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3.6 Implementation of the Child Protection Plan - Lead Social Worker and Core Group Responsibilities

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in May 2021 to reflect The Core Group must meet initially within 10 working days of the initial Child Protection Conference, and thereafter at a frequency agreed by the Core Group, no less than once every six weeks, sufficient to promote effective work between the agencies, to monitor progress and agree changes to the Child Protection Plan.


Contents

  1. The Role of the Lead Social Worker
  2. The Role of the Lead Social Worker's Supervisor
  3. The Core Group
  4. The Child Protection Plan


1. The Role of the Lead Social Worker

Each child who is subject of a Child Protection Plan should have a named Lead Social Worker. The named Lead Social Worker should be a qualified and experienced social worker from Children's Social Care.

Having the lead role among members of the Core Group, the Lead Social Worker is responsible for ensuring that the Outline Child Protection Plan is developed into a more detailed plan and written agreement, by the Core Group.

The Lead Social Worker should ensure that a Single Assessment is completed, with contributions as appropriate from other members of the Core Group.

The Lead Social Worker should also:

  • Maintain regular contact with relevant agencies whether they are members of the Core Group or not;
  • Act to co-ordinate the actions of professionals and family members in implementing the plan;
  • Act as a focal point for the communication of information between members of the Core Group;
  • Together with the Core Group, but also on a continuous basis, review the progress of the Child Protection Plan in relation to increased likelihood of suffering Significant Harm against the objectives set out in the plan.

The Lead Social Worker has specific responsibilities to see the child at a minimum of once every four weeks, unless specified as more frequent in the Child Protection Plan, and to maintain contact with and visit other family members on a regular basis. This must include seeing the child alone or a baby when awake at least every 4 weeks between each Child Protection Conference.

The Lead Social Worker should regularly ascertain the child's feelings, and keep the child up to date with the Child Protection Plan and any developments or changes.

As part of the ongoing review of the Child Protection Plan, the child should be seen at home and the Lead Social Worker should be satisfied that the child is being suitably cared for in the home environment. For example the child's sleeping arrangements should be viewed, along with other aspects of the home such as cooking facilities and the availability of food, to ascertain whether a child's basic needs are being met.

The Lead Social Worker should record:

  • Contact and discussion with professionals and agencies;
  • Details of all visits made to family members by the Lead Social Worker;
  • Confirmation that the Lead Social Worker spoke with the child (including if alone), or providing a clear reason why not;
  • What the child is saying.

The Lead Social Worker, rather than any co-working social worker, is responsible for notifying members of the Core Group, other agencies and the Safeguarding Unit of any change of circumstances such as changes to the household, change of address and any temporary or permanent change to the child's placement, as soon as possible.

The Lead Social Worker is immediately responsible to and supervised by a Team Manager. The Lead Social Worker should keep the Team Manager informed of any difficulties in implementing the plan, visiting the family or seeing the child. If the parents are not willing to co-operate in the implementation of the plan, the local authority should consider what action, including the initiation of family proceedings, it should take to safeguard the child's welfare.


2. The Role of the Lead Social Worker's Supervisor

The Lead Social Worker should receive regular supervision in line with Children's Social Care supervision policy, from the Team Manager, and the Team Manager should ensure that the Lead Social Worker is able to maintain the child's safety, health and development as the primary focus.

The Team Manager should be fully aware of all aspects of the Child Protection Plan, and should ensure that the plan is adhered to, that open communication is maintained between agencies and that agreed procedures and timescales are followed, including arrangements for Core Groups and Child In Need meetings.

The Team Manager should ensure that the Child Protection Plan is followed during periods of absence by the Lead Social Worker and should inform Core Group members of any temporary or permanent change in Lead Social Worker.

The Team Manager is responsible for endorsing decision-making in the child protection process, and recording decisions endorsed on the child's file. Reading and signing of case records is also a function of the supervisory responsibility.

The Team Manager is also responsible for chairing the Core Group, unless this task is delegated to a Lead Social Worker. Only a suitably experienced Lead Social Worker should chair a Core Group meeting.


3. The Core Group

The Core Group is fundamental to the implementation and monitoring of any multi-agency Child Protection Plan.

The Core Group is responsible for developing the Child Protection Plan as a detailed working tool and implementing it within the outline plan agreed at the Initial Child Protection Conference.

Membership of the Core Group will be agreed at the conference, and will include the Lead Social Worker and his or her Team Manager, the child where appropriate, parents, carers or other significant family members as appropriate and professionals who have direct contact with the family.

Although the Lead Social Worker has a lead role and the Core Group meeting will be chaired by Children's Social Care, all members of the Core Group are jointly responsible for the formulation of a detailed Child Protection Plan, for its implementation, for monitoring the progress of the plan and agreeing changes or refinements to the plan.

It is therefore important that agencies involved and in particular Core Group members, ensure that Core Groups are well attended, in order that this joint responsibility for the Child Protection Plan is effective and meaningful.

The Core Group must meet initially within 10 working days of the initial Child Protection Conference, and thereafter at a frequency agreed by the Core Group, no less than once every six weeks, sufficient to promote effective work between the agencies, to monitor progress and agree changes to the Child Protection Plan.

Any member of the Core Group can convene a Core Group meeting if the Child Protection Plan is not being followed.

The Child Protection Plan should be updated and detailed by each Core Group meeting, identifying specific tasks required and who is responsible for undertaking the tasks. The updated Child Protection Plan and notes of the Core Group Meetings should be signed by the parents and professional involved and circulated to all Core Group members as soon as possible, within seven working days of the Core Group. A copy should also be sent to the Safeguarding Unit.


4. The Child Protection Plan

The overall aims of the Child Protection Plan are:

  • To ensure the child is safe and prevent him or her from suffering further harm by supporting the strengths, addressing the vulnerabilities and risk factors and helping meet the child's unmet needs;
  • To promote the child's welfare, health and development; and
  • Provided it is in the best interests of the child, to support the family and wider family members to safeguard and promote the welfare of their child.

The Child Protection Plan should set out what work needs to be done, why, when and by whom. The Plan should:

  • State when and in what situations the child will be seen by the child's Lead Social Worker, both alone and with other family members or caregivers present;
  • Describe the identified developmental needs of the child, and what therapeutic services are required;
  • Include specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child;
  • Include 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;
  • Clearly identify roles and responsibilities of 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 progress will be judged; and
  • Set out clearly the roles and responsibilities of those professionals with routine contact with the child - e.g. health visitors, GP's and teachers - as well as those professionals providing specialist or targeted support to the child and family.

Whilst the welfare of the child must be the primary concern, the Child Protection Plan should take into account the wishes and feelings of the child and the views of the parents, and provide explanation where these wishes, feelings and views are not acted on.

The child (depending on his or her age and understanding) and the parents should be clear about the evidence of Significant Harm, which resulted in the child becoming the subject of a Child Protection Plan, what needs to change and what is expected of them as part of the plan for safeguarding and promoting the child's welfare. This should be the subject of continuing discussion with the Lead Social Worker and other professionals involved.

The Lead Social Worker should ensure that those with Parental Responsibility and any other relevant family members are provided with a copy of the Child Protection Plan in their first language, and ensure that they understand the plan. The Lead Social Worker should also determine whether the family are willing to co-operate with the plan, and encourage them to do so.

Where parents' co-operation or agreement is not forthcoming, the Lead Social Worker or supervisor should seek legal advice.

End