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3.5.3 Guidance for Professionals Regarding Children Subject to Dual Processes - Child Protection Plans and Looked-After Children Plans

SCOPE BOX

This chapter identifies that whilst a child should have a single Plan, dual planning is occasionally required. The nature and criteria for such occasions is explored together with the process for ensuring both Reviews are properly undertaken and their role is fulfilled in a considered and co-ordinated way.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review, June 2015

Working Together to Safeguard Children (WTSC): A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, March 2015:

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Statutory Reviews for Looked After Children Policy and Guidance

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated and fully amended in May 2016 to reflect Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) and Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015).


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Looked-After Children (LAC) subject to Child Protection Plans
  3. Public Law Outline
  4. Pre-Birth Conference (PBC)
  5. Children / Young People subject to other Court directed orders
  6. Ceasing to be looked after

1. Introduction

The purpose of the policy and practice guidance is to ensure the principle of children and young people being subject to one single plan/review process is adhered to. Dual status should only be applied in rare and exceptional circumstances and this should be agreed at Service Manager level between the operational and Safeguarding team and clearly recorded on Carefirst.

Exceptional circumstances would be one that warrants sufficient safeguards for a child to return home following either a child being taken into Police Protection (referred to often as PPO) or brief (under 20 working days) period of Section 20 admission. For example, the parent/s were in custody and unable to care for the child/ren, or where there has been a ‘home alone’ incident and they are taken in to Police Protection.

All children who become Looked-after will be subject to a Legal Planning Meetings Procedure within 10 working days of admission.

There are a number of children and young people subject to a Child Protection Plan when they then have become Looked After by the Local Authority (dual status). It is accepted that bringing a child/young person into the Care of the Local Authority, either by virtue of a court order or by agreement with the parents/carers, provides the child with a more robust safeguarding process than provided by a CP Plan.

This guidance is underpinned by the following legislation and Government Guidance:

The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review, June 2015:

Working Together to Safeguard Children (WTSC): A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, March 2015:

The grounds for discontinuing a CP plan are outlined in Working Together to Safeguard Children. This procedure endorses the same criteria and identifies a further ground for consideration;

  • If it is judged that a child is no longer at continuing risk of Significant Harm requiring safeguarding by means of a CP Plan, the child and family’s circumstances have changed; or re-assessment of the child and family indicates that a CP Plan is not necessary;
  • The child and family have moved permanently to another Local Authority area and the regional transfer policy has been implemented;
  • The child has reached the age of 18 years;
  • The child has permanently left the UK;
  • As stated above, regarding Looked After status.

2. Looked-After Children (LAC) subject to Child Protection Plans

Where a LAC is the subject of a Child Protection Plan, it is expected that there will be a single planning and review process, which meets the requirements of The Children Act Guidance and Regulations 2015 - Volume 2 Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (the Guidance) and WTSC.

When allocating the child, the IRO will be informed by the Safeguarding Admin Team that the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan; to facilitate discussion and liaison with the Chair of the initial or Review Child Protection Conference and to collate background information to help inform the first LAC Review regarding ending the Child Protection Plan.

Child Protection Core Group meetings should continue until a decision has been made for the CP Plan to be discharged.

If a review Child Protection Conference is to take place before the arranged initial LAC Review then consideration should take place at that conference to the Child Protection Plan ceasing. However, if the child is subject to an Interim Care Order/Care Order, the Child Protection Conference could be cancelled (if statutory timescales allow) and only the LAC Review is required to take place.

If the scheduled Review Child Protection Conference is after the date or of the first LAC Review or stepped down (for above reasons), the LAC Review should give consideration as to whether the Child Protection Plan needs to continue.

It must be recorded how the CP Conference recommendations had been progressed prior to the child becoming Looked After.

The single review form will be used in all cases where a child is subject to a CP plan and is looked-after. This will involve one social workers report, the child’s Care Plan and one review framework report within carefirst. 

3. Public Law Outline

Where a child is subject to the Public Law Outline (PLO) and resides at home, the Child Protection Plan runs alongside this. The final PLO review should take place prior to the CP Review Conference, in order to inform the need for a continued CP Plan. 

If a child becomes Section 20 (voluntary) Looked-after and is subject to PLO, it is expected that this is with the full consent and understanding of the person with Parental Responsibility (PR) and that the Local authority have a clear and timely plan for decision making regarding the need to initiate care proceedings. A clear and agreed Contingency Plan should be in place to ensure there is a safe plan should Section 20 agreement be ended in an unplanned manner at the request of the parent/carer with PR. (See also Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure, Timescales for Completion.)

The review process as stated above should be followed, with the expectation that the CP Plan will be discharged unless exceptional circumstances, and as agreed at Service Manager level between the operational and Safeguarding Team and clearly recorded on Carefirst.

A minimum of 6 weekly multi agency review and planning meetings should take place to ensure there remains a robust review and risk assessment led decision making process.

4. Pre-Birth Conference (PBC)

Where a Pre-Birth Assessment has been completed and a Legal Planning Meeting (LPM) held with the recommendation to remove at birth and initiate care proceedings, a PBC will be convened to share all relevant information between agencies and a recommendation will be made regarding the threshold for a CP plan following the birth of the baby. The baby will be made subject to a CP Conference at birth if this is the recommendation of the PBC.

If an Interim Care Order is granted prior to the CP Review Conference, the CP plan will be discharged. This should be made explicit at the PBC to ensure all those at the conference understand this. The discharge of the CP plan will be confirmed within a letter sent out to all PBC attendees advising them of court’s decision.

5. Children / Young People subject to other Court directed orders

Those children who become subject to other court Orders whilst subject of a CP Plan, e.g Supervision Order, Child Arrangement Order; Prohibitive Steps Order; Special Guardianship Order or where a child is already on CP Plan and becomes subject to LAPSO or a custodial sentence, they will be subject to the same criteria outlined above for continuing or ending a plan. 

When considering the discharge of a CP Plan for children in a custodial or secure setting, the CP Review / LAC Review (if LASPO) should consider the timings of this placement, in the context of the CP concerns. If a child is serving a minimum sentence of six months, the CP Plan should be discharged.

Where a Supervision Order has been granted by the Court, the CP Plan will usually be discharged and case be reviewed under Child in Need Plan chaired by a CIN Co-ordinator. There may be some exceptions, i.e. where the Local Authority has requested a Care Order which the Court declines and a Supervision Order is issued. In this circumstance, the Local Authority may request that the CP Plan to remain if there remains evidence that the child/ren are at risk of or suffering significant harm.

6. Ceasing to be looked after

Where a child under the age of 16 has been looked after on a voluntary basis (Section 20) for at least 20 working days, the decision to cease to look after the child must not be put into effect until it has been approved by the Assistant Director. Where a child ceases to be looked after because of a return home and is not an Eligible child, the child will be a ‘Child in Need’ (The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations, Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review, June 2015).

Please refer to Salford’s Permanence Planning Policy for full details of the ceasing to be looked after process and guidance.

End