Child in Need Planning and Review


This chapter identifies the procedure for making and reviewing plans for children who have been assessed as being a Child in Need. The chapter explores children who are on the edge of becoming Looked After or subject to Child Protection Plans and identifies a 'step up step down' process.

The chapter also acknowledges Private Fostering and those children subject to this are 'Children in Need'.


Knowsley Complex Care and Resource Panel Procedure

See also Practice Standards.


This chapter was reviewed and amended in June 2023.

1. Introduction

This document is a single agency procedure for Children and Families Services in providing services to children and young people who are deemed to be 'Children In Need', requiring intervention at the Safeguarding level of the Helping Children Thrive document.

Section 17.10 The Children Act 1989 provides a definition of a Child In Need.

A child shall be in need if:

  • He 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 for him of services by a local authority;
  • His health and development is likely to be significantly impaired or further impaired, without the provision for him of such services; or
  • He is disabled. [1]


Children and Families Services provide targeted services for children with more complex needs or at risk of Significant Harm at the Safeguarding level of the Helping Children Thrive document:

Safeguarding Children In Need

  • Highly complex needs (including Children With Disabilities);
  • A need for multi-agency high level support for children / young people who are experiencing compromised parenting;
  • A significant risk of family breakdown;
  • A likelihood of Significant Harm but where the risk can be managed outside of a Child Protection Plan;
  • Any child subject to a Supervision Order should be reviewed via a CIN meeting.

Safeguarding Children in Need of Protection

  • Children and young people who are suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm;
  • Children whose needs can only be met through a Child Protection Plan;
  • Children who have made subject to a legal order as a result of Children and Families Service initiating Care Proceedings.

Within these procedures the term Child in Need refers to children at the lower end of the Safeguarding level.

2. Child in Need Plan

Whilst an initial Child in Need Plan can be initiated at any time during a Child & Family Assessment the first meeting that should be held with a family is a Support Network Meeting. This is within the Signs of Safety Practice Guidance and will ensure that families have the opportunity to come up with a plan that will meet the children's needs and keep them safe before a formal Child in Need (CIN) meeting needs to be held. The initial Support Network Meeting should be held following the 10 day Manager's review of the assessment and before the end of the assessment and draft plan is to be recorded within the Child & Family Assessment. Follow up Support Network Meetings can be held at any time.

The Support Network Meeting will be facilitated by the Social Worker but will be made up of people chosen by the family; this may be wider family, neighbours, friends etc. - whoever the family feel are their support network. If people that the family chose pose a risk to the children, the Social Worker should discuss this with the family to see if there are any ways these people can support them, without posing a risk to the children.

If however, following the completion of the Support Network Meeting there remain unmet needs that reach the threshold for a CIN plan, the Social Worker will recommend this to the Team Manager and the Team Manager will record their decision in the Child & Family Assessment.

Once the decision has been made by a Team Manager to progress a case to Child in Need, the Social Worker should convene a formal meeting in no longer than 7 working days.

The Child in Need Plan should be further developed at a meeting which includes the child/ren, parents, Support Network if possible and relevant professionals who can usefully contribute to the collation of the information and the formulation of the Plan. The meeting is arranged by the allocated social worker.

The Children in Need meeting can be chaired by a Team Manager, or Social Worker, however where a case is allocated to a newly qualified social worker, the initial CIN meeting will be chaired by a Team Manager or Advanced Social Worker.

Every child in need receiving a service should have an individual Child in Need Plan which details:

  • Any unmet needs of the child/young person;
  • Overall Aim of the Plan;
  • Tasks to be achieved to meet the objectives;
  • Services to be provided and what their purpose is;
  • Responsibilities for each aspect of the Plan;
  • Timescales for the tasks to be achieved;
  • Views of the child / young person / parent / carer;
  • Review arrangements.

The Child in Need Plan ensures that:

  • All children and young people have clearly stated objectives for them to gain maximum life chance benefits from education, health care and social opportunities;
  • Desired outcomes are clear. The plan includes SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic Targets) objectives which are reviewed at every multi agency Child In Need meeting;
  • Consideration is given to factors which protect children from Emotional, Physical and Sexual Abuse and Neglect.

When agreeing the detail of the Child in Need plan, consideration should be given to other plans that are in place, such as a Health Care Plan (HCP) or an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) to enable outcomes to be aligned and reduce duplication for the child and family. The outcomes and services for the HCP/EHCP will be recorded in the CIN plan.

3. Reviewing Child in Need Plans

The first CiN plan review takes place within 4 weeks of the initial CIN meeting and at a minimum of 4 -6 weekly intervals thereafter – management oversight within supervision will set timescales for CIN reviews. The frequency of the reviews should be determined by the level of need; if a child has complex needs consideration should be given to reviews being held more regularly than 4 weekly – again managers will add oversight to the timescales.

For children with disabilities please refer to the specific guidance Children with Disabilities Referral Assessment and Planning Procedure. The frequency of reviews for children with disabilities, can be less than 4-6 weekly in specific circumstances and the rationale for this should be recorded by the team manager on the child's file.

The meeting is arranged by the allocated social worker and responsibility to chair and minute review meetings can be decided by members of the meeting. If the case is deemed to have a level of complexity, then the Team Manager may attend and chair themselves.

If any family member is unable to attend the CIN meeting, they should be assisted to present their contribution in either written or verbal format. Professionals who are unable to attend must provide a written report in advance of the meeting.

Where it becomes necessary to make minor adjustments to the Plan and services provided in between scheduled reviews, consultation with the parents and the child/young person (where appropriate) and key professionals from other agencies should always be sought. Additional services arranged in the interim should be agreed and added to the CIN plan at the next meeting.

As part of the Child in Need Review, consideration should be given to other plans that are place, such as a Health Care Plan (HCP) or an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP).

If the HCP does not reflect the current intervention or needs of the child, the Social Worker must address this with the lead Health professional.

If the EHCP does not reflect the current intervention or needs of the child, the Social Worker must request a formal review of the ECHP via the SEND email address:

After a Plan has been in place for 6 months the next review must be chaired by a Team Manager who will review the effectiveness of the Plan and its impact on improving the outcomes for the child / young person involved.

All open CIN cases should have a new Child & Family Assessment completed every 12 months to ensure that any changes in circumstances are analysed. If there are any significant events within the 12 months the social worker and their Team Manager must ensure that these events are analysed. Following analysis consideration should be given to undertaking a Child & Family Assessment even before the 12 months have elapsed to ensure that plans continue to meet the needs of the child'.


Supervision should be every 2 months to ensure good management oversight of the case and to prevent drift.

4. Following the Review Meeting

If, at a review of the Child in Need Plan, it is concluded that the objectives of the Plan are not being achieved, consideration should be given to whether this is an indication that the welfare of the child is not being promoted or safeguarded. In these circumstances, consultation should take place with the Team Manager about whether planning for the child should continue under Children in Need procedures or due to escalating concerns the case should be managed through Child Protection and the Safeguarding procedures. If this is the case and the child/young person is deemed at risk/or suffered Significant Harm, a Strategy Meeting / discussion should be convened. For further guidance, refer to the Child Protection Procedures. In some cases the lack of progress in child in need planning may warrant a Legal Gateway/Planning Meeting. In such circumstances the social worker should complete the Legal Gateway/Planning Meeting screening tool and discuss the case in supervision with their Team Manager.

A Child in Need Plan should not be ended without the completion of a further Child & Family Assessment to inform the decision. The Child & Family Assessment will inform the review at which a decision will be made about whether the Plan has achieved its objectives and that satisfactory arrangements for the continuing promotion and safeguarding of the child's welfare are in place. This may include continuing provision of services within an Early Help Assessment and through the identification of a Lead Practitioner. In such circumstances the step down procedures must be adhered to - see Section 7, Visiting Requirements for a Child / Young Person Subject to Children in Need Procedures.

If a key agency is not present at the review then their views must be sought before a decision is made to close / step down the case.

5. Outcomes of the Review Meeting

The Review Meeting may conclude:

  • Progress is being made, but the aims of the Plan (the Safety/Wellbeing Goals) have not yet been achieved and services will continue to remain involved with the family working within the Child in Need Plan;
  • The outcomes specified in the Plan (Safety/Wellbeing) have been achieved, and the Child in Need Plan is no longer required;
  • The need can be met by other agencies under Early Help procedures; an Early Help action plan is put in place and lead professional appointed;
  • Lack of progress or heightened concerns indicate the need to initiate Safeguarding Procedures and a Strategy Meeting is convened;
  • A Legal planning is convened due to the lack of progress in the CIN planning process;
  • Review concludes that the child can no longer be cared for safely at home and a recommendation is made that the child should become Looked After. Social worker will then discuss this with their Team Manager, Head of Service and Legal services who will agree the appropriate course of action with reference to the relevant procedures;
  • The Plan has achieved all identified outcomes (Safety/Wellbeing Goal) and there is no need for any further involvement and the case is closed;
  • Any decisions recommended at the CIN review must be agreed and endorsed by the TM, especially if it is to close or step down a case to Early Help.

It is important that the child/ren and family attend the meeting and arrangements are made to facilitate their attendance. Consideration should therefore be given to accessibility, location, timing and the need for an Advocate/interpreter. The age at which children should attend these meetings cannot be rigidly set. Each child should be assessed and the decision made as to the suitability of them attending using the following criteria:

  • Does the child have sufficient understanding of the process?
  • Does the child or family member require the assistance of an interpretation service?
  • Has the child expressed a wish to attend?
  • Will attendance cause the child any harm?

The Chair will ensure that:

  • The meeting is as open and informal as possible;
  • Particular attention is given to the use of language and any special terms explained;
  • The child and parent(s) are given appropriate encouragement, assistance and opportunity to say what they wish;
  • Differences and disagreements are respected and recorded;
  • Any needs with regard to age, disability, culture, religion or race must be given specific consideration.

The Chair will summarise and reiterate agreed actions, roles and tasks, and all participants will be asked to sign the attendance sheet and their agreement to the proposed.


The Chair should be mindful of any issues which the child/young person may find embarrassing to talk about within a large meeting. Consideration should be given to how any such issues, which are relevant in relation to the aims of the Plan, should be managed within the meeting.

6. Recording the Plan

The objectives and individual responsibilities agreed at the Child in Need meeting should be recorded on the Child in Need Plan.

The Plan and reviews will be held on the child's Electronic Social Record in the Children in Need section and should be added to ICS within 5 days of the meeting being held.

The Plan or review must not be disclosed to any party who is not part of the CIN group without the parent's consent unless it is necessary to safeguard the child. The allocated worker must ensure that the multi-agency parental consent form has been completed and is held on file.

Copies of the Plan should be provided to the child/ren, family and participants in the planning and review group within 10 working days of the meeting. Copies should be hand-delivered to all relevant parties irrespective of whether they attend the meeting or not, or sent electronically via a secure email.

All Child in need plans should be authorised by a Team Manager.

7. Visiting Requirements for a Child / Young Person Subject to Children in Need Procedures

As a minimum standard visiting frequency is every six weeks.

The visiting frequency should form part of the overall Child in Need Plan and should be recorded in the CIN plan – Team Manager will add oversight to reflect visiting standards at each supervision. However, consideration should be given to the nature of involvement, the age and vulnerabilities of the child / young person, along with their wishes. In adopting good practice in undertaking visits to a child / young person, consideration also needs to be given to both planned and unplanned visits. The child MUST be seen on every visit in their home.

The only exception to this is for children who are open to the Children with Disability Team. Some children, for example those who are only open to receive financial or respite services may need visits that are less frequent than 4 weeks. The frequency of these visits should be agreed by the Team Manager and the reason for the frequency should be recorded on the child's record in the case summary. Good practice would be to visit these children at least every 3 months to ensure that the financial / respite services continue to meet the child's needs.

8. Supervision Orders

The Children Act 1989 explains:

  1. While a Supervision Order is in force it shall be the duty of the supervisor:
    1. To advice, assist and befriend the supervised child;
    2. To take such steps as are reasonable necessary to give effect to the order; and
    3. Where:
      1. The order is not wholly complied with; or
      2. The supervisor considers that the order may no longer be necessary;
      3. To consider whether or not to apply to the court for its variation or discharge.
  2. Parts I and II of Schedule 3 make further provision with respect to Supervision Orders.

Children and young people subject to a supervision order will therefore be seen as a child in need and the above procedures will be adhered to.

Three months prior to the supervision order end date, the social worker will refer the case to a Legal Gateway/Planning Meeting.

The Legal Gateway/Planning Meeting will consider if there is a requirement to apply to the court for an extension/variation of the order or a supervision order is no longer required.

If the Legal Gateway/Planning Meeting decides that a supervision order is no longer required, at the point the supervision order lapses, the social worker will follow step down procedures if it is deemed appropriate. See: Supervision Order Policy.

9. Step Down

A Team Manager will make the decision for case to step down to Early Help following the completion of a new Child & Family Assessment and a review of the case with the social worker. The management decision and a request to Early Help to attend the final CIN meeting needs to be completed. The social worker will invite the Early Help worker to attend the final CIN meeting.

Early Help will allocate a worker to attend the CIN meeting within 5 working days. The CIN meeting will act as a step down meeting.

It is good practice to undertake a joint visit to family by Social Worker and Early Help Worker if they haven't been known to the child and family previously, or if the family do not attend the CIN meeting.

The Early Help Worker will assume case responsibility from the final CIN meeting.

(See also: Knowsley Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures, Step Up / Step Down Procedure Procedure).

10. Private Fostering

(See also Private Fostering Procedure).

11. Ending Child in Need Plan

At the point at which all of a child's needs are met and no longer require intervention from Children's Social Care (CSC), something that must be confirmed through the completion of a Child & Family Assessment, family members and professionals should be in agreement (N.B. In the case of disagreement the Knowsley Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures, Multi Agency Escalation Policy should be implemented), and the case will close to CSC.

If the case is stepping down to Early Help the Social Worker should choose step down to Early Help as the outcome on the final CIN review. This will transfer the case into EHM (see Section 9, Step Down for more detail).

The social worker should inform all parties in writing that the case is closed.