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1.4.9 Mandatory Visits for children subject of Child Protection and Child in Need Plans: Practice Guidance

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated throughout in March 2017 in line with local practice, and should be re-read.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Normal Frequency
  3. Guiding Principles
  4. Additional Monitoring by Care Team / Core Group Members
  5. Recording


1. Introduction

This practice guidance relates to social worker visits to children subject of Child Protection (CP) and Child in Need (CIN) plans. The guidance encompasses what should happen during a statutory visit, who should carry this visit out, how frequently visits should take place and how these visits are recorded.

This guidance reflects minimum standards for Social Workers. This guidance includes cases open to Children with Disabilities apart from those receiving Commissioning and Support. See separate guidance for Short Break Looked After Children; Commissioning and Support.


2. Normal Frequency

All children should be seen in accordance with the visiting patterns agreed in the Child’s Plan. The frequency of visits will depend on the identified needs and risks of the child and must be agreed by the Conference, Care Team or Core Group for the child and authorised by the team manager; it must be noted that risks and the needs of children are dynamic and the frequency of visits may need to be increased following discussion between the social worker and the team manager/Group Manager/CSW.

As a minimum standard across the service, the child should be seen by the Social Worker EVERY FOUR WEEKS. All  visits to the child should be recorded using the Statutory Visiting form on ICS.

Children may be seen in their home or in another environment, e.g. extended family member’s home, school (only with good reason should a child be taken out of lessons and the permission of school must be sought) or community setting. It should be clearly recorded where the child was seen and, if the child is not seen at home, the reason for this, for example the child prefers to be seen in the community or the social worker has difficulty seeing the child at home.

The family home must continue to be seen every four weeks with the child present.

The child must be seen on their own unless there are exceptional reasons to prevent this and these reasons must clearly be recorded on the Statutory Visiting Form. These reasons must be reviewed in supervision by the social worker and Team Manager.

An observation of the family home should take place during the visit when the child’s bedroom, the family bathroom and the kitchen area should be seen. This may be more frequent if there are concerns about neglect and / or home conditions. If there is a need for frequent checks of areas of the home, this should be stipulated in the child's plan. The outcome of these checks should be recorded on the Statutory Visiting Form.

This visiting pattern should be needs led and there may be times when the Core Group or Care Team assess that visits will be required more frequently.

The minimum Statutory visiting pattern must be followed when a Section 37 Report has been requested by the Court and a Court Assessment form has been opened on ICS.

The statutory visiting pattern may be required when a Section 7 Report is requested and a Court Assessment document is opened on ICS for this reason. Any decision not to complete visits in line with the minimum of four week statutory visiting pattern in this specific circumstance must be clearly discussed and recorded within supervision, and evidenced within Care First as a supervision action.

For private fostering arrangements see Private Fostering Procedure.


3. Guiding Principles

  • The purpose of the visit is to engage with the child and to gather their views, wishes or to observe them and develop an understanding of their needs;
  • Visits should be planned for and take into account the child's needs related to their age, stage of development, cultural and communication needs;
  • Children should always be seen on their own. During visits to large sibling groups, efforts should be made to spend time with the siblings together and individually;
  • The visit is a separate activity to information gathering or assessment sessions with parents or carers;
  • The visit should take into account the child's current plan.


4. Additional Monitoring by Care Team / Core Group Members

  • In some situations, a child may be resistant to meeting with the social worker;

    If the child has an established relationship with another member of the core group / care team, some statutory visits may be carried out by a suitable member of the core group. This should be detailed in the child's Plan; but cannot replace the requirement for a minimum of four weekly statutory visits to be undertaken by the social worker;

    Feedback is required following each of these visits to allow this to be recorded on the child's file. The social worker should continue to see the child and endeavour to develop a relationship with them;
  • Some children aged five years or younger, who are subject of CP or CIN plans are seen regularly by other members of the core group / care team: for example by a family support worker going in to the home or through the child attending nursery / playgroup; 

    In such circumstances, this contact with the child is a significant monitoring tool and safeguard for the child. When this level of monitoring is taking place, it should be clearly identified in the child's plan; 

    Feedback from the professionals having contact with the child should be provided to the social worker and continued attendance at the Core Group / care team meeting should be ensured by that professional;

    The social worker should continue to see the child, as a minimum no less than every four weeks.


5. Recording

All SUCCESSFUL visits to a child should be recorded on ICS using the “Statutory Visit” form and the Care First activity which is embedded within this form. The ICS form must be completed in order for the activity to be completed and appear within the child’s Care First activities. Please see below for guidance in how to complete the ICS form.

Workers should not record stand alone activities in Care First to evidence statutory visits, even those these can subsequently be pulled into the ICS form.

Recordings should indicate if the child was seen alone and the appropriate box on the activity should be ticked:

  • If the child has not been seen alone, the recording should indicate why;
  • If a visit was planned but was not successfully carried out or a visit has been carried out and the child was not present, an 'Unsuccessful Statutory Visit” observation should be completed. The recording of an unsuccessful visit should include:
    1. The reason the visit was unsuccessful i.e. was this due to worker reasons (cancellation) or family reasons (family not at home);
    2. Attempts made to rearrange the visit. Efforts to re arrange the visit could include; telephone calls to the parents/carers and extended family members to arrange another date/time, note left for the family at the home address with a different time/date to visit, telephone calls to members of the Care Team/Core Group to establish if the child(ren) have been seen and when, arrangements to see the child(ren) in a different environment e.g. at school;
    3. An “Unsuccessful Statutory Visit “observation should be recorded on each occasion that a visit was attempted but was unsuccessful;

      Click here to view a screenshot.
    4. Any pattern of unsuccessful visits or where visits are not completed with timescale should be discussed with the Care Team/Core Group and within social workers’ supervision with their Group / Team managers;
    5. If the Statutory visit is not completed within timescale a record of unsuccessful visits should be referenced within the Child’s Statutory Visit form (please see screen shot below) which will be completed when a successful visit takes place.

      Click here to view a screenshot.

The recording of successful visits should clearly state the plan for and purpose of the visit - Key information should be recorded only:

  • Recordings of visits should detail the child's wishes, views and feelings and whether the child was spoken to alone;
  • Recordings should evidence that the child understands, in a manner appropriate to their age and stage of development, their plan and the reasons for Children's Social Care involvement;
  • Recordings should be analytical - with the social worker considering their observations in the context of the child's needs and their current plan;
  • Actions resulting from the visit should be clearly recorded, with timescales and details of who is to take responsibility for achieving the task;
  • Work sheets or evidence of direct work with children should be uploaded on to the child's electronic file and this should be referred to in the recording of the visit;
  • If it is stipulated in the child's plan that they will have regular contact with a care team or core group meeting, the Social Worker has responsibility for recording on the child's file the details fed back by that professional in relation to their contact with the child.

The record of the Statutory Visit must be completed as soon as possible and within 48 hours of the visit being undertaken.

Guidance to completing the ICS form

  • This is the ICS document that is to be used to record statutory visits. This ICS document is to be used for all statutory visits instead of using observations;
  • The document is accessed by using the ‘Find Assessment’ icon.

    Click here to view a screenshot;
  • Then click ‘Add’.

    Click here to view a screenshot;
  • Enter the questionnaire type as ‘Child/YP Statutory Visit’, enter your ID, date and then click ‘Save.

    Click here to view a screenshot;
  • The document has a number of sections contained in the ‘Details of the Visit’ tab. The first (1.1.1) must be completed. This allows a statutory visit activity to be added.

    Click here to view a screenshot;
  • The other sections are to be used to record the specific details of the visit. It is also possible to enter the next scheduled statutory visit (1.1.10).

    Click here to view a screenshot;
  • The ‘Other Details’ tab allows for any additional information to be recorded for the child. See below for screen shot of information requested. This information should be added as necessary/relevant;
  • The document needs then to be completed as until this is done the activity is not activated on the system and will not be picked up for data collection.

    Click here to view a screenshot.

End