Children's care professionals

Child in need

A general duty is placed on every local authority to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in need within their area. This duty is set by:

Children's social care must, so far as is consistent with this duty, promote the upbringing of children in need by their families, through provision of a range and level of services appropriate to the child's needs.

The Children Act 1989 states that a child shall be considered "in need" if:

  • s/he is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or to have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision of services by a local authority
  • their health or development is likely to be significantly impaired, or further impaired, without the provision of such services
  • s/he is disabled

Before referring a child to children's social care under Section 17, professionals should in most cases, ensure that a common assessment framework (CAF) has been completed and consultation has taken place with any relevant agencies, including where appropriate early help services.