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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 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.

See also Children and Young People Aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure.


This chapter was updated in May 2018 by adding a new Section 4, Children in Need Moving to Another Authority - Principles. Information and communication is important between the respective local authorities to ensure appropriate services continue for the child and family and, where relevant, any risk of harm is recognised and identified with the receiving local authority. It should be noted that the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child lies with the local authority where the child is to be found.


1. Child in Need Meetings
2. Child in Need Plans
3. Reviews of Child in Need Plans
  3.1 When to Convene a Child in Need Review Meeting
  3.2 Key Aims and Functions
  3.3 The Outcome of a Review
4. Children in Need Moving to Another Authority - Principles
5. Managing Child in Need Meetings
6. Role of Social Worker and their Manager

1. Child in Need Meetings

Child in Need  Meetings (CIN Meetings) will follow an Assessment where the assessment has concluded that a package of family support is required to meet the child's needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

These are to be used to determine needs, make plans to meet them, and evaluate progress in respect of children "in need" where the threshold is not met for convening a Child Protection Conference. This includes managing situations where the behaviour of children and young people places themselves or others at risk.

CIN meetings should involve all the practitioners who are currently working to support the child and family, or who may have a contribution to make.

CIN meetings are a means of ensuring that practitioners and parents, along with children and other family members, as appropriate, are able to identify and address concerns about a child "in need" - that is, a child whose needs are not being met and whose health or development is, or is likely to be, seriously compromised.

The meeting will usually be chaired by the social worker. It may be appropriate for the social worker’s line manager (or a senior social worker or senior practitioner) to chair the meeting, if there are complex issues, the social worker is newly qualified, or the social worker requires support to manage the meeting for any other reason.

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

It is important to reach as much agreement as possible with everyone about:

The reasons why the meeting is to be held, and what it aims to achieve - and to agree these with the parents and practitioners. This means being clear about its purpose and focus and about required outcomes both before and during the meeting.

Who should attend?

  1. The relevant social worker should discuss potential attendees for the Meeting with the child and the parents/carers prior to arrangements being made for the meeting;
  2. Where the meeting is to be held. It will be important that an appropriate venue suitable for the child and their family is  used for the meeting. Consideration must be given to transport, timing and any child care issues, and access for attendees with disabilities and/or physical mobility issues. Where a child is attending a meeting and is of school age the meeting should be held outside of school time, wherever possible.

2. Child in Need Plans

Most Child in Need Plans will envisage that Children's Services intervention will end within twelve months. However, some children and families may require longer term support, for example children with disabilities.

The Child in Need Plan must 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.

Essential elements of a the Child In Need Plan (CIN Plan) should:

  • A clear statement and agreement about  the needs and issues to be addressed;
  • Agreement about, and plans for, any further assessments that may be needed. This includes clarifying what assessment is needed, and why; how it will be achieved, and within what timescales and who will be involved. If needs are "complex" this also needs clarifying;
  • How to complete any updating assessments and necessary specialist assessments;
  • Agreement about what outcomes need to be achieved. Include specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to promote and safeguard the welfare of the child; and address the identified needs; realistic strategies and specific actions to achieve the planned outcomes;
  • Include a contingency plan to be followed if circumstances change significantly and require prompt action;
  • Not be dependent on resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
  • 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  evaluated. Parents must have a clear understanding of what changes they are expected to make.

The aims of work with the child and family should always be clearly identified along with timescales. There should be good understanding of:

  1. What family members want to achieve, and how they would like to go about achieving it;
  2. What sort of support and assistance will be provided to the child and family by professionals in order to maximise the chances of success. This includes being clear about the reasons for professional involvement; and what services or support will be provided, and by who and where and when and how;
  3. How success will be measured;
  4. Timescales - both for individual components of the plan and for achieving meaningful necessary change for the child.

If the child's needs are "complex", the plan must also clarify:

  1. What must, or must not, happen or change in order for the child's needs to be met. Any differences between the professional's and parent's perspectives should be identified;
  2. What may or will happen if the CIN Plan is not effective in ensuring that the child's needs are appropriately met.

Within the CIN Plan, a Written Agreement between the people involved in a particular task can be effective in agreeing the detail about what is expected and how the task will contribute to the overall plan.

Agreement about arrangements for managing whatever plan or action is agreed including review and evaluation of progress

This includes determining:

  1. A Lead Professional who will be a Social Worker;
  2. Timescales and responsibilities for ensuring that agreed actions are carried out;
  3. Arrangements for sharing information. This includes sharing with children, and confidentiality both within the family group and the professional network;
  4. Arrangements for reviewing progress.

The frequency of Children in Need Review Meetings will depend on the child's needs and the actions agreed in the Child In Need Plan but frequency will never be less than three monthly.

All CIN Plans must be clearly and comprehensively recorded on Frameworki.

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 Lead Professional will be responsible for implementing the plan including making 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.

3. Reviews of Child in Need Plans

3.1 When to Convene a Child in Need Review Meeting

A CIN review meeting should be held as and when necessary, given the nature of the CIN Plan. They should be planned from one meeting to the next, but may be brought forward if there are significant changes in the family circumstances and child’s needs.

Reviews should be conducted at intervals agreed with the Social Worker’s  line manager, which will be at least every three months, unless there are exceptional circumstances when timescales can be longer. This can include disabled children whose circumstances remain consistent and the services provided do not require such a regular review.

Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of a Child in Need Plan must be responded to in line with the London Safeguarding Children Board Procedures.

In the case of Children who have been subject to a Child Protection Plan, at the Conference where the decision is taken not to continue with the CP Plan, or if it is decided not to register the Children at the culmination of an Initial Child Protection conference, then an outline plan should be drawn up at that meeting to be reviewed by the Chair at the Child in need review meeting.

Where a Child ceases to be Looked after and is returning to their family a Child in Need meeting should be arranged at the final review and the appropriate Chair identified.

3.2 Key Aims and Functions

Every CIN review meeting must do the following:

  1. The Review will generally take place within a meeting, unless the manager agrees otherwise. The Social Worker or line manager will usually chair the meeting. If the case is not allocated, the manager of the responsible team must undertake the review or arrange for it to be undertaken on his/her behalf;
  2. The purpose of the Review is to ensure that the services provided are contributing to the achievement of the objectives within the time-scales set. and are promoting the needs of the child;
  3. Review progress of the CIN plan previously agreed. This must include receiving reports from everyone who has an identified responsibility for any part of the CIN plan - and from the parents and child as appropriate. There must be evidence of change;
  4. The views of the parents and child must be represented. In some circumstances they may be presented by the social worker and/or another practitioner;
  5. Evaluating progress regarding the previously agreed CIN plan against previously agreed outcome measures. In particular it must identify and address any difficulties that may have arisen regarding the contribution of parents or practitioners;
  6. Re-evaluate previous concerns, and reach clear understandings about the child's needs at the time of the review. If there is no evidence of positive change over a period of 6 months since the first CIN review a decision must be made with a view to escalate the level of intervention;
  7. This means agreeing what outcomes still need to be achieved, and renegotiating, if necessary, all aspects of the previous CIN Plan;
  8. Where it is proposed that a complex package of support being provided under a Child in Need Plan should continue beyond 12 months there should be a specific review chaired by the manager of the responsible team. Exceptions to this will be those cases where the plan acknowledges the need for longer term support, for example in relation to children who meet the criteria for a service in relation to a disability;
  9. All decisions made should be recorded on the child’s electronic record, together with reasons, and dated;
  10. A copy of the record should be sent to the child (if old enough), parent and all other participants in the Review process.

3.3 The Outcome of a Review

  1. That the child is no longer a Child in Need requiring Children's Social Care Services intervention, which will result in a recommendation to the team manager 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;
  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 CIN Plan;
  3. 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.

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.  Individual professionals or agencies may, of course, continue to provide services to a child who is not "in need" as defined by the Children Act 1989.

4. 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 Assessments Procedure). 

For Children Looked After see Out of Area Placements 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;

When families who have children subject to CIN plans decide to move borough and concerns exist in relation to the children’s safety and well being, the following practice actions in Sutton should apply:

  • Discussion is had with the family regarding concerns and advise them that the LA will be making contact with the borough they are transferring too;
  • Contact is made with the incoming borough’s MASH or front door team via a phone call to alert them that the family are moving to their area and to establish how a referral is to be made;
  • The referral form is to be fully completed on the day the family move - along with any relevant additional documents including any recent assessments, reviews as well as an up to date chronology and case closure summary. These need to be sent securely given the level of personal information being transferred;
  • The details of who the case has been discussed with, what was sent, to where and when needs to be recorded on the child’s file as part of the closure summary;
  • The professional network in Sutton needs to be advised of the families move and the new address/school details shared in order that other agencies can transfer records as appropriate;
  • Before the family leaves the borough - they should be given the details for the day and out of hours social care services in the borough they are moving to.

  • 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 Practitioners Providing Safeguarding Services to Children, Young People, Parents and Carers;

    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.

5. Managing Child In Need Meetings

Child In Need Planning Meetings require a degree of structure as they are a key element in addressing the significant needs of a child. The degree of structure will depend on whether the child's needs are complex as defined elsewhere in this guidance.

Where Children have been subject to a CP plan, the first CIN meeting should be chaired by the social worker’s line manager and the outline plan drawn up within the meeting.

6. Role of Social Worker and their Manager

The Social Worker must ensure that CIN Meetings and plans meet the needs of the child and family. The social worker's line manager must support the social worker throughout the process, and ensure they are able to achieve all that is required of them.

In particular the Social Worker must:

  1. Establish and record the reasons why the meeting is to be held, and what it aims to achieve - and agree these with the parents and any other practitioners involved. This means being clear about its purpose and focus, about required outcomes and doing this both before and during the meeting;
  2. Determine, in discussion with the parents and child, as appropriate, who should attend;
  3. Determine, in discussion with the parents, where the meeting is to be held.

They should ensure that these arrangements are explained to the parents and the child, as appropriate.

The Social Worker is responsible for ensuring that the CIN planning meeting clearly identifies the following:

  1. A clear and agreed statement of the child's needs;
  2. A plan to address identified needs, or to undertake any further evaluation, or to explore possible issues or solutions;
  3. Agreement about who will do what and by what time;
  4. Agreement about what would be considered acceptable achievement in terms of meeting identified outcomes. It is imperative that parents or carers have a clear understanding of what changes they need to make to meet the needs of their child.