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3.1 Children in Need Procedures


This chapter does not apply to children who are the subject of a Child Protection Plan. Where the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan, this will be drawn up in outline at the Initial Child Protection Conference and in detail at the Core Group meeting(s). It will be reviewed by a Child Protection Review Conference. Please see the Swindon Local Safeguarding Children Board's Inter Agency Procedures in relation to the implementation of the Child Protection Plan.

For children who are in receipt of Short Breaks, see also the Short Breaks Through Statutory Assessment (Social Care) Procedure.

The legal framework for this chapter is contained in the Children Act 1989, Section 17.


This chapter was updated in March 2018, to include frequency of child in need visits, reviews and Plans.


  1. Child in Need - Definition
  2. Statutory Assessments which Identify a Child in Need - Child in Need Planning Meetings
  3. Content of Child in Need Plans
  4. Child in Need - Reviewing the Plan
  5. Child in Need Visiting Frequencies
  6. Step Down Processes

1. Child in Need - Definition

A Child in Need is defined in Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, if:

  • S/he is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or have opportunity to so do, a reasonable standard of health or development without provision of services by a local authority; or
  • Her/his health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without such services; or
  • S/he is disabled.

2. Statutory Assessments which Identify a Child in Need - Child in Need Planning Meetings

When a statutory assessment is completed which identifies a child as a child in need then a Child in Need Planning meeting will be held within 10 working days of the completion of the assessment. The purpose of the Child in Need Planning Meeting is to agree the content of the child in need plan by agreeing:

  • The required outcomes for the child;
  • The timescales for action;
  • Who is responsible for any agreed actions;
  • Any services or resources needed;
  • The required visiting and reviewing frequency.

3. Content of Child in Need Plans

The Child in Need Plan will:

  • Describe the identified developmental needs of the child, and any services required;
  • Reflect the positive aspects of the family situation as well as the areas that require change or improvement;
  • Include specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child;
  • Include realistic strategies and specific actions to achieve the planned outcomes;
  • Include a contingency plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
  • Include timescales that are not too short or unachievable;
  • A balanced approach to resources which are known to be scarce;
  • Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of all professionals and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by professionals with children and family members;
  • Lay down points at which progress will be reviewed and the means by which it will be judged.

The Chair of the Child in Need Planning Meeting is responsible for the distribution of the Child in Need minutes and Plan. These will be provided to the parents, child (if old enough) and the agencies or other professionals involved in the provision of services under the Plan.

The allocated social worker will be responsible for implementing the plan including delegation of referrals to appropriate agencies for services as described in the plan.

Where it becomes necessary to make minor adjustments to the plan and services provided, any changes to the plan must be made in consultation with the parents and the child (where appropriate) and key professionals from other agencies.

4. Child in Need - Reviewing the Plan

Child in Need Reviews will be held on a 12 weekly basis from the date of the Child in Need Planning Meeting and will be chaired by a Manager.

The Review Meeting provides an opportunity for a child and his or her parents/carers, together with key agencies, to review the actions and outcomes within the Child in Need Plan and to update the plan in light of progress made.

All Child in Need Review Meetings should be attended by the child (depending on understanding), parents/carers and those agencies whose potential/actual contribution is detailed within the Child In Need Plan. If the child does not wish to attend the meeting their views and wishes should still be sought and their views represented.

The child's allocated social worker should discuss potential attendees for the Review Meeting with the child and the parents/carers prior to arrangements being made for the meeting.

It will be important that an appropriate venue suitable for the child and his or her family are used for the meeting. Consideration must be given to transport, timing and any child care issues. Where a child is attending a meeting and is of school age the meeting should be held with the least disruption to the child.

The allocated child's social worker, supported by the business support team, is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations.

The chair will be responsible for the meeting notes. This record will be copied to those involved, including the child and parent(s), who will need to sign their agreement.

Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of a Child in Need Plan must be responded to in line with Swindon Local Safeguarding Children Board Procedures.

The Review will should invite or seek the views of the child, parents and any service providers. The responsible social work team will administer all Child in Need Reviews.

All decisions made should be recorded on the child’s electronic record in the Child In Need review exemplar, together with reasons, and dated.

A copy of the record should be sent to the child (if old enough), parent and all other participants in the Review process. This is the responsibility of the social work team.

The outcome of a Review will be one of the following:

  1. Where the outcome of the Review is an amendment to the Child in Need Plan, the allocated worker should circulate a copy of the amended Plan to the child, parents, and other agencies/professionals involved in providing the services set out in the amended Plan, including any new services to be provided;
  2. That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Social Care Services intervention, which will result in a recommendation to the team manager that the case be closed to social care although the child may continue to receive services from a single agency or under a multi-agency plan not involving Children's Social Care;
  3. At the second 3 months Child in Need review when the child has been in need for 6 months. The following should take place;
  4. If the child’s situation has not improved within 6 months and the case cannot be stepped down or closed then consideration must be given to referring the case to the Solutions and Support Panel or holding a strategy discussion;
  5. If at any time the child appears to be at risk of Significant Harm, a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and possible Section 47 Enquiry should be convened.

5. Child in Need Visiting Frequencies

Children identified as being in need should be visited as a minimum of 4 weekly and more frequently if the assessment of their needs/circumstances require this.

6. Step Down Processes

6.1 A Child subject to a Child in Need Plan stepping down to Early Help Services

The Social Worker should discuss and agree the transfer to Early Help Services with the family.

The Social Worker’s Team Manager /ATM should confirm the recommendation that a Social Work Case should transfer to Early Help Services.

The Social Worker arranges a meeting with the family and the relevant Early Help Practitioners to transfer the case.

6.2 A Child ceasing to be on a Child Protection Plan

A child who is stepped down from a Child Protection Plan will become child in need. A Child In Need Planning meeting will be held within 10 working days of the Child Protection Conference. A Child in Need Plan will be drawn up which promotes the safeguarding, welfare and the best interests of the children with the objective of ensuring the safe care of the child.

The procedures identified in sections 3-5 will then apply.

6.3 A Child ceasing to be Looked After

Where a child ceases to be Looked After, the child will step down to become a Child In Need. A Child In Need meeting should be convened prior to a child in care returning home and with relevant agencies.

The procedures identified in sections 3-5 will then apply.