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4.1.3 Child's Journey through the Care System


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Within 1 working day

Information received that child may be a Child in Need of services.


Single Assessment

Within 45 working days

Child seen by social worker. Assessment identifies one of following:

  1. Possible Significant Harm, leading to Strategy Discussion and Child Protection Enquiry;
  2. Child in Need with service provided;
  3. Child not in need, signpost to other agencies and/or NFA.

If the child is at risk of Significant Harm, there may be a need to take steps to protect the child, including obtaining an Emergency Protection Order.


Section 47 Enquiry


Single Assessment identifies child's needs and services required. Possible Initial Child Protection Conference - may lead to the child being made the subject of a Child Protection Plan.

Conclusion reached that parent(s) are not meeting child's needs.

Consider Additional Support to Maintain Placement at Home

Referral for services to maintain child within the home.
In appropriate cases, convene a Legal Gateway/Planning Meeting and consider sending parents a letter of notification under the Public Law Outline.

Convene a Legal Gateway/Planning Meeting

Convene a Legal Gateway/Planning Meeting if considering Care Proceedings.


Decide that Child should come into Care

Decision to initiate Care Proceedings or to accommodate the child under Section 20 and identify most suitable placement, wherever possible with family or friends carer (Connected Person).


Initiate Court Action

Where Court action considered necessary, Care Proceedings or other appropriate Court application initiated, evidence prepared and hearing date arranged.

(For secure placement, Head of Children’s Social Care can authorise up to 72 hours in Secure Accommodation without a Court Order).


First Court Hearing

Unless parents consent to child being Accommodated, Court hearing will occur before placement unless child on Police Protection or, for a secure placement, 72 hours placement has been authorised by the Head of Children’s Social Care.

Emergency Protection Order/Interim Care Order/Secure Accommodation Order obtained.


Prepare Care Plan and Placement Plan

Care Plan prepared before or on the day of the placement - as far as it can be and completed within 10 working days of the first placement.

Placement Plan prepared before or on the day of the placement - as far as it can be and completed within 5 working days of the placement.


Arrange first Looked After Review

Conference and Review Team notified within one working day of child's admission to care. Children's Independent and Safeguarding Reviewing Officer designated and date for the first Looked After Review arranged.


Social Worker Visits

The first visit should occur within 1 week of the child's placement

Social worker visits to child made within one week of placement and then weekly for first 6 weeks if child placed with relative or friend, or otherwise at minimum of six weekly intervals in first year for the purposes of monitoring and supporting the placement.

See Social Worker Visits to Children in Care Procedure.


Arrange Health Care Assessment

Draft Health Care Plan

Social Worker makes arrangement for the child to undertake a Health Care Assessment.

The Health Care Assessment should contribute to the child's Health Plan, which forms part of the child's Care Plan with detail in the Placement Information Record and should be completed in time for the first Looked After Review.


Promote Family Contact

Detailed contact arrangements made and included within the child's Placement Information Record, in the context of the child's Care Plan.


Complete Personal Education Plan (PEP)

In time for first Looked After Review

Social Worker to liaise with child's school and/or the Education Service and formulate a Personal Education Plan (PEP) within 20 working days of placement.


Implement Care Plan

As required by Care Plan, strategies implemented, further assessments organised (with Court's permission if within Care Proceedings) and time-scales set to explore possibility of rehabilitation and/or other Permanence options including need for Twin Track Plan.

Assess carers, where placement is with relative or friend (Connected Person).

Assessment of Relative/Friend as foster carer completed and presented to Fostering Approvals Panel within 6 weeks.


Convene First Looked After Review

Within 20 Days of the Placement.

Progress in implementing aims of Care Plan considered at first Looked After Review, agenda to include agreeing time-scales for achieving Permanence for child, including Contingency Plan if Permanence not achieved by third Looked After Review. Consideration of Twin Track Planning required.

Ongoing Health Care Assessment

Depending on the age of the child, further Health Care Assessments must be conducted at between 6 and 12-month intervals.


Final Court Hearing

Where in Court Proceedings, a detailed Care Plan with recommendations for Court Order is approved by Area Manager and presented to Court.

Rehabilitation Plan Implemented where appropriate

Where Interim Care Order or Care Order in force, Placement with Parents Procedure followed. Subsequent Looked After Reviews consider need for Care Order to continue. 


Permanence Plan Agreed

By second Looked After Review

As soon as possible, and by second Looked After Review at the latest, Permanence Plan to be implemented for child. Contingency Plan (if Permanence Plan not achieved by third Looked After Review) to be implemented and, where appropriate Twin Track Plan.


Where plan is for Adoption, Adoption Procedures to be followed involving presentation to Adoption Panel for approval of adoption plan for child and also approval of matching of child with suitable prospective adoptive placement.


Where plan is for placement within extended family, either as preferred plan or Twin Track Plan, possible placements with family to be explored and assessed as appropriate.

Where plan is for long-term foster placement/special guardianship, either as preferred plan or Twin Track Plan, referral to Fostering Service to be made for family finding to commence.


Permanence Plan Implementation

By third Looked After Review

Where preferred Permanence Plan not implemented by third Looked After Review, implement Contingency Plan.
Where preparation for independence is appropriate.

Pathway Social Worker appointed and Pathway Plan drawn up and reviewed.

Pathway Plan reviewed as part of the Looked After Review until child leaves the care service and then as arranged between the Pathway Social Worker and the Children’s Independent Safeguarding and Reviewing Officer (CISRO).