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EalingChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Child in Need Plans and Reviews


This chapter is concerned with children in need who have been assessed under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 and a decision made to provide services through a multi-agency Child in Need (CIN) plan. (For details on Assessments see link below).

It does not apply to children who are the subject of a Child Protection plan. Please see the London Child Protection Procedures in relation to the implementation of the Child Protection plan.



This chapter was significantly updated locally in July 2020. Therefore should be read in its entirety. This chapter should be read in conjunction with the above chapters.


  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of a Child in Need
  3. How a Decision is made that a Child is a Child in Need
  4. Child and Family Engagement including Consent
  5. Child in Need (CIN) Network Meetings
  6. Child in Need (CIN) Plans
  7. Visits
  8. Reviews of Child in Need Plans
  9. Children in Need Moving between Local Authorities
  10. Children with Disabilities
  11. Appendix 1: Child in Need (CIN) Timescales at a Glance

1. Introduction

All Child in Need (CIN) cases open to Ealing Children’s Services must have a Child in Need (CIN) plan. The allocated Social Worker is responsible for ensuring that the appropriate plan for the child is open, accurate and up to date on Mosaic. All plans must be endorsed by a Team Manager. Where the Team Manager decides not to endorse a CIN plan, they must give clear instructions (a Managers decision) to the Social Worker on what action to take instead.

Children in need work must be underpinned by proportionate robust assessments, planning, intervention and review. It is a requirement that CIN plans are worked and reviewed actively, and that the right response for the child and family is provided at the right time. This relies on Network Meetings, CIN visits and Reviews taking place within timescales; it also relies on the child being visited, seen alone and their views being heard and recorded throughout the life of the plan. Visits should be focused on progressing actions agreed in the CIN plan.

Where a CIN case transfers between individuals or teams, the relevant transfer protocols and procedures must be followed (see Children and Families Service Team and Transfer Protocols August 2019).

In this procedure, prescribed CIN ‘checkpoints’ enable Team Managers to oversee case progress and outcomes. CIN Network Meetings and Reviews provide an opportunity for the child, parents/carers and agencies to jointly identify needs, agree the most effective inter-agency services to meet these and ensure they are delivered.

2. Definition of a Child in Need

A child should be taken to be in need if:

  • He/she is unlikely to achieve or maintain or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision of services by a local authority;
  • His/her health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired without the provision for him/her of such services;
  • He/she is disabled.

(Section 17 Children Act 1989)

3. How a Decision is made that a Child is a Child in Need

The main routes to a child being deemed a Child in Need are:

  • A Management decision that a new referral meets the s17 criteria for a social work led assessment and support;
  • A Child Protection Review Conference decision to end a Child Protection Plan but continuing work under s17; or
  • A Looked After Review decision to end a s20 placement but continuing work under s17.

Our aim is to work with families, not ‘do to’ families and consent should underpin all our work. It should be considered as an ongoing process rather than a one-off action.

For consent to be meaningful it needs to be based on clear communications with families about our concerns; the implications of consent; and issues of capacity and competency. (See detailed guidance in the Child in Need Service Practice Guidance.)

The consent of parents, carers (and children as relevant) to assessment and information sharing under s17 will usually have been obtained by ECIRS at the point of initial contact. This should be checked upon transfer to another team and if consent has not been given it should be sought within 72 hours.

Where consent is not given or is withdrawn, it is still possible to proceed with work under s17 if the Social Worker (with Management agreement) judges this to be necessary and proportionate as part of our safeguarding duties in line with legislation and guidance

(see below). The decision to assess without consent should be shared with the parent/carer unless in doing so it would place the child at risk of harm.

“Every Local Authority shall take reasonable steps to identify the extent to which there are children in need within their area.”
(Children Act 1989, paragraph 1, Part 1, Schedule 2)

“Information must be shared without consent if a practitioner has reason to believe that there is good reason to do so and that the sharing of information will enhance the safeguarding of a child in a timely manner … Fear about sharing information must not be allowed to stand in the way of the need to promote the welfare and protect the safety of children which must always be the paramount concern.”
(Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018, paragraph 26)

“The parent’s permission should be sought before discussing a referral about them with other agencies. If the manager decides to proceed with checks without parental knowledge or permission, they must record the reasons, e.g. that doing so would prejudice the child’s welfare, aggravate seriously concerning behaviours of the adult, increase the risk of further significant harm to the child, or prejudice a criminal investigation.”
(London Child Protection Procedures and Practice Guidance 2020, Paragraph 2.5.5)

In addition, the Data Protection Act 2018 outlines ‘safeguarding of children and individuals at risk’ as an exceptional category whereby practitioners can share ‘special category personal data’. This allows the sharing of information without consent if it is not possible to gain consent, it cannot be reasonably expected that a practitioner gains consent or if to gain consent would place a child at risk.

When parents, carers, and young people have given their consent (verbal or written) this should be clearly recorded and uploaded on the child’s file.

Other Management Decisions in the event that consent is not obtained can include:

  • No Further Action (NFA) if safe to do so i.e. meet the child’s needs via Universal Services (close case within 10 working days);
  • Meet the child’s needs via Early Help services, subject to parents’ consent and followed by timely onward referral;
  • Escalating to Child Protection procedures under S47 due to known or suspected risk to a child.

The Team Manager will provide advice, guidance and support to the Social Worker on how and when any decision will be conveyed to parents, children and families. All decisions should be recorded on Mosaic in the Manager’s Decision Record within 48 hours.

The family should be encouraged and supported to attend CIN meetings, actively work on assessments and work to plans with professionals. This applies to children too - at a level appropriate for their wishes, feelings age and understanding. Appointments, meetings, visits etc. should be made and conducted in ways that maximise family involvement.

5. Child in Need (CIN) Network Meetings

The purpose of CIN Network Meetings is to discuss the CIN plan and assess the progress of the work being undertaken and the services offered to determine if they are meeting the needs of the children, young people. If necessary, specific actions on the plan can be altered if it is decided that they are not effectively meeting the needs of the child/young person/parent or additional support can be agreed if it is felt that this would be beneficial to the child, young person or family. This meeting should not be used to determine whether a child or young person should remain on a CIN plan.

The first CIN Network Meeting should take place within 10 working days after the completion of the Child and Family Assessment.

Subsequent CIN Network Meetings should take place every 6 weeks (unless a CIN Review is scheduled at the same point).

All CIN Network Meetings should be attended by the child (depending on age and understanding), parents/carers and those agencies whose potential/actual contribution is recommended as an outcome of an assessment. It is possible to hold CIN Network meetings virtually on some occasions if this is the best way for families and agencies to participate, and as long as all are able to use these means. Network meetings held virtually should only be an option when there is there is a reasonable amount of face-to-face contact taking place elsewhere in the plan.

It is important that an appropriate venue suitable for the child and his or her family are used for the meeting. Consideration must be given to transport, interpreters, timing and any child care issues. Where a child is attending a meeting and is of school age the meeting should be held outside of school time, wherever possible.

The Social Worker should discuss potential attendees for the CIN Network Meeting with the child and the parents/carers prior to arrangements being made for the meeting. The Social Worker is responsible for convening and chairing the meeting, arranging invitations and providing copies of the CIN plan to attendees prior to the meeting.

Notes of the meeting will be taken by the Social Worker. This record will be copied to those involved, including the child and parent/s. The notes of the meeting should be completed and on file within 5 working days.

At the first CIN Network Meeting a date should be set for the first CIN Review Meeting – within 3 months of completion of the Child and Family Assessment.

Where a Child Protection conference steps down the Child Protection plan to a CIN plan the Child Protection Advisor (CPA) chairing the conference should identify the key agencies involved in delivering the CIN plan and a date for the first CIN Review Meeting (within three months of the plan being formed).

The possible outcomes of any CIN Network Meeting:

  • The child continues to be a CIN requiring s17 services and the CIN plan (or revised plan) is to be progressed
  • The child appears to be significantly harmed or at risk of harm, resulting in the need for a strategy discussion

6. Child in Need (CIN) Plans

A CIN plan will be developed and reviewed in a CIN Network Meeting. The Social Worker will need to collate and consider actions from Network meetings and CIN plans when they review the plan. The CIN plan or updated plan should be completed and on file within 5 working days.

Most CIN plans will envisage that Children's Services intervention will end within nine months.

The CIN plan must identify the responsible Social Worker, any resources or services that will be needed to achieve the planned outcomes within the agreed timescales, and who is responsible.

The CIN plan should be Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Realistic; and Time-bound (SMART). In particular, the CIN plan should:

  • Describe the identified developmental needs of the child, and any services required;
  • Include specific, achievable, child-focused outcomes intended to promote and safeguard 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;
  • Include timescales that are not too short or unachievable;
  • Not be dependent on resources which are known to be scarce or unavailable;
  • Identify the responsible Social Worker and his or her responsibilities, including frequency of visits to the child;
  • Clearly identify the roles and responsibilities of other 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 it will be judged.

A copy of the CIN plan should be provided to the parents, child (if old enough) and the agencies/professionals involved in the provision of services under the Plan.

The Social Worker is responsible for implementing the plan including making referrals to appropriate agencies for services as described in the plan.

Where it becomes necessary to make minor adjustments to the plan and services provided, any changes to the plan must be made in consultation with the parents and the child (where appropriate) and key professionals from other agencies. All relevant professionals should be notified of any changes to the plan or if the case closes.

7. Visits

The initial CIN visit should take place within 10 working days from completion of the CFA and it is best practice to see the child before the CIN Network meeting.

Subsequently, the child should be seen by a social worker at intervals of at a minimum every 15 working days for a CIN visit or more frequently if specified in the CIN plan. Visits should be focused on progressing actions agreed in the CIN plan.

In all cases where these minimum requirements are not met, the reason should be recorded on Mosaic.

Visits should be written up in Mosaic in a CIN episode within 3 working days of the visit. N.B: CIN visits should not be written up in case notes.

8. Reviews of Child in Need Plans

The purpose of the CIN Review is to review the plan to ensure that the services provided are contributing to the achievement of the objectives within the timescales set. This meeting will be focused on the progress made over the duration of the plan to determine whether there is evidence of improved outcomes and a reduction in risks to the child or young person and to decide whether the CIN plan should remain in place or if the case needs to be escalated to CP or closed to Children’s Services.

The first CIN review will take place at three months post completion of the CFA. If there are significant changes in the family circumstances, an early review should take place.

Subsequent CIN Reviews will take place every 3 months – with 6 weekly Network Meetings in between. A date for the next Network Meeting or CIN Review should be set at the end of each meeting.

Remember it is usual for an updated Child and Family Assessment (CFA) to be completed every three months. If it is felt one is not needed the rationale should be contained in the CIN review and decided upon in supervision. There should not be a period of more than six months between updating CFAs. An exception being if the case if transferring to another authority where a CFA is required prior to the transfer taking place. It is not a requirement to review the CFA when a case is being closed.

Any child protection or safeguarding issues which arise during the course of a Child in Need Plan must be responded to in line with London Child Protection Procedures.

The Social Worker should invite or seek the views of the child, parents and any service providers.

The Social Worker should send out invites two weeks prior to the review and make necessary arrangements for the meeting including distribution of the CIN plan.

Where a review CFA has been completed this should be shared with the family by the Social Worker at least 5 working days before the CIN Review.

As with CIN Network Meetings (above), it is important that the child/ren and family attend the meeting and arrangements are made to facilitate their attendance.

Social Worker’s (except ASYE’s) will chair the Review meetings however final reviews should always be chaired by a manager.

The Chair of the meeting should record key decisions and reasons for these, on the CIN Review episode on Mosaic, along with the date. The notes of the meeting should be completed and on file within 5 working days.

A copy of the record should be sent to the child (if old enough), parent and all other participants in the Review process.

The possible outcomes of a CIN Review will be:

  • The child is no longer a Child in Need and the case will be closed (within 10 working days) to Children’s Social Care with a recommendation for the next steps (e.g. NFA or step-down for Early Help and Lead Professional to support the family in the absence of statutory services). All relevant professionals should be notified;
  • The child continues to be a Child in Need requiring s17 services;
  • The child appears to be significantly harmed or at risk of harm, resulting in the need for a strategy discussion. Note that care must be taken not to divulge this to parents if not appropriate, i.e. it could put a child at further risk or compromise a police investigation.

Remember, where the outcome of the Review is an amendment to the Child in Need Plan, the Social Worker should circulate a copy of the amended Plan to the parents/child, and other agencies/professionals involved in providing the services set out in the amended Plan, including any new services to be provided.

Where it is proposed that a complex package of support being provided under a Child in Need plan should continue beyond nine months, the child’s case should be taken to the CIN Panel to review progress prior to the nine-month review. The panel will decide on the next actions which could be:

  • Continuation of CIN plan;
  • Escalation to Child Protection;
  • Close the case.

9. Children in Need Moving between Local Authorities

This section deals with children who are subject to CIN plans and who move to another local authority. The principles apply to local authorities in the circumstances of both transferring out and receiving in Children in Need.

In a number of situations, children and their families moving to another local authority offers a positive option. However, and particularly where children and their families may have moved on more than one occasion in a short space of time, any assessment should consider whether the child is subject to trafficking or modern slavery (see Assessments Procedure). For Children Looked After, see Out of Area Placements Procedure.

When a Child in Need moves from one local authority area to another, the Children Act 1989 is clear that the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child lies with the local authority where the child is to be found.

Given the child has already been identified as having particular needs or is vulnerable in some way, urgent consideration / assessment should be given as to the impact of the move for the child in respect of their vulnerability, for example, through changes in the protective factors, increased risk with known perpetrators or whether they might be subject to trafficking or modern slavery. A timely response should be made with regard to levels of assessed risk.

In Ealing the agreed protocol for transfer out of cases where there is a CIN plan is that the case should be referred to a Child Protection Adviser (CPA) to be quality assured before transfer. The CPA review process and transfer should take place within 10 working days. The process should be clearly evidenced on file.

The parent/carer should be made aware of their responsibility to ensure the child receives appropriate education and health support in the area they plan to move to, together with any other specialist service required for the child.

The social worker should assist and promote the family accessing relevant and appropriate services with regard to meeting the child’s needs. Any deficits in services to meet specific needs by the receiving local authority should be noted.

The local authority Children’s Social Care Services where the child and family are moving to should be formally notified and all relevant information should be shared:

  • Social work assessment;
  • Child in Need plan;
  • Minutes of latest Child in Need Review;
  • A summary / case report;
  • Chronology.

Parent / carer’s agreement should be sought to share this information with the receiving local authority in line with “Information Sharing: Advice for Safeguarding Practitioners”.

Where agreement to share information is not given this should be recorded on case notes and shared with the receiving local authority.

However, the Data Protection Act should never be a barrier to ‘sharing information where the failure to do so would result in a child or vulnerable adult being placed at risk of harm’ or indeed on those occasions where seeking consent might increase the risk of harm.

Otherwise, the social worker or team manager, should consider seeking advice from their Caldicott Guardian or their Legal Services.

The Social Worker should ensure that other agencies involved in the Child in Need plan are made aware and prepared to ensure that their relevant information is shared as soon as possible with their respective counterparts in the area the family have moved to, (for example school and GP records, etc.).

The social workers and team managers of the respective authorities should ensure there is clear and good communication during any transition and any risks are clearly communicated and understood. Where possible, the Social Worker should seek to meet their counterpart and where geography allows, to consider a joint visit and attendance at a Child in Need meeting, so that the issues can be fully shared. The process should reflect the family’s needs and any associated risks.

Where there is dispute about case responsibility; delay in the receiving local authority accepting responsibility of the case, or a dispute about Child in Need thresholds, the Team Manager should promptly notify the Head of Service who should make a decision regarding next steps, including, where necessary, to take legal advice.

The family should be kept informed of any respective responsibilities during a transition stage and when the receiving local authority, (where the family reside), take full responsibilities.

Where Ealing receives a referral of a Child in Need from another local authority, a Child in Need Network Meeting should take place within 10 working days of the family being resident in the area. This should include all relevant agencies and, where possible, the social worker and other specialist staff where the child and family have moved from.

All actions, decisions and arrangements should be fully recorded on the child’s case record during this process. This should include management decisions, which should identify the rationale for any decisions made, especially where specific services cannot be provided and/or it is considered the child is no longer a Child in Need.

10. Children with Disabilities

The above procedure deals with children in need who have been assessed under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 and a decision made to provide services through a multi-agency Child in Need (CIN) plan. Some children with disabilities will require long term complex multi-agency support and this support may be provided under section 17 of the Children Act.

Where this is the case the above timescales may be amended to ensure that intervention is proportionate and reasonable, while still maintaining an appropriate level of social work support. Any amendment to the above timescales will be recorded as a management instruction on the case record and will be made by the Team Manager or Head of Service and reviewed at each subsequent CIN Review. The maximum interval between CIN visits in these cases will be 6 weeks and between CIN Reviews 6 months.

Where there is a stable package of support being provided to a child or young person with a disability and the outcome of either a CFA or CIN review that there is no requirement for the case to be allocated to a social worker the support may be provided under section 2 Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 (CSDPA) and reviewed annually.

Appendix 1: Child in Need (CIN) Timescales at a Glance


Consent to be sought at first point of contact in ECIRS. Ongoing check re: consent

If consent has not been obtained upon transfer.

If consent withdrawn.

Within 72 hours of transfer to MAST.

Social Worker to alert Team Manager within 24 hours.

CIN Network Meetings

Initial meeting

Subsequent Meetings

Notes of Network Meeting

Within 10 working days of completion of the CFA.

Every six weeks (unless a CIN Review scheduled for same time).

On file within five working days.

CIN Plans Developed & reviewed in CIN Network Meetings New or updated Plan to be on file within five working days.
CIN Visits


Subsequent visits

Notes of visit on file

Within 10 working days from completion of the CFA.

Every 15 working days or more frequently if specified in the CIN plan.

On file within three working days.

CIN Reviews & Review of CFA



Review of CFA

Review invites sent by Social Worker

Notes of Review meeting

Three months post completion of the CFA.

Every three months – with six weekly CIN Network Meetings in between.

Usually three monthly (see above) Updated CFA to be shared with family at least five working days before Review.

Two weeks prior to Review.

On file within five working days.

CIN Panel If proposed CIN Plan may continue beyond nine months. Case to be taken to the CIN Panel to review progress prior to the nine - month review.
CIN Transfer between LA’s

From Ealing to other LA including CPA QA process.

Transfer into Ealing from another LA.

Transfer out within 10 working days.

Immediate transfer to MAST from ECIRS. CIN Network Meeting within 10 working days of the family resident in the area.

Managers Decisions & Case Closure

If CIN status changes to:

  • NFA;
  • Early Help;
  • Escalates to CP.

Following Managers Decision

Manager to record in Manager’s Decision Record within 48 hours.


Case to be closed within 10 working days.