...Children's social care should convene a strategy discussion to determine the child's welfare and plan rapid future action if there is reasonable cause to suspect the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm
Working Together 2013:33
This discussion can be by phone or as a meeting, and more than one discussion can be held if necessary. A discussion should be held whenever there is suspicion a child may be suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm - this could be from a referral, during an assessment, or in relation to an open case such as a Looked After Child. The discussion should:
- share available information;
- agree the conduct and timing of any criminal investigation; and
- decide whether and how enquiries under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 should be undertaken.
Where the criteria for a strategy discussion are met, this must take place within a maximum of three working days of the concerns being identified, with the urgency dependent on the information received.
The meeting should be chaired by a manager from Social Care and it is expected that those participating must have all relevant information available and be of sufficient seniority to make decisions on behalf of their agency.
|MUST involve||May involve|
|Social Work manager||Any referring agency or professional|
|Social worker||Child's school or nursery|
|Health professionals||Any health services providing a service|
|Police||Other agencies with significant involvement|
The family is not invited to be part of a Strategy Discussion.
The following suggested agenda may be used to help structure discussions:
Participants & reasons for apologies:
Reason for the meeting:
Who may be at risk (including children outside the family):
Update on any immediate action taken:
Known information from each agency:
Risk assessment - has this child suffered/is likely to suffer significant harm?:
Conduct & Timing of any criminal investigation:
Further information required:
Is legal action required? Why/why not?:
Immediate & short term actions (including timescale):
What/how information is shared with the family (including whether a child victim needs to be seen without knowledge of the parent/caregiver):
How the actions will ensure this child is safe:
The discussion should consider risk to each child depending on their developmental stage and position in the family, and any other children known to be at risk (e.g. children in the same household or those having contact with the alleged perpetrator) must also be considered, either at the same strategy discussion or in one specifically arranged for them.
Actions from a Strategy Discussion
The Social Worker is responsible for recording the agreed decisions and circulating this to all agencies within 1 working day and to follow up actions to make sure what was agreed gets done. The plan should include:
- how the assessment by Social Care is to be carried out
- how further information will be gathered
- whether medical assessments are necessary
- who will be spoken to, why and when,
- when the child will be seen alone by the lead social worker and how their wishes and feelings will be obtained.
The plan should reflect the requirement to convene an Initial Child Protection Case Conference within 15 working days of the strategy discussion that decides to commence a s47 enquiry (or last discussion if a series of discussions is required - see below). The s47 enquiries may find there is no need to hold a CP Conference. This needs to be discussed with partner agencies, and recorded as the outcome of the 47 enquiries.
Follow up strategy discussions
More than one strategy meeting may be necessary in order to allow time for information to be gathered and a clear plan to be developed, examples being where there is concern about the abuse being organised (e.g. sexual exploitation) or complex (e.g. fabricated illness).
It is however important to ensure that where multiple meetings are required the work does not drift. If further strategy meetings are required then the time between strategy meetings must not exceed four weeks. Should the strategy process exceed an overall period of three months, then senior management must be notified to ensure sufficient oversight.
Decision that a strategy discussion required and type (i.e. telephone conversation or meeting)
Within three working days of referral unless there are specific circumstances (as above)
Recording of decision as to whether to have a strategy discussion/ meeting and reasons
At point of decision being made
Chairing of meeting/ discussion
Decision and action planning
Participants in meeting/discussion
Recording and circulation of decisions and agreed actions
Within one working day of discussion/meeting
- Child protection
- Youth Offending
- Children with Disabilities