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 Safeguarding Partnership in relation to the implementation of the Child Protection Plan.

For children who are in receipt of Short Breaks, see also the Short Breaks Procedure.

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


Child in Need Meeting Agenda


This chapter was updated in June 2019, when Section 7, Step Down Processes was amended

1. Child in Need - Definition

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

  • They are 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
  • Their health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without such services; or
  • They are 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.

All Child in Need Planning Meetings should be attended by the child (depending on understanding), parents / carers and those agencies involved with the child / family who will contribute to the Child in Need Plan.

The Child in Need Planning Meeting will be chaired by the allocated Social Worker and must be informed by the line managers' analysis as part of the statutory assessment (see Child in Need Meeting Agenda).

Statutory assessments for children in need will include consideration of an EHCP if in place and the EHCP's assessment of the child's education, health and care needs.

3. Content of Child in Need Plans

The Child in Need Plan will:

  • Describe the identified risks to the child and what actions are required to minimise the identified risks;
  • Identify the developmental needs of the child, and any services required to meet the child's needs;
  • 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, including achievable timescales;
  • Include a contingency plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
  • 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;
  • Set dates for the CIN plan to be reviewed.

The Chair of the Child in Need Planning Meeting is responsible for the distribution of the Child in Need 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 plan should be completed and circulated within 5 working days of the CIN meeting.

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

There is an expectation that children do not remain in CiN planning for more than 6 months. In order to ensure this is robustly monitored the second CiN review, held 6 months after the initial plan was agreed will need to consider the progress of the CiN plan and the impact on the child. A decision must be made at the final review to either follow the step down or step up process. Risk assessment will inform this decision making process.

Child in Need Reviews will be held on a 12 weekly basis from the date of the Child in Need Planning Meeting. The first CIN review will normally be chaired by the allocated social worker. If the case is complex or not progressing it is a requirement that the line manager will chair the CIN review.

The Review Meeting provides an opportunity for a child and their 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 CIN reviews will consider the child's EHCP,-if in place for the child- to ensure that the CIN plan and the EHCP are aligned.

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 of the 2nd CIN review will be the social worker's line manager and is responsible for the meeting notes. This record of the review i.e. the minutes, will be copied and shared with all those involved, including the child and parent(s). 

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 Safeguarding Partnership.

The Review will should invite or seek the views of the child, parents and any service providers. The responsible social work team will undertake all the administration requirements for 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 social worker should present a verbal report to update the CIN Planning Meeting, addressing the progress made on the CIN Plan by considering;

Whether the current services are meeting the child's needs and should they continue. If there is good evidence of increased strengths or increased risks in the family so that either:

  • A lower level of services can now be offered e.g. a Step-Down to Early Help intervention, a Lead Professional and a Team Around the Child (TAC) or possibly no continuing need for Children and Families input; or
  • That risks have escalated and Child Protection Procedures should be considered or legal advice sought through the PLO process.

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.

If the evidence suggests that the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Social Care Services intervention, this 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. See Section 7, Step Down Processes.

If, at the second Child in Need, review meeting when the child has been in need for six months, there has been no change within the current working arrangements and the situation for the child is deteriorating and 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 identifies this as a requirement. For example, babies and pre-school children usually require more frequent visits.

6. Children in Need Moving to Another Authority - Principles

This section deals with children who are subject to Children in Need Plans and who move to another local authority. The principles apply to local authorities in the circumstances of both transferring out and receiving in Children in Need.

In a number of situations, children and their families moving to another local authority offers a positive option. However, and particularly where children and their families may have moved on more than one occasion in a short space of time, any assessment should consider whether the child is subject to trafficking or modern slavery (see Assessment Procedure).

For Children Looked After, see: Out of Authority Placements for SBC Children Procedure.

  • 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, or urgent consideration / assessment should be given as to the impact of the move for the child in respect of their vulnerability, for example, through changes in the protective factors, increased risk with known perpetrators or whether they might be subject to trafficking or modern slavery;
  • Given the circumstances, and in line with the above, a timely response should be made with regard to levels of assessed risk;
  • 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 service required for the child;
  • The social worker should assist and promote the family accessing relevant and appropriate services with regard to meeting the child's needs. Any deficits in services to meet specific needs by the receiving local authority 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 Plan;
    • Minutes of latest Child in Need Review;
    • A summary / case report.
  • Parent / carer's 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 or team manager, should consider seeking advice from their Caldicott Guardian or their Legal Services;
  • The social worker should ensure that other agencies involved in the Child in Need Plan are made aware and prepared to ensure that their relevant information is shared as soon as possible with their respective counterparts in the area the family have moved to, (for example school and GP records, etc.);
  • The social workers and team managers of the respective authorities should ensure there is clear and good communication during any transition and any risks are clearly communicated and understood.
    Where possible, the social worker should seek to meet their counterpart and where geography allows, to consider a joint visit and attendance at the Child in Need Meeting, so that the issues can be fully shared. The process should reflect the family's needs and any associated risks;
  • Where there is dispute about case responsibility; delay in the receiving local authority accepting responsibility of the case, or a dispute about Children in Need thresholds, the team manager should promptly notify the Service Manager who should make a decision regarding next steps, including, where necessary, to take legal advice;
  • The family should be kept informed of any respective responsibilities during a transition stage and when the receiving local authority, (where the family reside), take full responsibilities;
  • Receiving local authorities should seek to convene a Child in Need Meeting within 20 working days of the family being resident in their area and include all relevant agencies and, where possible, the social worker and other specialist staff where the child and family have moved from;
  • All actions, decisions and arrangements should be fully recorded on the child's case record during this process. 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.

7. Step Down Processes

7.1 A Child Subject to a Child in Need Plan Stepping Down to Early Help Services

When progress has been made at CiN level and the child has been assessed as no longer in need of statutory services the plan should be stepped down to early help services to ensure change is sustained and embedded.

The first stage of the step down process commences when the Social worker recommends to their Team Manager / ATM that the case can step down. This discussion should take place within supervision and clearly recorded on the child's file with the rationale for the recommendation. The manager's view and oversight of this recommendation is also recorded.

The next stage of the step down process is for the social worker to contact the relevant Early Help professional, already linked into the CiN process or the EH operational local manager if help is needed to identify an early help lead professional. This is to ensure the right practitioners are present at the final combined step down and CiN review meeting.

The final stage of the Step Down process takes place at the final CIN review chaired by the ATM. The Social Worker will share an up to date assessment and their recommendation and rationale for the decision for step down to be made.

The Social worker, the Early Help practitioners and the family develop an early help plan using the Early Help Record & Plan paperwork (Part C). The plan should have clear goals, actions, timescales and responsibilities. The plan should include a coherent contingency plan should new risks emerge or progress not be sustained.

If the EH plan identifies the need for a Team around the Child and Family meeting (TAC) the date of this is agreed and the participants invited. The TAC meeting must take place within six weeks of the final CiN review / step down meeting.

If the family are to be supported by a single service no TAC meeting is required but reviews of the EH plan must be completed and submitted.

The Social Worker will complete the Closing Summary within 10 working days of the final CiN review / Step down meeting and share this with the Early Help Lead Practitioner.

7.2 A Child Ceasing to be on a Child Protection Plan

Following a step down from Child Protection Plans families will be offered the support of a Child in need plan. The length of time this plan is required will be based upon the assessment of need as agreed within the conference that makes the decision that the risk of significant harm is low.

Families can decline this offer of support.

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

7.3 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.

This review will consider the child's support needs and agree a comprehensive plan to meet the child's needs. This plan should also include a robust contingency plan to ensure that the child is safeguarded.

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