Contents

  1. Action After the Initial Child Protection Conference
  2. The Role of the Lead Social Worker
  3. Role of the Core Group
  4. Child's Assessment for Children who have a Child Protection Plan
  5. The Child Protection Plan
  6. Parenting Capacity
  7. Explaining the Child Protection Plan to the Child and Parents
  8. Role of Core Group Members
  9. Role of the Lead Social Worker’s Manager
  10. Delays or Difficulties in Implementing the Child Protection Plan


1. Action After the Initial Child Protection Conference

When a Child Protection Conference decides that a child is made subject to a Child Protection Plan, Children’s Social Care take lead responsibility for the case and designate a qualified and experienced social worker to be the Lead Social Worker.

The Lead Social Worker is responsible for ensuring that the outline Child Protection Plan is fully developed into a more detailed inter-agency plan and for continuing the single assessment in conjunction with the other Core Group members and ensuring that services are planned and co-ordinated with the child and family.


2. The Role of the Lead Social Worker

The Lead Social Worker should:

  • Be the lead professional for inter-agency work with the child and family, coordinating the contribution of family members and professionals into putting the Child Protection Plan into effect;
  • Use the risks and outcomes agreed at conference to develop the outline Child Protection Plan into a more detailed interagency plan and circulate to relevant practitioners and family where appropriate;
  • Confirm the contingency plan agreed at conference to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
  • Ensure the Child Protection Plan is aligned and integrated with any associated offender risk management plan – for more information see Persons who Pose a Risk to Children Procedure, Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA);
  • Undertake direct work with the child and family in accordance with the Child Protection Plan, taking into account the child’s wishes and feelings and the views of the parents in so far as they are consistent with the child’s welfare;
  • Complete the child’s and family’s single assessment to be used as the Social Worker Report to Conference, securing contributions from Core Group members and others as necessary;
  • Explain the plan to the child in a manner which is in accordance with their age and understanding and agree the plan with the child;
  • Consider the need to inform the relevant Embassy if the child has links to a foreign country;
  • Coordinate reviews of progress against the planned outcomes set out in the plan, updating as required. The first review should be held within 3 months of the initial conference and further reviews at intervals of no more than 6 months for as long as the child remains subject of a Child Protection Plan – for more information see Child Protection Review Conferences Procedure;
  • Record decisions and actions agreed at Core Group meetings as well as the written views of those who were not able to attend, and follow up those actions to ensure they take place – see Decision and Review Plan.

The Lead Social Worker should see the child alone on a regular basis, at least every 14 days (10 working days), to ascertain his/her wishes and feelings, and keep him/her updated in a way that is appropriate to their age and stage of development.

It is good practice to make unannounced visits as part of the overall Child Protection Planning. Parents should be made aware of this part of the plan.


3. Role of the Core Group

The Core Group is responsible for ensuring that the tasks identified in the Child Protection Plan are carried out and progress is monitored. Membership of the Core Group should include the Lead Social Worker, the child (if appropriate), family members (as appropriate) and practitioners who have direct contact with the child and their family. It needs to be very clear who everyone in the Core Group is and what their role is.

Although the Lead Social Worker has the lead role, all members of the Core Group are jointly responsible for the formulation and implementation of the Child Protection Plan, refining the plan as needed, and monitoring progress against specified objectives in the plan.

The first Core Group meeting should take place within 10 working days of the initial child protection conference. The purpose of this first meeting is to agree the detail of the Child Protection Plan and what steps need to be taken by whom to complete the Child's Assessment on time. Thereafter, Core Groups should meet at least monthly, to facilitate working together, monitor actions and outcomes against the Child Protection Plan, and make any necessary changes as circumstances change.

When a Core Group meeting is not scheduled to take place within a month of the previous meeting, the reason for this should be recorded in the notes of the previous meeting, and this note should be counter-signed by the Lead Social Worker’s manager, to authorise the delay.

The Lead Social Worker should attend every Core Group and ensure that written notes recording actions agreed at Core Group meetings are circulated to all Core Group members within 5 working days. All professionals have a responsibility to participate in and contribute to the conduct of the Core Group.

A Core Group should be scheduled for at least two weeks prior to the Review Conference. Reports written by the Lead Social Worker and all practitioners should be ready to share with the parents/carers and the child if of sufficient age and understanding at that Core Group. The final Report (see Multi-Agency Report to Initial Child Protection Conference) should then be sent to the Safeguarding Unit 5 working days in preparation for the Child Protection Review Conference – for more information see Child Protection Review Conferences Procedure.

If a Core Group member disagrees with any practice or decisions in the Core Group, then they should discuss their concern with their Line Manager. If the concern remains, the practitioner and manager can escalate their concerns using the Practice Resolution Protocol: Resolving Professional Differences of Opinion in Multi-Agency Working with Children and their Families.


4. Child's Assessment for Children who have a Child Protection Plan

Within 45 working days from the date of the Strategy Discussion/Meeting, the Lead Social Worker and Core Group should have completed a Child's Assessment in respect of each child who has been made subject to a Child Protection Plan. This must be consistent with the guidance contained in the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families. For more information see Children's Assessment Protocol.

Delay in completing specialist assessments should not prevent drawing together the Child's Assessment findings at this point. This analysis of the child’s needs should underpin the Child Protection Plan. The completed Child's Assessment should be discussed in the Core Group.


5. The Child Protection Plan

The aim of the Child Protection Plan is to:

  • Ensure the child is safe from harm and prevent him or her from suffering further harm;
  • Promote the child’s health and development; and
  • Support the family and wider family members to safeguard and promote the welfare of their child, provided it is in the best interests of the child.

The Lead Social Worker needs to ensure that the child and their parents understand the Child Protection Plan and accept it and are willing to work with the plan. If the family is not in agreement with the plan or not willing to work with the plan, consideration needs to be given to what action should be taken, for example; initiating care proceedings.

The plan must take into consideration the wishes and feelings of the child, and the views of the parents/main caregiver, insofar as these are consistent with the child’s welfare. The best interests of the child always take precedence over the interests of other family members. Where children do not attend the Core Group they should be informed of the discussions of the Core Group and any decisions as appropriate.

The Lead Social Worker must see the child alone at least every 10 working days.

The Child Protection Plan should:

  • Build on the risks identified by the conference (what we are worried about) that led to the need for a Child Protection Plan;
  • Build on the strengths and protective factors identified by conference (what is working well) within the family;
  • Organise activities to respond to the identified unmet needs of the child, including any specialist assessments needed;
  • Include specific, achievable, child-focused and timely objectives intended to safeguard the child and promote his/her welfare;
  • Include realistic strategies and specific actions to achieve the objectives and make clear who is responsible for them and in what timeframe;
  • Include the contingency plan agreed at conference to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
  • Based on the assessment of risk and need, identify roles and responsibilities of professionals and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by professionals with children and family members;
  • Agree points at which progress should be reviewed, and the means by which progress should be judged – outcomes (risk and safety statements) agreed at conference should not be amended or deleted but progress should be noted;
  • Confirm arrangements agreed at conference for the child to be seen by the child’s Lead Social Worker, alone and with other family members or caregivers present.

Plans about how to intervene, including what services to offer, should be based on evidence about what is likely to achieve the best outcomes for the child. A number of aspects of intervention should be considered in the light of evidence from assessment of the child’s health and developmental needs, the parents/carers’ capacity to respond appropriately to the child’s needs, and the wider family circumstances.

When deciding on interventions with a family, consideration should be given to what will support the strengths in a family and promote the protective factors. This should be decided in light of what resources are available and which interventions will have the best outcome for a child and family.

Intervention may have a number of inter-related components, including:

  • Action to make a child safe;
  • Action to help promote a child’s health and development;
  • Action, including support to help a parent/carer in safeguarding a child and promoting his/her welfare;
  • Therapy for an abused child;
  • Support or therapy for a perpetrator of abuse.


6. Parenting Capacity

When considering parenting capacity it is important to consider that there are three components to capacity:

  • Mental capacity – parents are able/unable to make changes due to their mental capacity – see Mental Capacity Act 2005; this tends to be what is focused on in assessment;
  • Motivation to change – parents can choose / not choose to make changes which is often overlooked in assessment;
  • Lifestyle choices /circumstances – parental substance misuse, parental learning disability or mental health or domestic abuse may impact on the parent’s capacity to make changes.

If the situation improves when other agencies mention Social Care involvement or a child becomes a subject to a Child Protection Plan, then deteriorates when the child comes off the plan, it may be that the parents have the mental capacity to change but their motivation is to get social workers ‘off their backs’. For more information see Reluctant and Hostile Families Procedure.

It may not always be possible for a child to live at home with their primary caregivers while interventions are taking place. Any interventions that do take place have to be within timescales that are right for a child. An adult may need more time to change than the timescales that may be right for a child. If the situation is not changing fast enough to meet a child’s needs, decisions may need to be made about the longer-term future of a child. This may be particularly pertinent in cases of lifestyle choices/ circumstances above.

See also:

Practitioners should be rigorous in assessing and monitoring children at risk of neglect to ensure they are adequately safeguarded over time. They should act decisively to protect the child by initiating care proceedings where existing interventions are insufficient. For more information see Neglect Procedure.


7. Explaining the Child Protection Plan to the Child and Parents

The child (depending on his or her age and understanding) and the parents should be clear about the evidence of Significant Harm, which resulted in the child becoming the subject of a Child Protection Plan, what needs to change and what is expected of them as part of the plan for safeguarding and promoting the child’s welfare. This should be the subject of continuing discussion with the Lead Social Worker and other professionals involved.

The child (depending on his or her age and understanding) and the parents should receive a written copy of the plan in their preferred language so that they are clear about their own role and responsibilities as well as the roles and responsibilities of others, and the planned outcomes for the child. The child’s copy should be written in a way appropriate to the child’s age and understanding.

Families should be told about their right to complain and make representations, and how to do so. Parents and carers are also entitled to appeal a decision made at a Child Protection – for more information see Appeals in Relation to Child Protection Conferences Procedure.


8. Role of Core Group Members

The specific responsibilities of individual Core Group members are to:

  • Act in the best interest of the child and maintain a child-centred focus;
  • Contribute to multi-agency assessments and submit the Agency Report (see Multi-Agency Report to Initial Child Protection Conference) which should be sent to the Safeguarding Unit 5 working days in preparation for the Child Protection Review Conference – for more information see Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure;
  • Make suggestions or approaches, if appropriate, for the involvement of other specifically skilled professional or agency seen as relevant to its completion;
  • Attend and participate in Core Group meetings or other relevant meetings. Core Group members must give adequate notice if unable to attend Core Group meetings or arrange a substitute colleague to attend if possible. If not, then along with their apologies, they must provide a summary of their involvement with the family since the last Core Group meeting;
  • Carry out agreed tasks in accordance with their own agency functions: if this is not possible the Lead Social Worker must be consulted before any plans regarding the child or family are altered;
  • Provide specialist advice which will inform the Child Protection Plan;
  • Provide the Lead Social Worker with written reports as requested;
  • Communicate regularly with the Lead Social Worker about the progress of their part of the agreed Child Protection Plan;
  • Inform the Lead Social Worker of any change in circumstances relevant to the Child Protection Plan;
  • Alert the Lead Social Worker to the need to convene either a Core Group meeting or to reconvene the Review Conference early;
  • Help identify unmet need.


9. Role of the Lead Social Worker’s Manager

The first Line Manager has a vital role in managing the progress of the case and supporting the Lead Social Worker.

The manager should:

  • Read and countersign all significant records and assessments on the child’s file, including the incident log;
  • Chair the first Core Group Meeting and subsequent meetings as required;
  • Discuss the progress of the Child Protection Plan and any concerns in supervision, including the need for any further risk assessment;
  • Read and countersign Social Work Report to Conference and the Child Protection Plan;
  • Review the Child Protection Plan with the Lead Social Worker when unexpected developments or crises occur, and together make a decision whether to recommend that a Child Protection Review Conference date be brought forward;
  • Attend Initial Child Protection Conferences and Child Protection Review Conferences as appropriate;
  • Confirm the visiting frequency of the Lead Social Worker and the frequency of Core Group meetings;
  • Arrange cover for the Lead Social Worker in case of sickness and ensure arrangements are in place when the Lead Social Worker is on annual leave and training.


10. Delays or 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 Child Protection Review 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 two consecutive home visits (the second visit being a second attempt to see the child in close succession of the first attempt).

Core Group members should also notify the chair and Lead Social Worker if they are not able to implement / action their part of the plan and give the reasons why - e.g. parent / carer not keeping arranged appointments and / or the child not being taken for appointments such as paediatric / physiotherapy / speech and language etc.

Where there are concerns that a child or family are missing, for guidance see Children and Families who go Missing Procedure.

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: Practice Resolution Protocol: Resolving Professional Differences of Opinion in Multi-Agency Working with Children and their Families, Challenging Practice Issues that Arise in Child Protection Conferences.

Where a child or unborn baby (or their parent/s or carers) subject to a Child Protection Plan moves out of Rotherham or plans to move out of Rotherham, any professional who becomes aware of the move or plan to move, must inform the child’s Lead Social Worker.

If it is a planned move, the Core Group members should be informed of the move and help to facilitate contact with equivalent agencies in the new area.

For more information see Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure, Transfer of Cases to Another Local Authority where the Child/Young Person is the Subject of a Child Protection Plan and Rotherham is the Responsible Authority.

End