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1.3.8 Core Group Working and Reviews

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

In the cycle of assessment, planning, intervention and review, core groups and reviews are the means of monitoring that the intervention is helping to achieve the outcomes set out in the plan. Core groups and reviews take place in for children in need, children with child protection plans and for children who are looked after. This chapter is mostly concerned with core groups and reviews for children in need. There is full information about reviews and core groups for looked after children in Part 4.1, Planning for Children Looked After.

Detailed guidance about Core Groups for children with a child protection plan is contained in the Hull Safeguarding Children Board Guidelines and Procedures Manual, Child Protection Plans Procedure, The Core Group.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was slightly amended in May 2014; core group meetings should be held, as a minimum, every 4-6 weeks.


Contents

1. Core Groups
  1.1 Core Group Definition and Application
  1.2 Core Group Working with a Child In Need
2. Reviews
  2.1 Child in Need Reviews
3. Closure of a Child in Need Case


1. Core Groups

1.1 Core Group Definition and Application

The team of practitioners from the various agencies who are in regular contact with a child and their family, and relevant members of the family themselves form the Core Group. Their role is to work with the child and family to implement the key elements of the Child Protection Plan; Child in Need Plan; or the Plan for a Looked after Child.

There must be a Core Group for every child:

  1. Who has a Child in Need Plan;
  2. Who has a Child Protection Plan. Where the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan, this will be drawn up in outline at the Initial Child Protection Conference and in detail at the Core Group meeting(s). It will be reviewed by a Child Protection Review Conference. (For details of Core Group working within a Child Protection Plan see the Hull Safeguarding Children Board Guidelines and Procedures Manual, Child Protection Plans Procedure, The Core Group);
  3. Or is being Looked After, and for whom core group working is felt to be beneficial (e.g. where structured regular inter-agency communication is required). Core Groups are not a compulsory requirement when working with a Looked After Child. The need for these, and progress of work done, will be discussed at Looked After Child Reviews.

1.2 Core Group Working with a Child In Need

Core groups will follow a Children’s Social Care Assessment, where the assessment has concluded that a package of family support is required to meet the child's needs under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

The core group meeting provides an opportunity for a child and his or her parents/carers, together with key agencies, to identify and agree the package of services required and to develop and monitor the child in need plan.

The likely membership of core groups will, in practice, emerge during the time the Children’s Social Care Assessment is conducted. The composition and frequency of the core group will be suggested by the social worker who completes the assessment, and ratified by the Consultant Social worker / Team Manager when she or he approves the child in need plan. The social worker should discuss potential attendees for the core group with the child and the parents/carers prior to arrangements being made for the meeting. The social worker is responsible for convening the meeting and arranging invitations. The social worker will usually chair the core group meetings.

Although the key worker has the lead role, all members of the core group are jointly responsible for the formulation and implementation of the child in need plan, refining the plan as needed, and monitoring progress against the planned outcomes set out in the plan.

All core group meetings for a child in need 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 will be 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, 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 frequency should be set at a level that fits with the needs of the child and the family but as a minimum, every 4-6 weeks. Core groups should meet sufficiently regularly to facilitate working together and monitor actions and outcomes against the child in need plan. The progress of this will be shared at the child in need review where adjustments to the plan, core group composition and frequency of meeting can be ratified.

Sometimes there may be conflicts of interest between family members who have a relevant interest in the work of the core group. The child's best interests should always take precedence over the interests of other family members.

The core group should ensure that a thorough review of the areas identified by the Child In Need Plan is carried out at each meeting, and the outcome will be recorded and distributed by the Social worker. A standard form is used (Core Group working Record).


2. Reviews

Reviews are an important part of the social work process: the cycle of assessment, planning, intervention and review. Their purpose is to evaluate the progress made against the outcomes identified in the child / young person's plan. They provide the opportunity to make decisions about changes to the plan if progress is not being made. They also provide the opportunity for the family, child and the key agencies to express their views be fully informed. 

Reviews for looked after children are covered in Part 4.1, Planning for Children Looked After. The frequency of reviews for a looked after child is: the first review is held within 28 days of the child becoming looked after, the next one three months after the initial review and thereafter six monthly. There is some variation in the required frequency in some circumstances (for example some short breaks arrangements), see Looked After Children (LAC) Reviews Procedure for details. The documents required for a looked after child review are a Review Report and a Child / Young Person's Plan. 

The Initial Child Protection Conference takes place within 15 days of the strategy discussion / meeting at which Section 47 enquiries are instigated or as soon as possible afterwards. The first Review Child Protection conference is held within three months and thereafter they are six monthly. 

2.1 Child in Need Reviews

The first Child in Need Review should take place within three months of the initial referral. The frequency of subsequent reviews is six monthly. The social worker is responsible for setting up the review with the key participants (which will include, at least, all core group members). The location of the review meeting should be the most appropriate in each individual case. It may be that the family would prefer for it to be held in the family home or it may be held in a CFS location. The Consultant Social worker / Team Manager is usually appointed to Chair the meeting. Consultation documents are sent out with invitations in advance of the meeting. See Process Flowchart for a Child In Need.

The Child in Need Review - on the day

In general terms, responsibilities for ensuring a good quality review can be outlined as follows:

The social worker is responsible for:

  1. Providing a Social Worker's Report to Review and Child / Young Person's Plan;
  2. Providing copies of Core Group meeting minutes;
  3. Collating received documentation for the review, and bringing it to the review having shared it with the Consultant Social worker / Team Manager prior to the review;
  4. Ensuring that review participants receive the support needed to participate fully in the review;
  5. That the Chair is updated about contentious or sensitive issues;
  6. Addressing any special needs or requirements any invitees may have, e.g. access, interpreter, signing or any other environment or communication requirements;
  7. Being prepared beforehand to be able to speak to the Review, probably near the beginning about the progress being made in implementing the plan.

The Consultant Social worker / Team Manager is responsible for:

  1. Chairing the review;
  2. Ensuring that all parties have the opportunity to contribute, and that the review is properly informed in order to make appropriate decisions in the best interests of the child;
  3. Ensuring that resource implications regarding the implementation of the plan are addressed;
  4. Ensuring that the plan is outcome focused and includes named responsible persons and timescales for action;
  5. Confirming that the family members understand the complaints and representations procedure;
  6. Recording core group membership and required meeting frequency;
  7. Writing up the record of the meeting and ensuring that it is distributed to all the relevant parties, the child (if old enough), parent and all other participants in the Review process.

All decisions made should be recorded on the child's Liquidlogic record, together with reasons, and dated.

The outcome of a Review will be:

  1. That the child is no longer a child in need requiring Children's Social Care intervention, which will result in a recommendation that the case be closed;
  2. That the child continues to be a child in need requiring the same level of services, resulting in the continuing provision of services and minor amendment, as necessary, of the child in need plan;
  3. That the child's needs are sufficiently complex and/or s/he requires additional services to safeguard and promote his or her welfare such as to justify Children’s Social Care Assessment to be undertaken;
  4. That the child appears to be at risk of Significant Harm, resulting in the need for a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and possible Section 47 Enquiry as part of a Children’s Social Care Assessment. See Hull Safeguarding Children Board Guidelines and Procedures Manual, Child Protection Enquiries - Section 47 Children Act 1989 Procedure.

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 child, parents, and other agencies/professionals involved in providing the services set out in the amended plan, including any new services to be provided.

Child in Need Review by Consultation

In certain circumstances, a Child in Need Review may be held by consultation rather than as a meeting. This may be in an ongoing case where there are no significant changes in circumstances. A review by consultation should take place in supervision between the social worker and the Consultant Social worker / Team Manager. The social worker should ensure that consultation documents have been sent to all relevant professionals and family members so that their views can be taken into consideration. A record of the review should be made on the child’s Liquidlogic record by the Consultant Social worker / Team Manager and circulated to all relevant parties by the social worker. There should not be two consecutive reviews held by consultation – a review meeting should take place at least once every 12 months.


3. Closure of a Child in Need Case

The social worker is able to cease working with the service user and close the case if one of the following steps have been taken:

  1. Closure has been endorsed by a child in need review meeting;
  2. Closure has been endorsed by a child in need core group meeting and approved by a Consultant Social worker / Team Manager;
  3. Closure has been approved by a Consultant Social worker / Team Manager following supervision with the Social worker.

Ideally closure should be brought about through discussion between the child, family and professionals involved (options a) and b)).

When closure takes place through the supervision/reflective case discussion process, the social worker will notify all core group members, the child (if appropriate), and other relevant family members. There is not a standard pro forma closure letter to these parties: the Social worker will need to write a letter to the child (if appropriate) and family members in terms appropriate to the work they have been doing together. It is important to observe the following points:

  1. A letter stating that case closure is taking place must not come as a surprise to the service user or other core group member. Appropriate discussion and, if necessary, preparation must have taken place;
  2. The formal closure letter must always point out to the service user how to contact the service again (usually the header address), or provide details of other appropriate support agencies.

Sometimes, if the needs have reduced to the extent that Children's Social Care support is no longer required but there are remaining additional needs that could be managed within universal services. In this case, there should be discussion with relevant agencies and the child and family.

End