A child assessed as being a Child in Need (Section 17, Children Act 1989) is one where:
- They are unlikely to achieve, maintain or have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining a reasonable standard of health or development; or
- Their health or development is likely to be significantly impaired without the provision for them of such services; or
- They are disabled.
Where any one of these criteria are met and services are provided under Section 17 by consensual agreement with the parent(s)/carer(s) this should be led by the Local Authority.
A Child in Need plan makes clear what we are worried about, who will do what and by when for the children and their parents/carers. The child and family are supported to share their views directly through attendance, discussion with the social worker and other professionals, or through an advocate.
When assessing a Child in Need and providing services, specialist assessments may be required, and where possible, should be co-ordinated so that the child and family experience a coherent process and single plan of action. Examples of specialist assessments include those undertaken by specialist health providers such as paediatrics or Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS).
Alternatively, where the needs presented, which may in themselves still be complex and reduce the likelihood of positive life outcomes, do not require a social work response it may be more appropriate for the family to work with another service, such as Family Intervention Service (FIS) or Children with Disabilities Early Support. This may also be the case where a family feel unable to provide informed consent to work with a social worker under a Child in Need plan but are willing to work alongside another non-social work service.