View Cambridgeshire LSCB Manual View Cambridgeshire LSCB Manual
View Working Together to Safeguard Children View Working Together to Safeguard Children

2.2.6 Planning and Review


  1. Principles of Planning
  2. The Weekly Unit Meeting
  3. Child 'In Need' Planning Meetings
  4. Review Child 'In Need' Planning Meetings
  5. Children in Need Moving to Another Authority
  6. Child Protection Conferences, Family Plan (CP)s and Core Groups
  7. The Roles of the Lead Social Worker
  8. Seeing the Child Whilst on a Family Plan (CP)
  9. Transfer in Conferences
  10. Other Forms of Planning Meetings
  11. Family Network Facilitators
  12. Legal Planning Meetings
  13. Other Key Multi-Agency Planning Processes (MAPPA; MARAC)
  14. Health Assessments

1. Principles of Planning

All children receiving a service / intervention from Children's Social Care must be subject to a Family Plan.

When a child becomes subject to a supervision order (they are not a looked after child) the case should be subject to regular multi-agency monitoring and child in need planning as any other child under S17.

This can be either:

  • A Family Plan (CIN);
  • A Family Plan (CP).

All plans should ensure 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 and achieve their full potential. The lead professional is identified for each family;
  • The planning is smart meaning specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time limited Consideration is given to factors which protect children from emotional, physical and sexual abuse and neglect;
  • Work is undertaken in partnership with parents, children and other professionals to find solutions to problems at the earliest possible opportunity and to support parents;
  • Consideration to contingency planning is given at the earliest opportunity;
  • Wider family network is considered at the earliest opportunity and their support reviewed regularly;
  • Family’s involvement in planning is actively promoted;
  • Child’s experience is captured;
  • When planning with children and their families, it is imperative that their understanding of the process is promoted by the Social Worker, including how decisions are made. It is also important to make clear which plans are definite and which are subject to a decision making process such as going to a panel for resources.

2. The Weekly Unit Meeting

The unit meeting is a key part of the social work unit activity. Each unit meets on a regular basis to discuss and record the progress of work for the allocated children they are responsible for. Every child’s case is discussed at least once within 28 days.

3. Child 'In Need' Planning Meetings

The meeting should be held in a mutually accessible and convenient venue, with the child and family's views being sought regarding this e.g. if the child doesn't want the meeting to be held in school, then this should be noted. If their views are not sought then the reason for this should be noted. The Social Worker and their manager should consider what may need to be brought to the meeting or provided e.g. water; stationery for parents; suitable furniture etc.

A Consultant Social Worker, with the allocated Social Worker in attendance, should chair the first child 'in need' meeting which should take place within first month of social care involvement. Any subsequent meeting should be chaired by the allocated Social Worker. The Social Worker and their manager (if chairing) are responsible for:

  • Ensuring the right people are invited, including supporters for parents and children / young people. Where it is felt appropriate by the Social Worker and/or Chair, family members may have a supporter. Professional supporters such as solicitors or advocates may attend. Personal friends or other family members can attend at the discretion of the Chair;
  • Considering any issues around safety or violence;
  • Considering the agenda;
  • Taking minutes;
  • Completing the Family Plan (CIN) Plan;
  • Considering the formulation of a multi-agency integrated Chronology.

Any child or young person aged 12 and above should be routinely invited to the Child 'in need' meeting. The Social Worker should meet with them upon arranging the meeting to discuss their participation and prepare them for the meeting. If the child declines the invitation, the reasons given should be recorded. The views of any child below this age as regards the plan and what they would like to happen should be represented at the meeting by the Social Worker. In some cases, this may include inviting a younger child to some of the meeting; however this may not always be appropriate therefore other methods of direct work with younger children should be considered. Involving other professionals that know them well should always be considered so that their views can be sought. If other professionals are not involved then the reason why should be recorded.

Other barriers to participation should be considered e.g. language; health / disability of the parent. Additionally, any religious festivals or events should be considered when planning the timing of meetings.

The parents should be invited and the Social Worker should meet with them upon arranging the meeting to explain the meeting's purpose and get their views regarding the plan.

It is good practice to involve children and families in meetings where appropriate. However there may be times this is not possible, e.g.

  • The child/young person objects to parental/family involvement;
  • The child/family failed to attend - In these circumstances the Social Worker should be appointed to inform the child/family of the outcome.

Other invitees should include any professional working closely with the family that is likely to be part of the plan, with the agreement of the child and family. There is no set level for quoracy at the meeting, however the meeting must be able to achieve its objectives of formulating a plan, so information and reports should be sought from key professionals that cannot attend.

All actions etc arising from the meeting should be recorded on the Plan. Any further significant information shared at the meeting should be logged on a detail record within ICS as should any specific differences or disagreements.

The discussion at the meeting should be based on looking at the child's needs identified in any assessment as the basis for the Family Plan (CIN) Plan.

Where the meeting is deemed to be complex, with many different professionals in attendance, then the meeting should be recorded and a minute taker requested to be in attendance e.g. from the Social Care business support team or a Unit worker.

All those involved in the plan should sign and date a copy of the Family Plan (CIN) Plan, or sign the signature sheet and receive their own copy of the plan within 10 working days of the plan being drawn up. Where a Family Plan (CIN) Plan is not to be shared with someone e.g. a violent parent, the reasons for this must be clearly recorded on a detail record within ICS.

4. Review Child 'In Need' Planning Meetings

The review meeting should involve all of those that were responsible for drawing up the original plan.

The review child 'in need' meeting must:

  • Evaluate progress against the planned outcomes;
  • Discuss and record the actual outcomes;
  • Re-evaluate the original concerns and needs of the child to see if there has been any change;
  • Agree what still needs to be done;
  • Renegotiate and re-draft the working Family Plan (CIN) Plan (clearly marking the version: 2 / 3 / 4 etc);
  • Consider what information should be added to the multi-agency integrated chronology.

The review meeting must make a clear decision, to be recorded, as to whether:

  • The child is no longer 'in need' and Children's Social Care can close the case. In this case referral to other services for Level 2 interventions i.e. the District Early Help Team must be considered and relevant documents passed to the District Early Help Manager. If this was anticipated then a District Early Help Team representative should have been invited;
  • The child remains a Child 'in Need' of services;
  • Concerns regarding the child should be escalated to Section 47;
  • That the child is in need of immediate protection - the District Safeguarding Manager must be consulted.

The review meeting can also decide how the plan is reviewed in the future. Where the plan is seemingly working well and the outcomes being met, but where the plan is ongoing, the meeting can agree that future review can be done by telephone / letter contact, co-coordinated by the Social Worker. However this must always include a visit to the family and the child being seen. A review should not take place without a home visit to the child and family, as well as any other agency involved being contacted, e.g. the school.

For children subject to a Family Plan (CIN) Plan

For children and young people being worked with as part of a Family Plan (CIN), including children with a disability they should be seen at a minimum every 6 weeks, in a variety of settings.

For children and young people who are Looked After Children, they should be seen within the first 7 calendar days of their placement and then every 6 weeks, in a variety of settings.

For children in Stable placement after discussion at the LAC review frequency of visits to see the child can be extended. The minimum frequency of visits to Looked After children is once every 3 months.

Breakdown of Timescales Children subject to Family Plan (CIN)

Arrangements for the initial Child in Need (CiN) meeting will be made at day 20 of the Single Assessment in the event that the family are likely to require an on-going Social Care intervention.

  • The Consultant Social Worker or 2 year post qualified Social Worker must chair the initial CiN meeting and ensure an appropriately experienced Social Worker chairs any subsequent meetings;
  • Units within the Disability Social Care Service will convene CIN meetings on an 8 weekly basis from the point of accepting case responsibility until a stable plan is in place and effectively meeting the child / young person’s needs. At this point the Service Manager will be asked to authorise CIN meetings being held on a 12 weekly basis going forward.
  • Once authorised by the Service Manager, CIN meetings must be held at a minimum of 12 weeks. The Consultant Social Worker can authorise reverting back to more frequent CIN meetings if required, on the basis of the assessment of risk, need and / or any identified issues with implementing the plan;
  • CIN visits will take place at minimum 6 weekly intervals, although they will often be more frequent than this. The plan will be discussed with the child / young person / family / carers during visits to ensure it remains effective in meeting the child’s needs.
  • On each occasion that a child’s situation is discussed in a Unit Meeting there will be active consideration of whether the plan is being appropriately implemented;
  • For disabled children and young people being supported within a Children’s Disability Social Work Team the expectation is that as long as they remain long term child in need cases, a minimum of 12 weekly visits with the child and 6 monthly CIN review meetings are appropriate. The Team Manager is responsible for reviewing the implementation of the plan with the allocated Social Worker in supervision on a minimum three monthly basis;
  • Where a child has EHC plan / Statement of Special Educational Needs the Education and CiN reviews are to be combined unless there is a particular reason not to. If there are particular issues that it is not appropriate to discuss in a joint review, consideration should be given to covering them immediately 
  • After the combined meeting with the relevant people. Where they are not combined the reason needs to be recorded;
  • Careful consideration needs to be given to the chairing of transfer CiN meetings;
  • Closure or transfer to Early Help CIN Meeting must be chaired by a CSW or 2 year post qualified Social Worker;
  • CiN meeting minutes and Family plans are to be recorded and distributed within ten working days and evidence that they have been sent, and to whom, recorded on the system;
  • The Consultant Social Worker must review and counter sign all minutes of CiN meetings and plans; 
  • CiN meeting to be convened 15 working days after a child is delisted from a CP plan.

The Children Subject to a Plan Group's Guide to Participation in Meetings

On 29th September 2009, the group of young people subject to a plan in the south of the county were asked about some of the ways in which they could be supported in participating in meetings. The young people were new to being consulted in this way about their current situation, but came up with some useful ideas:

  • Their worker should always ask them where they would like to meet, some like home, some like school, some liked being taken out and all appreciated having appointments made prior to visits;
  • The young people liked speaking to workers on their own. They didn't like being sent upstairs or excluded when the worker visited parents and carers, so visit at another time when the young person isn't there;
  • The way that their worker dressed and acted was important to them, but the most important thing is that the worker always did what they had agreed to do;
  • When preparing a child or young person for a meeting, the worker shouldn't come and visit too much in advance as this made the build up to the meeting stressful - the day before the meeting was preferred;
  • Meetings could be boring as information was being repeated, however being in the meeting for half an hour and then waiting outside for two hours was worse - the young people would like something to do during that time of waiting for meetings to end;
  • Some of the young people would like the minutes and plans and would like their worker to go through them with them.

This was the first opportunity by this group to give their views on the way services are delivered to them - it is hoped to consult with them further in future reviews of these procedures.

Professionals Meetings Where a child has complex needs it might be beneficial that these needs are reviewed by involved professionals alongside the Child In Need meetings. The meetings are for professionals only however parents should be fully informed and the views of the child and the parents sought and represented in the meeting.

Criteria for holding these reviews are:

  • That the needs of the child present a challenge to the services that are offered in the area in meeting them effectively;
  • That there is a recognised likelihood that the child or young person will become looked after in the short, medium or long term;
  • Where it is recommended by the TARP that creative care package needs to be considered or additional resources need to be sought from other partners.

5. Children in Need Moving to Another Authority

This section deals with children who are subject to Children in Need Family Plans and who move to another local authority. The principles also apply to children in need who move into Cambridgeshire.

  • 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, consideration should be given to the impact of the proposed move on the child and whether it might increase their vulnerability, for example, through changes in the protective factors, increased risk from known perpetrators or whether they might be subject to trafficking or modern slavery;
  • 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 services required by the child;
  • The social worker should assist and promote the family accessing relevant and appropriate services in the new area with regard to meeting the child’s needs. Any deficits in services to meet specific needs within the receiving local authority area 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 Family Plan;
    • Minutes of latest Child in Need Review;
    • A summary / case report.
  • Parent / carer 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 in discussion with their CSW / Team Manager, should consider seeking advice from their Caldicott Guardian or seeking agreement for a consultation with LGSS Law;

  • The social worker should ensure that other agencies involved in the Child in Need Plan are made aware of the move and ensure that relevant information is shared as soon as possible with their counterparts in the ‘receiving’ area.;
  • The SW/CSW should ensure there is clear and good communication during any transition and any risks are clearly communicated and understood by the ‘receiving’ authority.
  • Where there is a dispute about case responsibility, any delay in the receiving local authority accepting responsibility or a disagreement about Children in Need thresholds, the CSW/Team Manager should discuss next steps with their line manager;
  • The family should be kept informed of any respective responsibilities during a transition stage and when the receiving local authority, (where the family now reside), take full responsibility.
  • For children moving into Cambridgeshire, a Child in Need Meeting should normally be convened within 20 working days of the family’s arrival and include all relevant agencies and, in exceptional circumstances, the social worker and other specialist staff previously involved.
  • All actions, decisions and arrangements should be fully recorded on the ICS. 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.

6. Child Protection Conferences, Family Plan (CP)s and Core Groups

Should be followed in conjunction with Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Safeguarding Children Board:

For internal processes, refer to Cambridgeshire County Council Internal Intranet.

The decision to request an initial child protection case conference lies with the Group Manager with in Social Care. The internal Soc form1953 is used to request a conference from the Safeguarding and Standards Unit (SASU). It must be completed and returned to SASU within 48 hours, including confirmation of the agreement of the Group Manager to request the conference.

Child Protection Conference

A Child Protection Conference is convened where children are considered to be at risk of Significant Harm.

Initial Child Protection Conference

An Initial Child Protection Conference is normally convened at the end of a Section 47 Enquiry when the child is assessed as either having suffered Significant Harm or to be at risk of suffering ongoing significant harm.

The Initial Child Protection Conference should be held within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion, or the Strategy Discussion which initiated the Child Protection Enquiry if more than one has been held.

Child Protection Review Conference

Child Protection Review Conferences are convened in relation to children who are already subject to a Family Plan (CP). The first review conference is normally convened three months after a Family Plan (CP) is first drawn up, then at intervals of not more than six months.

The purpose of the Review Conference is to review the safety, health and development of the child in view of the Family Plan (CP), to ensure that the child continues to be adequately safeguarded and to consider whether the Family Plan (CP) should continue or change or whether it can be discontinued.


As with ‘Child in Need' meetings, young people over the age of 12 should be invited to Child Protection Conferences, they can be supported in attending by an advocate from the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS), or alternatively can request that an advocate attends on their behalf.

Core Group meeting

A Core Group meeting is first held within 10 working days of the Initial Child Protection Conference, and is convened for family and professionals to develop the Family Plan (CP). Further Core Group meetings should be held every 4 weeks.

Where a Family Plan (CIN) has been drawn up prior to the child becoming subject to a Family Plan (CP) then the core group should use this to develop the Family Plan (CP).

Child in Need meeting following Child not been made or has ceased to be subject to a Family Plan (CP).

Where a child has not been made or has ceased to be subject to a Family Plan (CP), then a child 'in need' meeting should be held within 15 working days of the child protection conference and a Family Plan (CIN) drawn up.

The Child in Need meeting date is to be arranged at the child protection conference and the Consultant social worker will remain the lead professional. A detailed child in need plan, post de registration must be completed at this meeting and recorded onto the child’s electronic record.

A further Child in Need meeting must occur to review this plan and prior to any consideration being given to close the case to Social Care or refer to locality services. At the final CIN meeting a lead professional will be identified within the professional network as necessary and this must be clearly recorded on the closing minutes. If the multi-agency CIN group agree that the actions in the plan have been completed and there are no longer safeguarding concerns the case can close with approval from the relevant Group manager.

This Family Plan (CIN), post the plan ceasing must be in place following the conference. There will be at least three CIN meetings held in respect to the child to ensure actions from this plan are carried out.

7. The Role of the Lead Social Worker

The child protection conference will identify the Lead Social Worker. The Lead Social Worker must be a qualified Social Worker who is working directly with the child and family. The Consultant Social Worker is to be shown as responsible manager with ongoing managerial oversight as per Framework for Case Management Procedure (retained in new scheme).

The Lead Social Worker will convene and chair/lead second and subsequent core group meetings. The Consultant Social Worker should chair the first core group meeting. If the Consultant Social Worker is unavailable, then this must be allocated to another Consultant Social Worker or Senior Social Worker and the reason why recorded. The Lead Social Worker should ensure that core group members are clear about their roles and responsibilities.

The Lead Social Worker will ensure that the outline Family Plan (CP) is developed, in conjunction with members of the core group, into a detailed working multi-agency Family Plan (CP).

Ensure that the integrated chronology and the Single Assessment are completed and updated by the Core Group (see Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Safeguarding Children Board, Implementing Child Protection Plans Procedure, The Core Group).

8. Seeing the Child Whilst on a Protection Plan

The Lead Social Worker should ensure that the Family Plan (CP) stipulates visiting arrangements. These arrangements should be drawn up so that the child is seen:

  • At least every 10 days by a member of the Core Group;

  • The child should be seen alone at least every four weeks by a Social Worker within the unit; this can be a mixture of home / school / other location settings;

  • Children of two and under should be seen awake at least every four weeks by a social worker within the unit;
  • Visiting schedule will be discussed as part of the plan and must include that the child’s bedroom is seen. Frequency should be stated in the plan but the child’s bedroom must be seen at least once between each CP conference;
  • The child must be seen separately from parents/carers at least once every 4 weeks but it may be appropriate for him/her to be seen with a sibling or significant other in a combination of visits to include being seen alone. The rationale for this must be recorded on ICS by the CSW;
  • The CSW can agree for a child to be seen at home, in school or elsewhere dependant on the current circumstances in-between conferences.

9. Transfer in Conferences

Where a child subject to a plan in Cambridgeshire transfers out of the county and that the move is considered to be permanent:

  • Registered with new GP;
  • Secured tenancy;
  • Attending new school.

The following should happen:

The Social Worker/Consultant Social Worker must provide the receiving Local Authority (where child/ren are now living) with the following documents in advance of the move (if planned) or as soon as possible after the move:

  • Family Plan (CP);
  • Reports to last conference and conference minutes;
  • Up to date Single Assessment;
  • Subject to the court's permission, any legal orders and court reports;
  • An evaluation (usually verbally or in a secure email accompanying the above documents) of the implications of the move including the effect on risk increased or decreased as a result of the move;
  • Details of agencies involved with the child/family so that the receiving authority can request reports;
  • As soon as contact is made with the First Response Emergency Duty Team advising a child subject to a Family Plan (CP) is living in Cambridgeshire consistent communication is maintained with the other local authority and this information is passed to Safeguarding and Standards Unit (SASU) immediately;
  • First Response Emergency Duty Team advise the relevant local authority of the need to ensure the child's name has been placed on Cambridgeshire's temporary Child Protection list;
  • At this point it is vital First Response Emergency Duty Team establish the long term plans for this child and their family and whether they have a permanent address, that they have registered their children with a local GP practice, if there are on-going/intended legal proceedings and if of school age with a local school;
  • First Response Emergency Duty Team establish the address the child is living and alerts the relevant Child In Need Group Manager of the fact the child is living in their area, passing these details onto the professional from the other local authority. At this point it will be established the child and family will be remaining in Cambridgeshire on a permanent basis. Communication will continue between the other local authority and Cambridgeshire which will assist with future working as information such as, reasons for child/family moving to Cambridgeshire can be established, nature of concerns and reasons for child being subject to a Family Plan (CP) and visits to the child can be discussed and agreed to enable the process of joint working;
  • First Response Emergency Duty Team will send the other local authority a blank internal SOC 1953 form asking for this to be returned to them within 24 hours. The SOC 1953 must be completed fully by the transferring in local authority with all family details including dates of birth, the names and addresses of all relevant involved professionals who need to be invited to the transfer in conference, the name of the school in Cambridgeshire the child will be attending, the name of the GP the child has been registered with;
  • First Response Emergency Duty Team will quality assure the SOC 1953 once it has been returned completed and will then pass this onto the relevant SASU office. At this point, the transfer-in is deemed to have been accepted, and SASU will have 15 working days from this point to convene the Transfer-in Conference. SASU will request the previous child protection conference minutes and previous Family Plan (CP); these can then be passed onto the relevant CIN unit. SASU will identify a date for the conference and make contact with the relevant CIN GM in order to be informed of which CIN Unit this case has been allocated to.

10. Other Forms of Planning Meetings

There are other inter and intra agency forums for planning around a child used within Children's Social Care.

11. Family Network Facilitators

Where it appears that the family may hold the key to solving their problems; where alternative care arrangements are being sought for the child; or where family conflict is adversely affecting a child, a support will be offered by Family Network Facilitators who have a role of providing timely advice, sharing expert skills and knowledge, assisting in the identification of wider family members and embedding systemic processes and practice within the Children Service’s units to ensure that families are assisted to produce robust and sustainable safety or family plans that will meet the needs of their children and young people.

This means that they provide expert advice in respect to engaging wider family members and children and young people in identifying solutions from within their family, whether through systemic family meetings or during the assessment or planning stages of intervention, in order to deliver a consistent, high quality service. This activity is an inherent part of unit working and compliments unit social work and clinical work. They assist Social Work units to manage difficult and challenging conversations with families, ensuring that they achieve sustainable and realistic solutions that families can activate when in need of support or help.

They also provide practice and specialist support, advice and learning to front line staff and managers, assisting in the co-ordination of practice development with a focus on family work in line with systemic family working across the County Council.

12. Legal Planning Meetings

See Legal Proceedings and Legal Planning Meetings Procedure regarding legal matters and the use of legal planning meetings. All discussions with the legal team must be recorded on to ICS.

13. Other Key Multi-Agency Planning Processes (MAPPA; MARAC)

Local arrangements/planning meetings regarding managing adults that pose a risk of harm to children see Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Safeguarding Children Board Procedure, Managing Individuals who Pose a Risk of Harm to Children (including MAPPA) Procedure.

Included are the following:

Where there are concerns regarding the risk posed to children by an adult that works with children, the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Safeguarding Children Board, Managing Allegations or Serious Concerns in Respect of Any Adult who Works or Volunteers with Children must be followed.

Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements: As a professional that comes into contact with a wide variety of people there may be instances where the Social Worker will need to refer to Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Safeguarding Children Board Procedure, Managing Individuals who Pose a Risk of Harm to Children (including MAPPA) Procedure.

MARAC (Multi-agency Risk Assessment Conference). This is the interagency process for assessing and managing the risks in cases of domestic violence/abuse (and devising a plan to support those that are at risk of domestic abuse, see the CAADA MARAC Resources.

Where there are concerns about a vulnerable adult, the Children's Social Care team should contact the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) co-ordinator.

14. Health Assessments

Social work managers should ensure all looked-after children and young people have their physical, emotional and mental health needs assessed by appropriately trained professionals.

See NICE Pathway - Health Assessments of, and Records and Information on Looked-After Babies, Children and Young People.

Further Reading

To view Internal Processes, please refer to Cambridgeshire County Council Internal Intranet.