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12.3.8 Problem Resolution Protocol for Children and Young People Subject of a Child Protection Plan

Contents

1. Introduction
2. Stage 1 - The Child Protection Conference
3. Stage 2 - The Core Group
4. Stage 3 - Informal Resolution
5. Stage 4 - Starred Recommendation
6. Stage 5 - Formal Escalation
7. Stage 6 - Chief Officer Resolution
Appendix 1 - Problem Resolution Schedule
Appendix 2 - Starred Recommendation Log


1. Introduction

This protocol aims to promote effective multi-agency support for children and young people about whom there are concerns of Significant Harm and who require safeguarding through a Child Protection Plan. It should be read in conjunction with the Lancashire Safeguarding Children Procedures on Child Protection Conferences, 3.5 Initial Child Protection Conferences and in particular : 'Disagreements with the Conference Decision'). The protocol sets out the steps to be taken when the Conference Chairperson (Independent Reviewing Officer) has concerns regarding the appropriateness or implementation of the Child Protection Plan and believes that further action is required to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of a Child. This will include situations where:

  • The Child Protection Plan developed and agreed by the Core Group does not provide sufficient safeguards to the child concerned, or
  • Actions agreed within a Child Protection Plan have not been implemented within the required timescale or delivered sufficiently to safeguard a child at risk of significant harm.

It is the responsibility of the Initial Child Protection Conference to consider whether in light of the available information the threshold for a Child Protection Plan is met (3.5 Initial Child Protection Conferences, 116). Thereafter, the Initial Conference is required to develop an outline Child Protection Plan (3.5 Initial Child Protection Conferences, The Outline Child Protection Plan) which sets out the action to be taken to safeguard the child, including responsibility for tasks and the arrangements for monitoring completion against defined timescales within which the plan should be delivered. It is then the responsibility of the Core Group to develop, implement and progress the Child Protection Plan.

In Lancashire the Conference Chairperson has the final say as to whether a child becomes or remains subject of a Child Protection Plan and may overrule a decision not to make a child subject to a Child Protection Plan, or a decision to end such a plan if they believe a child will be left at risk of significant harm. (Section 3.5, paragraph 120).

Professional attendees at Child Protection Conferences must seek advice from their Designated/Named Professional (3.5 Initial Child Protection Conferences, 136) if they believe a conference decision places a child at risk. Following such consultation consideration must be given to the need to escalate the concern via the Lancashire Child Protection Conference Complaints and Appeals Procedure, Complaints in Relation to Child Protection Conferences) should be used where a professional (or child/parent) believes a conference was not run properly, made the wrong decision in respect of the need for a Child Protection Plan, or that the plan developed is not in the best interests of the child concerned. This procedure requires that an appeal is made in writing to the Directorate for Children and Young People via the Directorate Safeguarding Manager within 21 days of the conference. If the appeal is upheld the conference will be reconvened.

This protocol sets out the action to be taken where the IRO is concerned regarding the robustness of the Child Protection Plan in ensuring that the child is adequately safeguarded or the failure by the professionals working with the family to progress the Child Protection Plan.

The Conference Chairperson will make a decision about the timescale in which the problem should be resolved and make this clear to the operational managers at each stage of the resolution process. (See Problem Resolution Schedule).


2.Stage 1 - The Child Protection Conference

All Child Protection Conferences are required to assess the level of risk to the child and whether the child requires safeguarding through a formal Child Protection Plan. The conference also reviews and agrees the action to be taken to promote the safety and welfare of the child as set out in the Child Protection Plan. The development of the Child Protection Plan is a multi-agency responsibility under the guidance of the Conference Chairperson and the conference should explicitly identify any risks to the child and the action to be taken to address the risk.

At the conclusion of the Child Protection Conference an Outline Child Protection Plan is agreed and distributed to participants at the conference and the responsible Children's Social Care (CSC) Team Manager within 24 hours of the conference via the Conference Decision Sheet.

The Outline Child Protection Plan should:

  • Outline the risks to the child and the ways in which the child will be protected from harm;
  • Establish short and longer term objectives towards reducing the risk of harm and promoting the welfare of the child;
  • Set out clear actions, responsibility for completion and timescales;
  • Outline how progress will be monitored;
  • Set out the date of review and any contingency arrangements or circumstances in which an early review may be required;
  • Set out arrangements and frequency of contact with the child via Core Group members.

Note: The conference cannot make decisions in respect of the need for wider actions to safeguard a child, including but not limited to legal steps to protect a child, but can include a recommendation that a care planning meeting is held and that legal advice is sought.

The Conference Chairperson will identify if there are key actions/recommendations within the Child Protection Plan that require specific feedback to them and the timescale for this to be completed. This will be recorded in the Conference Decision Sheet and Outline Child Protection Plan.

Stage 1 - to be completed within a maximum of 1 working day


3. Stage 2 - The Core Group Meeting

The Core Group will meet within 10 working days of the Initial Child Protection Conference to develop and implement the Child Protection Plan. If the recommendations of the conference are not accepted by the agency concerned this should be reported to the Conference Chairperson and the issue will be addressed via Stage 3 below.

Stage 2 - to be completed within a maximum of 10 working days.


4. Stage 3 - Informal Resolution

Following the Core Group, the Conference Chairperson will receive updates in respect of any key actions/recommendations identified at the conference in which specific feedback was requested to the Conference Chairperson.

The Conference Chairperson will also complete a mid-point review check to monitor progression of the CP Plan. If in their professional judgement further action is required to safeguard a child, they will seek to resolve the outstanding conference recommendation via informal discussion with the appropriate front-line manager of the agency representative as appropriate. This process should be completed within 15 working days. Should this not be achieved the Conference Chairperson should initiate a starred recommendation via Stage 4 below.

Stage 3 - to be completed within a maximum of 15 working days


5. Stage 4 - Starred Recommendation

A starred recommendation will be forwarded to the front-line manager of the agency with responsibility for the completion of the conference recommendation. The CSC Team Manager, Core Group members and CSC Quality & Review Manager will also be notified. The starred recommendation will set out what action is required and the timescale for completion to adequately safeguard the child. The front-line manager must respond to the starred recommendation (using the Starred Recommendation Log) within 5 working days, setting out the action being taken and confirming the timescale for completion of the recommendation. If the matter is still not resolved the starred recommendation will be escalated to Stage 5 below.

Examples of when a starred recommendation may be used within the child protection arena

  1. Specific actions require completion such as:
    • Risk assessments;
    • Consideration of information held by another agency;
    • Support to a family to enable risk to be reduced;
    • Consideration of a legal gateway meeting where it is assessed that the risks to the child cannot be safely managed via a Child Protection Plan.
  2. Inadequate / poor practice, for example:
    • Incomplete or absent agency reports;
    • Agreed visits not undertaken by Social Worker / Core Group;
    • Delay in progressing key aspects of the Child Protection Plan.
  3. Accessing other resources to safeguard a child, for example:
    • Specialist input such as CAMHS or Adult Mental Health Services;
    • Housing.
Stage 4 - to be completed within a maximum of 5 working days


6. Stage 5 - Formal Escalation

Any concern that has not been resolved via a starred recommendation must be escalated to the Safeguarding Lead of the relevant agency to review and respond within 5 working days. The Conference Chairperson will also discuss the starred recommendation with the CSC Senior Manager with responsibility for the case. The Directorate Safeguarding Manager, Head of CSC and Head of Safeguarding, Inspection & Audit must also be notified.

If actions are agreed at this stage to address the concern then the Conference Chairperson will track progress to ensure the conference recommendation is completed.

Stage 5 - to be completed within 5 working days


7. Stage 6 - Chief Officer Resolution

In the rare event that the matter has still not been resolved the relevant agency Chief Officer will review the outstanding dispute and direct actions to be taken to resolve the concern, which will then be monitored by the Conference Chairperson to ensure completion. The Director of Targeted & Assessment Services (LCC) must also be notified.

Stage 6 - to be completed within 5 working days

Note:

  1. The problem resolution process must never delay any urgent action required to protect a child. In such circumstances immediate action to protect a child must be taken whilst wider disagreements are resolved;
  2. Any professional who believes a child subject of a Child Protection Plan is at risk of, or is suffering further significant harm must initiate an immediate safeguarding referral under established LSCB procedures separate to any action taken within this protocol;
  3. The IRO can initiate a starred recommendation at any stage whilst the child remains subject to a Child Protection Plan where they have concerns regarding the robustness of the Child Protection Plan or the failure of the professionals working with the family to progress the Child Protection Plan in a timely manner.


Appendix 1 - Problem Resolution Schedule

Click here to view the Problem Resolution Schedule.


Appendix 2 - Starred Recommendation Log

Click here to view the Starred Recommendation Log.

End