RELATED CHAPTERS AND INFORMATION
AMENDMENTIn October 2017, a link was added to Bedford Borough Safeguarding Children Board (BBSCB) Guidance for Core Groups - Practice Guidance Leaflet.
The Child Protection Plan is an important tool for professionals to use in working together with families to achieve the necessary outcomes for children. If a child is the subject of a Child Protection Plan, they have been assessed as being at identified risk of harm and the plan will be the vehicle through which the risk will be reduced. It is therefore vital that, although Children's Social Care has lead responsibility for ensuring that a plan is in place, agencies named on the plan take an active role in ensuring that it is implemented. Where Family Group Meetings are being used, the wider family group will also have an agreed role in developing and taking forward a plan of action.
The Core Group is the vehicle through which professionals and families can work together to implement the plan and achieve positive change for children.
The Core Group can decide that it is appropriate to use a Family Group Meeting as a vehicle by which families and professionals can work together to implement the plan.
The Core Group is an important forum for:
The Core Group meeting should:
Subsequent Core Group meetings:
All Core Group meetings should:
The Core Group is responsible for:
For the Review Conference, the Core Group has a collective responsibility to produce reports which will be pulled together by the Lead Social Worker to provide an overview of the work undertaken by family members and professionals and evaluate progress against the outcomes specified in the detailed Child Protection Plan. Those Core Group members who are unable to attend the Review Conference should forward a copy of their individual report to the Lead Social Worker;
In addition to the reports above, the outcome of the completed Single Assessment will also be presented to the Review Conference.
The aim of the Child Protection Plan is to:
by supporting the strengths, addressing the vulnerabilities and risk factors and helping meet the child's unmet needs;
The plan should use a format consistent with the information set out in the exemplar for the Child Protection Plan (Department of Health 2002). This should include;
When and in what situations the child will be seen by the child's Lead Social Worker, both alone and with other family members or caregivers present;
The plan should:
Negotiating the plan with the Parents: 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 implementing the plan.
The Child Protection Plan should not exist in isolation from other child care plans. Where the child is Looked After by the local authority, the Child Protection Plan should be integrated into the overall care planning process.
The Lead Social Worker should send a copy of the detailed Child Protection Plan developed at the first Core Group meeting to the Independent Reviewing Officer responsible for the Child Care Review held under Review Regulations.
The Review Child Protection Conference should be timed to take place prior to the Looked After Review meeting in order to ensure that the information from the conference is taken to the review meeting and informs the overall care planning process. It should be remembered that significant changes to the Care Plan can only be made at the Looked After Review meeting.
Where a child has been subject to a Child in Need Plan prior to the Initial Child Protection Conference, the Child in Need Plan should be used by the Core Group to develop the Child Protection Plan. This should ensure that the focus of interventions is to reduce the likelihood of harm, as well as meeting the overall developmental needs of the child.
Where a child ceases to be subject of a Child Protection Plan, if appropriate an inter agency meeting should be held within 20 working days to agree/define the Child in Need Plan.
The Child Protection Plan should be a document which is owned and understood by the family and all relevant professionals. Thus great care should be taken at the first Core Group meeting to ensure that everyone is clear about their roles and responsibilities and what they should do if, for any reason, they are unable to fulfil their obligations in respect of the plan.
In developing plans the following Government guidance should be taken into account
All plans need to define clearly measurable outcomes.
Planned outcomes should be:
A Family Group Meeting is a family decision-making and planning process which harnesses the skills and knowledge of wider family members in collaboration with professionals. They have been used successfully to plan in a number of different contexts, including where there are safeguarding concerns (Marsh and Crow 1998, Lupton and Stevens 2000).
The Family Group Meeting is a more informal and a less intimidating way for the wider family network to be centrally involved. The wider family and friendship network are brought together by an independent co-ordinator and there are four distinct phases of the conference process:
In order for the Family Group Meeting to be successful it is important that:
The information provided to the conference should include:
It is important that the family and professionals are clear about:
Children and young people are central to family decision making and it is essential that they are enabled to contribute their views. They can do this by:
Family Group Meetings do not replace or remove the need for a child protection conference, which should always be held where the relevant criteria are met (see Child Protection Conferences Procedure).
Family Group Meetings have been successful in making plans in the context of safeguarding where:
Where Family Group Meetings may not be helpful:
Interventions should be clearly linked to the developmental needs of the child, and based on a knowledge of what is likely to work best to bring about good outcomes. At the end of this section there is a summary of the literature as to what works in various situations. This is not an exhaustive overview and practitioners will need to keep up to date with current developments.
Interventions are likely to have a number of inter-related components:
A good Child Protection Plan will include all of the above (if relevant). However research has shown that plans do not always adequately meet them all.
A report by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI (2006) Meeting the needs of parents with children on the child protection register CSCI Special study report: London CSCI) noted that the needs of parents were not always taken account of when developing Child Protection Plans.
Unless effectively addressed, adults' problems can undermine the well-being of children, directly or indirectly, and in the short and long term. In a minority of cases these 'adult' problems can contribute to the neglect of children's physical, emotional and psychological well-being. In certain circumstances, they can result in various forms of abuse
Although the main objective of the plan must be to improve the situation for the child, all plans should take account of the needs of relevant adults and aim to provide services to support them in their parenting role. This may involve ensuring that relevant adult services are included in the Core Group.
Interventions will need to be based on an assessment of parental motivation to change and whether change is likely to occur within a timescale compatible with the needs of the child. Where change cannot occur within the required timescale, the process of decision making and planning should be as open as possible and seek to involve parents and carers at all stages of the process.
Where the child has been removed from the family and plans are to reunite the child. Interventions should include the detailed work necessary to help the parents/caregivers develop the necessary parenting skills.
"The distinction must be made between neglect caused by financial poverty, which can be alleviated by financial help, and that caused by emotional poverty. These may co-exist, but relief of the former condition does not relieve the latter" (Rosenberg, D & Cantwell, H 91993 'The consequences of neglect' in Hobbs, CJ & Wynne).
Interventions in situations of neglect must be:
Evidence points to the importance of casework and empowerment skills (Turney, D and Tanner, K (2005) "Understanding and Working with Neglect" DFES (See Research in Practice website) in addressing difficulties that underpin neglect. It is important that the relationship between practitioners and parents should involve interventions that empower the family members to develop a sense of personal efficacy and agency
In cases of chronic neglect, there may be a need to plan for long term intervention. These plans must:
Once it is clear that interventions are in place and meeting the developmental needs of the child, it is likely that these will be delivered outside the formal Child Protection Plan.
If it is clear that family focused interventions are not meeting the needs of the child, it is likely that the plan will need to include removal of the child.
Parenting skills programmes may be helpful. Contra indications for such programmes without a lot of individual support to enable parents to make use of them are:
Home visiting programmes at the ante-natal and early post natal stage can be effective in facilitating the development of a sensitive and empathic relationship between the parent and young child which may forestall attachment and other relationship difficulties.
Protective factors for children experiencing neglect are:
Intervention should always be based on a thorough assessment and take into account the most appropriate method of working with the parents, given their specific needs.
Plans for intervention should always include methods of evaluating whether the support package is meeting the child's needs. It is only if there is uncertainty about the parents' continued capacity to engage with a support package that the plan will need to be delivered within the formal child protection process.
It is likely that there will need to be planning for long term interventions that adapt and change as the child develops.
A review of the literature (McGaw, S., and Newman, T. (2005) "What works for parents with learning disabilities?" London: Barnardo's) identified the following messages in relation to interventions:
A review of positive practice in supporting parents with a learning disability noted that they can often be 'good enough' parents when provided with ongoing emotional and practical support (Tarleton et al Finding the Right Support: A Review of Issues and Positive Practice in Supporting Parents with Learning Difficulties and Their Children Bristol: The Baring Foundation).
Support packages need to include:
Parents frequently need advice in multiple areas of their lives, not just around the forthcoming baby. This includes advice on benefits and how to handle problems in relation to poor housing, harassment, and so on.
And other focussed help as necessary
Adapted to changing circumstances as the child gets older and continuing if (and after) a child is adopted.
From the professionals involved about their expectations of them as parents
So that parents are not confused by different interventions by different professionals
Whether professional or voluntary, to support parents, particularly if they are involved in child protection or judicial processes
E.g. via a Circle of Support or Home-Start
So that parents can gain the confidence to engage positively with services and demonstrate that they can be good enough parents with support
For example through parents' groups, so that they can share skills and experiences
In the development of new services, training of professionals and other initiatives
Plans for children who have been sexually abused need to be developed - taking account of the overall needs of the child rather than focusing on the sexual abuse alone.
While self-protection work may be part of the plan, care must be taken not to rely solely on this, as to do so is rendering the child responsible for their own protection.
A review of the literature identified the following practice implications in relation to intervention (Jones, D., and Ramchandani, P (1999) "Child Sexual Abuse - Informing Practice from Research" Oxford: Radcliff):
Interventions, in situations of domestic violence need to take account of the evidence that children can suffer serious long term damage through living in a household where domestic violence and abuse is taking place, even though they have never themselves been directly harmed. This evidence is reflected in the extension of the legal definition of harm from January 2005 (Section 120, Adoption and Children Act 2002) to include impairment through seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another- particularly in the home even though they themselves have not been directly assaulted or abused.
The most effective intervention for ensuring safe and positive outcomes for children living with domestic violence is usually to plan a package of support that incorporates:
When planning interventions account should be taken of a study of 29 child homicides occurring in England and Wales as a result of contact arrangements with a violent parent. This found that, despite the involvement of statutory services with most of the families, children were often not spoken to or assessed and domestic violence was viewed as an 'adult problem,' rather than a child protection issues. With regard to the 3 of 13 families, contact orders had been granted to very violent fathers either, against professional advice, without waiting for professional advice or without requesting professional advice (Saunders, H. (2004) Twenty-nine child homicides: lessons still to be learnt on domestic violence and child protection Bristol: Women's Aid Federation of England).
Only valid for 48hrs