Children in need

PLEASE NOTE: Content yet to be reviewed by Tees Valley Public Health Shared Service and maybe subject to change.

‘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. It does not refer to Looked After Children & Young People, as there is a separate JSNA  section on that topic.

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.

Last updated: 2015-05-29 15:26:23
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1. What are the key issues?

The rate of CIN in our Borough is relatively high compared to England and NE Region averages, but not when compared to the Tees Valley average. It may be that there are particular social and economic challenges across the Tees sub-region which impact on levels of CIN.

Data indicates that children tend to remain in need for longer in our area than in many other Council areas; it may be that this reflects a need for more effective services and arrangements for CIN.

The age profile of our CIN population is relatively younger than average; this suggests a need for more effective early years intervention and support.

Data from social care assessments which attempt to categorise the key factors for a child being in need (from a nationally determined set of factors) suggests that the three most frequent factors are the same both locally and nationally – i.e domestic violence; then mental health issues; then neglect.

Last updated: 29/05/15

2. What commissioning priorities are recommended?

Early help support, in line with the Early Help Strategy, should help to reduce the rate of CIN.

Access to support and services as identified in other relevant assessments and strategies – e.g Domestic Abuse Strategy; Drug & Alcohol Strategy; Mental Health Strategy.

Multi-agency development and implementation of models of intervention for management of neglect cases.

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3. Who is at risk and why?

At any one time, there will be some 2,000 children in the Borough who are deemed as being in need within the terms of the Children Act – i.e they are at risk because they are unlikely to achieve a reasonable standard of health or development  unless services are provided, or because they are disabled.

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

The rate of referrals to social care reduced by 6.5% over the 2013-14 period to a rate per 10,000 children of 701.7. Nationally the rate increased by 10.8% (to 573.0) and regionally by 12.3% (to 659.8). Our rate remains relatively high (3rd highest in the region, behind Northumberland then Middlesbrough). It should be noted that over half (53.5%) of referrals resulted in either ‘no further action’ or in an assessment following which the child was assessed not to be in need – this is a relatively high rate and above national and regional averages.

Looking at the overall CIN population, there were:

     2,304 CIN at 31st March 2013

     2,074 CIN at 31st March 2014

Based on the number of CIN at 31st March, as a rate per 10,000 children, our CIN population reduced from 2013 to 2014 by 9.8% (from 544.3 to 490.8) – this was counter to the national trend, with the England average increasing by 5.0% to 346.4; and the NE average up marginally by 1% to 456.7. At October 2014, our rate of CIN was 512.5, an increase from April but still below the 2013 rate.

Although our rate is higher than the regional average, this is not the case when compared with the Tees sub-region – Middlesbrough and Hartlepool have significantly higher rates (694.2 and 608.3) although R&C is lower (428.3). Recent regional benchmarking has indicated the nature of some of the challenges facing the Tees area. 

Interestingly, the rate of children starting an episode of need during the year has continued to be lower than national and regional averages (326.6 during 13/14, compared to England 372.6, and NE Region 434.4). This reflects part of an emerging picture whereby CIN in Stockton-on-Tees tend to remain in need longer than the average (see following point).

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

     80% / 20% England

     75% / 25% NE

     58% / 42% SBC

     For episodes under 3 months, this was 49% England / 44% NE / 25% SBC.

The age profile of our CIN population is slightly younger – 59% under 10 yrs / 41% 10 yrs+; England average 53% / 47%.

The chart overleaf summarises data regarding factors identified, following social care assessments, as contributing to children being in need.

The rate of Section 47 Enquiries (i.e assessments under section 47 of the Children Act for children at risk of significant harm) reduced by 19.5% from 2013 to 2014, against the national trend (increased by 11.3% for England; and by 14.2% for the NE). However, our rate of S47s remains very high at 180.6 per 10,000 children – compared to 124.1 for England and 135.7 for the NE. We have the second highest rate in the NE behind Hartlepool.

A similar pattern is seen with child protection plans. There were 369 at 31st March 2013, reducing to 296 at 31st March 2014. The rate per 10,000 reduced by 19.6 % to 70.1. The rate nationally increased 12.1% to 42.1; regionally the rate increased 16.1% to 59.3. We have the third highest rate in the region (behind Redcar & Cleveland, then Middlesbrough).


Last updated: 29/05/15

5. What services are currently provided?

Services provided via the Council include:

CAF Team – The CAF Team is a point of contact within Children and Young People’s Services for any professional who requires support with the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) process. The CAF Team co-ordinates the collation and registration of work carried out by agencies under the CAF as part of the early help offer in Stockton-on-Tees. The team has four CAF Support Officers who work to support agencies to carry out assessments under the CAF, establish and further develop successful Team Around the Family (TAF) meetings.

Family Support – There are two dedicated Family Support Teams covering the north and south of the Borough. The Family Support Teams will generally work with children under the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) where those children have additional needs that require a multi-agency targeted response. The principal aim of the Family Support Teams is to address a child’s needs to prevent them escalating to the point where statutory assessment and intervention is needed.

Fieldwork North and Fieldwork South – The Fieldwork North and South service areas undertake statutory work to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in need and their families. This includes those children who are in need of protection and looked after children. To achieve this, there are two Assessment Teams and six Fieldwork Teams comprised of social workers, senior family workers and family workers who assess, plan and carry out direct work with children and families.

Complex Needs Social Work Team (CNSWT) / Key Working Development Team (KWDT) – The CSNWT and KWDT provide an integrated and coordinated response for children and young people with complex needs. This is achieved through the allocation of either a social worker who will undertake an assessment of need or a key working assistant who will assist in identifying a key worker who will coordinate service provision and will be a single point of contact for the family. Specialist support is available for those children and young people who have severe learning disability, complex physical disability, a life limiting or a life threatening condition or those with multiple disability.

Youth Direction – Youth Direction provides a range of services to young people across the Borough including a ‘One Stop Shop’ drop in service in the main Youth Direction building where Participation Advisors provide information, advice, guidance and support for those young people who are at risk of leaving or are not in education, employment or training. Careers advisors are also available to all young people to offer advice and guidance through one-to-one interviews to help young people make informed decisions about their futures.  Youth Direction also provide youth centres and projects across the Borough for young people age 11 to 19 and the Targeted Youth Support Team provides coordinated support to young people age 8 – 19 (or 25 if the young person has a learning difficulty / disability) who may need personalised support and positive activities for a number of reasons.

Preventions Service – The Preventions Service provides support and early interventions to young people aged 8 -17 who are at risk of school exclusion, being involved in antisocial behaviour or are at risk of involvement in criminal behaviour. The help available aims to divert these young people from these risks through targeted one to one guidance, opportunities to gain qualifications, targeted group work, involvement in exciting projects, positive activities and holiday activity programmes.

The Early Help and Prevention Strategy for Children, Young People and their Families (2014) is a helpful source of reference for information about how other services are provided / commissioned to provide help to children and families in need, particularly prior to them meeting the threshold for referral to statutory social care services.  

(Web link for EH Strategy to be inserted)

Last updated: 29/05/15

6. What is the projected level of need?

The overall volume of referrals to social care for children considered to be in need of help and protection has been at a broadly similar level in recent years, and levels of need can be expected to remain at current levels for some time yet. Implementation of the Early Help Strategy should impact eventually on the rate of children becoming in need although there are many variables that will impact on how far and when this will happen.

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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
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8. What evidence is there for effective intervention?

There is a much published research on interventions to support children in need and on approaches to more preventative ways of working. A recent publication from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) ‘Safeguarding Pressures Research Phase 4 - November 2014’ – weblink: ADCS - Leading Children's Services includes a useful overview of challenges and of examples where greater success is being achieved in reducing the rate of children being referred to social care services.

A range of research has also informed development of various models for management of long term neglect cases. These models should be taken into account as part of future strategic developments for addressing the child in need population.

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9. What do people say?

Content under development

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10. What additional needs assessment is required?

This needs assessment is part of a wider set of assessments relating to children and young people who are vulnerable to poor life outcomes. A separate assessment is included in the JSNA relating to looked after children and young people. An assessment for children at risk of sexual exploitation is being developed.

Last updated: 29/05/15