Significant harm

Significant harm

Key points

If Children’s Social Care decides that the child is at risk of significant harm, they will need to decide whether or not the child is in need of immediate protection.

Where there is a risk to the life of a child, or a likelihood of serious immediate harm, Children’s Social Care or the police should act quickly to secure the immediate safety of the child.

If there is an immediate risk of significant harm, a strategy discussion must be held.

These procedures should also be followed when there are concerns about an unborn child.

However, an order should be applied for before a child is born, only in exceptional circumstances where the evidence is full, detailed, precise and compelling.

In serious and complex cases, a strategy meeting is likely to be the most effective way of discussing the child’s welfare and planning future action. Such a meeting should be held at a convenient location for key attendees.

The outcome of such meetings need to be accurately recorded and distributed in a timely fashion to all relevant parties.

How to do it

Ask yourself the following:

  • what is the child at risk from?
  • what is likely to happen to them if they remain at home for the next 15 days?
  • are things likely to get worse or better during the course of the child protection enquiry?
  • are you worried that their life may be in danger, or that they will be seriously and immediately harmed, if they are not removed?

As always, you need to balance the likely immediate risk to the child with the damage that may be caused if the child is removed from the family.