Children in need

'Children in need of help and protection’ refers to children and young people who have been, or are subject to, a social care assessment as they are considered eligible for support and services under section 17 (child in need) or section 47 (child protection) of the 1989 Children Act.

There are many reasons why children may be in need of help and protection – for example, it may be due to disability, mental health needs, family dysfunction, abuse or neglect. Their circumstances may make them vulnerable and impact on their social, emotional and mental wellbeing and development. They may need support to help them develop and thrive and to access the same opportunities as their peers.

The acronym CIN is used to refer to Children in need.

Children’s Services overall aims are:

•     To safeguard and prevent harm

•     To support families to provide the best start in life

•     For children to realise their potential

Children’s Services in our borough are planned in line with the Child Wellbeing Model adopted by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and its partners. The Lord Laming inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie, published in 2003, resulted in new legislation in the form of the Children Act 2004, which placed greater emphasis on integrated working and early intervention.

Further legislative drivers are the Children Act 1989, Leaving Care Act 2000, Children and Families Act 2014 and SEN reforms, Care Act 2014.

The purpose of this approach is to identify support on a continuum of need and allow analysis to take into account the various levels of intervention to enable effective, proportionate commissioning. 

This plan will take into account duties and powers of the Local Authority and its partners, as well as looking at how we can provide improved outcomes and early intervention via services for children, young people and their families that are delivered at the best value available.

There is an ever-changing landscape within commissioning and service improvement due to the introduction of new government policy. A major challenge for commissioners is to manage these changes locally in order to meet legislative requirements, as well as develop services to meet local need and continue to commission quality, cost-effective services that effect better outcomes in the long term.  It is, therefore, important that our local commissioning intentions are based on sound overarching principles and identify a solid direction for commissioning so that while new initiatives are being introduced, we have a firm set of outcomes that that underpins the work that we do, regardless of how this is achieved.

Last updated: 2016-04-25 15:28:43
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1. What are the key issues?

The Borough of Redcar and Cleveland includes urban communities on the edge of the ‘Teesside’ conurbation through to rural communities in the beautiful countryside of East Cleveland.

Throughout the Borough, inequality continues to be the greatest challenge that we face. Many of our communities experience relatively high levels of deprivation and health inequalities. Overall, Redcar and Cleveland is ranked the 49th most deprived borough in England with 17.5% of our population living in wards that are among the most deprived 10% in the country.

Inevitably, poverty and deprivation impacts on lives of, and opportunities for, children and young people. For every 100 children and young people living in Redcar and Cleveland:

  • 25 live in poverty
  • 50 leave school with 5 or more GCSEs A*-C including English and Maths
  • 19 will be persistently absent from Secondary School
  • 93 will be in education, employment or training between the ages of 16 to18
  • 21 will be classified as obese by the age of 10-11

Research tells us that children of families who live within such adverse circumstances are at greater risk of experiencing:

  • Neglect of their basic care needs;
  • Poor educational attainment;
  • Emotional harm, including poor mental health;
  • Child Sexual Exploitation; and
  • Episodes of running missing from home.

Families living in such circumstances can experience a number of parental factors which can impact negatively upon the welfare of children and young people. These include:

  • Parental mental health;
  • Domestic violence; and
  • Parental drug and/or alcohol use

When all three of the above issues are prevalent within a family, it is known as the ‘toxic trio’ and greatly increases the risk to a child’s safety and well-being.

Last updated: 05/04/16

2. What commissioning priorities are recommended?

Overall, we aim to safeguard children and young people, and support them to get the best start in life to help them achieve their potential.  However, there is an urgent need to do this as efficiently and effectively as we can within a finite resource facing another reduction to the overall budget available.  Much of the work restructuring Children’s Services so far has achieved significant savings already, but we need further work with commissioning alongside service improvement mechanisms and our Shaping our Future programme to achieve optimum efficiency without affecting quality and capacity of services.  Much of this could be achieved by;

  • Scrutinising in-house resources and identifying areas of duplication across People Services and other directorates, for example the linkages between Routes to Employment and services which have responsibilities for getting young people and adults into education, training and employment
  • Maximising integration of School Nursing, Health Visiting and Early Help Services, ensuring that processes are working and avoiding duplication
  • Working collaboratively with other local authorities to achieve economies of scale and greater influence over costs in low-volume, high cost provision such as residential care
  • Integrating commissioning of education, health and social care provision where children require support from all three agencies, including exploring the benefits of pooling budgets
  • Maximising new funding opportunities
  • Identifying appropriate opportunities to reduce costs through shared services with other local authorities and commissioners such as health and police
  • Strengthening quality and compliance monitoring of all services, both in-house and externally, and using the information to provide a more responsive approach to making savings, efficiencies and to challenge underperformance
  • Targeting families whose children are on the “edge of care” to further prevent children becoming looked after and ensure enough support is given to the family to sustain improvement
  • Greater scrutiny of outcomes to build an evidence base of what works and in which situations locally
Last updated: 05/04/16

3. Who is at risk and why?

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4. What is the level of need in the population?

Looking at the overall CIN population in our borough, there were:

  • 1,170 CIN at 31st March 2014
  • 950 CIN at 31st March 2015

Based on the number of CIN at 31st March, as a rate per 10,000 children, our CIN population reduced from 2014 to 2015 by 18.9% (from 428.6 to 347.7) – the England average decreased by 2.6% to 337.3; and the NE average decreased marginally by 1.2% to 451.0.  There is considerable variability in the rates of children in need between local authorities, for example from 141.9 in Wokingham and 152.7 in Leicestershire, to 670.8 in Stoke on Trent and 683.4 in Hull.

Although our rate is higher than the national average, it is the second lowest in the North East, only marginally higher than North Tyneside. 

The duration of episodes of CIN which ceased during the year indicates a pattern of children remaining in need relatively longer. Looking at the % split of episodes of need under 1 year / over 1 year, this was:

  • 79% / 21% England
  • 73% / 27% NE
  • 63% / 37% RCBC
  • For episodes under 3 months, this was 46% England / 43% NE / 25% RCBC.

In Redcar & Cleveland the rate of referrals to children’s social care reduced by 40.7% over the 2014-15 period to a rate per 10,000 children of 363.1. Nationally the rate decreased by 3.4% (to 548.3) and regionally by 9.5% (to 596.1). Our rate is now comparatively low (the lowest in the region).  Our strengthened Early Help service offer, new first contact arrangements, improved use of the Threshold Criteria and step down process have reduced demand for specialist and statutory services and had an impact upon the rate of referrals.

The rate of Section 47 Enquiries (i.e child protection enquiries under section 47 of the Children Act for children at risk of significant harm) reduced by 20.7% from 2014 to 2015, against the national trend (increased by 12.4% for England; and by 1.3% for the NE).  Despite this we are in the middle of the pack when looking at the rate per 10,000 children in terms of the North East authorities.  Nationally, there were 71,140 initial child protection conferences carried out in 2015, which is nearly a 10% increase on 2014.

In Redcar & Cleveland there were 217 child protection plans at 31st March 2014, reducing to 120 at 31st March 2015. The rate per 10,000 reduced by 44.8% to 43.9. The rate nationally increased 1.9% to 42.9; regionally the rate increased 0.3% to 59.5. We have the fourth lowest rate in the region.

Nationally more children became the subject of a child protection plan this year, continuing the recent trend. In 2015, 62,200 children became the subject of a child protection plan compared to 59,800 last year. The number of children starting a child protection plan is largely driven by section 47 enquiries. In 2014/15, there was an increase in section 47 enquiries nationally therefore resulting in more children becoming the subject of a child protection plan.

Nationally, a higher proportion of children became the subject of a plan for the second or subsequent time in 2014/15. 16.6% became the subject of a child protection plan for the second or subsequent time which has been steadily increasing from 13.3% in 2010/11.

Last updated: 05/04/16

5. What services are currently provided?

Changes to the way the local authority deals with and responds to referrals to children’s services has had an impact on the level of children becoming Looked After (LAC) and children becoming subject to a Child Protection Plan (CP).  At this point, referrals that may have been deemed as requiring No Further Action (NFA) are now assertively managed and families are offered support via Early Help using a keyworking approach pioneered by Troubled Families.

Consultation with the First Contact team has highlighted that though more and more families are getting support via Early Help services; there is more that could be done at the point of referral to ensure that children and parents who have emerging needs do not slip through the net.  This includes a stronger link and communication with adult mental health

The Local Authority delivers a range of parenting programmes that have been seen in the recent past as a panacea to prevention and cure of child abuse and neglect in the recent past.  It is clear that there are many benefits to families accessing resources to support them with their parenting, and Redcar and Cleveland Council deliver evidence-based provision .

However there may be more that can be achieved in the very early stages of a child’s life to prevent problems later on.  Conception to age 2-the age of opportunity (Wave Trust, 2013) sets out a framework for commissioners to look at the structure of support available in pregnancy and early infancy (such as the Healthy Child Programme) to tackle underlying risk factors of poor attachment and screening mothers for issues with attunement and providing support to develop this in the earliest possible stages of infancy. This is further supported by Safeguarding Children Across Services, (Davies and Ward, 2012) where Interaction Guidance was cited as an effective evidence-based intervention to prevent maltreatment and abuse of children.

Last updated: 05/04/16

6. What is the projected level of need?

Intelligence suggests that the level of need will remain fairly static.  However, new research from the Fabian Society revealed the prospect of significantly sharper inequality heading Britain’s way. And with cuts falling disproportionately on single parents, this means the number of children living in poverty will rise from 2.5 million (19%) to 4.4 million (28%) by 2030.  Child poverty will disproportionately affect our more deprived communities within the borough.   If the level of children living in poverty is set to we can assume this will impact negatively on the number of CIN.

Last updated: 05/04/16

7. What needs might be unmet?

Analysis and monitoring of activity indicates that key areas of need which require particular attention are in relation to:

  • Chronic neglect or abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health
Last updated: 05/04/16

8. What evidence is there for effective intervention?

 Put simply, Early Help should provide appropriate support to children, young people and families where it is needed as soon as possible.  Early Help can be provided in a universal setting as a preventative measure or via targeted support when emerging issues are identified that may have an impact on the child’s development or welfare in the future. This support can be provided at any point in a child’s life, from pre-conception through to 19 years old and includes a broad range of activities that:

  • Support families in a way that reduces risk of problems arising for childrem
  • Identify families who need additional support to help them address emerging problems and either reduce their impact or prevent them from worsening
  • Provide support to families with complex problems so that they can tackle them and wherever possible stay safely together

Early Help can and should result in a range of improved outcomes for children, young people and families, ensuring that that they do not develop the kinds of problems which could require statutory social care intervention in the future.

 “Children, families and communities need to be resilient enough to cope with life’s challenges.  But when children and their parents do need help, they should get it early on, so that the situation can be improved as soon as possible.  This should be done in a way that makes sense to them, with their voices at the core of decision making.  Not jumping through bureaucratic hoops of different organisations, but getting what they need, when they need it, regardless of whether it is from a children’s centre, a social worker, their school, their GP, a more specialist health service, or some combination.

Local Government Association (2013) “Rewiring Public Services”

Commissioning intentions for Early Help require the council to develop an integrated approach to service delivery so that families can have their needs assessed and receive the right support at the right time, regardless of where they come into contact with professionals.

The provision of early support services should form part of a continuum of support to respond to the different levels of need of individual children and families and that there are clear criteria for taking action and providing help across this full continuum. Having clear thresholds for action which are understood by all professionals, and applied consistently, should ensure that services are commissioned effectively and that the right help is given to the child at the right time.

 (Working Together 2013, p.14, paras.14-16)

Last updated: 05/04/16

9. What do people say?

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10. What additional needs assessment is required?

No additional needs assessment required at present.

Last updated: 05/04/16

Key contact: Victoria Wilson

Job title: Service Manager Children in Need


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