Child in Need Meetings - Information for Parents and Carers
What is a Child in Need meeting?
Child in Need meetings are held under Section 17 of the Children Act and are intended to bring together the ‘network’ around your child(ren). This typically includes the agencies involved with your family, (e.g., the school or health visitor) and significant friends or family members you have identified as supporting you and your family.
The purpose of the meeting is to develop and review the plan for your child(ren). Everyone will be asked to update on how the plan has been progressing from their point of view, to review the support and interventions and to amend or add to the plan accordingly This is a meeting to support you and your family. Together, we will agree the kind of support or intervention that is needed in the best interests of the children, and this may involve a range of agencies. The focus of the plan will be on your child/children’s wellbeing. The plan should describe what the support provided should achieve and a timeframe. If your child/ren are at an age where they will understand and be able to cope with the meeting, they are usually invited.
Why is the meeting happening?
The Child and Family Assessment completed with you and your family will have identified that your children have needs that require additional support and this might be related to their health or development. Each member of the ‘network’ whether that is family or agency will have their own role and responsibilities in making sure that the plan meets your child’s needs in an agreed amount of time.
Who will be there?
- You, as the parent(s) and/or carer
- The members of your family and friendship network that you or your children have identified as significant and important.
- Your child/ren, if appropriate
- Social Worker and/or Manager
- Health professional (such as midwife/health visitor/school nurse)
- Education (nursery keyworker/schoolteacher/learning mentor)
There is an agenda for the meeting, and the lead professional (often the Social Worker) will take responsibility for the meeting and certain agencies (where applicable) must attend, such as health and education. All of this needs your agreement in order for it to happen, but the main focus of the meeting is support for you and your family. It might feel a bit intimidating, but it is important to remember that you can use this meeting as a way of making sure your children’s needs are met and that you all get the support you need.
You and your family are the most important people to be in the meeting so if you are worried about attending it’s always better to speak to your Social Worker.
If English is not your first language and you feel you need an interpreter, you can take a family member with the agreement of the Social Worker, or you can ask your Social Worker if one can be provided by the local authority.
Where will it take place?
Child in Need meetings often include a number of people/agencies so they’re not held within your home, unless there are reasons (such as disability) which might prevent you attending. A typical venue might be a local children’s centre, a school, a library/community centre, or the Children’s Services offices. Consideration should be given to as to any assistance you might need to attend the meeting. This might include transport or disabled access and if you have school age children, you may need to make alternative plans to get them picked up.
What should I do?
You might find the meeting more beneficial for you if you are prepared. Here are some tips:
- Speak to your Social Worker if you have any questions about the process or why it is happening. They must keep you informed at every stage of the process, but please work with them to make sure you understand what is happening and also that they understand what you are worried or concerned about – they are there to support you and your family.
- There should be no surprises in the meeting and each agency has a responsibility to talk through with you before the meeting any updates they will be providing. Make sure you ask questions if you are not sure about what agencies are saying. If a report is provided for the meeting that you have not seen, please ask for time to read it.
- Think about what you want to get out of the meeting and make a list of the support you feel would help.
- It is easy to forget something you wanted to say when you are in a meeting like this, so take your notes to the meeting so you can refer to them.
- Make notes in the meeting so you have your own record of important points, such as what you need to do, by when, and the date of the next meeting.
- It is very important that you understand what’s happening and why, so it is important to listen and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Make sure any future dates work for you - you are an equal part of this process.
What is a Child in Need Plan?
The Child in Need Plan is the document that outlines the family rules and commitments and what everyone is going to do to support you and your family with the issues that are causing the difficulty. The plan should be specific and give timescales and show the outcomes we are all working towards. The plan should be reviewed and amended at each Child in Need meeting, and everyone should get a copy of the amended plan within 10 working days of the meeting.
The Child in Need Plan should be reviewed every three months, stay in place for at least three months and should be reviewed before it is closed.
What happens when the Child in Need Plan closes?
When the Child in Need Plan ends, it is because the child’s needs are now met, there should be a recorded closing summary explaining why the Child in Need Plan is ending, setting out the ongoing plan for your child, which may include details of an agreed family plan or Team Around the Family/Child plan. There should be an evaluation of how well the Child in Need Plan has worked and includes the views of you and your children.
Sometimes, during a Child in Need Plan, concerns increase about how safe the child(ren) are which may lead to the start of a Child Protection process. If a Child Protection Plan is agreed at a Child Protection Conference or if the children come into the care of the Local Authority, the Child in Need Plan ends and is replaced by a Child Protection or Child in Care Plan.
Where can I find more information?
Find more information and advice for parents and carers at survivingsafeguarding.co.uk/child-in-need-meeting-cin-section-17/
Further information on the definition of ‘Child in Need’ can be found here
The role of advocacy can be used within Child in Need meetings for your child/ren. Every local authority will have an advocacy service for children, and there are national and regional services too. Useful links are: