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Derby City Children's Social Care Procedures

3.1.7 Child in Need Plans, Work 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, the outline plan will be drawn up at the Initial Child Protection Conference and in detail at the Core Group meeting(s). This will be reviewed by a Child Protection Review Conference. Please see the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership 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.


In March 2020, Section 4 Reviews of Child in Need Plans was updated to provide examples of cases which could be considered 'complex' and therefore need to be independently reviewed by Child in Need Reviewing Officers.

Derby City Council uses a Strengths Based Approach for all work with children and families.


  1. Identifying Children in Need and Consent
  2. Child in Need Work Flow
  3. Child in Need Plans
  4. Reviews of Child in Need Plans
  5. Children in Need Moving to Another Authority - Principles

1. Identifying Children in Need and Consent

Children in Need in Derby are children whose health or development will be significantly impaired without the provision of support, and those who have been assessed with complex and serious needs where, without intervention, the child would become at risk of Significant Harm. Working with children and their families at Child In Need level requires the consent of parents or carers as this is a voluntary service without statutory requirement. If parents refuse consent after the Social Worker has made sure that they have been given full information about the benefits of intervention and support, this refusal should be accepted and recorded. If it is considered that the child is likely to suffer significant harm without social work intervention, then an assessment should be carried out under Section 47 Children Act 1989. Consent is then not required, but parents should be informed of the change of approach and the reasons for the concerns. Parents should be clear about when statutory intervention would be initiated.

Children In Need in specific circumstances:

All Privately Fostered children are defined as Children In Need. A child is Privately Fostered if they are living with a non-immediate relative and will continue to do so for more than 28 days. These children are reviewed by a Child In Need Reviewing Officer throughout the period they remain privately fostered with the first review taking place within 28 days of the notification date. For full details see the Private Fostering Procedure.

Some children with disabilities are considered to be Children in Need; this will include a child who, as a result of their disability, has a substantial and enduring physical, visual, hearing or intellectual impairment AND that resulting from this impairment, the child is limited or prevented from undertaking activities appropriate to their daily living. The Disabled Children Service offer services to children if they meet the threshold for eligibility - (see Integrated Disabled Children's Service Procedure).

Children receiving short breaks services from the Integrated Disabled Children's Service (IDCS), are reviewed Independent Reviewing Officer or Child In Need (CIN) Reviewing Officer under the Child In Need review process. Children who are receiving short breaks from the Residential Service at IDCS will be reviewed by an Independent Reviewing Officer. Children receiving this service from a link carer will be reviewed by a CIN Reviewing Officer. All children receiving this service will be reviewed independently every 6 months as long as they continue to receive this service. All other children receiving services from the Integrated Disabled Children Service who are classified as Children In Need will be reviewed as set out in this procedure.

Young people who are housed under the Derby City's Joint Housing Protocol for 16 and 17 Year Olds are able to decide whether they wish to do this under Child In Need or Child in Care. Those that choose Child In Need will be reviewed 6 monthly by a CIN Reviewing Officer throughout the period they remain in these circumstances. There needs to be evidence on the file that when a child has decided to be CIN, this is kept under review to ensure it remains the most appropriate level of support for the child. Should risk escalate there should be consideration of the child being supported under Children in Care procedures.

There may be cases where the decision is made that the young person's needs would be best met as a Child in Care. The decision making must be evidenced on the child's records and this must be explained to parents and young person.

Children, who become subject to a Supervision Order (including Interim) to someone other than the parent or carer of concern, are Children In Need - These children will be reviewed by CIN Reviewing Officer throughout the period of the Supervision Order with the first review to take place within 28 days of the Order being made.

Children who were subject to a Child Protection Plan which ended, but the Review Child Protection Conference (RCPC) recommended further support at Child In Need level, will have a CIN review date set at the RCPC. The CIN Review should take place within 4 months from the date of the RCPC. These children will be reviewed by a Child In Need Reviewing Officer for this initial review which must proceed even if the plan is for closure. This also applies to children that have been considered at an Initial Child Protection Conference whereby the agreed outcome for the child/ren was for a Child In Need Plan rather than a Child Protection Plan.

For children whom have exited care and are being supported as Children In Need they will also have a review within 4 months of them no longer being Looked After.

2. Child in Need Work Flow

All CIN must have an assessment completed by a Social Worker; this includes CIN held in Multi Agency Teams (MATs). When the assessment is completed by reception service, this will be submitted to Vulnerable Child Meeting (VCM) where a decision will be made as to what level the case should be worked at and where it will be held. Some CIN cases may be worked in multi agency teams, this must be a decision taken in discussion between Social Care and Early Help managers.

For cases that are submitted to VCM and the agreed outcome is for a Single Assessment these will be completed in the locality social care teams.

For cases that are presented at VCM with a Single Assessment that recommends Child In Need support but the outcome of VCM is for Early Help, the receiving DHOS and Reception Service DHOS must have a case discussion within 3 working days of VCM to ensure any element of risk is considered.

For cases that are presented to VCM with a Single Assessment that recommends CIN, but the outcome of VCM is for no further involvement then the family and network must be advised in writing of this outcome and the reason for this. This will be done by the reception Social Worker. For cases that that are presented to VCM with the recommendation for Early Help and the outcome of VCM is that threshold is met for Child In Need intervention, consent of parents / carers must be revisited. CIN involvement requires consent of parents.

All Children in Need require Child in Need Plans which are regularly reviewed through the Child in Need Review Process.

Please click here for a summary / overview of the Child In Need Work Flow.

Points for Best Practice

Children in Need work must actively promote change and include the use of tools (including Progression of Change; DVRIM; Graded Care Profile; Voice of the Child).

Engaging with a child and their family is critical. The work undertaken should be creative and innovative and informed by what is going to work best for this particular child in this particular family.

Successful child in need work is based on good assessment of need and engaging the family proactively in developing clear goals to address need and create change. It is important that all partners to the CIN Plan work together to drive the plan and regularly review progress. It is highly likely that the plan will need to be refined and adapted as it is tested by real situations in family life. For a CIN Plan this will be done within Network Meetings. As a minimum these meetings, which also involve relevant professionals, should take place at 6 weekly intervals but the frequency will need be proportionate to the level of need and complexity of the plan at the current time.

3. Child in Need Plans

All Children in Need must have a current Child in Need Plan. The worker must have a temporary single agency plan during the Single Assessment period. The Social Worker may complete this alongside a children's practitioner or Early Help worker, especially where they are currently involved and have knowledge of the child and family. It is however the responsibility of the Social Worker to identify and evaluate risk, statutory responsibilities and level of intervention following assessment.

We know that families are more likely engage in a plan they helped to develop and when they are recognised as the experts on their own lives. Working in this way means that ownership of change rests with the family and they are more likely to become confident, resilient and independent in their parenting.

The Child In Need Plan will be developed at the initial Network Meeting. The meeting will enable the outcome of the assessment to be shared and the Child In Need Plan to be developed with parents and the multi-agency professionals involved.

Whereby the Single Assessment was completed in reception and has transferred to a locality social care team the newly allocated worker will arrange this meeting to take place within 15 working days from allocation. This meeting will be led by the new worker however it is the expectation that the reception worker will have already shared the Single Assessment prior to this meeting to contribute to the development of the plan.

For Single Assessments completed in locality teams, the worker will arrange this meeting to take place within 15 working days of allocation.

For cases that are to be reviewed by the CIN Reviewing Officer, both above instances, the request for the Initial CIN Review will be made at the completion of the Single Assessment (on LCS). The review date will then be available for the Network Meeting.

Where appropriate, the Child in Need Plan will aim to address the critical issues within 3 months through intensive interventions, where this is not achievable, it is nonetheless envisaged that Children's Social Care intervention will end within 12 months. Exceptions to this include Privately fostered children, children subject to Supervision Orders under CIN, children receiving Short Breaks from residential or link care service, homeless 16 and 17 year olds, 16 and 17 year olds living independently, young offenders and young carers (where needs are not met by alternative service).

All other Child in Need cases that have been open for 12 months, must be escalated to the DHOS to review the on-going CIN involvement and consider whether continuation of this is appropriate or whether escalation or closure is needed. The rationale for the decision making must be recorded on the child/ren's records.

The Child in Need Plan will identify the areas of concern affecting the child or children and set out the changes which are needed. Plans must be outcome focused with the child/ren the focus of each outcome and then the actions required in order to achieve each outcome. It will set out the actions and who is responsible for each action with a clear timescale set using dates. It must be set out in the agreed format and reviewed in supervision.

All Child in Need Plans should be SMART - specific; measurable; achievable; realistic and timely:
  • Be driven by specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child – what are we wanting to achieve for this child/ren?
  • Focus on the issues of concern and things that need to change. For example if school attendance is not an issue this does not need to be part of the CIN Plan;
  • Ensure it addresses the risks and accounts for the complexities faced by the child/ren;
  • One plan that reflects the welfare individual needs of the child/ren;
  • Include realistic, specific actions to achieve the planned outcomes;
  • Where necessary, include a contingency plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
  • Include timescales that support timely progression of the plan;
  • Not be dependent on resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
  • Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of professionals and family members, including the nature and frequency of visits and contact by professionals with children and family members.

Plans must be reviewed and updated within supervision and at Network Meetings. This will ensure the plan reflects the changes and progress made or highlight the increasing concerns due to the lack of progress and improvements. Plans will be reviewed through Child In Need Reviews held within 3 months of the initial Network Meeting then at a minimum of 4 monthly. For children in specific circumstances they will be reviewed as required by their circumstances.

The Lead Professional (allocated Social Care or Early Help Worker) 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 appropriate) and the agencies or other professionals involved in the provision of services under 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. Ideally changes should be made within Network Meetings or Reviews.

4. Reviews of Child in Need Plans

All Children in Need should have their plans regularly reviewed. Child in Need Reviewing Officers will independently review all complex/specific circumstances Child in Need cases and other first reviews for cases that are identified as complex at VCM.

There is no definitive definition of what constitutes a complex case. Cases that would currently meet the criteria are:

  • Children/young people who may be involved in persistent and or serious offending behaviours;
  • Large sibling groups (over 6);
  • Where the parent is a care leaver and Children's Social Care are involved with their young child;
  • Cases where there has not been sufficient improvement over 9 months.
There may be other cases where Team Managers believe Independent oversight would be beneficial. All the 'complex' cases will be identified as complex following assessment by the locality Vulnerable Children's Meeting (VCM). Evidence of the decision needs to be entered on a case note. For any open cases that are identified as needing an Independent Reviewing Officer to chair a Review, the decision is to be made at a Vulnerable Children's Meeting.

Initial Reviews that are being reviewed by CIN Reviewing Officer

Once the assessment is completed, a request for a Review date should be sent to the CIN review team on LCS. The first Review date should be arranged with the CIN Reviewing Team by the initial Network Meeting so this date can be shared with all at the meeting. The initial review is to take place within 3 months of the date of the initial Network Meeting.

Network Meetings

Network Meetings should take place 6 weekly with the date for the next set at each one. The network should review and update the CIN Plan with parents/carers and the professional network. If for any reason the worker is unexpectedly unable to attend on the day, the Network Meeting could proceed with the rest of the group.

Subsequent Reviews

Subsequent reviews will take place at a minimum of 4 monthly intervals and will be chaired by either a Team Manager, Senior Practitioner or suitably experienced Social Worker. If there are significant changes in the family circumstances, or a heightened level of concern an early Review should take place. If a CIN case is held in a Multi-Agency Team, the Review must be chaired by a Social Work qualified Manager, this can be a Early Help manager or a Social Care Manager.


Where the plan is for case closure, this can be done at a Network Meeting. The Derby City and Derbyshire Thresholds Document must be considered and the rationale for closure provided in writing to the family and network. This must be clearly recorded on the child/ren's file. If any professional disagrees with this they must use the Derby City and Derbyshire Multi Agency Dispute Resolution and Escalation Policy. Exceptions to this apply for children in specific circumstances (see below).

Specific Circumstances

Privately Fostered Children: The first Review must take place within 28 days from the date of notification of the private fostering arrangement. Subsequent Reviews will be independently chaired by CIN Reviewing Officer with the second review taking place within 3 months of the initial review and then every 6 months for the first year. For long term stable placements (in excess of a year) consideration should be given as to whether these arrangements can be worked and reviewed under Level 2 Services subject to agreement from the Child In Need Reviewing Officer.

Children delisted from a Child Protection Plan or those considered at Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC) with no Child Protection Plan agreed: The review for children where the multi-agency agreement out of the conference is for a Child In Need Plan, will take place within 4 months of the RCPC or ICPC. This date is set at the conference and must take place even if the plan is to close. For any exceptional circumstances such as parents withdrawing their consent or families moving out of the area, consultation with the CIN Reviewing Officer must take place so they are able to review the matter and agree the circumstances prevent the review being able to proceed.

Children who have previously been Looked After: For children whom are to be supported as Children in Need after they are no longer Looked After, the initial CIN review needs to take place within 4 months of the child/ no longer being Looked After.

Short Breaks through Residential or Link Care: Any children that are starting to receive this service should be booked to have their first review within 6 months of starting to receive the service. For children receiving residential support this review is arranged through the Looked After Review Business Support Team. For children receiving this from a Link Carer, this review is arranged through CIN Reviewing Business Support Team. Subsequent reviews will be done by Reviewing Officer's and dates arranged at each review for the next.

Children who become subject to Supervision Orders (including Interim): Children subject to Supervision Orders whereby they are not reviewed through a Child Protection Plan as they are not with the parent or carer of concern will be reviewed as Children In Need. The first review must stake place within 28 days of the Order being made. Subsequent reviews will be chaired by CIN Reviewing officers and dates arranged at each review for the next.

Young People Living Independently. The initial review will take place within 3 months of the young person starting to live independently. Subsequent reviews will be done by CIN Reviewing officers and dates arranged at each review for the next.

No Recourse to Public Funds: No Child in Need Reviews are held in respect of child/ren where the ONLY issue is No Recourse to Public Funds.

For children in specific circumstances whereby their circumstances change, the CIN Reviewing Team must be alerted to this.

Requirements for Reviews

  • Participation - All children should be supported to participate in their Child in Need Review and it is the Social Care Worker's responsibility to ensure this is considered as to what is appropriate for each individual child. There are many ways for a child or young person to participate including the submission of a wishes and feelings form, a letter or any other format a child or young person wishes to use to express their wishes and feelings at the meeting. They may attend some or all of their Review or meet with the Reviewing Officer before or after the Review. All child/ren or young people attending their Review (or part of their Review) must be prepared by their Social Care Worker prior to the meeting this must be discussed with whoever is chairing the review prior to the meeting. It is also important to consider when it is not appropriate for child/ren to be present at the Review such as young children and/or where there may be conflict/tension and difficult issues being discussed. Where children are unable to provide verbal views, their wishes and feelings must be considered through observations and interactions with them. The views of the children should be considered by all professionals in the network;
  • Complete the pre-meeting Report on LCS. This must be completed and approved by the Team Manager 2 days prior to the Review. The report must be shared with parents/carers and where relevant the young person at least one day prior to the Review;
  • Support the attendance of parents and young person - ensure any issues are discussed with the Reviewing Officer prior to the meeting to ensure the best is gained from the Review;
  • Make a note of the action points during the meeting and updates to the plan;
  • Book interpreter if necessary;
  • If you are required to book a room, the Business Support Team will advise of this when the review is arranged;
  • Ensure the network group and parents have the date with as much notice as possible. Remind network of professionals the need to complete their report and to share this with parents prior to the review (see Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures, Report Forms and Templates). The report must be submitted to CIN Reviewing team at 2 days prior to the review so that the Reviewing Officer will have sight of this prior to the review. They need to bring paper copies of this to reviews themselves.

The purpose of the Review is to review the progress and effectiveness of the Child in Need Plan. It should focus in particular on avoiding drift, ensuring that Social Care involvement ends as soon as appropriate, that interventions are effective and appropriate decisions to escalate are made if there is no progress or the situation deteriorates.

The outcome of a Review will be one of the following recommendations:

  1. That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Services intervention, through full or partial achievement of the desired outcomes, which will result in a recommendation to the Team Manager that the case be stepped down to multi-agency Level 2 intervention or universal services remain involved with identification of a Lead Professional;
  2. 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;
  3. That the child's needs have changed or are sufficiently complex and they require additional services to safeguard and promote their welfare, such as to justify a further Assessment to be undertaken;
  4. For children in specific circumstances, the outcome of the review may be for closure due to the change or pending change of their circumstances, for example when a Supervision Order is about to end with no further need for involvement. Closure for children not in specific circumstances can agree closure outside of the Child In Need Review. Where the outcome of the Review is an amendment to the Child in Need Plan, the Lead Professional 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. Agreed updates to the plan will be provided within the minutes of the review.

Requests for CIN Review by CIN Reviewing Officer – LCS Actions for workers

  • A request for a Child in Need Review must be made via LCS. The request must be sent to the worktray of the Child In Need Reviewing Team 'CIN Review Admin';
  • Set up the meeting on LCS ensuring all invitees are added including the relevant Reviewing Officer and identify them as the chair. For those professionals that are not created on LCS workers or their CSO must contact Business Apps with the details of such professionals and they will be created;
  • Ensure the report is approved and the review outcomes form is assigned to the correct reviewing officer. Also to ensure any open plans are approved. If any of these are not done, the minutes for the Review cannot be added and therefore cannot be distributed;
  • The minutes for cases that are closing to Social Care following the Review will be prioritised and completed within a week (unless Annual Leave prevents this).

5. 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, a move by children and their families to another local authority may be a positive one. However, where the move appears unplanned or children and their families 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 Social Care Single Assessment Guidance). 

  • 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 as being vulnerable in some way, 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 the family to access 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, 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.