Practice Standards for Single Assessments and Child in Need Planning


This chapter establishes the key practice standards for Single Assessments and Child in Need planning and effectively provides a 'checklist' for practitioners and auditors of basic practice processes that should be expected in interventions with children and their families.


Quality Assurance and Learning Framework

This chapter was added into the manual in May 2016.

1. Outcomes

  • Assessment and child in need planning lead to improving outcomes for children and young people;
  • Children in need of protection are quickly identified and responded to in line with the level of identified risks.

2. Child Focus

  • Practice is consistently focused on children and young people's needs and experiences and is evidenced in recording;
  • Social worker(s) build a relationship centred on the child's needs, and take account of their views and their understanding of their world.

3. Equality and Diversity

  • Needs arising from children and young people's ethnicity, religion, culture, disability are effectively recognised, assessed and included in child in need planning.

4. Threshold for Assessment

  • Children whose needs require Single Assessment by Children's Social Care are promptly identified.

5. Quality of Assessments

  • Assessments commence promptly and are completed within agreed timescales;
  • Parental consent is sought except where in seeking this a child is likely to suffer Significant Harm;
  • Children and young people are seen promptly (within 2/3 days or within 24 hours for a S47) following the assessment start date (alone where appropriate);
  • Assessments effectively capture the child's views and wishes, including using their own words, as well as their experience of living in this family;
  • Agencies involved with the child are consulted and their views obtained;
  • Significant family members, friends and fathers living away from their children participate in the assessment;
  • Information is comprehensively gathered;
  • Historical information about the child and family, including the history of both birth parents and current partners, significant events and previous involvement with services is understood and effectively analysed;
  • Risks and resilience/protective factors are well evidenced and analysed. Their impact on the child is explained;
  • Appropriate recommendations clearly flow from the analysis;
  • Actions to ensure that the right level of service is provided are identified;
  • Outcomes of assessments are shared with parents/carers, children and young people (as appropriate) and their comments recorded.

6. CiN Plans

  • CiN plans clearly flow from the recommendations contained in the Single Assessment;
  • CiN plans identifies how the plan will improve outcomes;
  • CiN plans contain a balanced summary of needs, strengths and concerns;
  • CiN plans clearly identify the role and focus of partner agencies and other professionals;
  • Objectives and actions are realistic, focused on needs and are SMART;
  • Where appropriate, Contingency Plans are agreed and are appropriate to needs and risks;
  • CiN plans are regularly updated and amended;
  • Multi-agency interventions clearly flow from the plan and are targeted at identified needs and risks.

7.Child in Need Planning

  • Children benefit from purposeful direct work, when this identified as a need;
  • Social workers see children at the frequency specified in the plan, see them alone and observe family relationships;
  • CiN planning clearly tackles protection related issues linked to neglect, alcohol or substance misuse, domestic abuse and mental illness;
  • CiN planning identifies and responds to culture and diversity.

8. CiN Meetings

  • Initial CiN meetings are promptly held;
  • Children and young people are enabled to meaningfully participate in CiN meetings;
  • The first CiN plan review takes place within 6 weeks and at 6 weekly intervals thereafter. (NB: With the exception of child in need cases held in the Children with Disability Team. The frequency of reviews should be agreed by a Team Manager and the reason for the frequency should be recorded on the child's record in the case summary);
  • Social workers and others consider Advocacy when preparing, carrying out and reviewing plans.

9. Emerging Child Protection Concerns

  • Social workers and partner agencies quickly identify any emerging safeguarding or protection concerns;
  • Where there is a possibility of Significant Harm, Strategy Meetings and child protection enquiries take place in a timely way AND/OR timely decisions are made to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference.

10. Partnership Working

  • Partner agencies are active and well engaged in achieving agreed outcomes for the child;
  • All agencies engaged in delivering the plan demonstrate active engagement with the child and/or family as appropriate to the plan and are actively involved in achieving agreed objectives.

11. Recording

  • There is evidence of an up-to-date Chronology for each child;
  • Comprehensive records are up-to-date and demonstrate that needs and risks have been sufficiently explored.

12. Management Oversight and Supervision

  • Management set clear timescales and instructions when allocating assessments;
  • Managers formally review the progress of assessments at 0 to 10 working days and record the reason for any extension to timescale;
  • Managers offer constructive feedback and do not sign off assessments that are below the expected standard;
  • Supervision records demonstrate that the CiN plan is regularly reviewed, progress against objectives is reviewed and that managers challenge lack of change.

The standards are based on:

  1. Ofsted's single inspection framework;
  2. 'Working Together';
  3. Knowsley's Practice Standards, including for the completion of Single Assessments;
  4. Recommendation from the independent audit of CiN plans July and November 2014.