4.9 Deciding and Recording that a Child Should be Subject to a Child Protection Plan
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Purpose of Recording Child Protection Plans
- 3. Process of Deciding a Child Should be Subject of a Child Protection Plan
- 4. Is the Child at Continuing Risk of Significant Harm?
- 5. Categories of Abuse or Neglect
- 6. The Outline Child Protection Plan
- 7. Informing Parents and Children
- 8. Enquiries about Children who may be Subject to Child Protection Plans
- 9. Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan
- 10. What Happens After the Child Protection Conference, including the Review Process?
- 11. Looked After Children with a Child Protection Plan
- 12. Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan who become Looked After
- 13. Case Responsibility within Surrey Children's Services
The Manager of the Safeguarding Children Unit is responsible for holding the Record of children subject of Child Protection Plans.
2. Purpose of Recording Child Protection Plans
A decision to make a child the subject of a Child Protection Plan is an agreed expression of multi-disciplinary concern about a child.
The purposes of recording the decision are to:
- Provide detailed readily available information about children who are known or suspected to have suffered Significant Harm;
- Aid the identification of a sequence of repeated injuries or events which might not otherwise be seen as a pattern;
- Aid effective and speedy communication and co-operation between agencies;
- Provide a basis for regular monitoring and reviewing of Child Protection Plans;
- Provide statistical data about the extent and nature of the problem, in order to identify practice and resource implications.
3. Process of Deciding a Child Should be Subject of a Child Protection Plan
A child will become the subject of a Child Protection Plan after a decision to do so has been taken at a Child Protection Conference and the Conference Chair has determined the category of abuse or neglect (see Section 5, Categories of Abuse or Neglect).
The decision-making process must take account of the views of all agencies represented at the conference and must normally take place with parents / carers present.
Professional members of the conference must be asked for their views regarding all the children being considered by the conference.
The Conference Chair must make a decision about the category of abuse or neglect based on the views of all agencies represented at the conference and any written contributions that may have been made.
Any dissent must be recorded in the minutes.
Where a pre-birth Conference has decided that an unborn child is to be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, her/his name and expected date of birth must be recorded immediately as a child subject to a Child Protection Plan; the name and date of birth must then be confirmed by the key worker after the child's birth to the Head of the Child Safeguarding Unit - see also Pre-Birth Child Protection Procedure.
Only children meeting the criteria set out in Section 5, Categories of Abuse or Neglect may be made the subject of a Child Protection Plan when a conference has agreed that it is necessary.
An exception to this rule will be when a child who is subject to a Child Protection Plan in another area moves to live in Surrey. Under these circumstances, the child's name must be immediately recorded as a Surrey child who is subject to a Child Protection Plan until a Transfer Child Protection Conference can be held.
4. Is the Child at Continuing Risk of Significant Harm?
Before a child is made the subject of a Child Protection Plan, the Child Protection Conference must decide that the child is at continuing risk of Significant Harm leading to the need for a Child Protection Plan.
The conference must consider the following questions: Has the child suffered Significant Harm? Is the child likely to suffer Significant Harm?
This should be considered separately in respect of each child in the family or household.
The test for the likelihood of the child suffering Significant Harm in the future should be either that:
- The child is shown to have suffered ill-treatment or impairment of health or development as a result of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect, and professional judgement is that further ill-treatment or impairment are likely; or
- Professional judgement, substantiated by finding of enquiries in this individual case or by research evidence, is that the child is likely to suffer ill treatment or the impairment of health or development as a result of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect.
If the child is likely to suffer Significant Harm in the future, it will therefore be the case that safeguarding the child requires inter-agency help and intervention delivered through a Child Protection Plan.
A child may not be deemed to be at risk of Significant Harm but may require services to promote her/his health and development. The case should be managed as a child in need.
5. Categories of Abuse or Neglect
The categories are:
- Neglect: This definition is now contained in the Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 Glossary:
Neglect is a form of Significant Harm which involves the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child's health or development.
Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
- Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
- Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
- Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
- Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child's basic emotional needs.
- Physical abuse: The following definition is taken from the Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 Glossary.
This may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child
- Child sexual abuse: The following definition is taken from the Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 Glossary.
Sexual abuse is a form of Significant Harm which involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the Internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.
- Emotional abuse: The following definition is taken from the Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 Glossary.
Emotional abuse is a form of Significant Harm which involves the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child's emotional development.
It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or "making fun" of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children.
These may include interactions that are beyond the child's developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying) causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children.
Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
When a decision is made that a child should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, it must be recorded under which category the decision is made. The decision as to category must be made by the Conference Chair on the basis of the evidence presented to the Conference and the views of those present.
The category used must reflect the primary area of concern at the time of the decision. Multiple categories should not be used to cover all eventualities, but it may, on occasions be appropriate to use more than one category if each of the categories reaches the threshold for Significant Harm and if a specific risk might otherwise be underestimated.
Emotional Abuse must only be used as a second category if substantial concern is indicated.
The category selected must reflect all the information obtained in the course of the Section 47 Enquiry and an Assessment and subsequent analysis.
For additional guidance, see Recognition of Significant Harm.
6. The Outline Child Protection Plan
When a Conference decides that a child should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, it must also draw up an outline Child Protection Plan.
The Chair must ensure that the Child Protection Plan drawn up by conference members:
- Identifies factors associated with the likelihood of the child suffering Significant Harm and ways in which the child can be protected from harm through an inter-agency plan based on the current findings from the assessment including information held by agencies on any previous involvement with the child and family;
- Establishes short-term and longer-term aims and objectives that are clearly linked to preventing the child suffering harm or a recurrence of the harm suffered, meeting the child's developmental needs and promoting the child's welfare, including contact with family members;
- Is clear about who will have responsibility for what - including actions by family members - within what specified time scales;
- Outlines ways of monitoring and evaluating progress against the planned outcomes set out in the plan;
- Is clear about which professional is responsible for checking that the required changes have taken place, and what action will be taken, by whom, and when they have not.
7. Informing Parents and Children
Unless there are exceptional reasons, parents must always be informed when their child is subject to a Child Protection Plan.
Children must be informed too, depending on level of understanding.
The Child Protection Plan must take account of the views of the child and the parents.
The Chair of the Child Protection Conference which decides that the child should be subject to a Child Protection Plan must explain the reasons for the decision to the parents and the child if they are present at the Conference. The Chair must also outline to them the purpose of the Child Protection Plan and an outline of the work that will be carried out under the Plan.
The decisions made and outcome of the Conference must be confirmed in writing by a letter from the Conference Chair.
In addition, part of the Lead Social Worker's role will be to keep the parents and child informed about the reasons for the conference decision, and to involve them so far as possible in the Core Group and implementation of the Child Protection Plan.
When the child has an advocate, it will be part of the advocate's role also to support the child and explain the implications of the conference decision to her/him.
Equally, parents and the child must be informed when the child is no longer the subject of a Child Protection Plan - see Section 11, Looked After Children with a Child Protection Plan and Child Protection Review Conferences Procedure.
8. Enquiries about Children who may be Subject to Child Protection Plans
Enquiries about children who may be subject to Child Protection Plans should only be made if there concerns about a child's welfare. In such circumstances, formal enquiries should only be made by contacting the Safeguarding Children Unit.
Enquiries for agencies are also carried out by the Safeguarding Children Unit. These are enquiries such as in the recruitment of foster carers and prospective adopters, or in line with policies in member agencies.
Enquiries can be made in the following ways:
Professionals from other agencies must access the records during normal working hours (8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays) by contacting the Safeguarding Children Unit.
Outside normal working hours, all professionals should contact the Emergency Duty Team - see Contact Details which has direct access to the records
The Safeguarding Children Unit will monitor all enquiries, enquirers will be verified before information is provided and details of the outcome will be recorded.
When an enquiry is made about a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan, the enquirer must be given the name of the child's Lead Social Worker and the Lead Social Worker must be informed of the enquiry so that it can be followed up. If an enquiry is made about a child at the same address as a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan, the information must be sent to the Lead Social Worker of that child.
When 2 separate enquiries are made about a child who is not the subject of a Child Protection Plan, the Safeguarding Children Unit will notify Surrey Children's Services, which must consider, in consultation with other agencies, whether the child may be a Child in Need and if there is a degree of concern sufficient to warrant a Strategy Discussion and/or Assessment and Section 47 Enquiry.
9. Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan
A child should no longer be subject to a Child Protection Plan if:
- It is judged that (s)he is no longer likley to suffer Significant Harm requiring safeguarding by means of a Child Protection Plan - under these circumstances, only a Child Protection Review Conference can decide that a Child Protection Plan is no longer necessary;
- The child reaches the age of 18 years - to end the Child Protection Plan, the Local Authority should have a review around the child's birthday and this should be planned in advance;
- The child has moved permanently to another Local Authority area - in such cases, the receiving Local Authority should convene a Transfer Child Protection Conference within 15 working days of being notified of the move, and only after this has taken place may the Child Protection Plan be discontinued (see Children and Families in Need Moving Across Safeguarding Children Partnership Boundaries Procedure);
- The child has permanently left the UK. In which case all reasonable efforts must be made to liaise with relevant agencies in the receiving country;
- The child has died.
In the case of the third and fourth criteria as listed above, it is permissible for the Head of the Safeguarding Children Unit to remove a child's name from the Record of children subject to Child Protection Plans without the need to convene a Child Protection Review Conference, only when (s)he has consulted with relevant agencies present at the conference which first concluded that a Child Protection Plan was required - in which case the decision and the outcome of the consultation must be recorded in the child protection section of the child's file.
When a child is no longer the subject of a Child Protection Plan as a result of a Child Protection Review Conference decision, notification must be sent, as a minimum, to all those agencies representatives involved with the child and those who were invited to attend the Child Protection Conference that led to the Child Protection Plan. The Chair must also write to the parents and the child (depending on her/his age and understanding) advising them of the decision.
A child who is no longer the subject of a Child Protection Plan may still require additional support and services and discontinuing the Child Protection Plan must never lead to the automatic withdrawal of help. The Lead Social Worker must discuss with the parents and the child what services might be wanted and required, based upon the re-assessment of the needs of the child and family.
When a Child Protection Plan is discontinued the Family Action Plan will be reviewed.
10. What Happens After the Child Protection Conference, including the Review Process?
11. Looked After Children with a Child Protection Plan
In relation to Looked After children, decisions regarding the continued need for a Child Protection Plan must be made alongside consideration of the Care Plan. The Care Plan will be the primary means of safeguarding the safety and welfare of the child. A Child Protection Plan should only be necessary as a supplement if the child will be spending time in the household where the Significant Harm took place or with the adult responsible for the Significant Harm.
The first Child Protection Review Conference to take place once the child has become Looked After must consider the justification for the child being subject of both a Care Plan and a Child Protection Plan.
When a Looked After child is no longer living in the situation which gave rise to the child protection concerns that resulted in the Child Protection Plan, and there is no current plan for the child to be returned, the Child Protection Plan can be discontinued by a Child Protection Review Conference.
The Looked After child who remains the subject of a Child Protection Plan will also be subject to statutory child care review procedures.
Statutory Child Care Reviews and Child Protection Review Conferences are separate meetings with different purposes. The plans made at Child Care Reviews must be consistent with the Child Protection Plan and the timing of such reviews should usually be arranged so as to follow the Review Conference.
Where a Child Care Review, or other Local Authority child care planning meeting, proposes the return of a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan to her or his parents or carers or any other change which might significantly affect the level of risk, the decision (unless this formed part of the original Child Protection Plan) must not be implemented until it has been considered by a Child Protection Review Conference.
When there is disagreement within the subsequent Child Protection Review Conference, the situation must be brought to the attention of the Social Worker's Service Manager who, in consultation with the Head of the Safeguarding Children Unit, must decide whether or not to proceed with the plan made at the Child Care Review. See also Resolution of Professional Disagreements Procedure.
When a child who is subject of a Child Protection Plan is removed from accommodation by her/his parents or if a Looked After child is returned to her/his parents or carers in Court proceedings against the recommendation of the Local Authority, a Child Protection Review Conference must be convened to consider the risks to the child and the implications for the Child Protection Plan.
If necessary and appropriate, the Local Authority must take action to protect the child prior to the Child Protection Review Conference. This must not be delayed until after the Review Conference is convened if an enquiry or assessment indicates that it is required sooner.
12. Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan who become Looked After
The Lead Social Worker must inform the Safeguarding Children Unit of the change in circumstances and address.
The Safeguarding Children Unit must inform the professional network by letter.
The Safeguarding Children Unit must supply minutes of child protection conferences to the allocated Independent Review Officer and ensure that all future minutes are distributed to the Independent Review Officer.
The Lead Social Worker must in conjunction with the Assistant Team Manager give careful consideration to the need to call an urgent Core Group meeting to review the Child Protection Plan and to consider the need to call an early Child Protection Review Conference.
The Independent Conference Chair and Independent Reviewing Officer must discuss the case to ensure Child Protection Plans and Care Plans are compatible.
13. Case Responsibility within Surrey Children's Services
Children not made subject to a Child Protection Plan
Case responsibility must be transferred to the relevant Locality Team in the following circumstances:
- When both the Section 47 Enquiry and an Assessment concludes that the child is a Child in Need;
- If the child is subject of an Initial Child Protection Conference but does not become subject to a Child Protection Plan, consideration must be given to providing services as a Child in Need.
When a Child becomes subject to a Child Protection Plan
Cases subject to an Assessment as part of Section 47 Enquiries and Initial Child Protection Case Conference must transfer to the relevant Locality Team after the Initial Child Protection Case Conference and prior to the first Core Group meeting.
The Locality Team must send a representative (Social Worker or Assistant Team Manager) to the Initial Child Protection Case Conference. The Core Group meeting must be chaired by the Locality Team with the new Social Worker present. In exceptional circumstances it may be appropriate for the Assessment Team Social Worker to attend.