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5.1 Child in Need Plans and Reviews (including Detention under the Mental Health Act (1983))


This chapter does not apply to children who are the subject of 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). A Child Protection Review Conference will review it. Please see Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures.


The Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need

Children Act 1989


Guidance for Minute Takers of Child Protection Conferences and Complex Multi-Agency Strategy Meetings Procedure

For children who are in receipt of Short Breaks, see also the Short Breaks (away from home) Procedure.


In July 2020 in Section 4, Reviews of Child in Need Plans the timescales for the review meetings are clarified and in Section 7, Case Closure / Step-Down the timescale for case closure.


  1. Child in Need Planning Meetings
  2. Child in Need Plans
  3. Children Detained under the Mental Health Legislation (MHA)
  4. Reviews of Child in Need Plans
  5. Supervision Orders
  6. Section 7 Reports and Interim Child Arrangements Orders
  7. Case Closure / Step-Down

1. Child in Need Planning Meetings


When it is determined following an assessment or at the end of a child protection plan that a child or young person is ‘in need’ of services under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, and that this includes intervention from a social worker at Level 4 of the Pathway to Provision, a Child in Need Planning Meeting must be convened within 10 working days.

The CIN Planning Meeting is the forum within which the family and professional network decide what actions are required to meet the needs of the child and family, as identified within the social work assessment. As well as establishing the plan for the child / young person, it is also an opportunity for the social worker to:

  • Ensure that everyone involved understands the concerns, risks, strengths, and needs;
  • Set out a vision of what the plan aims to achieve, by being outcome-focused;
  • Establishes how the ‘team’ around the child, including parents/carers and family members as well as professionals, should work together. This should include laying out expectations about how best to communicate, how meetings should be run, and how often the plan should be reviewed;
  • Set timescales for change.

Because of these important functions, the CIN Planning Meeting should be chaired by the Team Manager or the social worker if it is agreed with the manager that they have the necessary skills, confidence and experience. If the Team Manager does not chair the meeting, they must quality assure the plan within supervision against the standards set out in this procedure.

Attendance and Participation

The social worker must ensure that the child / young person and family are suitably prepared for the CIN Planning Meeting. In order to demonstrate a commitment to working in partnership, the social worker should agree with the family who should be invited from their family and professional network, and gain consent for the attendance of any new agencies who the social worker may have referred to. It is good practice to gain again consent for the sharing of information at the meeting.

The child / young person should attend all Child in Need Planning Meetings where appropriate (depending on age and understanding). If that is not possible or desirable the social worker must ensure that the child or young person’s views are gained before the meeting, and shared appropriately. It is expected that the child’s voice is made clear during the meeting and within the plan itself. Social workers should utilise creative approaches to ensure that meaningful participation is achieved. Advice about this can be requested from the Social Work Practice Support Service, and in specific cases, it may be appropriate for a formal advocate to be requested through the Children’s Placements and Commissioning Team (if agreed by the Team Manager and Service Manager).

Recording the Meeting

Full meeting minutes do not need to be taken. However each attendee and member of the ‘team’ around the child must be given a copy of the plan either at the end of the meeting, or by post / secure email within 10 working days.

On Mosaic, along with the CIN Plan, the social worker must record:

  • Who attended the meeting, and who was invited;
  • Whether any new information was shared;
  • Whether there were any disagreements;
  • What the contingency plan is, if required changes are not made or if there is an escalation of risk.

The Mosaic episode should be completed by the social worker and approved by the Team Manager within 10 working days of the meeting.

Sibling Groups

Only the children and young people within a family who have been assessed as being ‘in need’ and requiring a social work service under Level 4 of the Pathway to Provision should be subject to planning at a CIN Meeting. If information arises in a CIN Planning or Review Meeting that suggests a sibling that is closed to children’s social care may be in need of such services, then the social worker should ensure that the relevant referral is made to the MASH team.

2. Child in Need Plans

A Child in Need Plan will be developed in the Child in Need Planning Meeting. This plan should be seen as an organic document that is updated regularly, and ideally one that the family takes ownership of and refers back to. This means it needs to be written in simple and straightforward language.


The plan should be based upon the identified needs of the child / young person, and be outcomes-focused. These needs should be simple, and do not need to be large in number. For example, ‘Mia needs to live in a safe environment’’.

The outcome for each aspect of the plan should also be clear and simple. For example, ‘Mia is kept safe at home and has no more accidents’.

The action that is required to achieve the outcome may include more than one task, for more than one person. For example:

  1. The front door should be kept locked at all times;
  2. Support will be provided to help the parents apply for a larger property;
  3. A cleaning schedule needs to be devised.

Every action needs an owner, and a timescale that is achievable yet reflects the urgent need for change.

Child-Specific Plans

As with all case recording, it is important that CIN Plans are child-specific. This means that each child within a family group who is ‘in need’ and open to a social worker should have a CIN Plan that includes information and actions relating to them, and not include any actions and information that relate solely to a sibling. If actions relate to the parents or the family as a whole this should be included.

3. Children Detained under the Mental Health Legislation (MHA)

Not withstanding the complexities of an individual child’s legal situation we must ensure that all children subject of MHA detention are treated as if they are a Looked After Child, whether they are deemed to be looked after or Child in Need. It is also important that the Team Manager working with a child detained under Mental Health Legislation seek legal advice regarding the specific child they are working with.

In the event that a young person has a Mental Health Act assessment following detention under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act, the assessing Approved Mental Health Act Professional should contact the nominated Service Director to request that a formal multi-agency review of the young person’s care should be initiated. This should take place no more than two weeks following the Section 136 incident. Where a young person has a lead professional (social worker or early help case manager( they will be asked to coordinate the review. With looked after children this may involve bringing forward a scheduled LAC Review.

Key information from the review will be shared with the police to inform any future repeat 136 situation.

The formal review should include an opportunity for the child/young person to comment on the care they have received following a Section 136 incident.

If no lead professional is involved then referral is to be made to Early Help Unit for assessment and multi-agency working to be co-ordinated.

4. Reviews of Child in Need Plans

Child In Need plans should be reviewed in regular review meetings by the ‘team’ around the family, as identified in the CIN Planning Meeting. This should be at a frequency agreed at the Planning Meeting and endorsed by the Team Manager in supervision, usually every 6-8 weeks and never more than every 12-weeks. The first CIN review meeting must be held within 6 weeks. The purpose of the CIN Plan is to keep safe and improve outcomes for a child or young person who requires Level 4 services, therefore the professional intervention must be focused upon achieving rapid and sustainable change. An effective team need to meet regularly to share information, discuss progress and help motivate and encourage one another. Drift and delay may result from long review periods.

During review meetings, the CIN Plan should be updated so that progress can be easily measured. It is the plan, alongside the social worker’s Mosaic notes (using the same format as for Planning Meetings) that provide a record of the meeting. The Team Manager will sign off all CIN reviews and plans within 5 working days of the meeting. The updated plan should be provided to all members of the team around the family after the meeting, or within 10 working days.

Reducing Drift and Delay

If the case remains open to a social worker at the 6-month point, a CIN Review must be convened and chaired by the Team Manager. The Team Manager must take responsibility for reviewing the effectiveness of the plan, and should seek to understand the reasons for any lack of progress. They must consider:

  • Whether a core or specialist parenting assessment is needed to decide whether sufficient change is likely within reasonable timescales for the child;
  • Whether the lack of improvement means that the child may be at risk of suffering significant harm in which case a strategy or Legal Gateway/Planning Meeting may need to be convened;
  • Whether or not there is still a role for a social worker at Level 4.

Children’s Service Managers should review all CIN Plans that reach the 9-month point, in order to quality assure the planning and decision-making on the case, and to check for evidence of drift and delay. A case note of this review and any instructions should be recorded on the child’s file.

Group Managers should review all CIN Plans that reach the 12-month point, and every 3 months thereafter. Such reviews should be recorded on the child’s Mosaic file along with any instructions.

5. Supervision Orders

Children made subject to supervision orders are ‘in need’ and as such should have a CIN Plan. Separate provision has been made for CIN Planning meetings and Reviews of children subject to supervision orders to be chaired by an independent chair. The timescales and procedures for these meetings are different to those documented in this procedure and can be found in the Supervision Orders Procedure.

6. Section 7 Reports and Interim Child Arrangements Orders

There are instances when Children’s Social Care undertake work on a child’s case where the child is not ‘in need’ or where the standard Child in Need Plans and Reviews (including Detention under the Mental Health Act (1983)) Procedure should not apply in the way as set out in this document. Examples of such cases are:

  • Requests for Section 7 reports where it is agreed that the Local Authority are best placed to complete the assessment but where the child is not ‘in need’ at Level 4 of the Pathway to Provision;
  • Children who are subject to public law proceedings but where an interim child arrangements order has been made and it is deemed by the social worker and team manager that CIN meetings are not needed.

If the child is not ‘in need’ because they are only open for the completion of a Section 7 report, the Team Manager must record clearly on the child’s electronic file that multi-agency CIN Planning and Review Meetings are not required. The social worker will need to progress CIN Mosaic episodes within the 10-day and 12-week timescales as set out in this procedure, on the basis that it is clearly recorded why CIN Plans are not being populated.

If the child is ‘in need’ but a CIN Planning Meeting is not feasible or needed, the Team Manager must record this decision clearly on the child’s Mosaic file. The social worker will need to progress CIN Mosaic episodes within the 10-day and 12-week timescales as set out in this procedure; however, the CIN Plan should be populated to reflect the tasks and actions that are being undertaken as part of the child’s court-reviewed care plan.

7. Case Closure / Step-Down 

From an early stage within the CIN Planning process, it is important for the family and professional team around the child to understand that there may be a need for the child / young person to continue needing a multi-agency plan beyond the point that a social worker is no longer needed. It is not the case that a social worker has to remain as lead professional until all of the outcomes are met. If changes take place, and the child’s needs move down the continuum of need as outlined in the Pathway to Provision to a Level 3, then it may be appropriate for the lead professional to change on the basis that targeted children’s social care intervention is no longer required.

If this understanding is shared by, the team around the family then it allows for planning to take place to help the transition for a step-down to Level 3 service provision and a change of lead professional. More detailed guidance for this is located in the Pathway to Provision.

The child’s social worker should arrange for step-down when it has been agreed in supervision that a Level 4 service is no longer required because the social worker tasks within the plan have been completed and the level of risk/need has been reduced. In some circumstances, the level of need may drop to Level 2 or even Level 1 on the Pathway to Provision, in which case there may not be a need for a formal step-down process.

Following the final Child in Need Review Meeting the child’s updated plan should still be distributed to the members of the team around the family within 5 working days, and it should be made clear who is taking responsibility as lead professional. At the final meeting there should be a discussion about ‘what if?’ scenarios so that everyone is clear about what to do if concerns escalate, when to make a re-referral to children’s social care, and what the implications may be of a failure to engage with the plan. The social worker will close the case within 5 working days of the CIN Review meeting.

Click here to view S135 & S136 guidance.