Step Six: Decide the Plan

All assessments should lead clearly into a plan which stems from the identified risks and strengths in the family, and should start from the overall goal, that is the prevention of a poor outcome if the child's needs are not met, or in the case of risk assessment, the protection of the child from the identified danger, for example, sexual abuse by X.

It should then list each risk and need, and the action required, by whom and when, to address that risk. This will take the form of key objectives and tasks which must be SMART

S pecific

M easurable

A chievable

R ealistic

T ime bound

The principles set out in the previous steps must also be applied, in that the plan must be clearly communicated to all involved and families must be supported to understand what exactly is expected of them, why, and by when. It should also be clear what level and type of support will be offered to enable them to meet the objectives of the plan, plus what the consequences will be if tasks are not undertaken and objectives are not met.

The Plan will usually be agreed at a formal meeting, either at a child protection conference, a child in need planning meeting, or a core group, and must be owned by all involved.

Child protection chairs will expect to see a completed assessment using the stepwise framework, and underpinned by the relevant analysis tools for the type of abuse or harm identified as an issue for the child. Where there is more than one danger or type of abuse, the conference should make a decision about what the greatest priority is in terms of risk to the child - this can be identified through use of the Brearley assessment model, which can then be supported by other tools such as Finkelhor.