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1.4.10 Need to Know - Informing the Director Children's Social Care about Serious Issues


This chapter identifies the sorts of situations that have particular risks and sensitivities and the Director should be briefed. Practitioners and 1st line managers should be fully familiar with this.


Notifications of Significant Events Procedure

This chapter was added to the manual in March 2015.


  1. Background
  2. Issues Which Should Always be Reported to the Director Children’s Social Care
  3. Cases Which Must be Reported to a Head of Service Who Will Decide Whether to Notify the Director
  4. Procedure

1. Background

It is important that senior managers are briefed at the right time about the right sorts of issues. There are 2 main reasons for this. Firstly, so that senior managers are aware of serious risks within the organisation and therefore that these risks are managed at the right operational level. Secondly, in well organised departments, senior managers are effectively briefed about important issues in advance so that they are well placed to respond to enquiries from councillors, the press, or partner agencies.

Sometimes it is a matter of fine judgement whether an issue is sufficiently serious to inform the Director, however there are a number of circumstances where the Director should always be informed. If in doubt discuss it with your line manager.

2. Issues Which Should Always be Reported to the Director Children’s Social Care

  1. The death of a child where abuse or Neglect is suspected;
  2. Death or serious injury to a Child Looked After;
  3. Death or serious injury to a Child subject to a Child Protection Plan;
  4. When a Child Looked After is missing for 48 hours or more;
  5. When a child with a CP Plan is missing for 72 hours or more. This applies both to a child who goes missing alone, and a child who goes missing with their family, e.g. child removed from the country against the terms of the CP Plan;
  6. Cases where there is a reasonable suspicion of organised abuse. This can include ritual abuse, child trafficking, or network of abuse on the internet;
  7. Sexual Exploitation of a Looked After Child;
  8. Serious incidents of violence against staff;
  9. Death or serious injury to staff or service user through an accident at work;
  10. Allegations of Gross Misconduct against staff.

3. Cases Which Must be Reported to a Head of Service Who Will Decide Whether to Notify the Director

  1. Missing children who do not fall into the above category, but because of other factors – e.g. age + vulnerability – are at serious risk of Significant Harm;
  2. Children Looked After charged with a serious crime;
  3. Children Looked After removed from the UK jurisdiction in an unplanned way;
  4. Cases where there is a case of significant media interest, including trials of YOS clients, children in care etc;
  5. A child with a CP Plan made homeless;
  6. A Child Looked After or a child with a CP Plan out of Education for 3 months;
  7. Serious concerns about practice within the department that have not been resolved by managers;
  8. LADO cases where allegations of abuse against staff are substantiated or where it involves a high ranking member of staff – e.g. Headteacher;
  9. Children Looked After who are expected to die within 12 months;
  10. Serious violent incident (involving a YOT client) either as perpetrator or victim.

4. Procedure

Cases under category (2) will need an immediate briefing for the Director. This would usually be completed by the social worker and / or Advanced Practitioner. It should consist of the following sections:

  1. Basic information relating to the child, including the legal status;
  2. What is the nature of the concern? Why does the director need to be informed?
  3. Action being taken to deal with/the issue;
  4. Date when an update is expected;
  5. Who to contact for further details.

The briefing should be sent to the Practice Group Lead (PGL) with copies to the Head of Service for any amendments. If there is no response by the end of the working day during which the concern arose, then it needs to be sent to the Director anyway, with copies to the PGL and the Head of Service.

For cases under category (3) a full briefing need not be prepared, however the Head of Service will need enough information to make the decision as to whether to inform the Director. If it is decided that the Director is to be briefed, then a full briefing will need to be prepared as for category 2 above. However, even for full briefings, the amount of information needs to be proportionate to the circumstances. There will be occasions where brief information is acceptable, e.g. where the speed of the notification is vital. The Director can request further information if required.

If in doubt, discuss it with your line manager.