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2.1 Practice Standards

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter provides a comprehensive ‘checklist’ of standards and tasks that should be undertaken and evidenced for a range of areas and includes undertaking Single Assessments, child protection, working with Looked After Children and supervision.

RELEVANT CHAPTERS

Quality Assurance and Learning Framework

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated throughout, notably to ensure broader communication with partner agencies, (see Section 2, Section 47 Enquires and Initial CP Conference), with respect to strategy discussions and to confirm that the family should have the Initial Child Protection Conference report shared with them at least 24 hours before the conference itself, (see Section 3, Initial Child Protection Conference).


Contents

  1. Practice Standards for Single Assessment
  2. Section 47 Enquires  and Initial CP Conference
  3. Initial Child Protection Conference
  4. Working with Children Subject to Child Protection Plans
  5. Children in Need and CIN Meetings
  6. Undertaking Direct Work with Children- The voice of the child
  7. Good Practice in Case Recording
  8. Children in Care
  9. Practice Standards for Supervisors


1. Practice Standards for Single Assessment

  • The story and voice of the child and what it is currently like to be a child in this family comes across to the reader, (see also Single Assessment Framework).
  • Any intervention with the child/children is timely, proportionate and responsive to the risks and needs identified;
  • I have seen and spoken to all children in the family as part of the assessment and their views, wishes and feelings are ascertained, respected and taking into consideration in all matters concerning them;
  • All significant family members/friends participated in this assessment (including fathers who live away from their children) and their views and opinions are recorded in the assessment;
  • Any needs arising from race, ethnicity, religion, language, gender, disability and any specific cultural issues have been fully considered in the assessment;
  • I have been careful to distinguish fact from opinion;
  • I have taken into account the full family history;
  • The assessment includes multi-agency contributions and participation. Partner agencies are part of any on-going planning and intervention for the family;
  • I have evidenced the source of the information contained within the assessment;
  • It is clear to the parents, children and other agencies why Social Care are involved, what we will be doing and the potential outcomes;
  • I have ensured that risk and protective factors have been clearly identified and assessed;
  • The assessment is informed by my social work skills, values, ethics, research and legislative context;
  • I have checked the family’s details and names, spellings and dates of birth are correctly recorded;
  • The assessment has been recorded and shared with the family in a language and style that they can understand, and they have had an opportunity to comment;
  • My analysis is based on evidence and links to the referral information and any other issues identified during assessment;
  • Management oversight is evidenced at all stages of assessment, ensuring the child’s journey is clear.


2. Section 47 Enquires and Initial CP Conference

(See also Strategy Discussion/ Meeting Protocol)

  • The decision to undertake enquiries under Section 47 of the Children Act has been endorsed by team manager/duty manager and are recorded in writing;
  • All Strategy Discussions will include paediatrician, school, midwifery, Health Visitor, school nurse, GP, YOS, Housing as well as Police and Children’s Social Care;
  • While it is important to include all relevant agencies, there needs to be a balance between initiating a swift discussion and endeavouring to include all relevant agencies;
  • The Strategy Discussion and outcome of S47 enquiry will include a clear plan with regard to undertaking the enquiry including seeing the child alone (where appropriate);
  • The minutes of the Strategy Discussion will be distributed within 1 working day;
  • The S47 investigation will be been led by a qualified and experienced social worker;
  • A Single Assessment is the means by which the S47 enquiry has been carried out and recorded;
  • All concerns regarding the likelihood of Significant Harm identify the potential risks;
  • The S47 recognises the potential needs and safety of siblings and any other children in the household (and other households where relevant);
  • I have made sure that protective factors (and potential protective factors) have been identified and recorded;
  • I have followed Knowsley Safeguarding Children Procedures;
  • The case history has been fully interrogated and the investigation is informed by this perspective;
  • I have completed agency enquiries and ensured that relevant contextual information in respect of the enquiry is shared with appropriate agencies;
  • Where appropriate a LADO has been consulted and a LADO alert completed;
  • The investigation concludes with a judgement about ‘harm’ and whether or not it is considered ‘significant’ (as defined by Children Act 1989);
  • I have ensured that it is clear what action is required to secure the safety of the child/children concerned;
  • I have checked back on the S47 referral details and I am certain I have investigated all the allegations made;
  • I have discussed my findings with my manager and ensured that there is a management decision in relation to the outcomes (e.g. NFA, CIN, ICPC);
  • The outcome of the S47 is clearly recorded on ICS.


3. Initial Child Protection Conference

(See also Child Protection Review Process)

  • The ICPC has been convened within 15 days of the Initial Strategy Discussion;
  • I have considered whether appropriate for child/young person to attend the Child Protection Conference and completed referral form for NYAS for over 11 year olds, working with them to prepare them for this if appropriate. If not, I have ensured their participation/contribution in an age appropriate way. For example, a letter to the conference, a drawing or poem;
  • I have discussed the purpose of the conference with the parents and discussed childcare arrangements if requires to facilitate their attendance;
  • My report for the ICPC summarises & analyses all information from the Single Assessment and all pre-existing records relating to the child and family;
  • My report includes: a Chronology of significant events (as opposed to every contact and intervention) containing information on the child’s current & past developmental needs, information on parents (and other family members) capacity to keep the child safe from harm and respond to their needs, the expressed views, wishes & feelings of the child, parents and other family members, and an analysis of the implication of the information obtained for the child’s future safety and meeting his/her developmental needs;
  • My report includes an outline Child Protection Plan;
  • I have shared my ICPC report with the family not less than 24 hours in advance of the conference and noted their comments;
  • The report has been sent to the Safeguarding and Quality Assurance 3 working days before the conference.


4. Working with Children Subject to Child Protection Plans

  • Following the ICPC, the child is subject to a CP Plan and I am recorded on ICS as the named worker;
  • The first Core Group meeting has taken place within 10 working days of the ICPC. (The purpose of this first meeting is to flesh out the Child Protection Plan and decide what steps need to be taken by whom to complete the single  Assessment on time);
  • I have ensured that the outline CP Plan will be developed into a more robust inter-agency plan (and it is recorded on ICS);
  • I ensure I see the child on their own where appropriate;
  • Visits for child subject to a CP Plan take place at a minimum of every 4 weeks;
  • Visits are purposeful and focus on the identified risks - each visit adds to the knowledge about the child and what life is like for them and helps in further understanding the outcomes needed to be achieved;
  • I have regularly ascertained the child’s wishes and feelings & kept the child up-to-date with the Child Protection Plan and any developments or changes;
  • I continue to assess and re-assess the needs of the child - I can answer the question ‘what is it like to be this child in this family’?
  • Parents and carers understand what changes they need to make and are supported to do so: this is evidenced in my recording;
  • I ensure that I understand the role of fathers and male partners in the household and ensure that new partners are properly assessed;
  • I check the kitchen cupboards, toilets, bathroom and bedrooms as needed (especially where Neglect is an issue) and I am clear about what constitutes an acceptable standard;
  • The Core Group meets regularly (minimum every 28 days) and has developed a detailed written and signed agreement with clarity about the role of all the agencies and the parents to ensure delivery of the Child Protection Plan;
  • Minutes from the Core Group are distributed to all agencies within 5 days;
  • I ensure that the Public Law Outline (PLO) is fully considered for all children when they become subject to a CP Plan. If the required changes are not made by the 2nd Child Protection Conference, parents will be informed that legal advice will be sought. (See Pre Proceedings and Public Law Outline (PLO) Procedures and Practice Guidance);
  • Reports for Review CP Conferences are prepared at least 5 days before a conference and shared with parents, carers and children/young people in advance; If not a cause for concern letter will be sent;
  • Supervision is also used to ensure progression of plan with an outcome focussed plan.


5. Children in Need and CIN Meetings

(See also Child in Need Planning and Review Procedure)

  • The ICPC concluded that a CIN plan is more appropriate than a CP Plan;
  • The child is no longer subject to CP Plan (following the review conference) and a Child In Need Plan has been agreed as the next part of the process. This is clearly recorded on ICS and I have convened a CIN Meeting and have invited all the relevant parties;
  • This plan will be for a minimum of 3 months and allocated to a qualified social worker;
  • I have completed an assessment and identified that the child and family require children in need service provision to promote the safety and wellbeing of the child;
  • The assessment, plan and case records evidence that I have enabled the child and family to fully take part in the process;
  • The CIN meeting has taken place in a timely manner (within 10 days of it becoming apparent that the child or young person is in need of a Plan);
  • The meeting has been chaired by a qualified social worker;
  • The meeting has been recorded on ICS and everyone present will receive a copy of the plan. I have ensured that the plan is recorded and distributed;
  • If the young person is attending the meeting, this should always be convened outside of school hours (confirm as required);
  • I have ensured that parents/carers know they can be accompanied by a relative or friend to enable them to participate and provide them with support;
  • The meeting records evidence of the child/young person’s and parent/carers needs and strengths as well as capturing their wishes and feelings;
  • The Child In Need Plan is clear and understandable with set objectives, clarification of role and responsibility, identified time frames for progress of review and escalation to Child Protection or exit;
  • A date within 6 weeks has been set to review the Plan. (This should be done at the end of the meeting with agreement of who should attend);
  • The frequency of CIN visits have been determined in the planning meetings and have taken place at least every 6 weeks.


6. Undertaking Direct Work with Children – the Voice of the Child

  • My work with children & young people is in accordance with Knowlsey’s procedures, threshold criteria, performance measures, protocols and practice guidance;
  • I have ensured that children’s views, wishes and feelings are ascertained, respected and taken into account in all matters concerning them;
  • Children are engaged with, and listened to, in ways designed to emphasise their positive potential and their need for social inclusion. (Evidenced through case notes, assessment, planning etc.);
  • Where conflict is identified, it is mediated and managed to minimise the adverse impact on the child’s life;
  • I have ensured that the child’s heritage, culture, race, religion and language will be respected and that appropriate and sensitive methods of communication have been used to work with them;
  • The child/children were seen alone, (where appropriate) observed and communicated with according to their developmental needs and in accordance with the child’s needs and plans for them;
  • In the event that children cannot live with their parents or carers, I have taken all possible steps to ensure that appropriate checks are completed on potential carers. (including extended family and friends) and made a referral for a Family Group Conference (FGC) (see Family Group Conference Policy);
  • As far as is practical, I will ensure that the child is taken to placement by allocated social worker or worker known to him/her. (Please evidence);
  • I have arranged to see the child/young person within 3 days of placement into care;
  • Contact between a child/young person and his or her family and friends is actively promoted and facilitated provided that this is in their best interests. (Ensure planning clearly outlines all contact);
  • My work evidences that I have clearly explained to the child the reasons for coming into care, that I have explored possible kinship placements via a FGC and/or assessment, discussed the foster placement, carers, contact with parents, siblings & friends and endeavoured to answer all the child’s concerns. (Please evidence in case records, Assessment, Plans etc.);
  • The child’s identity is promoted through life story work, (where planned) and by ensuring that they have personal possessions, information, photos and material relating to their family.


7. Good Practice in Case Recording

  • I have ensured that in my planning with children and families, I have allowed adequate time to record my interactions with them;
  • As far as possible, I have recorded information as I go along; in any event, Case Notes are recorded within 5 working days;
  • My recording evidences that I regularly see children and young people alone (where it is appropriate to do so e.g. in relation to age, language etc.);
  • Where interpreters, specialist workers or tools and activities have been used to facilitate communication, this is clearly recorded;
  • I have ensured that the child’s views are clearly marked in the case record. As far as possible I have recorded what the child told me, in the child’s own words;
  • I have separated facts and opinions in my recording and recorded the facts first and then my analysis of them. I have included relevant research in the Analysis section;
  • On ICS, I have cross- referenced rather than duplicated records;
  • I have made sure that my recording is respectful to children, young people and families;
  • Where other professionals or family/friends have provided information, the case notes reflects the person’s name, contact number and who they are;
  • All key events, meetings, discussions and visits are recorded in the child’s file.


8. Children in Care

  • When a child/young person becomes Looked After I will make arrangements for the IRO service to be notified within 2 working days (ideally within 1 working day). I will also ensure that all other professionals involved in the child/young person’s life are informed of the child’s legal status within 5 working days of the child becoming looked after including the host authority if placed out of Knowsley MBC;
  • When the child is placed, I will ensure the foster carer/s are given all the information required to care for the child/young person including the medical administration record, if appropriate, and that a Placement Planning Meeting takes place within 5 working days that sets out how the placement will meet the needs of the child;
  • I will ensure that the child/young person has a copy of the Young Persons Information Pack including information on how to make a complaint;
  • Initial health assessment will be requested within 5 days of placement. Further Health assessments will be requested for children under 5, every 6 months and for children over 5 yearly to ensure their health needs are being met and to inform the child’s Care Plan (See Health Care Assessments and Plans);
  • A Personal Education Plan PEP meeting will be completed within 15 days of placement and reviewed every school term. The PEP will set out how the educational needs of the child will be met and to inform the child’s Care Plan;
  • I will visit the child/young person at least within the statutory timescales. Within 1 week of placement minimum every 6 weeks or as often as the child needs it. If a child is placed outside of the borough and in a residential provision my visiting frequency will always be at least every 4 weeks. I will make some unannounced visits and I will see the child/young person alone at regular intervals;
  • Where an emergency/unplanned admission has occurred (in exceptional circumstances), an assessment will be completed within 45 days, for the 2nd Looked After Children Review. Assessments will include the wishes and feeling of the child and their parents and be completed in consultation with other agencies;
  • There will be an up-to-date Care Plan recorded on ICS within 10 days of the start of placement; this will reflect the child/young person’s needs, considers outcomes and clearly indicates service provision. The Care Plan will take into consideration the wishes and feelings of the child/young person. From the 2nd LAC Review the Care Plan will include a Permanency Plan;
  • The child’s needs in relation to race, ethnicity, language, disability, gender, sexuality and placement with siblings will be taken into account;
  • If the young person is 16+ there will be an up-to-date Pathway Plan, based on an up to date needs assessment;
  • The Care Plan for every child Looked After will be reviewed by an IRO, on a regular basis and within statutory timescales to make sure that plans continue to meet the needs of the child/young person and are being progressed in a timely manner, while taking into consideration the wishes and feeling of the child, their parents and other agencies. (See Child Looked After Reviews Procedure);
  • If the child is of sufficient age and understanding the child/young person will been encouraged and assisted to participate in their Review meeting. If they are unwilling or unable to attend their LAC Review their wishes and feelings will be presented and taken into consideration at the review;
  • Case records reflect that parents have been encouraged to participate in the Review process and their views taken into consideration;
  • The allocated social worker & other relevant workers (key workers, residential workers, and foster carers schools, health & CAMHS) will provide a report for every review - sent to the Independent Reviewing Officer at least 5 days in advance;
  • I will inform the IRO of any significant changes in the child/young person’s circumstances. There will be no significant changes to the child/young person’s care plan unless the proposed change has been considered at a LAC Review;
  • No child/young person’s legal status as a Looked After child must be changed without first discussing this at a LAC Review meeting.

9. Practice Standards for Supervisors

  • Each worker should have an individual supervision agreement which fully details the expectations as detailed in the supervision policy and practice guidance;
  • Supervision is provided at intervals appropriate to the workers skills and abilities, minimum every 28 days. Both parties evidence preparation for the session;
  • Records are added to the system within one week of formal supervision. Records of ad-hoc supervision will be the responsibility of the supervisor to add to the system within 48 hours of the discussion;
  • There is evidence that the supervisor has observed the Social Worker in action;
  • There is a clearly articulated rational for decision making;
  • There is evidence that the workers progress and learning are regularly explored and the impact of training on performance identified;
  • The supervision provides an opportunity to reflect on the impact of the work.

End