Strategy discussions

Strategy discussions are held where it is suspected a child is at risk of abuse or neglect. They are for sharing information between agencies, assessing the risk, and deciding whether and how child protection enquiries should be undertaken. The terms strategy discussion and strategy meeting just refer to whether the discussion is face-to-face.

...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:

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 involveMay involve
Social Work managerAny referring agency or professional
Social workerChild's school or nursery
Health professionalsAny health services providing a service
PoliceOther 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:

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.





Person responsible



Decision that a strategy discussion required and type (i.e. telephone conversation or meeting)

Unit Manager

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

Unit Manager

At point of decision being made


Chairing of meeting/ discussion

Unit Manager



Decision and action planning

Participants in meeting/discussion



Recording and circulation of decisions and agreed actions

Unit Manager

Within one working day of discussion/meeting