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2.1.1 Recording Policy and Guidelines – Children’s Files


This chapter outlines the recording policy for children’s files.

See also Recording Policy and Guidelines - Foster Carer Case Files.


In July 2015, references to WISH were amended to Changing Lives.


1. Introduction
  1.1 Background
  1.2 Recording Policy and Protocol
2. Function of Recording
3. Access to Information Policy Statement
4. Good Practice in Recording
  4.1 Assessments
  4.2 Recording that is Relevant
  4.3 Inclusive Recording
  4.4 Helpful Strategies to aid recording
  4.5 Co-working and interagency working
  4.6 Case Recording Standards
  4.7 Chronology
  4.8 Case Summary
  4.9 Section 47 Enquiry Report Outline Child Protection Plan and Detailed Child Protection Plan
5. Authorizing and Recording of Child Care Decisions
6. The Looked after Children Documentation
  6.1 Care Plan
  6.2 Placement Plan Part A
  6.3 Placement Plan Part B (Day to Day Arrangements)
  6.4 Placement Plan Part C (Delegated Responsibility)
  6.5 Review
7. Pathways Assessments and Planning
  7.1 Purpose
  7.2 Assessment and Plans
8. The Recording Methods
  8.1 Ecomap
  8.2 Genograms
  8.3 Data Protection Principles
    Appendix 1: Section 47 Outcome Report
    Appendix 2: Outline Child Protection Plan
    Appendix 3: Detailed Child Protection Plan
    Appendix 4: Consent Form for Sharing Information

1. Introduction

This Recording Policy is written with the intention of providing guidance to all Social Care staff involved in recording information about service users within the Children and Families division of the Directorate.

Nothing in this guidance removes the need for staff to exercise professional judgement with regard to recording. This policy provides a framework for staff to operate within, though there is still a requirement for judgement and discretion to be used when deciding on the appropriate nature of recording in individual cases.

The effectiveness of the recording policy can only be monitored if users of the system i.e. all staff in Children’s Services, ensure that their experience (good and bad) is shared with their line manager. The feedback is vital in subsequent evaluations of whether the policy is meeting the purpose it was designed for.

1.1 Background

Research indicates a considerable variation in the practice and the time spent on recording with some practitioners spending as little as 20% of their time in contrast to others who identify that 60% of their time is spent on recording. Since recording tends to be a discrete activity, normally unplanned, and occurring during the quieter periods of the day it can be perceived as having a low priority, also as an activity that gets in the way of direct contact with the service user, a bureaucratic chore simply meeting the needs of managers and having little relevance to service users. It is the function of this policy to change this attitude and impress upon practitioners that recording is part of the Directorate’s duty of care and service to the user. Inspection reports indicate that there is a strong link between quality recording and quality of service delivery.

Recording should be viewed as an important activity, not just for the agency but for the service users and/or carer. For the Young Person in Public Care, recording serves as the corporate memory. Whilst social services staff move on, the records remain, and later may be used by the child to understand his or her life and why decisions were made. Good recording serves to inform them about their world and reinforces their identity. In contrast, poor recording serves to confuse and can lead to misunderstanding and resentment. Recording therefore should be seen as an integral part of practice, and as time needs to be allocated for direct contact to service users, time should be similarly identified for recording where interruptions and diversions are kept to a minimum. The flexible working policy should support staff in identifying an appropriate opportunity and environment for recording without interruption.

As far as possible, recording should be contemporaneous or undertaken as soon after the event rather than rely on memory, as keeping information in the head to be committed to paper at some future time could mean that key information may well have been forgotten and lost forever. Allowing recording to mount up to be completed at some later date will result in the worker being confronted with increasing amounts of paperwork. This in itself is demoralizing and makes the task of recording more difficult and time consuming. Essentially, the key for successful recording is to plan time for contact with a family and similarly plan time for recording.

1.2 Recording Policy and ‘Protocol’

This policy is written at a time of considerable change and at both a departmental and practice development level. The electronic record provides an opportunity for practitioners to input directly. The reliance on administrators to type up from hand written notes is increasingly becoming an antiquated process that is inefficient. The current and the future practice will be one of less reliance on paper recording, and more of all practitioners inputting directly into I.T. systems. There are a number of training packages available to support staff.

2. Function of Recording

Social Work is a complex task and recording is vital activity that supports good practice in a number of ways. These include:

  • Supporting effective partnerships with users and carers;
  • Assisting continuity when workers are unavailable or change;
  • Providing a documented account of a department's involvement with an individual service user;
  • Serving as a supervisory and analytical tool;
  • Serving to coordinate activity;
  • Providing evidence for planning and allocating resources at an individual and strategic level;
  • Facilitating reflection, analysis and planning;
  • Enabling managers to monitor work;
  • Supporting supervision and professional development;
  • Recording that the practitioner and agency have met the expected standards of social care;
  • Recording provides the foundation for the compilation of Court reports, and serves as a written record of service delivery in the event of a claim against the Council.

3. Access to Information Policy Statement

The Council is committed to working openly and honestly with the aim of promoting trust and public confidence in the Children’s Social Care. In keeping with this principle, this guidance aims to promote a culture where records are routinely shared with service users. Sharing records proactively with service users should be seen in the context of good casework, and that promotes trust and transparency.

4. Good Practice in Recording

4.1 Assessments

Understanding the family’s circumstances and why they are experiencing difficulty is a fundamental component both in risk assessment and in identifying the extent of intervention and the nature of service delivery.

A feature of review findings is that whilst social care staff may be very effective in collecting information, they tend to be poor in analysing information and communicating their professional judgement within the record. Research from Serious Case Reviews concludes that there is too little evidence of social workers undertaking analysis, and where analysis has happened it tends to occur in the mind of the practitioner and is never committed to the case file, therefore disabling others who might read the file from understanding how decisions were arrived at.

The link between assessment and planning is well recognized. Poor assessment inevitably leads to poor planning and unfocused intervention with commensurately poor outcomes for families. Conversely, accurate assessments will more likely deliver needs-led planning with a clear focus on intervention enabling the practitioner to focus on the key issues and support families to change. The National Assessment Framework formerly provided a systematic and standardised way for undertaking assessments. Critics of the framework considered that whilst it provided a holistic view of the family’s circumstances it does not focus sufficiently on risk or provide the practitioners with the tools to support analysis. The new Single Assessment retains much of the underpinning framework and maintaining the focuses on child’s developmental need, the ability of the parents to meet those needs and the environmental factors. In Blackburn, the single assessment development has been augmented as a result of the significant training in the risk assessment model designed to improve risk analysis and risk management. 

4.2 Recording that is Relevant

It is important to record what is relevant. Traditionally, Social Work has adopted a narrative style of recording as it tends to reflect conversation or patterns of speech. This style of recording tends to be open-ended, and longer and pertinent information can be omitted. It is important to maintain a clear focus and to construct recording around the plan for the family that is in turn informed by the assessment. It is particularly important when managing child protection that the risk assessment and analysis needs is clear, simple to follow, easy to understand and unambiguous. It needs to identify the underlying risk factors, high risk indicators, the parents’ capacity to change, along with any strengths or family resources that can be mobilised in the risk management strategy. Significant events or issues need to identified and understood within the context of the family’s functioning and information from research and/or through supervision needs to identify the impact upon the child’s wellbeing. (e.g. Domestic Violence). Such information can prove crucial for evidence in Court.

It is equally important to record when things don’t happen and why.

  • For instance not seeing a child within 24 hours of a child protection referral;
  • Decisions not to take a course of action (e.g. not to seek legal advice or not to use an interpreter);
  • Failed or missed appointments;
  • Not in visits;
  • Missed deadlines;
  • Unanswered telephone calls;

4.3 Inclusive Recording

Case recording needs to be viewed as part of the service Children’s Social Care provides for the service user. It is essentially the service user’s record should be compiled with care and accuracy. Accordingly, the case record should be written in a style that promotes the sharing of the record and engages the understanding of the service users. The case record should be used as a casework tool and in the spirit of partnership should be written with the expectation that the service user will read the record. 

A fundamental principle in social work practice is respect for the service user and recording practices similarly need to adhere to this principle. Recording should therefore be evidence-based, differentiating between fact and opinion, should avoid the use of both jargon and statements that are discriminatory, oppressive or gender biased.

The expectation that the record is to be shared does not mean that all parties will always agree, and in these circumstances dissent by the service user should be recorded. Sharing records does provide the opportunity for the practitioner for clarifying issues, correcting inaccuracies and checking the service user’s perception of the circumstances affecting their family. It also promotes a mutual understanding of the issues, encourages partnership, and endorses the Directorate’s desire to be transparent and honest in its dealing with the public.

Practitioners involved in open recording have commented that the involvement of service users has improved their recording practices. They have stated that “recording was more factual, focused and opinions were more likely to be substantiated” (Shemmings D (1991) Client Access to Records).

In working with children and families, there are often competing demands and agendas both within the immediate family, the extended family and even amongst other professionals. Against this complex background the child’s voice, opinion and wishes can get lost and sometimes is not represented at all within the record. It is vital that every effort is made to record the child’s perception and child centred strategies are used to capture their views. It also means having an understanding of the special needs of young people e.g. literacy problems; age and understanding; different first language; disabilities in learning, sight or hearing. This may require you to be imaginative in how you record or at least how you share recording with users e.g. audio tapes, use of interpreters, sign language; picture cards systems, Braille etc. The use of Blackburn’s Communication Passport for disabled children and young people is a tool introduced to ascertain wishes and views of children who may not have verbal communication. Other strategies may include direct work activity, such as drawings/paintings, models role-play and other techniques. It is important to remember when recording the child’s views to record how the information was obtained. When sharing records with children, consideration needs to be given to their age and understanding. Research evidence points to the usefulness of sharing information with children and concludes that it often leads to better decisions providing that issues are approached sensitively. 

“Children cannot participate in decisions if they are not fully informed of the options available to them and the implications of those options.” Lansdown G. (1995) Children’s Rights to Participation and Protection.

4.4 Helpful Strategies to Aid Recording

  • Set aside some free time every day to record events of previous day e.g. 1st half hour of the day – that equals 2 and a half hours recording per week;
  • Record as soon as possible after the event;
  • Try to record directly onto Protocol where this appropriate;
  • Plan visits beforehand and use your plan to structure your recording;
  • As far as possible and without disrupting the flow of the interview make contemporaneous notes (See Practice note below)
  • Do not leave too much time between the visit and the write up.


Contemporaneous Notes

It is acknowledged that when workers are visiting families and taking phone calls they make take some hand written notes. These do not form part of the primary/official record and should be destroyed once the electronic record is completed, which must be within 5 working days of contact.

There have been occasions when courts have requested hand written notes or workers have referred to these when giving evidence. These notes are not part of the primary/official record, have not had management oversight and should not be referred to or disclosed.

4.5 Co-working and Interagency Working

If you are co-working a case agree at the outset who is doing the recording or how the task will be divided up. If you cannot agree – see your Manager.

If two agencies make their own notes, agree which one is the one true record, and deal with any discrepancies at this stage rather than in the Court arena. Only one record of a strategy meeting must be taken if the Police are involved.

4.6 Case Recording Standards

  1. All case recording will be in plain language (avoiding professional or bureaucratic jargon) that is easily understood.
  2. Arrangements will be made on an individual basis for case record/observations to be available in an appropriate format for individual service users (e.g. other languages, tapes, large print). (See Practice Guidance below)
  3. Case record/observations should reflect a partnership with service users, and their views should be incorporated in the record.
  4. Case record/observations are confidential documents. Service users consent to information sharing should be obtained before any information contained in the records is disclosed. The only exception to this is child protection enquiries when information may be shared without consent in order to protect the child. (See Appendix 4 Consent Form for Sharing Information)
  5. Records should be accurate, succinct and factually based.
  6. All case recording will reflect the Council’s commitment to anti-oppressive practice.
    • Day to day records will be recorded in Protocol within 5 working days of the contact (except in the case of Child Protection where the recording should be entered within 1 working day).


Support to facilitate communication might be needed for children with disabilities or for children where English is not their first language. Where the use of communication aids or an interpreter is dispensed with, the reasons for doing so must be recorded on the case file.

4.7 Chronology

The chronology serves to list, in date order, significant events in the family’s history. The importance of the chronology as a casework tool cannot be overstated. It provides an important overview of events enabling the worker to stand back and consider the various stages in the family’s history and whether current interventions are effective in promoting change and improving the circumstances for children. The chronology should be shared with the service user to provide them with the opportunity to reflect upon the accuracy of the record, provide them with insight as to why social services are involved, and to engage them in considering what achievements and difficulties they have experienced over the period.

The importance of a chronology was emphasised in the Victoria Climbié Inquiry where Lord Laming comments: “………. I regard the inclusion in any case file of a clear, comprehensive and up-to-date chronology as absolutely essential. In addition to saving valuable time that would otherwise be spent trying to extract the relevant information from a number of documents, such a chronology would also help to identify actions ordered on the case which had yet to be completed. The discipline of preparing the initial chronology at the outset of the case is also valuable given that it would require the allocated social worker carefully to read the file before embarking upon the assessment.” (Page 209 Para 6.628)


For court purposed the chronology should not extend beyond the previous two years. References to events that have happened before should be identified in very brief terms. E.G. Mrs X has had children removed in date; h children were subject to a child protection plan in -----.

4.8 Case Summary

The case summary provides the opportunity to consolidate events and changes that have occurred within the family over a period of time. Summaries should be seen as a casework tool that supports the work with families in a number of ways.

Sharing summaries with families allows them to reflect upon progress and serves to reinforce the practice of partnership and consultation. Families may not always agree with the practitioner’s analysis of their circumstances, but the activity of sharing the record in this way conveys the principle of transparency and enables the service user to challenge the record and have their dissent documented.

Summaries should be written with reference to the aims and objectives identified in the child’s plan and should comment upon those areas that have been achieved and those that still have to be realised. It is important that some commentary is given to those areas that have not been achieved and why, and what strategies need to be implemented to achieve these objectives in the future.

Summaries are not only helpful for supervision purposes but provide colleagues with an efficient means of identifying source information enabling continuity of service provision even in the absence of the key worker.

Writing a case summary allows the practitioner to reflect on the effectiveness of intervention and to review progress in achieving the goals identified in the care/case plan. They should be completed at regular intervals (3 months) and particularly where the case is to be closed or transferred to another professional (see Blackburn with Darwen Minimum Timescales Procedure).

4.9 Section 47 Enquiry Report Outline Child Protection Plan and Detailed Child Protection Plan

A child protection issue may arise at any stage, and in these circumstances the safeguarding of the child becomes the main concern and should be conducted in line with the child protection procedures. While the child protection investigations take precedence, it should be seen within the context of a broader assessment process although the speed of that assessment will be commensurate with the safety of the child. A Section 47 Outcome Report should be completed.

The Section 47 Outcome Report (see Appendix 1: Section 47 Outcome Report) serves to focus the social workers mind on key risk factors within the family, what strengths and resources exist, the level of risk concluding with an Initial Risk management Strategy. Where appropriate this report can be used to inform the Initial Child Protection Conference.

The Outline Child Protection Plan (see Appendix 2: Outline Child Protection Plan) identifies the key issues within the family that need to be addressed in order to secure the wellbeing of the child. Following the conference and at the first core group the Detailed Child Protection Plan (see Appendix 3: Detailed Child Protection Plan) is completed.

5. Authorizing and Recording of Child Care Decisions

Team Managers will record significant advice they give or decisions they make under the heading of initial management oversight or case management decision and locate within notes.

Team Managers will validate and authorise all assessments, Child Protection and Child in Care Plans and Court reports. The Service Leader and Head of Service will authorise decisions concerned with issuing care proceeding, PLO or decisions where there is a high level of risk or likely to be press or media interest.

6. The Looked after Children Documentation

6.1 Care Plan

Having a Care Plan on file is a legal requirement. The Care Plan identifies the overall objectives and the role that care is going to play in meeting the overall needs of the young person. Ideally it should be completed before the young person enters care and should be fully discussed with the parent and young person where appropriate. If the Care Plan cannot be completed before placement then it should be completed within 10 days of the placement commencing.

The decision to change a Care Plan can only be made at a Statutory Review. Should it be necessary to change the Care Plan between Review intervals, then it may mean bringing forward the date of the Statutory Review or consulting with the Independent Reviewing Officer.

6.2 Placement Plan Part A

This form includes information and agreements, which must be completed before a child is placed. It includes the agreement of the carer to accommodate as well as details such as medical treatment, educational arrangements and names and addresses of significant people in the child’s life. It also outlines the immediate arrangements for contact.

6.3 Placement Plan Part B (Day to Day Arrangements)

This part of the record identifies in more detail the everyday routines of the child that are so crucial in helping the young person to settle within the placement. Ideally it should be completed with parents prior to the placement; a process which may help the parent to be reassured that every effort will be taken to lessen the disruption to the child. Where circumstances dictate that a child is admitted in an emergency, then the Placement Plan Part 2 should be completed within 14 days. This is in line with Regulation 5.5, schedule 3 Children Act 1989.


It is also essential that the Placement Part B is completed prior to the child’s medical so the designated doctor for Looked After Children have the necessary information regarding the child’s history.

The Placement Plan Part B should be updated at regular intervals and certainly before every review. It should be used as a tool to engage the carer and discuss the detail of a young person’s care with particular reference to the following.

  • Routines
  • Health
  • Education
  • Identity
  • Contact

6.4 Placement Plan Part C (Delegated Responsibility)

The revised statutory framework for fostering and care planning, which came into force in April 2011, and the Foster Carers' Charter, outline the importance placed by the Government on foster carers being able to take a greater range of decisions about day to day aspects of the lives of the of the young people they care for. The guidance clarifies that foster children should enjoy the same opportunities as their peers to have a fulfilled childhood, stay over with friends and take part in school trips and family holidays. This guidance supports the belief that foster carer must be able to take day to day decisions about the child as any parent would. What decisions can be taken by the foster carer and where parental or local authority permission must be sought needs to be understood by all as part of care planning and ratified within the care planning meeting and recorded in part ‘C’ of the placement plan.

6.5 Review

The review should be seen as a dynamic activity, one that engages the young person his/her carer and parent and not a one-off discrete process. Pressure of work results in the Review being a hurried last minute activity where the recommendations of the last Review are quickly re-read and areas of work identified at the last Review may still be outstanding. The review process provides the opportunity for all those involved to consider whether the current arrangements continue to meet the child’s needs, whether the overall care plan is still appropriate and whether the work required in meeting objectives has or is being undertaken. Whilst professionals and carers may be comfortable in Review meetings many young people and their parents are not. Consequently, it is good practice to discuss beforehand with parents and young people how they can engage in the process and what information they might like to share and how best this can be achieved.

The first Review is held 4 weeks after the placement commences, the second Review 3 months after that, and then every 6 months unless there is a change of placement whereupon an earlier Lac Review may be convened As with other documents, a copy of the Review form should be made available for parents, young people, and carers.

7. Pathways Assessments and Planning

7.1 Purpose

‘The Pathway Plan should be pivotal to the process whereby young people map out their future, articulating their aspirations and identifying interim goals on their way to realising their ambitions….Each young person will be central to drawing up their own plan, setting out their own goals, and identifying with their Personal Adviser how the Local Authority will help them. The Authority should work to ensure the plan is owned by the young person and is able to respond to their changing needs and ambitions. It should look ahead at least as far as the young person’s 21st birthday, and will be in place beyond that where the young person is in education or training which takes them past that age.’ (Regulations and Guidance Section 5.20)

7.2 Assessment and Plans

Each young person who is looked after is required to have a completed Pathways Assessment and Plan no later than 3 months after they reach the age of 16. Where cases are transferred after the 16th birthday, a Pathways Assessment and Plan should be completed within 3 months of allocation. The Assessment will be based on interviews with the young person and will involve the views of family/carers, any relevant agencies (including health, education, independent visitors, social and residential workers etc) and current LAC assessments. A Pathway Plan, which addresses the needs identified in the assessment, will then be developed.

The Social Worker and\or Personal Advisor within the Leaving Care Team will co-ordinate the completion of both documents following liaison with all relevant parties identified above.

The Pathway Plan must cover:

  • The nature and level of contact and personal support to be provided, and by whom, to the child or young person.
  • Details of the accommodation the child or young person is to occupy.
  • A detailed plan for the education or training of the child or young person.
  • How the responsible Authority will assist the child or young person in relation to employment or other purposeful activity or occupation.
  • The support to be provided to enable the child or young person to develop and sustain appropriate family and social relationships.
  • A programme to develop the practical and other skills necessary for the child or young person to live independently.
  • The financial support to be provided to the child or young person, in particular where it is to be provided to meet his accommodation and maintenance needs.
  • The health needs, including any mental health needs, of the child or young person, and how they are to be met.
  • Contingency plans for action to be taken by the responsible authority should the Pathway Plan for any reason cease to be effective.

The Pathway Plan must also record key details such as the name, age and contact details of the young person, the name and contact details of the Personal Advisor and those of any other people who will be actively involved in delivering aspects of the Plan. It will also note the date due for review.

8. The Recording Methods

In some instances it is useful to consider other methods of recording information. This is particularly pertinent when there is a complicated family background and where there are complex relationships with multiple partners. Often young people and other family members can engage in the process and gain insight into their past.

8.1 Ecomap

This is a diagrammatic representation showing the network of people around a child or young person. The young person is placed at the centre of the diagram with other people who occupy a role in the child’s life being placed in a circle and connected by a line drawn between them. See below:

An unbroken line indicates a strong and close relationship.

A line of dashes indicates a weak relationship.

A stressful relationship is illustrated by a dotted line.

diagram of mother and child relationships

Ecomaps are very helpful in clarifying the complexity of the relationship between family, friends and professionals that surround a child.

8.2 Genograms

Genograms are useful in representing a family tree and similarly to Ecomaps, show the quality of the relationship between individuals. They help to clarify intergenerational patterns and show the family history.

Click here for guidance on how to read a genogram.

8.3 Data Protection Principles

The Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998 repeals the Data Protection Act 1984, the Access to Personal Files Act 1987 and most of the Access to Health Records Act 1990 and replaces the circular LAC (87) 17 Personal Social Services: Confidentiality of Personal Information.

The DPA applies to all personal data, no matter when it was compiled. Personal data includes data held in electronic form, and data held in manual files. It therefore creates one regime for access to personal information held by Social Services.

The eight principles of data protection now apply to manual records as well as electronic records. These principles are as follows:-

  1. "Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in particular, shall not be processed unless at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 is met." These conditions, briefly, are that the individual has given his consent; that the processing is necessary to perform a contract with the individual; that it is required under a legal obligation; is necessary to protect the vital interests of the individual (e.g. to protect his health); that it's necessary to carry out public functions; or that it is necessary to carry out the legitimate interests of the Council or a third party.

    "In the case of "sensitive personal data" the Act requires compliance with the conditions in Schedule 3." "Sensitive personal data" includes racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or other beliefs, trade union membership, health, sex life, criminal proceedings or convictions. These can only be processed under strict conditions, which include having the consent of the individual, being required by law to process the data for employment purposes, needing to process the information in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject or another person where consent can't be given, where it is necessary in connection with legal proceedings or where it is necessary for medical purposes and is undertaken by a health professional. At least one of these conditions must be met as well as one of these conditions in Schedule 2 mentioned above.
  2. "Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in a manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes." This means not recording information which is not relevant to the Directorate's responsibilities.
  3. "Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed."
  4. "Personal data shall be accurate and, wherever necessary, kept up to date."
  5. "Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept for longer than it is necessary for that purpose or those purposes."
  6. "Personal data shall be processed in accordance with the rights of date subjects under this Act" for example, taking into account these Data Protection principles including ongoing accuracy, restricting access to information by others; ensuring the data subject is aware through discussion when and how information will be shared and for what purposes etc.
  7. "Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data" e.g. the Council's security policy for computers should be followed (including taking regular back ups of computerised information, not sharing passwords, etc.); personal records should be kept in a lockable cupboard and not left on desks at the end of the working day; there should be security doors in offices where personal records are kept (or otherwise the office door should be locked when unattended); etc.
  8. "Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the procession of personal data" e.g. for people visiting this country for reasons such as study or work who may then be detained due to illness or offending behaviour.

Appendix 1: Section 47 Outcome Report

Section 47 Outcome Record

Name of children: Lee (9), Calum (7), Amber (5), Crystal (3), Jake (2)

Name of Adults: Bob Potts (father) & Amy Potts (mother)

Address: 99 Cornetto Road, Blackburn

Brief description of concerns leading to the Section 47 enquiry:

Extremely poor home conditions reported by housing officer. Dog excrement on floor in living room observed through the window amongst general cluttered and untidy environment.

Information Sources

  • Housing officer, Paul Roberts, has reported details of the visit and previous concerns (see case note with further details);
  • Health visitor, Tina Heller, and school nurse, Joanne Monks, have provided details of numerous missed health appointments (see case note with full details);
  • Visit to Amy Smith (mother) and all children seen in the home environment;
  • Lee, Calum and Amber seen in school with head teacher present;
  • Telephone conversation with head teacher for the school age children (Lee, Calum and Amber);
  • Interrogation of protocol files relating to all five children.

Underlying Risk Factors

  • Poverty;
  • Poor housing;
  • Lack of support network (wider family significant mental health problems and drug users);
  • Low educational attainment;
  • Drug and alcohol misuse (Bob uses cannabis on occasions with friends);
  • Behavioural and Emotional difficulties in child (Calum and Amber displaying challenging behaviour towards mother, possibly linked to attachment problems and needs further assessment).

High risk Indicators

  • History of being seriously neglected as a child (Amy was known to the local authority – her files have been requested);
  • Age of the child (Crystal and Jake are both under 3years – not in nursery);
  • Incidence of the abuse (needs further assessment but appears that neglect of health needs has been throughout all the children’s lives, neglect of basic care needs is also apparent).

Family Strengths/Resources

  • Amy recognises that the home conditions are poor and that she has struggled to maintain them. Is asking for support;
  • Wider family have offered to support mother with improving home conditions;
  • Amy and Bob both appear amenable to change and willing to work with professionals.

Current Assessment of Risk

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High


Previous referrals to the Local Authority have been of low-level nature, however when combined with the significant number of missed health appointments (dating back to pre-birth for Lee) and extremely poor home conditions it signifies neglectful parenting over a number of years. The home conditions are currently at a level where they present a significant risk to the children due to safety issues (including hygiene). Parents are presenting as willing to work with the Local Authority to bring about change and no prior intervention has been attempted. Further assessment is required to establish the parents capacity and ability to maintain change and to establish the cause of the children’s challenging behaviour and what can be done to support parents to manage this. The children need immediate safety whilst long-term intervention is assessed and planned.

Initial Risk Management Strategy

  • Lee, Calum, Amber, Crystal and Jake to be accommodated under Section 20 of the children Act. SW Catherine Henshaw to complete relevant paperwork;
  • Contact arrangements to be shared between all relevant parties by SW Catherine Henshaw;
  • Amy and Bob to improve home conditions by 31/10/2013, SW to conduct home visit by 24/10/2013 with Amy and Bob to ensure they are clear about what needs to occur in order for the children to return home;
  • Local Authority to provide funding for skip hire.

Appendix 2: Outline Child Protection Plan

Domestic Abuse and distorted views:

Parents to effectively manage the violence between them so that this does not detrimentally impact upon the children’s emotional welfare.

Alcohol use:

Father to manage his alcohol use in a way that does not impact upon the children.


Mother to ensure that her emotional health is effectively managed to ensure that she is capable of managing the children’s holistic needs on a daily basis.

Children’s complex health needs:

In light of the children’s complex health needs, parents to ensure that the children attend all health appointments, and they follow all health advice and treatment to ensure that the children’s health improves and this does not impact upon their long-term welfare.

Parent’s unmet health needs:

Parents to effectively manage their own health needs to ensure that this does not impact upon their parenting capacity.

Isolation / poor family support:

In light of the extended family’s inability to accept the CP concerns and coercing the couple to resume their relationship against the advice of the LA, support to be provided to educate wider family about the impact that they coercion has upon the risks posed to the children. Mother to be encouraged to extend her own support network.

Appendix 3: Detailed Child Protection Plan

Unborn Jackson

Issue and Desired Outcome

Action, By Whom and When Evidence

Illicit Substance Use

Samantha has a longstanding history of illicit substance misuse which has compromised her ability to provide safe, consistent care to her elder children.

The desired outcome is for Samantha to remain free from illicit substances and to develop her knowledge as to the impact of illicit substance use of parenting. Dean will also develop his understanding as to what changes in Samantha’s presentation would indicate that she is using illicit substances.

Samantha and Dean to attend EVOLVE. Referral to be made by SW within 14 days of ICPC.

Child and Family Assessment to be completed by SW within next 15 days.

Attendance at EVOLVE with positive feedback from workers.

Negative drug tests from Samantha.

Child and Family Assessment to assess Dean and Samantha’s insight and implications for ability to provide safe care.

Domestic Abuse

Physical violence and emotional abuse have a detrimental impact upon a child’s welfare. Samantha has been the victim of domestic abuse in previous relationships.

The desired outcome would for there to be no incident of domestic abuse within this relationship. Samantha and Dean will develop their understanding as to the dynamics and cycles of domestic abuse. The unborn baby will be protected from harm in the womb and also following her birth.

Samantha to attend Changing Lives and access recommended support. By next Core Group.

Child and Family Assessment to be completed by SW within next 15 days.

Child and Family Assessment to evidence Samantha and Dean’s insight into domestic abuse and assess their ability to provide safe care.

Attendance at Changing Lives with positive feedback from workers.

No incidents of Domestic Abuse.

Unresolved Loss of Children to Adoption

Samantha’s two elder children have been placed for Adoption. Samantha accepts that she continues to grieve for these children and has not been able to process this trauma and loss. This is likely to be exacerbated by the birth of another baby. This places Samantha at greater risk of post natal depression which could impact upon her ability to meet the needs of her baby.

The desired outcome would be for Samantha to process her grief and loss and to have support available to her during the pregnancy and following the birth of her baby. Dean to be aware as to the indicators of post natal depression and how to access support.

Samantha to engage with After Adoption. Referral to be made by SW before next Core Group.

Samantha to have access to Post Adoption Support Services. Referral to be made by SW before next Core Group.

Samantha, Dean and SW to meet with Midwife to discuss support for the couple. By next Core Group.

Samantha to attend regular counselling and support as determined appropriately by the assessing worker.



SW and Midwife to provide feedback at next Core Group Meeting.

Experience of Poor Parenting

Both Dean and Samantha have experienced poor parenting. Samantha has replicated this in her care of Caleb and Justin. Dean and Samantha need to have a framework for ‘good enough’ parenting.

The desired outcome would be for Dean and Samantha to understand the impact of their own parenting on how they parent. They would have access to one to one parenting support to know what ‘good enough’ parenting looks like.

Samantha and Dean engage with Children’s Centre. SW to support with initial visit within 14 days of ICPC.

Child Support Officer to complete parenting work with Dean and Samantha with reference to ‘good enough’ parenting and Graded Care Profile. By Review Child Protection Conference.

Graded Care Profile to be completed by SW and CSO. Within 3 months following birth of baby.

Child and Family Assessment to be completed by SW within next 15 days.

Child and Family Assessment to assess Samantha’s capacity to change and ability to meet the needs of her baby. Dean’s parenting to be assessed and the two considered alongside each other.

Engagement with Children’s Centre and Child Support Officer, with positive feedback from professionals.

Care provided to baby to be considered ‘good enough’ by professionals, with reference to Graded Care Profile.

Appendix 4: Consent Form for Sharing Information

Click here to see the Consent Form for Sharing Information.