Identifying a Child's Need

Step 2 – Carry out an integrated assessment

The Lead Professional must carry out an integrated assessment of the child’s and family’s situation incorporating the knowledge and views of all those who know the child and family best. This will vary depending on the age of the child eg younger children may be well known to their health visitor or GP, older children will be well known to their school teacher/s.  

The fundamental aim of all assessments is to :

  • To identify and understand, as fully as possible, given the constraints of the real world, the issues in relation to what additional support is needed by the child or their family, in order to meet the child’s needs throughout their childhood
  • To articulate relevant, achievable outcomes that will ensure that the child’s needs throughout their childhood will be met, including the overarching outcome of ensuring that every child has a secure, permanent base, in which their needs, as they grow and develop, will be met
  • To form a viable plan of action through which those outcomes will be achieved and any remaining areas of uncertainty be clarified, with the minimum of disruption to the child’s family life, attachments, education and social networks and to the ordinary exercise of parental rights and responsibilities
  • To present a clear argument, supported by evidence which shows the need and value of the proposed plan, to a person or body bearing the responsibility for making decisions to allocate resources or make legal decisions

The assessment may be done entirely using the Child’s Plan format, or using a specialist assessment tool. Where a specialist tool/assessment has been used, the outcomes/recommendations should be incorporated within the Child’s Plan.

The Child’s plan should be done in consultation, and if possible, with the agreement of the family and the child, dependant on the child’s age and capacity.

Part of this process will be to consider if compulsion is required to ensure the child and family’s participation in the plan with a referral being made to the Reporter to the Children’s Hearing if appropriate.

There will always be a tension here in that, if the family are fully agreeable to the Child’s Plan, why is there a need for compulsory supervision? Equally, if the family are totally against the plan, the chances of making significant improvements in the child’s life are likely to be minimal.

The Child’s plan, when compulsory supervision is being recommended, should contain;

  • What work if any has previously been undertaken with the child and their family under the LIAP arrangements when the child has been identified as Child in Need;
  • What was the outcome of this work?
  • What further work is needed;
  • What are the child’s needs and what are the risks for the child if they are not placed on a Supervision Order? See step 3
  • Why is compulsion necessary?  Include evidence of parents or children being unwilling or unable to work with a previous plan, or obstructing its implementation and preventing a positive outcome.
  • Why can’t the program be delivered reliably on a voluntary basis?
  • Why will what is offered under compulsion be better for the child than making no order?
  • What are the outcomes to be achieved? See step 5

The rationale for a recommendation for compulsion should be set out clearly in the “recommendations and decisions” section of the Child’s Plan, with clear linkage to the preceding “analysis” section and, if relevant, the “areas of disagreement” section.

If compulsory supervision is to be recommended it must have been discussed with the family and the child before the hearing, taking account of the child’s age and maturity.

For every Looked After Child, including those living at home, the Child’s Plan should set out

  • The local authority’s immediate and longer term plans for the child;
  • The respective responsibilities of the local authority; the child; any person with parental responsibility (including specifically who is it recommended be compelled to do what);
  • The plan should also clearly detail how the outcomes will be met including
  • Who is responsible for doing what to meet the care, health and education needs of the child;
  • What methods, resources or services are to be employed eg
    • Family-based work;
    • One-to-one work;
    • Group-work techniques;
    • The co-ordination of resources in the community;
    • Further specialist assessment, for example regarding risk of re-offending, parenting capacity
    • What are the expected timescales for the allocation of cases, meetings with the family, etc?
  • How the Lead Professional will ensure the different aspects of the plan are properly co-ordinated and effective in their delivery and how collaboration between the agencies and within the local authority will be ensured.
  • What is the anticipated contact between the social worker, child and family during the period of the supervision requirement?

For children where Home Supervision is being recommended/has been imposed; the Child’s Plan should also include

  • The details of the Supervision Requirement and how the outcomes identified by the Children’s Hearing are to be achieved.
  • Timescales for meeting objectives
  • Timescales for reviews
  • How disagreements will be addressed
  • Occurrences that would lead to a Review Hearing being arranged
  • Any other relevant plans for example Child protection or Co-ordinated Support Plan

Some of these details may need to be added or amended after the Hearing has reached its conclusion.

Step 3 - Assessing Risk

In order to demonstrate the risks to the child if no Compulsory Order is made, you should consult with the child, their family and, again, incorporating the knowledge and views of all those who know the child and family best, to complete a risk assessment of the grounds for concern.  

Use the appropriate Risk Assessment Forms and incorporate the outcome of this process within the Child’s Plan.

When recommending compulsory supervision at home for a child who is the subject of actual or potential abuse, a Risk Assessment and Protection Plan must have been developed by an inter-agency child protection case conference, if the child is registered.  

The protection plan must be included within the Child’s Plan.

See  Moray Child Protection Policies & Procedures

Step 4 - Signing up to the plan

  • The plan should, wherever reasonably practicable, be based on agreement between the child (where of sufficient age and maturity), the parents, other family members, the local authority and any other relevant parties, for example, the support teacher, school nurse or health visitor
  • The plan will then represent a written agreement to which all can work.
  • A plan must be drawn up even if the child or his or her family do not wish to become involved in this or if they disagree with some aspect of it.
  • You should seek to reach a position of agreement with the child and family on as many of the outcomes of the Compulsory Supervision Order as you can, although the welfare of the child should remain the paramount consideration throughout.
  • Where there are areas of disagreement, this must be made clear within the plan.
  • As a written document, the plan should wherever possible be signed by all the parties and a copy given to each of them.  In practice, it is likely that the signing of the plan may take place at or shortly after the Children’s hearing in which the Compulsory Supervision Order was imposed.
    The Child’s plan is a working document which should be reviewed and up dated as required.

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