You might be worried if you are told that your child is being classed as a ‘Child in Need’, our solicitors understand that worry and will try and support you by offering clear advice and explaining the process to you.
There are three different ways that a child can be called a ‘Child in Need’ by a local authority:
- If the child is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision of services by a local authority
- If the child’s health or development is likely to be significantly impacted, or further impaired, without the provision for him or her of such services
- If the child is disabled
This is a complicated explanation so the law has been explained further:
‘Development’ means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development
‘Health’ means physical and mental health
If a child is a ‘Child in Need’ it means the social worker is concerned enough about a family that support needs to be put in place but is not worried that there is a significant risk of harm so they are happy for the child to stay with his or her family.
What kind of support can be put in place for a ‘Child in Need’ and their family?
Every family is different so the support that might be needed will be different too. Support will often be delivered by family support workers and can include; advice, guidance, counselling, home help, assistance with travel, child care including day care or after school club, budgeting work or respite care.
What happens if my child is called a ‘Child in Need’ by the social worker?
If your child is a ‘child in need’ there will be regular meetings and a ‘Child in Need’ plan will be put in place.
If children’s services are worried enough about your child that they think they are a ‘Child in Need’ they have to come up with a plan about how they will support your child to try and make things better and do something about the issues they are worried about. This is called a ‘Child in Need’ plan and it has to be checked and reviewed during a meeting to make sure it is right and it is working.
The first meeting that is organised is called a ‘planning meeting’ and the other meetings that take place after the first meeting are called ‘review meetings’. Your child will be given a ‘child in need co-ordinator’ who will organise the meetings and be responsible for making sure that everyone involved with your child is focussed on what your child and your family are doing well and what areas might need more support.
You will attend the meeting and it is really important that it is made clear to you what areas the social worker is concerned about and what changes they want to see. At the end of the meeting there will be a list of what should happen next and who is going to be responsible for the different ‘jobs’ and making sure they happen in the time that has been agreed. During the meeting someone will be making a careful note of what is said and this will then be turned into ‘minutes’. These will be sent to you to approve within 3 weeks and if you do not believe they are accurate you can ask for them to be amended. Solicitors are not able to participate in these meetings but we can give you advice before and after meetings.
You will be given a copy of the ‘Child in Need’ plan that is prepared. The plan will contain lots of information about the extra support that has been put in place to help your child with their safety, health and development. It will name the people who are taking responsibility for putting the support in place. Parents don’t have to accept a child in need plan but if you are worried about what to do it may help to speak to one of our specialist solicitors first