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EnfieldChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Child in Need Plans and Reviews


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 London Safeguarding Children's Board 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 Procedure.

For children subject to supervision orders, see also the Supervision Policy.

See also:


This chapter was extensively revised in June 2020 and should be re-read.


  1. Criteria
  2. Definitions
  3. Assessing Children in Need
  4. Arranging Children in Need Meetings
  5. Family Involvement
  6. CiN Meetings
  7. Child in Need Plans
  8. Recording Child in Need Meetings and CiN Plans on LCS
  9. Review of Child in Need Plans
  10. Visits to Children in Need
  11. Hard to Engage Families
  12. Concluding a Child in Need Plan

1. Criteria

A Children in Need Plan is needed in order to set out the services provided to a Child in Need, who is not Looked After; for example; the provision of family support or day care, under Section 17 (10) of the Children Act 1989, a child is a Child in Need if:

  • He/she is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision for him/her of services by a local authority;
  • His/her health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision for him/her of such services; or
  • He/she is disabled, or subject to Child Sexual Exploitation, Young Carer or Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Child.

2. Definitions

Children in Need (CiN) Plan - A CIN Plan is drawn up following a Child and Family Assessment which identifies the child as having complex needs and where a coordinated response is needed in order that the child's needs can be met.

A CiN Plan must also be put together following a child no longer being subject to a Child Protection Plan. The CiN plan must be in place for a minimum of 3 months.

Child in Need (CiN) Meeting - A regular multi-agency meeting to develop and then review a CIN Plan.

3. Assessing Children in Need

In considering any assessment under CiN it is important to refer to the threshold document.

Where threshold for CiN is met we have a statutory duty to work with children and their families. The case may have features of complex needs that may require longer term involvement. These children may be eligible for a CiN service from Children's Social Care and may be at risk of moving to a higher level of risk if they do not receive intervention.

It is important that we work in close partnership with parents and other professionals and work with parents on a shared understanding of the concerns that we have and what needs to change and improve. Only when this is achieved will we see effective change. Working together with parents and good working relationships are key to improving outcomes for children. Lack of cooperation from parents needs to be assessed and consideration given to what this means for the child's lived experience.

Consideration should be given to the impact of this on the child and if there is a need to progress into more formal child protection process. Information from other agencies is key to our work with CiN and we must seek consent to share information from parents to gather this information but if this is not given and we have concerns for the child's safety, we will seek this consent without consent.

Given the importance of working in collaboration with agencies and families an initial CiN meeting should form part of the assessment process and should be held within 15 working days of the referral being received. (Where there are exceptions to this, it must be evidenced on the case file by management agreement). This meeting must include the educational facility the child attends, a health representative and any other professional who is currently engaging with the child or family. The parents (and where the child is old enough) must be included in the meeting. This meeting should determine whether the circumstances have met the threshold for a CiN plan. If this is not the case, then discussion needs to be had about who will take the lead to determine the continued welfare of the child.

When assessing children, it is important to consider what the initial referral relates to and to which child. It is important to ensure that all aspects of the referral are addressed and that specific parts are not missed. It is important that all children living in the same household are assessed and that actions and plans reflect the different needs of individual children within a family. It is important that where children have individual needs that these are recorded on the individual child’s file and not recorded as a family. Each child’s individual need cannot be read on the other sibling’s file. Each child’s record belongs to them personally and it may be in the future they wish to see the information held about them. Each have their right to privacy, and it is a breach of data if information is held on their files which is not about them, but about another sibling.

On completion of the assessment it may result in all children being subject to CiN plans or just one, but the assessment must be clear about the decisions that are being made and the rationale for this. At the point of referral, it is imperative that the needs of all the children are considered before a decision is made that the case is about a single issue only.

Information that should be considered when issues appear to be related to only 1 or 2 children in a family:

  • How does the behaviour of that child impact on the other children and has this been considered in the assessment?
  • We may conclude after assessment that the 1 child is the only one causing concern but we need to evidence this;
  • In CSE cases all children should be considered. Whilst it may be only one child who we are concerned about that is at risk of CSE or CCE, this may impact on the rest of the children in the household;
  • Following assessment if a case is open for all children it is important to be clear why the work may be concentrated on only the child where the concerns are evidenced. If there are no concerns for the other child / children workers need to be clear about this and reflect this their plans so that it is clear what the issues are and why we all children are open.

The capacity of the parents to manage these issues will be critical to our understanding of whether the worries and concerns relate to parental capacity or to the environmental context.

4. Arranging Child in Need Meetings

The Child in Need (CiN) Meeting should be arranged in the following circumstances

  • CiN Meetings can be called at any time in the process of working with a child and family;
  • A CiN Meeting should however be convened during the assessment process to assist the social worker to share and understand the concern from the family perspective and from the professionals involved, whilst at the same time exploring and mapping the safety network. This meeting must take place within 15 working days of the start of the assessment;
  • CiN Meetings will follow an Assessment where a CiN plan has been agreed which recommends that a package of family support is required to meet the child's needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989. In these circumstances a CIN meeting should be arranged within 10 working days of the completion of the Assessment;
  • Children who have been subject to a Child Protection Plan and who will be in receipt of CiN Services for a further period of time and no less than 3 months after the plan has ended;
  • Children who have not been identified as needing a Child Protection Plan but for whom there are concerns just below the threshold of child protection;
  • A child Is leaving the "Looked After" system and it is considered that a high or co-ordinated level of services will be necessary to maintain them in their family;
  • A young person is receiving accommodation via s.17.

5. Family Involvement

The CiN Meeting should always involve family members, unless doing so would jeopardise the child's wellbeing or that of another family member (as in cases involving domestic violence or forced marriage).

The social worker should consult and seek permission from a person with Parental Responsibility for the child, regarding any other family members and representatives of other agencies who may usefully attend.

Consideration should be given as to any assistance that may be necessary to enable the family to attend or participate, for example; timing, transport and disabled access arrangements.

Consideration should be given to involving interpreters or someone with specific cultural or religious knowledge.

The child or young person should be present (where appropriate) for some or all of 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 outside of school time, wherever possible.

6. CiN Meetings

Pre-Assessment - If the CiN meeting is to gather information from the family and network and understand the concerns, then this meeting should be held as soon as possible within the timescales for the completion of the assessment. A plan can begin to be formulated at this point and developed upon completion of the assessment. The CiN meeting at this stage would discuss and agree the identified concerns, understand the parents/family perspective, gain clarity around the safety network: who they are and their roles. The meeting would come to an agreement about next steps and who will be actioning these. This would be the starting point for the CiN plan and added to at the conclusion of the assessment.

The CIN Meeting should be chaired by the allocated social worker or their line manager.

Upon completion of the Child and Family Assessment, the CIN Planning Meeting should be held within 15 working days. The social worker will have a draft CiN plan (developed as a result of the Assessment) for discussion and development at the CIN Planning Meeting.

The meeting must consider the needs of the family and work towards developing the plan. The family should play a key role in this. Decisions will be made, where possible, with agreement (reflecting a desire to work in partnership), be based on negotiation (not imposition) and be respectful of family views. If no agreement can be reached, disagreements should be noted, along with any action proposed.

The CIN Meeting minutes should cover:

  • The reason for the meeting;
  • Updates since any previous meetings;
  • Development and/progress of the Child in Need Plan detailing;
  • Needs to be addressed;
  • Desired outcomes to be achieved and timescales;
  • Actions and persons responsible, services identified and timescales;
  • Any contingency planning as necessary;
  • A summary of the main points of the meeting and decisions made;
  • A date (within 6 weeks) to update the CIN Plan.

The child’s social worker is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations.

The minutes of the meeting will be taken by the Chair. They will be copied to those involved, including the child and parent/s.

7. Child in Need Plans

A Child in Need (CIN) Plan will be developed in a Child in Need Planning Meeting and updated on the child’s record after the meeting.

The Child in Need Plan must:

  • Be individual to each child’s needs. If the Plan is amalgamated with other siblings in the family, then each child’s individual needs should be specified with associated actions. It is important that all the children are assessed, and that actions and plans reflect the different needs of individual children within a family. This may result in all children being subject to CiN plans or just one, however the Assessment must be clear about the decisions that are being made and the rationale for this. It is imperative that the needs of all the children are considered before a decision is made that the case is about a single issue only;
  • Describe the identified needs of the child, and any services required;
  • 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 timescales that are not too short or unachievable;
  • Identify any resources or services that will be needed to achieve the planned outcomes within the agreed timescales and who is responsible for which action and the time-scale involved;
  • Identify patterns of social work visits and the work that will be carried out by them;
  • Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of other 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;
  • Include a contingency plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action.

The Chair of the Child in Need Planning Meeting is responsible for the distribution of the Child in Need Plan. A copy of the Child in Need Plan should 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 social worker is responsible for implementing the plan including making referrals to appropriate agencies for services as described in the plan.

The duration of a CiN Plan will vary depending on the complexity of the case. For most children the work should be completed, and progress seen within 6 months. If the Plan has been in place for 12 months and there has been no change then consideration should be given to escalating to an ICPC. This will be discussed with the manager and within the CiN planning meeting so that everyone is clear why this action is being considered.

8. Recording Child in Need Meetings and CiN Plans on LCS

The CiN Meeting must be recorded by the chair on the child’s record on LCS. They should be recorded in Case Notes - CiN Planning Meeting with a review date.

The social worker is responsible for updating the CiN Plans on the child’s record after every CiN Meeting. For sibling groups specific issues for individual siblings should always be included in their section of the plan.

9. Reviews of Child in Need Plans

Further CiN Meetings must be held to review and update the CIN Plan as a minimum of every 6 weeks.

The social worker should present a verbal report to update the CiN Meeting, addressing the progress made on the CiN Plan.

The purpose of the Review is to ensure that the services provided are contributing to the achievement of the identified outcomes within the timescales set:

  • There are increased strengths or diminished difficulties in the family so that either a lower level of services can now be offered e.g. a Step-Down to Early Help;
  • The current services are meeting needs, and these should continue and expanded on if required; or
  • The current services are not meeting needs and alternative services should be planned; or
  • There remain complex or serious difficulties that require a high level of intervention or service within current working arrangements but calling for frequent review; or
  • There has been no change within the current working arrangements and that the situation for the child is deteriorating, such that Child Protection Procedures should be considered or the child be Looked After.

The review at 6 months should determine what outcomes have not been met, whether these require the child to remain on a CiN plan to achieve these and the timescale. This review must have management oversight for quality assurance. This process will also take place at 9 months.

Where it is proposed that a complex package of support is provided under a CiN Plan and that this is to be continued beyond 12 months; there must be a specific review chaired by a senior manager of the responsible team at the 12 month stage; for example, but not exclusively in relation to children who meet the criteria for a disability service or are subject to supervision orders to the LA.

The outcome of a Review will be:

  • That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Social Care Services intervention, which will result in a recommendation that the case be closed although the child may continue to receive services from a single agency or under a multi-agency plan not involving Children's Social Care i.e. the case will be 'stepped-down' to the Early Help Service;
  • That the child continues to be a Child in Need requiring the same level of services, resulting in the continuing provision of services and minor amendment, as necessary, of the Child in Need Plan;
  • That the child appears to be at risk of Significant Harm, resulting in the need for a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and possible Section 47 Enquiry Minutes of the CiN Meetings must be made and distributed to those invited to attend, using the same format outlined for the initial CiN Meeting.

Enfield is committed to the Signs of Safety model of practice and there is an expectation that all Child in Need plans and meetings will focus on these principles and will include:

  • What are we worried about?
  • What is working well? and
  • What needs to change?

All decisions made should be recorded on the child's electronic record, 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.

10. Visits to Children in Need

The purpose of social work visits to children in need is linked to the CiN plan and the outcomes that are required. Visits should reflect the work identified in the CiN Plan and the frequency should be linked to this and not linked solely to a minimum standard.

It is the expectation that social work visits reflect the needs of the child and the care planning and the frequency should not be less than 1 visit every 4 weeks. This is a minimum standard and the visit frequency must reflect the frequency needed to ensure that the work with the child and their family can be completed in a timely fashion. The decision about frequency of visits should be considered with the multi-agency partners and the family and discussed between the social worker and manager in supervision. This social work visit frequency does not preclude other members of the professional and safety network from visiting the family within this cycle.

In exceptional circumstances where there are no safeguarding or parenting concerns, exceptions can be made for visits to be less than every 4 weeks but not more than 6 weeks reflecting the Pan London procedures. Where this occurs, there must be a corresponding case note by the Head of Service.

When planning visits the following needs to be considered:

  • The frequency of visits is determined at the first CiN planning meeting and reviewed at subsequent CiN review meetings;
  • Visits must involve seeing the child alone (i.e. without the main parent or carer); unless the child is a baby, has a disability where this then may not be appropriate;
  • Visits can be both announced and unannounced;
  • Visits should have a defined purpose and impact and outcomes should be recorded on LCS within 72 hours in line with the recording policy.

11. Hard to Engage Families

If the family refuse to engage and work with the CiN Plan, then the matter should be reviewed with a manager. Options to consider:

  1. Escalation to ICPC;
  2. Review of plan to make further attempts to engage with the family;
  3. CIN meeting to be convened to consider step down to early help or close if the concerns have reduced.

This review with the agreed outcomes should be recorded as a management oversight on LCS.

12. Concluding a Child in Need Plan

If the professional network agrees the CiN Plan has achieved its aims, the CIN Meeting can agree to either recommend; a 'Step-Down' to Early Help Services, the identification of a Lead Professional and a Team around the Child, (with the family's consent) or agree that no further targeted or specialist services are required.