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9.5 Practice Guidance - Decision to Discontinue a Child Protection Plan

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in August 2016 with minor amendments to the text throughout.


A child should no longer be the subject of a child protection plan if:

  1. It is judged that the child(ren) is/are no longer continuing, or likely to, suffer significant harm requiring safeguarding through a Child Protection Plan which would include:
    1. The likelihood of harm has been reduced by action taken through the Child Protection Plan;
    2. The child and family’s circumstances have changed or reassessment of the child and family indicates that a Child Protection Plan is not necessary;
    3. The child has been placed away from the home and there is no longer contact with the abusing individual or any contact is not considered to present a risk to the child (includes Interim Care Order status).

In these circumstances the decision can only be made at a Child Protection Review Conference. The decision to discontinue a Child Protection Plan rests with the Child Protection Conference Chair who will take into account the views of the conference participants.

  1. The child and family have moved permanently to another Local Authority and this area has accepted responsibility and has convened an Initial Child Protection Conference;
  2. The child has reached 18 years of age and a review has taken place near to the child’s birthday;
  3. The child has died. In which case, if abuse or neglect are known or suspected to be a factor, the Head of Childrens, Families and Community health will be notified who will notify Ofsted and the LSCB chair for consideration for a SCR;
  4. The child has permanently left the UK.

Children Looked After by the Local Authority

Children who have a Child Protection Plan who become Looked After

Where a child who has a Child Protection Plan becomes Looked After, whether accommodated or the subject of an Interim Care Order or Care Order, risk and protection planning must be integrated in the care plan.

Consideration will be given to the next Child Protection Review Conference taking place at the same time as the child’s Looked After Review.

A Legal Adviser will always be invited to this meeting if the child is subject to an ICO.

Having agreed that risk and protection have been integrated in the Care Plan and being satisfied that the criteria for discontinuing the Child Protection Plan are met; the Review Conference will discontinue the Child Protection Plan unless there are specific and exceptional circumstances.

Children Looked After

The child protection process aims to ensure the safety and welfare of the most vulnerable children and young people living in the community considered to be at risk of significant harm.

The Looked After Review process aims to ensure that Children Looked After have all aspects of their needs regularly reviewed and provisions made to meet these needs, which includes the safety and protection of the child.

Both these processes establish multi-agency protection/care plans with clear expectations of better outcomes for the child. Where the two processes apply the situation can become confusing and difficult for children and their families to understand. Good planning should seek to ensure that only those processes that are of immediate significance to the plans for the child are in operation at any one time.

Good practice would indicate that children looked after need not be subject to a separate Child Protection Plan. The CLA processes should be sufficiently robust as it is of a higher legal status and framework to address the Child Protection needs of the child/young person.

When a child is Looked After and subject to statutory reviews, consideration of Child Protection and safeguarding issues should be routinely addressed at the looked after review and accounted for in the Care Plan agreed at the Review.

Protecting Children Looked After who are at risk as a consequence of their behaviours can and should be managed through the LAC process. If required a risk management meeting or strategy discussion may be convened between planned LAC Review of Arrangements to ensure issues of risk are addressed and managed.

The screening tool and a Vulnerability Checklist should be completed for all looked after children who may be at risk of sexual and/or criminal exploitation and if assessed as high risk will be referred to the Multi-Agency Risk Panel (MARP).

Practitioners must adhere to the South West Child Protection Procedures including the duty to investigate under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 and the requirement to undertake a joint investigation with the Police where necessary. This may not necessarily require convening a Child Protection conference if the risks are addressed by the Looked After Child’s care plan.

Whilst a Child Protection Conference and Child Protection Plan may not necessarily be required it is of utmost importance that practitioners adhere to procedural requirements in line with legislation and guidance. This will particularly be the case where there is the potential for or suspicions of:
  • Organised abuse;
  • Children at risk of sexual and/or criminal exploitation;
  • Children who pose sexual risk or violent young people.

In all circumstances there should be robust risk assessments to inform future planning.

Processes for addressing the Planning for Children subject to Child Protection and CLA Processes (Dual Status Planning)

  1. Where a Child Protection Conference is held and the child is already subject of Care Proceedings or an Interim Care Order has been made, the Child Protection Conference will:
    • Agree that the separate Child Protection Plan will cease once an Interim Care Order is made; and
    • Identify the elements of the Child Protection Plan that need to be incorporated into the Looked After Care Plan.
  1. Where the child is a subject of a Child Protection Plan and then becomes the subject of an Interim Care Order where an Application for the Order was not part of the current protection plan;

    A Review Child Protection Conference and Looked After Review will be reconvened to consider ceasing the Child Protection Plan and identify the elements the Child Protection Plan that need to be incorporated into the CLA Care Plan;
  2. When a child is Accommodated under Section 20 and an Initial Child Protection Conference is convened to address the child protection issues leading to the child becoming accommodated, the Child Protection Conference may decide to incorporate the Child Protection Plan into the child's LA Care Plan and not make a separate Child Protection Plan;

    In this case the Care Plan should specify that a further Child Protection Conference should be convened if rehabilitation is confirmed as the Care Plan and it is actively being pursued as the plan for the child. This should be explicitly addressed at each CLA Review by the social worker and the Independent Reviewing Officer;
  3. Where a child who is already subject of a Child Protection Plan becomes Accommodated under Section 20 and the Care Plan for the child is rehabilitation to parents, there may be a need for the child to remain subject to a separate Child Protection Plan until rehabilitation is achieved or the Care Plan changes to permanency elsewhere;

    In these circumstances discussion should take place in the Child Protection Conference to inform the decision about whether there is a need for a separate Child Protection Plan;

    The Conference and Chair will need to consider the specific risk issues and be clear whether or not the risks can be fully addressed through the Child Looked After Care Plan and reviewing process;

    Given that the Local Authority will not share Parental Responsibility in these cases, it may be appropriate for separate plans to be maintained.

A child who is no longer the subject of a Child Protection Plan may still require additional support and services. Discontinuing the Child Protection Plan should never lead to the automatic withdrawal of help. The lead social worker should 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.

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