Child and Family Action Plans
A child and family action plan identifies objectives and goals of intervention, details the interventions to be undertaken, and the roles and responsibilities of the child, young person and family and each of the organisations providing services to the family. The assessment and goals of intervention will be discussed and agreed with the child, young person and their family.
The child and family action plan also contains timelines for the length of intervention and for monitoring and review.
The agreed tool for assessment and action plans within Bucks Early Help services is the Outcomes Star, and these tool includes a Family Action Plan.
“One family, one plan”
Through family intervention, families and their problems are ‘gripped’ and a plan of action for resolving them developed and agreed. Cases are not allowed to ‘drift’, and the family worker will ensure the efforts of different agencies and professionals are pulled together and aligned. This reduces the opportunity for families to ‘play agencies off against each other’, provides an opportunity to reduce some of the overlapping agency activity that surrounds these families and the waste that entails, plus the knock-on impact that may have on the families. It requires family workers and managers to cut through overlapping plans, assessments and activity, to prevent resources being wasted as different agencies pull in conflicting directions.
Having said this it is important to note that the FAMILY action plan should be family centred and focused on action that improve the outcomes for children. Some actions such as ‘making a referral to…’.or ‘Chasing another professional’, should not be included in the family plan, as these are professional’s actions for case recording. Why do we say this? Because if all activity were to be recorded on the family action plan this would present as overwhelming, and could lead to disengagement.
There is 3 stages to action plans
- Engagement– plans at this stage are likely to be short and include small steps and will include actions for the family worker to prove trust and quick wins. The Action Plan must be reflective of the individual’s personal and family-related needs as well as their barriers to work and the stage they are at in overcoming these barriers. The content of the initial Action Plan will be based on the individual’s in depth needs assessment therefore you may or may not be able to identify longer term goals at this stage. For this reason, it is acceptable to include provisional or no progress measure proposals at the point where the initial Action Plan is developed.
- Direct work– these plans are after engagement and once a family are open to change. These should have more actions for family members and this should steadily grow as progress is made. The Action Plan should chart the progress made by the individual and should give the individual a framework to help focus on what they need to do. It should be agreed by the individual and reviewed regularly. The Action Plan is an important way of evidencing the progress made and it is therefore important that all family activities undertaken are recorded on it.
- Exit Plans– the timing of exit plans is crucial as this empowers and enables families to identify their journey and the changes they have made, then use this as a resource to remind them if things begin to become difficult later. Good effective exit plans can prevent early re referrals.
Agencies often do not have a common purpose with the families and all want to do different things ‘to them’ at different times. Lack of consistency between agencies can be incredibly frustrating for families– or even counterproductive.
To avoid this good communication between agencies and multi-agency meetings/network meetings that include the family are highly recommended.