PG8. Child Protection Plans

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1. The Core Group

Caption: The Core Group


At the end of all Child Protection Conferences the membership of the Core Group of family members and professionals, who are going to undertake the work set out in the agreed Child Protection Plan, should be confirmed.


The purpose of the Core Group is to ensure that the Child Protection Plan /s for the child /ren is implemented, progressed and reviewed regularly and amended accordingly to meet its aim of protecting and promoting the welfare of the child/ren.


The impact of the work undertaken by the Core Group members to achieve the expected outcomes for the child/ren should be evaluated by the Core Group led by the Lead social worker and their manager.


The membership of the Core Group should include:

  • The parents/carers and their supporter or advocate, if appropriate;
  • The child, if appropriate, and their supporter or advocate;
  • An interpreter if required;
  • The key professionals involved with providing services to the child and family;
  • Any specific experts, who have been invited to work with the child and family in relation to for example substance misuse; domestic abuse or mental health issues.


The Core Group should share information proactively and work collaboratively to progress the agreed Child Protection Plan/s towards the stated expected outcomes, which would provide safe care for the child.

2. The Child Protection Plan

Caption: Child Protection Plan


Each child considered to have suffered, or to be likely to suffer Significant Harm must have a Child Protection Plan (CPP), which is recorded in the agreed local format. The details of the CPP will be developed by the appointed Core Group. The overall aims of the Child Protection Plan are:

  • To ensure the child is safe and prevent  any further significant harm by supporting the strengths of the family, by addressing the risk factors and  vulnerabilities and by providing services to meet  the child's assessed 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 must make it clear to the child, family, and all the practitioners involved what the concerns, which resulted in the child requiring the plan, were and what the expected outcomes for the child are.


The Child Protection Plan should set out what work needs to be done by whom and how and include clear realistic timescales. The Plan should include:

  • 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 carers present;
  • Describe the identified developmental needs of the child, and what therapeutic services, if any, 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 practitioners and family members, including the nature and frequency of contact by practitioners 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 practitioners with routine contact with the child - e.g. health visitors, GP's and teachers - as well as those practitioners providing specialist or targeted support to the child and family.


A child who is Looked After and who has a Child Protection Plan will be subject to statutory Looked After child care review procedures as well and the review processes should be combined. All plans must be consistent with the Child Protection Plan.


The Core Group should not alter any of the specified outcomes agreed at the Child Protection Conference although they can agree additional outcomes if required. Any changes to the Child Protection Plan itself should be discussed and agreed with the Core Group. Where a significant change is required urgently in order to safeguard the child, action should be taken without delay e.g. urgent recall of the Core Group, recalling a Review Conference or emergency action following legal consultation.


The child (depending on age and understanding) and the parents should receive a written copy of the CP plan in their preferred language so that they are clear about their own role and responsibilities as well as the roles and responsibilities of others, and the planned outcomes for the child. The child's copy should be written in a way appropriate to the child's age and understanding.

3. The Child

Caption: The Child 9.3


Children's participation is an important issue. Depending on the age/level of understanding the child it may be appropriate for them to be given the opportunity to attend the Core Group. This should be discussed with the child and those who know them well, who are able to make an assessment of the appropriateness of this decision.  The potential impact on family relationships should also be considered and the views of parents should be taken into consideration.


A child's attendance may be facilitated by adjusting the time to fit around school commitments and the use of an advocate. Their views can be fed into the Core Group in a variety of ways, which may be more constructive than actual attendance at the meeting. The role and purpose of the Core Group should be explained to any child of sufficient understanding, along with the reasons why their opinion is so important.


Where a child does not attend the Core Group it is the Lead social worker's responsibility to ascertain the child's views about the situation at home and whether there has been an improvement in the level of safeguarding.

4. The Parents and /or Carers

Caption: The Parents and /or Carers


The full engagement of parents and/or carers is the aim of the work by Core Groups. In cases where this is not appropriate, or one parent needs to be deliberately excluded the issue should be debated at the Child Protection Conference, for example where there is domestic abuse and violence or sexual abuse. Alternative plans can then be made for keeping the parent informed and still enable them to contribute to the CPP where appropriate.


In cases where the decision has been made to exclude a parent from a Core Group, this decision must be included as part of the minutes for future reference.


Where parents are engaged in the Core Group, specific circumstances with regard to travel, child care arrangements and any other factors should be taken into account when arranging the time and venue of meetings to facilitate their participation. If any member of the Core Group is aware that there will be information shared at the meeting, which the parent will find difficult or distressing, they should discuss this with the chair and consider possible ways of giving the parent prior notice of the issue to be raised in the meeting.


Professional forums can be daunting for parents and it may be necessary for the Core Group to identify the individual with the most positive working relationship with the family to motivate and encourage them to attend.

5. The role of the Lead Social Worker

Caption: The role of the Lead Social Worker


One of the tasks of a Child Protection Conference is to identify a Lead Social Worker. Each child with a Child Protection Plan must have a Lead Social Worker.


The Lead Social Worker will always be a suitably qualified and experienced social worker from within local authority Children's Social Care.


The Lead Social Worker is the lead professional co-ordinating the multi-agency, collaborative work to progress the Child Protection Plan. Some of the responsibilities include for example:

  • Coordinating the contribution of family members and professionals in putting the child protection plan into effect;
  • Developing the outline child protection plan into a more detailed inter-agency plan and circulating it  to relevant professionals (and family/ child where appropriate);
  • Undertaking 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;
  • Completing the child's and family's in-depth assessment, securing contributions from Core Group members and others as necessary;
  • Explaining  the plan to the child in a manner which is in accordance with their age and understanding and agree the plan with the child;
  • Coordinating reviews of progress against the planned outcomes set out in the plan, updating as required. The first review should be held within 3 months of the initial conference and further reviews at intervals of no more than 6 months for as long as the child remains subject of a child protection plan;
  • Recording decisions and actions agreed at Core Group meetings as well as the written views of those who were not able to attend, and follow up those actions to ensure they take place. The child protection plan should be updated as necessary; and
  • Leading Core Group activity.

6. The role of Core Group members

Caption: The role of Core Group members


All members of the Core Group are jointly responsible for the formulation and implementation of the Child Protection Plan, refining the plan as needed, and monitoring progress against the planned outcomes set out in the plan.


The specific responsibilities of individual Core Group members are to:

  • Maintain a child-centred focus;
  • Contribute to the multi-agency assessments;
  • Make proposals or commission the involvement of other specialists or agencies relevant to the completion of the CPP;
  • Attend and participate in Core Group meetings or other relevant meetings. Core Group members must give adequate notice if unable to attend Core Group meetings or arrange a substitute colleague to attend if possible. If not, then along with their apologies, they must provide a summary of their involvement with the family since the last Core Group meeting;
  • Carry out agreed tasks in accordance with their own agency functions: if this is not possible the Lead Social Worker must be consulted before any plans regarding the child or family are altered;
  • Provide specialist advice which will inform the Child Protection Plan;
  • Provide the Lead Social Worker with written reports as requested;
  • Communicate regularly with the Lead Social Worker about the progress of their part of the agreed Child Protection Plan;
  • Inform the Lead Social Worker of any change in circumstances relevant to the Child Protection Plan;
  • Alert the Lead Social Worker to the need to convene either a Core Group meeting or to reconvene the Review Conference early if there are concerns about the child's safety;

7. Evaluation of progress and review

Caption: Evaluation of progress and review


Each Core Group meeting should carefully analyse and evaluate progress against the Child Protection Plan to ensure that the agreed outcomes that are expected are still likely to be met. The meetings should review whether the original concerns are still in place and whether any new concerns have arisen in the course of time and the current involvement.


It is particularly important to analyse patterns of concerns for example in relation to neglect or domestic abuse, where a separate incident may not seem serious in itself  but where several incidents may build up to having a significant impact on the child. The collaboration and communications between professionals are crucial to providing a clear picture of the child's circumstances.


When assessing progress the Core Group needs to review whether the progress being made is timely in relation to the child's development, age and circumstances and whether the progress is likely to continue.


Any delays in implementing the Child Protection Plan should be monitored and appropriate action taken by the Lead Social Worker, their manager, and the Core Group members. These should be recorded and available for the Conference Chair to see.


The Child Protection Conference Chair should be informed of any changes in the circumstances of any child subject to a Child Protection Plan.


Any professional who becomes aware of a change in circumstance must inform the Lead Social Worker who then has responsibility to inform the Conference Chair. This information must be kept up to date. Change of circumstances may include:

  • Change of family address;
  • Birth of a baby;
  • New household member;
  • Change of Lead Social Worker;
  • Change in legal status;
  • Change in local authority area.


There always has to be the possibility that intervention, or further assessment will reach the conclusion that the situation is not safe and the child will need to be removed in order to protect them from significant harm.


In these circumstances, and/or where there is a failure to obtain or retain the cooperation of the parents or child in working on the plan or changed or unforeseen circumstances, this must be brought immediately to the attention of the Lead Social Worker. Consideration must be given to convene an early Review Conference to address the changed circumstances or in some circumstances a Strategy discussion/ meeting may be required.


If there are concerns that there are difficulties implementing the Child Protection Plan as a result of disagreement among practitioners or if a Core Group member is not carrying out their responsibilities, this must be addressed by discussion between Core Group members and, if required, the involvement of relevant managers and/or designated safeguarding professionals. Where necessary, see Resolving Professional Differences Procedure.