Table of Contents
Please also refer to the relevant guidance for children in specific circumstances e.g. Neglect, Sexual Abuse, Exploitation etc.
The Child Protection Plan
The aim of the Child Protection Plan is to:
- Ensure the child is safe and prevent them from suffering further harm by supporting the strengths, addressing the vulnerabilities and risk factors and helping meet the child’s unmet needs;
- Promote the child’s health or development i.e. his or her welfare; and
- Provided it is in the best interests of the child, to support the family and wider family members to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child.
The plan will be drafted using a standard format which includes;
- Identification of the child’s needs derived from the findings of the Single Assessment;
- Visiting arrangements by the child’s Social Worker and other core group members, both alone and with other family members or caregivers present;
- Specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes;
- Realistic strategies and specific actions to achieve the planned outcomes;
- A Contingency Plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
- Clear identification of the roles and responsibilities of professionals and family members to deliver actions and plan outcomes including the nature and frequency of contact. This should include professionals with routine contact as well as those providing specialist or targeted support;
- Points at which progress will be reviewed by the core group and the means by which it will be judged.
The plan should:
- Be based on information from parents and the findings from all partner agencies and draw on knowledge about effective interventions;
- Take into consideration the wishes and feelings of the child, and the views of the parents, insofar as they are consistent with the child’s welfare;
- Be constructed with the family in their preferred language/communication method and they should be given a copy in that format. Where the parent has a learning disability, care must be taken to ascertain their level of understanding and provide them with the plan in an accessible format;
- Be adjusted as necessary at subsequent Core Group meetings and the amended copy circulated.
The parents should be clear about the evidence of Significant Harm which resulted in the child becoming the subject of a Child Protection Plan, what needs to change and what is expected of them as part of implementing the plan.
Child Protection Plans and Children Looked After by the Local Authority
The Child Protection Plan should not exist in isolation from other child care plans. Where the child is Looked After by the local authority, the Child Protection Plan should be integrated into the overall care planning process.
The aim should be for the child to be the subject of a single reviewing process, led by the child’s Independent Reviewing officer (IRO) and in reviewing the child protection aspects of the child’s Care Plan, the Child Care Review should consider whether the criteria continue to be met for the child to remain the subject of a Child Protection Plan. To assist with this process, the Lead Social Worker should send a copy of the detailed Child Protection Plan developed at the first Core Group meeting to the IRO responsible for the child’s Child Care Review held under Review Regulations and consideration must always be given to ensuring that the multi-agency contribution to the review of the Child Protection Plan is addressed within the review of the Care Plan at the Child Care Review.
The Review Child Protection Conference should be timed to take place prior to the Child Care Review meeting in order to ensure that the information from the conference is taken to the review meeting and informs the overall care planning process. Consideration should be given to the IRO chairing the Child Protection Review Conference as well as the Child Care Review but, where that is not possible, it will be expected that the IRO will attend both meetings. It should be remembered that significant changes to the Care Plan can only be made at the Child Care Review meeting.
Very occasionally, a child may be made the subject of an Interim Care Order but remain living at home. In such circumstances, the IRO, CP Chair, Social Worker and their respective managers will agree how planning and review will best be managed to ensure the protection of the child.
Where a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan becomes ‘looked after’, either through an Interim Care Order or Section 20, there will be a case discussion between the CP Chair and the Lead Social Worker as to whether the procedure for a ‘paper delist’ can commence. This will be informed by the expected/planned duration of the looked after episode.
The Child Protection Plan can be accessed on ONE by the IRO and a case discussion between the CP Chair and the IRO can take place to ensure continuity of planning.
If there is agreement to commence the paper delist process a letter will be sent to all Core Group members to progress this.
Very occasionally, a child may be made the subject of an Interim Care Order but remain living at home. In such circumstances, the IRO, CP Chair and their respective managers will agree how planning and review will best be managed to ensure the protection of the child.
Child Protection Plans and the Children in Need Planning Process
Where a child ceases to be subject of a Child Protection Plan, if appropriate an inter-agency meeting should be held within 10 working days to agree the Child in Need Plan.
Practice Guidance – Developing Effective Plans and Interventions
Interventions should be clearly linked to the developmental needs of the child, and based on a knowledge of what is likely to work best to bring about good outcomes. At the end of this section there is a summary of the literature as to what works in various situations. This is not an exhaustive overview and practitioners will need to keep up to date with current developments.
Interventions – key components
Interventions are likely to have a number of inter-related components:
- Action to make a child safe;
- Action to help promote a child’s health and development;
- Action to help a parents/caregivers in safeguarding a child and promoting his or her welfare;
- Therapy for an abused child;
- Support or therapy for a perpetrator of abuse.
A good Child Protection Plan will include all of the above (if relevant). However research has shown that plans do not always adequately meet them all.
A report by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI (2006) Meeting the needs of parents with children on the child protection register CSCI Special study report: London CSCI) noted that the needs of parents were not always taken account of when developing Child Protection Plans.
Unless effectively addressed, adults’ problems can undermine the well-being of children, directly or indirectly, and in the short and long term. In a minority of cases these ‘adult’ problems can contribute to the neglect of children’s physical, emotional and psychological well-being. In certain circumstances, they can result in various forms of abuse.
Although the main objective of the plan must be to improve the situation for the child, all plans should take account of the needs of relevant adults and aim to provide services to support them in their parenting role. This may involve ensuring that relevant adult services are included in the Core Group.
Interventions and motivation to change
Interventions will need to be based on an assessment of parental motivation to change and whether change is likely to occur within a timescale compatible with the needs of the child. Where change cannot occur within the required timescale, the process of decision making and planning should be as open as possible and seek to involve parents and carers at all stages of the process.
Where the child has been removed from the family and plans are to reunite the child. Interventions should include the detailed work necessary to help the parents/caregivers develop the necessary parenting skills.
Interventions and Neglect
“The distinction must be made between neglect caused by financial poverty, which can be alleviated by financial help, and that caused by emotional poverty. These may co-exist, but relief of the former condition does not relieve the latter” (Rosenberg, D & Cantwell, H 91993) ‘The consequences of neglect’ in Hobbs, CJ & Wynne).
Interventions in situations of neglect must be:
- Congruent with the findings of the assessment;
- Take a flexible approach which includes a wide range of formal and informal responses. These are likely to include provision of concrete resources, the development of social supports and work focusing on family relationships.
Evidence points to the importance of casework and empowerment skills (Turney, D and Tanner, K (2005) “Understanding and Working with Neglect” DFES (See Research in Practice website) in addressing difficulties that underpin neglect. It is important that the relationship between practitioners and parents should involve interventions that empower the family members to develop a sense of personal efficacy and agency.
In cases of chronic neglect, there may be a need to plan for long term intervention. These plans must:
- Be underpinned by in-depth assessment;
- Include measurable objectives for change;
- Consider strategies for achieving these changes;
- Include ways of evaluating whether the required changes have taken place.
Once it is clear that interventions are in place and meeting the developmental needs of the child, it is likely that these will be delivered outside the formal Child Protection Plan.
If it is clear that family focused interventions are not meeting the needs of the child, it is likely that the plan will need to include removal of the child.
Parenting skills programmes may be helpful. Contra indications for such programmes without a lot of individual support to enable parents to make use of them are:
- Low socioeconomic status;
- Lack of sense of self-efficacy;
- Social isolation;
- Poor relationship;
- Chronicity of problems.
Home visiting programmes at the ante-natal and early post-natal stage can be effective in facilitating the development of a sensitive and empathic relationship between the parent and young child which may forestall attachment and other relationship difficulties.
Protective factors for children experiencing neglect are:
- Achievement at school;
- The opportunity to develop talents and interests;
- The experience of an enduring, supportive relationship in which they feel valued.
Appendix 1 – Child Protection Planning and Parents With Learning Disabilities
Intervention should always be based on a thorough assessment and take into account the most appropriate method of working with the parents, given their specific needs.
Plans for intervention should always include methods of evaluating whether the support package is meeting the child’s needs. It is only if there is uncertainty about the parents’ continued capacity to engage with a support package that the plan will need to be delivered within the formal child protection process.
It is likely that there will need to be planning for long term interventions that adapt and change as the child develops.
A review of the literature (McGaw, S., and Newman, T. (2005) “What works for parents with learning disabilities?” London: Barnardo’s) identified the following messages in relation to interventions:
- Interventions should build on parents’ strengths as well as their vulnerabilities;
- Interventions should be based on performance rather than knowledge and should incorporate modelling, practice, feedback and praise;
- Tangible rewards may promote attendance at programmes, rapid acquisition of skills and short-term commitment. Other methods of engagement are needed long term. Intensive service engagement is more demanding than intermittent service engagement, though it may be more effective;
- In order for generalisation to occur, programmes should be adaptable to provide training in the actual environments in which the skills are needed;
- If teaching must be provided out-of-home, it should be in as home-like an environment as possible;
- Factors which promote resilience in the children’s environment should be identified and enhanced;
- The importance of family ties should be recognised and no actions taken that damage such ties;
- Interventions should diminish, rather than cause or contribute to, the social exclusion of the child and parents.
A review of positive practice in supporting parents with a learning disability noted that they can often be ‘good enough’ parents when provided with ongoing emotional and practical support (Tarleton et al Finding the Right Support: A Review of Issues and Positive Practice in Supporting Parents with Learning Difficulties and Their Children Bristol: The Baring Foundation).
Support packages need to include:
- Easy to understand information:
- About all aspects of parenting (The CHANGE book, You and Your Baby, 2004, is a helpful accessible resource) (Affleck, F., & Baker, S., (2004) You and Your Baby Leeds: CHANGE );
- On the support available – whether from mainstream services, like maternity services, or a specialist learning disability team;
- About child protection and judicial process.
Parents frequently need advice in multiple areas of their lives, not just around the forthcoming baby. This includes advice on benefits and how to handle problems in relation to poor housing, harassment, and so on.
- Skills teaching:
And other focussed help as necessary.
- Ongoing support:
Adapted to changing circumstances as the child gets older and continuing if (and after) a child is adopted.
- Consistency and clarity:
From the professionals involved about their expectations of them as parents.
- Key working:
So that parents are not confused by different interventions by different professionals.
Whether professional or voluntary, to support parents, particularly if they are involved in child protection or judicial processes.
- Informal support:
E.g. via a Circle of Support or Home-Start.
- Encouragement and affirmation:
So that parents can gain the confidence to engage positively with services and demonstrate that they can be good enough parents with support.
- Contact with other parents:
For example through parents’ groups, so that they can share skills and experiences.
- Parent involvement:
In the development of new services, training of professionals and other initiatives.