View LCP Procedures View LCP Procedures

1.2.13 Monitoring Visits to Children Subject to a Child Protection Plan

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated throughout in September 2016 to reflect the current organisational structure and to add two new sections, Section 7, Changes to Frequency of Visits between Child Protection Conferences and Section 8, Visiting When Step Down from CP Plan to CIN Plan. These two new sections identify the need to discuss with the manager and Conference chair where a reduction in visiting can take place. Any such actions should be taken on a graduated basis and, where the child(ren) remain with a Child Protection Plan, the minimum visiting will be 4 weekly.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Undertaking Home Visits
  3. Home Visits Where Children are not seen
  4. Action to be taken if a Child is not seen by Social Worker within 4 weeks
  5. Action to be taken if a Child is not seen for 6 Weeks by any Agency
  6. Recording Home Visits and Contacts With Children
  7. Changes to Frequency of Visits Between Child Protection Conferences
  8. Visiting When There is a Step Down from CP Plan to CIN Plan


1. Introduction

The following procedures are minimum standards in ensuring that children who are subject to a Child Protection Plan are properly seen, including visited at home and monitored.

The London Child Protection Procedures outlines in Part A, Section 5, Implementation of child protection plans the role of the Lead Social Worker to:

  • See the child (infants and babies to be seen awake) as agreed in the Child Protection Plan. The frequency of visiting must be determined in the Child Protection Plan and reviewed by the Core Group;
  • See the child on their own on at least alternate occasions;
  • Explain the plan to the child in a manner which is in accordance with their age and understanding and agree the plan with the child;
  • See the child’s bedroom as agreed in the plan but not less than alternate occasions;
  • Undertake direct work with the child and family in accordance with the Child Protection Plan, taking into account the child's wishes and feelings and the views of the parents in so far as they are consistent with the child's welfare.

Southwark monitors that home visits are undertaken to see all children every four weeks. This is a minimum standard for home visits to children subject to a Child Protection Plan. In most cases the Child Protection Plan will require that the lead social worker has contact with a child more frequently. This typically would be every 10 working days although contacts may be at school, or another venue and not the home. Social workers are required to follow the home monitoring visiting patterns laid out in the Child Protection Plan if this requires more than one home visit in any four week period.

There is also an expectation that children are to be seen by a member of the Core Group every 10 working days, e.g. School, Nursery, Health Visitor. This should be also clearly indicated in the Child Protection Plan and reviewed at core group meetings.

It is the Lead Social Worker’s responsibility to ensure all children with a Child Protection Plan should be visited within their homes as part of the continued monitoring and assessment of risk. During such visits, the child should be seen and spoken to alone (dependent on age).


2. Undertaking Home Visits

Social workers should be clear with the family regarding the purpose of the visit.

Social workers must ensure children’s bedrooms are seen according to the Child Protection Plan at least on alternate home visits (see London Child Protection Procedures).

With parental agreement, children should be seen alone by the Lead Social Worker to ascertain their views at least once every four weeks. Consideration to the use of an interpreter for talking with children where English is not the first language should be addressed as part of the Child Protection Plan.

Babies should be seen awake as a minimum once every calendar month; a Core Group member should see the baby every 10 working days.

Following any social work visit, the ‘Record of a Child Protection visit’ should be completed for all children who have a Child Protection Plan - see Section 6, Recording of Home Visits and Contacts with Children.


3. Home Visits Where Children are not seen

If a home visit to a child subject to a Child Protection Plan is undertaken according to the Child Protection Plan and the child is not seen, the Lead Social Worker should discuss this with his or her Advanced Practitioner or Practice Group Lead within 24 hours. The Advanced Practitioner /Practice Group Lead should assess the risks and take emergency action if the child is deemed to be at immediate risk of harm or set a timeframe for a further visit to be undertaken at least within 5 working days either by the Lead Social Worker or a duty worker.

If a child is still not seen after the further visit is undertaken, the Lead Social Worker should discuss this again with a Advanced Practitioner or Practice Group Lead within 24 hours.

The Lead Social Worker should undertake checks with other agencies to establish if the child has been seen during the last two weeks whilst attending school or nursery, or whether any other professional during the course of his or her duties has seen the child.

The Lead Social Worker, Advanced Practitioner or duty social worker should attempt to make contact with the family directly or through any other agency and ensure that a visit is undertaken within 24 hours of the last visit.

If the Lead Social Worker has difficulty obtaining direct access to the child, the relevant Practice Group Lead or Head of Service, and the Chair of the Child of the Child Protection Conference should be informed as well as other Core Group Members.

In these circumstances formal agreement must be reached that a member of another agency carry out the face to face contact, or that a Child Protection Review Conference is called. Such a decision must be recorded and authorised by managers of the agencies concerned.


4. Action to be taken if a Child is not seen by a Social Worker within 4 Weeks

If a child is not seen by a Lead Social Worker during a period of 4 weeks, the Advanced Practitioner or Practice Group Lead must assess the risks according to the concerns relating to that specific child/ren and decide if emergency action is required. If the risk is not assessed to be immediate, the Advanced Practitioner/ Practice Group Lead should make contact with the family either by telephone or letter within 3 working days to set up a meeting with the parent within 3 working days of the telephone contact or letter being sent.

The Lead Social Worker and Advanced Practitioner should meet with the parent and discuss the importance of social work visits to monitor any child with a Child Protection Plan. A written agreement should be drawn up regarding future contact with the child/ren including home visits by social work staff.

The Lead Social Worker should inform the Core Group of the difficulties in obtaining direct access to the child or children.


5. Action to be taken if a Child is not seen for 6 Weeks by any Agency

Where the child has not been seen for 6 weeks by any agency involved with the family, the Child Protection Chair should be notified and an urgent Core Group meeting should be set up, chaired by an Advanced Practitioner or Practice Group Lead to discuss an action plan for seeing the children / family. If necessary, alternative strategies should be put in place to establish the best opportunity to engage with the family, for example through a teacher or health visitor, if this brings a solution to seeing the child.

The Lead Social Worker should also discuss this action plan with the Conference Chair who is responsible for chairing the Child Protection Review Conference for the particular child.


6. Recording Home Visits and Contacts With Children

The Lead Social Worker must maintain a record of a Child Protection Visit for every home visit. The record needs to indicate:

  • Time and date of the visit stating who was present, confirming the Lead Social Worker spoke with the child, whether the child was seen alone or providing a clear reason why not;
  • Any information gained or observations made during the visit relevant to the identified risks to the child. If the view about the risks has worsened greatly this should be discussed with a manager as soon as possible;
  • Circumstances of all family members including details of any new adults or young people present in the home;
  • Specific information about key subjects such as sleeping arrangements and if the bedroom/s for the child/ren were seen;
  • Factual reports of the child’s presentation and behaviour, including the child’s wishes and feelings;
  • Any new incidents or injuries which must be subject to full Child Protection Enquiries.
The Lead Social worker should complete a case note for every contact with a child which is not at a home visit clearly indicating the type of contact e.g. Direct Work and a title which indicates information about the contact e.g. “visit to a child at school”. The record needs to include details of where the child was seen and if they were seen alone. It also needs to record the child’s presentation and behaviour and their wishes and feelings.


7. Changes to Frequency of Visits Between Child Protection Conferences 

Any proposed changes to the frequency of visits and/or contact with children as laid out in the Child Protection Plan, between Child Protection Conferences, must be discussed with and agreed by the Child Protection Chair, who should complete a CP consultation record. Where there is a difference of professional opinion, the matter should be referred to respective line managers in order that some agreed way forward can be agreed. However no child subject to a Child Protection plan should be visited at home less than every 4 weeks, and usually the child should be seen more frequently by the Lead Social Worker than 4 weekly, unless it is part of a clear plan to reduce contact as a CP plan comes to ends.

Any changes to frequency of visits between Child Protection Conferences must be recorded either as a CP Consultation or Management decision in supervision. 


8. Visiting When There is a Step Down from CP Plan to CIN Plan

The visiting/contact arrangements need to be agreed by the professional network and Child Protection Chair at the conference where the CP Plan is ended and a CIN Plan established. Usually there would only be a gradual reduction in visiting as the family and children will, most likely, still be in need of continued support. This is especially true where there have been considerable concerns regarding risks to the child/ren or their vulnerability, for example:

  • Where the children have been subject to a CP plan for a second or subsequent time;
  • Have been subject to a Child Protection plan for over 15 months; or
  • Where there have been specific concerns such a Child Sexual Exploitation.

Contact with the children should not be reduced unless there are clear indications that the family/protective network in the community are managing the risks. This may be set out in a family plan developed from a Family Group Conference for example and would then form part of the CIN Plan.   

End