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3.1.8 Children subject to Dual Planning Process - Looked After Reviews and Child Protection Conferences

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Looked After Children Review Process
  3. Child Protection Conference Process
  4. Circumstances in which Looked After Children may be the subject of Child Protection Plans
  5. Children who were not the subject of Child Protection Plans prior to becoming Looked After
  6. Child previously the subject of a Child Protection Plan or Legal Order where rehabilitation is being considered
  7. Integration of the Child Protection and Looked After Children Systems
  8. Discontinuation of Child Protection Plans
  9. Executive Decision to Discontinue a Child Protection Plan

    Appendix 1: Working Together to Safeguard Children 2010 (Paragraphs 5.144 to 5.148) (Archived)


1. Introduction

This guidance applies to children who are Looked After by the Local Authority either on a voluntary basis Section 20, Children Act 1989 or under a Court Order.

It is based on the premise that children should not generally be the subject of both the child protection and Care Planning Processes. When both planning processes are in operation it can result in unnecessary duplication. There can be confusion about which forum is making key decisions resulting in risk factors being overlooked. This is further compounded in cases where the Court process is also underway. It can be difficult and stressful for families to attend the various meetings and understand the differing processes. There are also resource implications for professionals attending the meetings.

The purpose of the guidance therefore is to ensure that children are subject to these dual plans for the shortest possible period of time whilst ensuring their continuing protection. The overall intention is to ensure that the child protection and care planning processes are integrated in a child-centred and non-bureaucratic way


2. Looked After Children Review Process

See also Looked After Reviews Procedure.

The Local Authority has a duty to ensure that Looked After children are not put at risk of Significant Harm.

The Looked After Review process must always consider the safeguarding issues for the child in relation to such areas as contact, rehabilitation with family members or risky behaviour such as criminal behaviour or absconding.

It should be remembered that any major changes to the Care Plan can only be made at the LAC Review.


3. Child Protection Conference Process

Child protection conferences should act in accordance with inter-agency safeguarding procedures in determining whether individual children should remain the subjects of Child Protection Plans.

Whether a child remains the subject of a Child Protection Plan should be determined by whether the threshold continues to be met. Other considerations, such as the message a continuing Child Protection Plan may send to the Court or as a flagging mechanism to agencies, should be avoided.

The conference has to consider whether a meaningful Child Protection Plan is necessary in addition to the plans being made in the Court arena and in the LAC process. This is in order to avoid duplication and to ensure that only those processes that are of immediate significance to the plans for the child are in operation at any one time.

The first Child Protection Review Conference following the child becoming Looked After should address the question as to whether a Child Protection Plan is still required. Under consideration should be the following:

  • The Care Plan for the child and the timescales;
  • What are the child protection needs, for example, in relation to the possibility of rehabilitation/issues arising from contact?

If it is determined that a Child Protection Plan needs to continue, the circumstances should be made explicit in the meeting and set out in the record of the conference.


4. Circumstances in which Looked After Children may be the subject of Child Protection Plans

(N.B. This list is not exhaustive).

Children who became Looked After whilst they were already the subject of a Child Protection Plan. These may include those who have been made the subject of a Legal Order or Accommodated under Section 20.

Children Accommodated under Section 20 where the plan is for them to return home within 3 months.

Children who do not have an agreed Permanence Plan.

Children who are subject to Care Proceedings but who remain in the care of their families e.g. at home on an Interim Care Order or living with parents in a residential assessment.

Children who are subject to Care Proceedings where no Order is in place and for whom the plan could be rehabilitation.

Children who spend significant time at home e.g. in respite care.


5. Children who were not the subject of Child Protection Plans prior to becoming Looked After

If a child becomes Looked After as a result of suffering Significant Harm, consideration should be given to convening an Initial Child Protection Conference.

The child may be the subject of a Legal Order, Police Protection or may have been Accommodated under Section 20. If there is no immediate plan for rehabilitation it is likely that a Child Protection Conference may not be necessary and the route to be followed will be the care planning process.

However, there are circumstances where a Child Protection Conference may be required, for example:

  • Where it is considered that the parents may be unlikely to adhere to the agreement for the child to remain Accommodated under Section 20 or where the child has been removed from Accommodation;
  • Where there are questions about the level of parental co-operation;
  • Where alternative carers may not be able to engage fully with the plan;
  • Where the child has been removed on an Emergency Protection Order or under Police Protection and it is thought that an application to the Court for a Legal Order may not be successful;
  • Where a child has previously suffered Significant Harm when living with his or her parent and is being placed back at home. In these circumstances, the requirements of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 should be followed -as set out in the Placement with Parents Procedure.

N.B. These examples are not exhaustive.


6. Child previously the subject of a Child Protection Plan or Legal Order where rehabilitation is being considered

If a Child Protection Plan was ended because the child became Looked After and rehabilitation is being considered, a decision should be made about whether a Child Protection Conference should be re-convened. There may be certain cases where a Child Protection Plan could be necessary to reduce any remaining risks during the rehabilitation period.


7. Integration of the Child Protection and Looked After Children Systems

Both Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO) and Child Protection Coordinators (CPC) have a responsibility to ensure that the two processes are integrated as far as possible in order to plan for the child.

There should be both informal and formal communication between the IRO and the CPC in relation to the plans for each individual child.

IRO’s should be invited to attend Child Protection Conference and Child Protection Review Conferences. The IRO should ideally attend the conference at which it is planned to discontinue the c. If they are unable to attend the conference IRO’s are expected to read the minutes of the meeting to ensure that they are aware of all the risk issues.

Consideration should be given to the timing of conferences and Looked After Reviews to ensure that information from the Conference is taken to the Looked After Review meeting to inform the Care Plan.

Consideration should be given to inviting relevant members of the professional network to Looked After Reviews if there is a role for them in safeguarding the child concerned.

IRO’s should specifically address issues relating to the protection of the child within the Looked After Review process.


8. Discontinuation of Child Protection Plans

Whenever a Looked After Child is the subject of a Child Protection Plan consideration should be given to the discontinuation of the plan. The first Child Protection Review Conference following the child becoming Looked After should consider whether a Child Protection Plan is still necessary. The conference will need to consider the Care Plan and address any future child protection issues for example in relation to contact and potential rehabilitation.

Discontinuation of Child Protection Plans should be considered by the second Looked After Review.

If the conference agrees that a Child Protection Plan is no longer required as a consequence of the child being Accommodated or being made the subject of an Interim Care Order, there should be a contingency plan to reconvene the conference if these safeguards are no longer in place.


9. Executive Decision to Discontinue a Child Protection Plan

If it is apparent at an Initial or Review Child Protection Conference that the Local Authority is seeking a Legal Order, for example in relation to an unborn child, the Child Protection Coordinator (Chair of the Conference) may seek agreement from conference members that the Child Protection Plan can be discontinued if an Order is granted. This will pave the way for an executive decision to discontinue the Child Protection Plan.

There may some cases where a Child Protection Plan could be discontinued without the need for formal Review Conference some of which would have been likely to be inquorate. These are likely to be cases where the child has been removed from the parents under a Legal Order and planning for them is then being made in the Court arena. For example, the child may now be placed in foster care out of the borough and the original child protection network may no longer have any involvement with the child.

In such circumstances, the following steps should be taken:

The Team Manager should contact the Child Protection Coordinator explaining the plan for safeguarding the child and why it is appropriate to discontinue the Child Protection Plan. This discussion should take place at least 25 working days before the Review Conference had been scheduled.

If the Child Protection Coordinator is in agreement to discontinue the Child Protection Plan, the Child Protection Coordinator should discuss the case with the IRO.

If both the Child Protection Coordinator and the IRO are in agreement, the Child Protection Coordinator will write to all agencies involved to consult them on discontinuing the plan. This letter will outline the current Care Plan for the child.

Unless an objection in writing is received by the Child Protection Coordinator within 10 working days of the letter being sent out, the Quality Assurance Unit will discontinue the Child Protection Plan. A formal notification will be sent out from the Quality Assurance Unit to all the original agencies invited to the Initial Child Protection Conference.

If an objection in writing is received it will normally be the case that the Review Conference will be held. Any disputes in relation to this should be referred to the Head of Social Work Improvement and Quality Assurance.


Appendix 1: Working Together to Safeguard Children 2010 (Paragraphs 5.144 to 5.148) (Archived)

5.144 In most cases where a child who is the subject of a child protection plan becomes looked after it will no longer be necessary to maintain the child protection plan. There are however a relatively few cases where safeguarding issues will remain and a looked after child should also have a child protection plan. These cases are likely to be where a local authority obtains an interim care order in family proceedings but the child or young person who is the subject of the a child protection plan remains at home, pending the outcome of the final hearing or where a young person’s behaviour is likely to result in significant harm to themselves or others.
5.145 Where a looked after child remains the subject of a child protection plan it is expected that there will be a single planning and reviewing process, led by the IRO, which meets the requirements of both this guidance and the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 and accompanying statutory guidance Putting Care into Practice.
5.146 The systems and processes for reviewing child protection plans and plans for looked after children should be carefully evaluated by the local authority and consideration given to how best to ensure the child protection aspects of the care plan reviewed as apart of the overall reviewing process leading to the developments of a single plan. Given that a review is a process and not a single meeting, both reviewing systems should be aligned in an un bureaucratic way to enable the full range of the child’s or young person’s needs to be considered in the looked after child’s care planning and reviewing processes.
5.147 It is recognised that there are different requirements for independence of the IRO function compared to the chair of the child protection conference. In addition, it is important to note that the child protection conference is required to be a multi-agency forum while children for the most part want as few external people as possible at a review meeting where they are present. However, it will not be possible for the IRO to carry out his or her statutory function without considering the child’s safety in the context of the care planning process.
5.148 This means that the timing of the review of the child protection aspects of the care plan should be the same as the review under the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010, to ensure that up to date information in relation to the child’s welfare and safety is considered within the review meeting and informs the overall care planning process. The looked after child’s review when reviewing the child protection aspects of the plan should also consider whether the criteria continue to be met for the child to remain the subject of a child protection plan. Significant changes to the care plan should only be made following the looked after child’s review.

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