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3.1 Contacts and Referrals

This chapter is currently under review

AMENDMENT

Section 12, Children Social Care Specific Actions was significantly revised in March 2012 and it should be reread in its entirety.


Contacts

  1. Duty to Refer
  2. Urgent Medical Treatment
  3. Ensuring the Immediate Safety of the Child
  4. Confidentiality
  5. Listening to the Child before a Referral is Made
  6. Parental Consultation before a Referral is Made
  7. Consultation between Professionals
  8. Referrals by Professionals
  9. Referrals by Members of the Public or Family
  10. Recording of Referrals
  11. How Referrals will be Received and Acted Upon
  12. Children's Specialist Services Specific Actions
  13. Feedback on Outcome of Referral
  14. Children with Disabilities
  15. Immediate Protection
  16. Referrals where there is or may be an Alleged Crime
  17. Cross Boundary Referrals
  18. Pre Birth Referrals


1. Duty to Refer

1.1

Staff in any agency must make a referral to Children's Specialist Services if it is believed or suspected that:

  • A child is suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm; or
  • A child's health or development may be impaired without the provision of services; or
  • With the agreement of the person with Parental Responsibility, a child would be likely to benefit from family support services.
1.2 The Wirral Guide to Integrated Working provides further guidance on identifying need and appropriate referral pathways. All referrals must be made using the Concerned about a Child.
1.3 A referral must be made as soon as possible when any concern of Significant Harm becomes known - the greater the level of perceived risk, the more urgent the action should be.
1.4 Recognition of abuse in a child with disabilities may require specialist skills, or links with appropriate adults who know the child well.
1.5 The suspicion or allegation may be based on information, which comes from different sources. It may arise in the context of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) or Team Around the Child (TAC), which offers a basis for early referral and information sharing between agencies (see the Lead Professional Welcome Pack in the Wirral Safeguarding Board website). It may come from a member of the public, the child concerned, another child, a family member/relative or professional staff.
1.6 Agencies must refer after they have considered whether a Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is appropriate (if this matter can be resolved without the need for social worker) and they should always seek consent from parents/carers to the referral. If the parent refuses they must consider whether there is risk to the child in line with the criteria set out in Section 6, Parental Consent before a Referral is Made - below.
1.7 The information may also relate to harm caused by another child, in which case both children, i.e. the suspected perpetrator and victim, must be referred.
1.8 The suspicion or allegation may relate to a parent or professional or volunteer caring for or working with the child. If this is the case the referrer should consult with Local Authority Designated Officer following the Managing Allegations Against Staff, Volunteers, Foster and Adoptive Carers who Work with Children Procedure.
1.9 If a case is open and allocated then the referrer must contact the allocated Social Worker, manager or Service Manager either in writing, or by telephone followed by confirmation in writing within 2 days.
1.10 If the case is closed, then a new referral will need to be made via the Integrated Front Door (IFD) and followed up in writing within 24 hours.
1.11 Advice may be sought about the appropriateness of the referral from a social worker or practice manger at Children's IFD, or, if the case is open, from the allocated Social Worker. Alternatively advice may be sought from the  Family Crime Investigation Unit (FCIU) or the designated professionals within the agency. See Contact Details.
1.12 If consultation is sought and Children's Social Care concludes that a referral is required, the information provided must be regarded as a referral, responded to as such and the referrer advised accordingly.


2. Urgent Medical Treatment

2.1 If the child is suffering from a serious injury, medical attention must be sought immediately by calling an ambulance or taking the child to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department of the local hospital. The duty consultant paediatrician must be informed of the nature of the concerns and a referral made in accordance with this procedure as soon as practicably possible.


3. Ensuring the Immediate Safety of the Child

3.1 The safety of children is paramount in all decisions relating to their welfare. Any action taken by members of staff from a Safeguarding Children Board member agency must ensure that no child is left in immediate danger.
3.2 When considering whether immediate action is required to protect a child, any agency must also consider whether action is required to safeguard and protect the welfare of any other children in the same household, the household of an alleged perpetrator or elsewhere.
3.3 It should be noted that the law (s.3 (5) Children Act 1989) empowers anyone who does not have Parental Responsibility for a child but does have care of her/him to do 'what is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the child's welfare'.
3.4 A teacher, foster carer, child minder or any professional should, for example, take all reasonable steps to offer a child immediate protection from an aggressive parent.
3.5 If abuse is alleged, suspected or confirmed in children admitted to hospital or seen within a hospital setting, they must not be discharged until a referral has been made to Children's Specialist Services in accordance with this procedure and a decision made as to the need for immediate protective action.


4. Confidentiality

4.1

The safety and welfare of the child overrides all other considerations, including the following:

  • Confidentiality;
  • Gathering of evidence;
  • Commitment or loyalty to relatives, friends or colleagues.
4.2 In deciding whether there is a need to share information, professionals need to consider their legal obligations, including whether they have a legal duty of confidentiality towards the child. Where there is such a duty, the professional may lawfully share information if the child consents or if there is a public interest of sufficient force, for example the public interest in protecting the child from harm. This must be judged by the professional on the facts of each case. Where there is clear risk of Significant Harm to a child, or serious harm to adults, the public interest test will almost certainly be satisfied. However, there will be other cases where it is not so clear and professionals will be justified in sharing some confidential information in order to make a decision about whether to make a referral and share fuller information - in these circumstances, the information shared should be proportionate.
4.3 The overriding consideration must be the best interests of the child - for this reason, absolute confidentiality cannot and should not be promised to anyone.
4.4 For the latest guidance on information sharing, see the chapter in this manual on Information Sharing and Confidentiality. Also you may wish to refer to the government publication Information Sharing: Advice Practitioners Providing Safeguarding Services to Children, Young People, Parents and Carers (2015) and/or the guidance in relation to making a referral relating to under-age sexual activity 'Working with Young People Engaged in Sexual Activity.
4.5 If suspicions or allegations are about relatives, friends or colleagues, professional or otherwise, the concerns must not be discussed with them before making the referral.
4.6 Individual members of the public who make a referral may prefer not to give their name or alternatively they may disclose their identity, but not wish for it to be revealed to the parents / carers of the child concerned.
4.7 Whenever possible, staff should respect a referrer's request for anonymity. However staff should not give a referrer any guarantee of confidentiality, as there are certain limited circumstances in which the identity of a referrer may have to be given e.g. the Court proceedings.


5. Listening to the Child before a Referral is Made

5.1

If the child makes an allegation or discloses information which raises concern about Significant Harm, the initial response should be limited to listening carefully to what the child says so as to:

  • Clarify the concerns;
  • Offer reassurance about how s/he will be kept safe; and
  • Explain that the information will be passed to Children's Specialist Services and/or the Police.
5.2 The child must not be pressed for information, led or cross-examined or given false assurances of absolute confidentiality. Such well-intentioned actions could prejudice Police investigations, especially in cases of sexual abuse.
5.3 Consideration must always be given to issues of diversity, so that the impact of cultural expectations and obligations are taken into consideration.
5.4 It is vital that if there are any communication difficulties, an interpreter is used.
5.5 A record of all conversations and actions must be kept.
5.6 No enquiries or investigations may be initiated without the authority of Children's Specialist Services or the Police.
5.7 If the child can understand the significance and consequences of making a referral to Children's Specialist Services, s/he should be asked her/his view by the referring professional.
5.8 Whilst the child's view should be considered, it remains the responsibility of the professional to take whatever action is required to ensure the safety of that child and any other children.


6. Parental Consultation before a Referral is Made

6.1

Parents must be informed of the referral and their permission sought to share information with other agencies unless to do so would:

  • Be prejudicial to the child's welfare;
  • Cause concern about the behaviour of the adult concerned with the child;
  • Cause concern that the child would be at increased risk or further risk of Significant Harm;
  • Possibly interfere with any Police investigation.
6.2 Professionals should in general discuss concerns with the family and, seek agreement to making a referral unless the consequent delay, behavioural response it prompts or any other reason might place the child or others, at increased risk of Significant Harm. Decisions in this area need to be made by, or with the advice of, people with suitable competence in child protection work such as named or designated professionals or senior managers. See Information Sharing: Advice Practitioners Providing Safeguarding Services to Children, Young People, Parents and Carers (2015).
6.3 Consideration must be given to issues of diversity, so that the impact of cultural expectations and obligations are taken into consideration. It is vital that, where there are any communication difficulties, an interpreter is used. This includes families who may speak English adequately for day to day interactions, but whose linguistic abilities may not be sufficient to understand the delicate and complicated discussions about parenting and the needs of their children.
6.4 A decision by any professional not to seek parental permission before making a referral to Children's Specialist Services must be recorded and the reasons given.
6.5 If the parent is consulted and refuses to give permission for the referral, further advice should be sought from the designated lead in your agency unless to do so would cause undue delay and the outcome must be fully recorded (see Contact Details).
6.6

If, having taken full account of the parent's wishes, it is still considered that there is a need for a referral:

  • Reason/s for proceeding without parental agreement must be recorded;
  • Children's Specialist Services must be told that the parent has withheld her/his permission;
  • The parent must be contacted by the referring professional to inform her/him that after considering their wishes a referral has been made, unless to do so would place the child/ren at increased risk of Significant Harm.


7. Consultation between Professionals

Consultation is available from those agencies and services which work to the Team Around the Child Model.

Practitioners should feel free to consult with each other when determining a course of action for a child or young person. Consultation is part of an ongoing assessment process and, subject to the Information Sharing and Confidentiality Procedure. There are different purposes to consultation and practitioners need to be clear about their purpose in seeking and sharing information.

Consultation may involve just a simple phone call. Where more complex assessments are required there should be clear lines of access to consistent information and support from suitably experienced people so that the practitioners involved can decide together the appropriate actions.

When formal consultation takes place, this must be recorded by the consultant and a copy must be sent to the consultee. The consultant needs to keep a copy of the advice given and store the record securely as per their service's own procedures.

The underpinning principles of consultation are:

  • Consultation may be used in any situation where there is concern for the welfare of a child and family;
  • All agencies share a genuine commitment to working together;
  • Consultation is a two way process that promotes a multi-agency and multidisciplinary approach;
  • Professional discretion and mutual respect for professional judgement is required;
  • Knowledge and expertise may be different but equally valuable to the process;
  • Families should, wherever possible, always be aware of consultation and of the guidance on confidentiality;
  • Consultation is not a referral to another agency or a transfer of 'ownership' unless the agreed outcome is a referral.


8. Referrals by Professionals

8.1

Referrals by professionals should be made in one of the following ways:

  • In writing using the MARS Form addressed to the Children's IFD;
  • For multi agency partners urgent referrals via a telephone call and followed up in writing/e-mail as appropriate.  For domestic abuse referrals follow the Joint Protocol for the Management of Domestic Abuse Notifications from Merseyside Police and other agencies;
  • By telephone contact with children's IFD;
  • In an emergency outside office hours, by contacting the Emergency Duty Team or the Police;
  • The name of the professional making the referral and their organisation will be required in all cases i.e. no anonymous referrals by professionals.
8.2 See Contact Details for addresses and telephone numbers.
8.3 All professional referrers must confirm verbal and telephone referrals in writing, within 48 hours of being made.
8.4 If the child is known to have an allocated Social Worker and the case is open, then a new contact should be made directly to the allocated worker or, in her/his absence, the manager or a duty officer in that team. If the status of the case is unknown or the case has been subsequently closed, then this would be a new referral and must be sent to Children's IFD.
8.5 If it is not possible to contact the Children's Specialist Services office or Children's IFD, the concern must be reported to the Family Crime Investigation Unit or if not available, to the Duty Inspector at the nearest Police station. If the Police receive a referral first, officers will consult with the Children's Specialist Services prior to taking any action. Referrals out of hours should be made in the first instance to the Emergency Duty Team.
8.6 However in an emergency Police may need to act independently without first consulting Children's Specialist Services.
8.7 Professionals in all agencies must have internal procedures, which identify designated or named managers or staff who are able to offer advice on safeguarding and decide upon the necessity for a referral. Consultation may also be made directly with Children's IFD or the allocated Social Worker in Children's Specialist Services.
8.8 Concerns can also be discussed (see Consultation between professionals and Consultation - IFD and Area Team social workers, without necessarily identifying the child in question, with senior colleagues in another agency in order to develop an understanding of the child's needs and circumstances.
8.9 If, after discussion, these concerns remain and it seems that the child and family would benefit from other services, including those from within another part of the same agency decisions should be made about whom to make a referral to. If the child is considered to be or may be a child in need under the Children Act 1989, the child should be referred to Children's Specialist Services. This includes a child who is believed to be or may be at risk of suffering Significant Harm.
8.10

There should always be the opportunity to discuss child welfare concerns with, and seek advice from, colleagues, managers, a designated or named professional, or other agencies; these include a named nurse or designated paediatrician but:

  • Never delay emergency action to protect a child from harm;
  • Always record in writing concerns about a child's welfare, including whether or not further action is taken; and
  • Always record in writing discussions about a child's welfare. At the close of a discussion, always reach a clear and explicit recorded agreement about who will be taking what action, or that no further action will be taken.
8.11

The person making the referral should provide as much of the following information as is available (its absence must not delay a referral):

  • Full name, date of birth and gender of child/ren;
  • Full family address and any known previous addresses;
  • Identity of those with parental responsibility;
  • Names, date of birth and information about all household members, including any other children in the family, and significant people who live outside the child's household;
  • Ethnicity, first language and religion of children and parents / carers;
  • Any need for an interpreter, signer or other communication aid;
  • Any special needs of child/ren;
  • Any significant / important recent or historical events / incidents in the child or family's life;
  • Cause for concern including details of any allegations, their sources, timing and location;
  • Identity and current whereabouts of the suspected / alleged perpetrator;
  • Child's current location and emotional and physical condition;
  • Whether the child is currently safe or is in need of immediate protection because of any approaching deadlines (e.g. child about to be collected by alleged abuser);
  • Child's account and the parent's' response to the concerns if known;
  • Referrers relationship and knowledge of the child and parents / carers;
  • Known current or previous involvement of other agencies / professionals;
  • Information about parental knowledge of, and agreement to, the referral.
Click here to view Referral Flowchart from Working Together 2015.


9. Referrals by Members of the Public or Family

9.1 Referrals may be made by the child her/himself, a member of her/his family, a friend, or another member of the public.
9.2

Referrals may be made in one of the following ways:

  • In writing, email, minicom, fax or by telephone contact with  Children's IFD;
  • In an emergency outside office hours, by contacting the Emergency Duty Team or the Police.
9.3 See Contact Details for addresses and telephone numbers.
9.4 The person making the referral should provide as much information as possible listed under Paragraph 8.11.


10. Recording of Referrals

10.1 The referrer should keep a written record of all information received and actions undertaken, clearly timed, dated and signed. (See Section 8, Referrals by Professionals).
10.2 The referrer should confirm verbal and telephone referrals in writing, within 24 hours, using the MARS form If there is an existing CAF this should be attached.


11. How Referrals will be Received and Acted Upon

11.1 The first point of contact into the Children's Service is the customer service advisor in IFD who will direct all calls for new cases, closed cases or consultations to Children's IFD. Any open cases will be transferred directly to the social work team for the case.
11.2 The person making the referral should provide as much of the information listed in 8.11 as s/he can and should be asked specifically if they hold any information about difficulties experienced by the family/household due to domestic abuse, mental illness, substance misuse, and or learning difficulties, although absence of information must not delay a referral. Outside normal working hours, the Emergency Duty Team will receive urgent referrals. See Contact Details for addresses and telephone numbers.
11.3 Referrers will have an opportunity to discuss their concerns with a qualified social worker at children's IFD. Children's Specialist Services will deal with the referral in accordance with the 'Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families' and determine whether a referral should be responded to on the basis that the child is in need of support under s.17 or in need of protection under s.47, of the Children Act 1989. Professionals also have the opportunity for a professional consultation with social workers at IFD (see Consultation IFD and Area Team Social Workers).


12. Children's Specialist Services Specific Actions

Incoming Contact at IFD

New or Closed Cases

All calls should be backed up within 48 hours by a fully completed multi-agency request for service form; where a child is subject to Team Around the Child (TAC) or Common Assessment Framework (CAF), the CAF document to be attached; however, referrals will still be launched to an assessment team where there are significant concerns based on the information received.

The social worker will inquire whether the referrer is requesting a Professional Consultation or a request for a service.

Where it is a Request for a Service

The social worker will check in all cases whether the referrer has consent for a referral from the parent (or child where appropriate). Consent will not be deemed necessary where there is concern the child would be placed at risk or it may be considered that the alleged perpetrator/non protective carer may seek to influence a child.

The social worker will gather information from the referrer and request that a multi-agency request for service (MARS) form is completed. The social worker will undertake a diagnostic assessment with the referrer and consider the level of need (see Level of Need section prior to making decisions).

Wherever there is a request for a service a contact will be recorded on ICS before seeking advice from the practice manager.

  1. Where the social worker provides advise that Team Around the Child or CAF is appropriate the following action will be taken:
    • If the child is previously known to Children's Specialist Services, record on ICS and close down on 'information and advice given'. A copy of the referral will be sent to the appropriate Area Team Leader/Area Social Worker;
    • Send a letter to the parent/carer advising them that information is recorded on ICS and provide advice on the conclusion of the referral, along with the leaflet 'Information about you' unless this would be likely to cause serious harm (e.g. domestic violence or prejudice to a Child Protection Plan).
  2. If the request for a service/referral is accepted for launching:
    • A contact will be put on ICS one either the specifically named child or the eldest child in the family as this is where the history can be found;
    • The IFD practice manager will put their rationale in profile notes;
    • The contact will be launched to the assessment team appropriate for the child;
    • The practice manager will be provided with the child's name and ICS number for purpose of the IFD database;
    • The multi-agency request for service form will be faxed to the assessment team and the original forwarded in the internal mail;
    • if the multi-agency request for service form has not yet been received this will be recorded as a contact on ICS;
    • the referrer will be sent a feedback form.
  3. If request for services is accepted but dealt with by IFD:
    • A contact will be put on ICS;
    • Calls will be made to other professionals if parental consent has been obtained or the need to seek consent has been dispensed with by the Practice Manager who must record in case notes their reasons why they have made this decision;
    • The IFD Practice Manager will put their rationale in profile notes under manager’s decision;
    • All actions will be recorded in profile notes;
    • The record will be closed on ICS as 'information and advice given' ensuring date is entered;
    • A privacy notice, will be sent to the parents/ carers and young person with a covering letter and 'Information about you' leaflet, unless this would be likely to cause serious harm (e.g. domestic violence or prejudice to a Child Protection Plan). 

Consultation - IFD and Area Team Social Workers

Consultation with professionals is an important part of the role of IFD and for Area Social Workers. It is important to have a record of these consultations in IFD and from the Area Social Workers to ensure advice is given consistently and also to track where there are consultations on the same child but from different professionals - there may be a jigsaw of concerns emerging that may alter the advice given at IFD or by the Area Social Worker. The Area Social Worker in their role in the area team is to give advice regarding thresholds and is perceived by the other agencies as giving advice on behalf of social care;

  • Where a professional contacts for a consultation (to IFD or the Area Social Worker) and/or an area social worker attends a meeting to give advice or holds a discussion regarding thresholds, the child's name will be requested. If a professional does not want to give a child's name, the consultation will proceed but the professional will be advised clearly why this is needed as outlined above;
  • IFD and also Area Social Workers will search ICS on the child to determine if known and the history as this may alter the advice given. Area Social Workers may not be in a position to do this when approached but must check ICS at the earliest opportunity. If history alters the advice that has been given the professional will be contacted and a discussion with the relevant Assessment Practice Manager must take place to confirm if a formal referral is required;
  • The Consultation will be recorded on ICS as a Contact with the reason "Professional Consultation". The parents do not need to be informed or the information received. This decision is based on advice from the Information Manager as the consultation is professional advice and not to deliver a service and the purpose of the recording is to inform any potential future safeguarding issues;
  • As such is it reasonable and in line with the Data Protection Act to record the information and not be required to inform the parent/carer/child nor request the professional to seek consent in advance of the consultation. However, as a matter of good practice the professional must be advised to inform the parent/carer/child that they have has a consultation with social care and the outcome;
  • At IFD, the Practice Manager is to record on ICS their rationale for the consultation and confirm the advice given. For Area Social Workers, their Assessment Practice Manager must also record their rationale for the consultation and confirm the advice given. This is to be recorded in case notes under manager’s decision. If a manager when asked to authorise a consultation disagrees with the advice given, action must be taken to inform the professional why and consideration given to a formal referral;
  • The consultation must be recorded and the feedback form sent to the professional authorised by the relevant Practice Manager. If a CAF/TAC is recommended, a copy must be sent to the relevant Area Team Leader for follow-up.

Incoming Contacts to EDT (out of hours)

During the out of office hours period EDT social worker will prioritise all calls. Those that can be safely advised to use IFD or the responsible team or workers will be asked to do so.

All calls should be recorded in ICS for children’s services and SWIFT for adult services.

Those contacts that require urgent assessment and response will be recorded on ICS. 

For open cases the contact will be launched on ICS to the key team for the day time services.

New contacts will be launched to IFD for further diagnostic assessment to decide if they can be dealt with at IFD or require launching to an assessment team.

Level of Need

Level 2 -Single Agency Approach Required

IFD must not advise the caller to call Team around the Child meetings but should give advice and support regarding using the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) and/or give the details of appropriate Area Team.

It is inappropriate for TAC/CAF at this level as the threshold is not met. Single agencies such as schools for example should be able to address the child's unmet needs in a coordinated way using their existing structures. It might be that a teacher, a SENCO and an ESW could meet the unmet needs of the child and the caller might simply need some advice from IFD on how to proceed.

IFD must send completed consultation forms to callers.

Level 3 - Multi Disciplinary Approach Required

If Informed Consent has been Given

Consent must be obtained to complete CAF and hold a TAC meeting. If the caller has not already done so they should be advised to obtain consent. If they are to proceed they should inform the Area Team Leader where the child lives. It may be possible for an Area Team member to attend the meeting in an advisory capacity.

To ensure the ATL is aware of this activity IFD must send a copy of the completed consultation form to the ATL as well as the caller.

ATL to contact caller.

If Informed Consent has not been Given

Consent must be obtained to complete CAF and hold a TAC meeting. If consent is not given the agencies concerned must attempt to obtain consent. If consent is still not obtained it may be useful for the caller to consult with the relevant Area Team Leader for advice and to agree on a course of action.

IFD should be aware that if engagement is still not forthcoming a decision may be made, in consultation with the Area Team Leader, to call a meeting even without consent. If this happens the family will be informed of the reasons why the meeting is going ahead and that they will be given copies of the minutes following the meeting.

To ensure the ATL is aware of this activity IFD must send a copy of the completed consultation form to the ATL as well as the caller.

ATL to contact caller.

Note: Where there has been a request for a service at level 3, but there is a potential for it being level 4, the contact must be progressed to referral and a Social Work Assessment of Needs and Strengths completed.

Level 4 - Social Care Assessment Required

If a case spans two or more separate districts one district MUST take responsibility for managing the case within 24 hours of the case being referred to Children's Specialist Services. There is scope for across district co-working in the first stages of the contacts being received but roles and responsibilities must be clearly agreed and recorded.  If resolution cannot be agreed as to which district is taking responsibility then the issues will be escalated up to District Managers as a matter of urgency.

IFD will establish if the carer/ young person is aware of the referral and informed consent has been obtained. If not the referrer must seek consent before a referral can be accepted unless by doing so this would place the child/ young person/ workers at risk.

IFD will send a completed feedback form the caller advising them as to which team the request for services has been sent to for consideration. The contact details of the team will be given in the feedback form.

A decision will then be made by the Practice Manager of the relevant Assessment team as to how the case will progress. The Assessment team will send a district feedback form to the referrer outlining what action has been agreed.

Following referral a Social Work Assessment of Needs and Strengths will be undertaken. The only exception to this is if the assessment team holds significant, additional information that clearly indicates no need for assessment.

The social worker is always the Lead Professional whilst the case remains open to them and as such should chair any meetings.

Where a Team Around the Child Team is Already in Place

The social worker will contact TAC members as soon as possible and involve them in social work assessments and any meetings (CIN/statutory reviews etc). If the existing 'team' has previously timetabled a TAC meeting the social worker should attend as this will already be in everyone's diaries. This will save the social work time as they will not need to arrange another meeting.

Any minutes from meetings must be sent to all parties.

Where there is No Existing TAC Team

The social worker must contact all agencies involved as soon as possible and include them in assessments and any meetings (CIN/ statutory reviews etc).

Any minutes must be sent to all parties

The social worker will complete the assessment and monitor and review plans within existing processes.

Managers CAF/TAC Meetings

The Assessment Practice Manager, Area Team Leader & Family Support Manager will meet on a fortnightly basis to discuss Consultations, Workloads, Thresholds, Exit Strategies.

Allocation of New Cases in Assessment Team

Responsibilities

The duty social worker is responsible for checking the launch pad and keeping the Assessment Team Manager/ Practice Manager up to date.

The Assessment Team Manager/ Practice Manager has overall responsibility for overseeing the launch pad.

The Process

IFD will launch contacts to the appropriate teams through ICS. Should it be obvious that there are immediate safeguarding issues the IFD Practice Manager will attempt to contact the Practice/Team Manager, duty officer or Principal Team Manager and inform then of the incoming contact.

All contacts will appear in the team task list.

The duty social worker will discuss the contact with the Practice/Team Manager and where necessary make further investigations including following up any outstanding multi-agency request for service forms.

The Practice Manager/ Team Manager will make a decision on what action is required within 24 hours of receiving the contact.

Where the Practice Manager/ Team Manager is unavailable the duty social worker will discuss the case with the manager covering during absence. The duty manager will make the decision about allocation of cases with the advice and support of the senior practitioner/ advanced social worker.

No Concerns

Where there are no concerns the duty social worker will send a letter to the referrer explaining the outcome based on the rationale of the Practice Manager/ Team Manager.

The case will be recorded on ICS as 'progressed to referral' and then case closed on advice from the Practice Manager/ Team Manager. 

A letter will also be sent to the child's parents/carers and the child if they are 12 or over informing them of the information that has been recorded and the 'information about you leaflet, unless this would be likely to cause serious harm (e.g. domestic violence or prejudice to a Child Protection Plan).

Action Required

Where action is required the Practice Manager/ Team Manager will allocate the case based on individual caseload, developmental needs and capacity (annual leave, training, IFD duty).  If the case cannot be allocated, follow the unallocated case procedure.

The Practice Manager/ Team Manager will ensure that the case is appropriately progressed to referral on ICS 'progress to referral' and include the decision for allocated and unallocated cases. This can be completed by Team Support Officers through the use of the ICS amendment form (insert link). Through the use of this form, Team Support Officers will be able to place information regarding allocation, siblings, type of assessment, involvements and a raft of other information on ICS.

After the social worker is advised that the case is being allocated to them for assessment, the information then appears on the social worker task list.

A privacy notice, covering letter and 'information about you leaflet' must be sent to all parents/carers and children that are 12 and over, unless this would be likely to cause serious harm (e.g. domestic violence or prejudice to a Child Protection Plan).

Upon conversion of a contact into a referral the person tasked with undertaking a Social Work Assessment of Needs and Strengths will be the allocated worker and recorded as such on ICS.

Contact Information for Open Cases

The duty social worker must also check the launch pad for contact information from IFD relating to open cases.  If the allocated social worker for the case is not available the duty social worker must discuss the information with the practice manager/ team manager for them to decide if any urgent action is required.


13. Feedback on Outcome of Referral

13.1 Children's IFD or the social work team must send written acknowledgement of a written referral within 48 hours of receiving it. If the referrer has not received an acknowledgement within 3 working days, s/he should contact Children's IFD again.
13.2 In the case of a referral by a member of the public, feedback should be provided in a way which will respect the confidentiality of the child.
13.3 When an allegation against a person who works with children is received, the relevant Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) must be notified. See Managing Allegations against Staff, Volunteers, Foster and Adoptive Carers Who Work With Children Procedure


14. Children with Disabilities

14.1 A Common Assessment could be undertaken to address lower level additional needs that do not meet statutory Children in Need thresholds.
14.2

Where a TAC approach is not appropriate referrals for Children with Disabilities should be sent to IFD. They will determine if the child is eligible for services under the eligibility criteria for the Children with Disabilities team:

Children with Disabilities Social Work Team Criteria

The services provided are to support children in need and their families who have severe or substantial disabilities, specifically:

  • A severe or profound learning disability (for children of school age this will be supported by a Statement of Educational Need);
  • A severe physical disability;
  • A substantial degree of visual impairment / moderate and severe hearing loss;
  • A complex Autistic Spectrum disorder with severe learning difficulty (A diagnosis of Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder does not of itself meet the criteria for the service);
  • A complex medical health condition (For the youngest children with complex health needs or technological dependence there will usually be involvement from the Continuing Care Co-ordinator).

The service works to the definition of disability defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 - a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial or long term effect on a person's ability to carry out day to day activities.

If you need to discuss whether a contact/referral is appropriate for this team then please contact the duty Social Worker; a Senior Practitioner or the Team Manager on 606 6801.

If they are not eligible a referral to a locality Assessment team will be made.
14.3 Where children meet the criteria for the CWD team they will complete a Social Work Assessment of Needs and Strengths.
14.4 If the disabled child is part of a family and intervention is required for the other children the CWD team will complete this work.
14.5 If there are child protection concerns referrals should be sent in the normal way to IFD. If the criteria for the CWD team are met then they will undertake the enquiries.


15. Immediate Protection

15.1 If there is a risk to the life of a child or the possibility of immediate harm, the Police Officer or Social Worker must act with urgency to secure the safety of the child.
15.2 Emergency action might be necessary as soon as a referral is received or at any point in involvement with children and families. The need for emergency action may become apparent only over time as more is learned about the circumstances of a child.
15.3 Neglect as well as abuse can pose such a risk of Significant Harm to a child that urgent protective action is needed.
15.4

Immediate protection may be achieved by:

  • An alleged abuser agreeing to leave the home;
  • The removal of the alleged abuser;
  • A voluntary agreement for the child to move to a safer place;
  • Application for an Emergency Protection Order;
  • Removal of the child to Police Protection;
  • Gaining entry to the household under Police Powers of Protection.
15.5 The agency taking protective action must always consider whether action is also required to safeguard other children in the same household, the household of an alleged perpetrator or elsewhere.
15.6 Planned immediate protection will normally take place following a Strategy Discussion involving the Police, Children's Social Care and other agencies as appropriate e.g. if a child is in a hospital setting and there are child protection concerns, a Strategy Discussion must be held within the hospital before the child is discharged.
15.7 Where a single agency has to act immediately to protect a child, a strategy discussion must take place as soon as possible after the action to agree next steps.
15.8 Legal advice should normally be obtained before initiating legal action, in particular when an Emergency Protection Order is to be sought.
15.9 The Police also have powers to remove a child to suitable accommodation in cases of emergency. If it is necessary to remove a child, a Local Authority should wherever possible - and unless a child's safety is otherwise at immediate risk - apply for an Emergency Protection Order.
15.10 Police powers should only be used in exceptional circumstances where there is insufficient time to seek an Emergency Protection Order or for reasons relating to the immediate safety of the child.
15.11 The Local Authority in whose area a child is found, in circumstances that require emergency action, is responsible for taking that action. If the child is Looked After by, or the subject of a Child Protection Plan in another authority, the first authority should consult the authority responsible for the child. Only when the second Local Authority explicitly accepts responsibility is the first authority relieved of the responsibility to take emergency action. Such acceptance should be subsequently confirmed in writing.
15.12 Emergency action addresses only the immediate circumstances of the child(ren). It should be followed by a Strategy Discussion / Section 47 Enquiries as necessary. The agencies primarily involved with the child and family should then assess the needs and circumstances of the child and family, and agree action to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child in the longer-term.
15.13 Where an Emergency Protection Order applies, Children's Specialist Services will have to consider via a Strategy Discussion and legal planning meeting quickly whether to initiate Care Proceedings or take any other legal action, or to let the Order lapse and the child return home.


16. Referrals where there is or may be an Alleged Crime

16.1 If the referral relates to a situation in which a crime has or may have been committed, including sexual or physical assault or physical injury caused by neglect, the worker receiving the referral must hold a strategy discussion to discuss the referral with the Police at the earliest opportunity. (See Strategy Discussions/Meetings and Section 47 Enquiries as Part of Social Work Assessment of Needs and Strengths Procedure).
16.2 Whenever other agencies, or the Local Authority in its other roles, encounter concerns about a child's welfare which constitute, or may constitute a criminal offence against a child, they must always consider sharing that information with Children's Specialist Services or the Police in order to protect the child or other children from the risk of Significant Harm.
16.3 If a decision is taken not to share information, the reasons must be recorded. Decisions must to be made by or with the advice of, people with suitable competence in child protection work such as named or designated professionals or senior managers.
16.4 The Police, in consultation with Children's Specialist Services and any other agencies involved with the child, must consider whether there should be a criminal investigation and/or a Children's Social Care led intervention under Section 47.
16.5

Whilst the responsibility to instigate criminal proceedings rests with the Police, they must consider the view expressed by other agencies. There will be less serious cases, where after discussion, it may be agreed that the best interests of the child would be served by a Children's Specialist Services led intervention under Section 47 rather than a full Police investigation. This must be agreed at the Strategy Discussion and the child's best interests must be the overriding consideration in making any such decision.

See guidance in relation to 'Working with Young People Engaged in Sexual Activity.


17. Cross Boundary Referrals

17.1 If the referral relates to a child whose home is in Wirral, but who is temporarily visiting or placed in the area of another Local Authority or in a hospital in the area of another authority, or if the referral relates to an allegation against an adult who works in Wirral but lives in the area of another Local Authority or vice versa, the Local Authority / Police for the area where abuse is alleged to have occurred have prime responsibility for acting upon the referral.
17.2 The referral must be passed to that authority immediately for them to follow the necessary procedures and to undertake Section 47 Enquiries and/or take any immediate protective action that is necessary. They will be responsible for liaising with Wirral Children's Specialist Services as necessary.
17.3 Similarly, it is the responsibility of Wirral Children's Specialist Services / Police to make initial enquiries where a referral relates to a child temporarily in Wirral but normally resident elsewhere.
17.4 Before undertaking such enquiries, the child's home authority must be consulted and agreement sought on who is best placed to undertake the enquiries. If this is consistent with the child's immediate protection needs, it may be agreed that her/his home authority will respond to the referral.
17.5 However, in all circumstances the host authority retains responsibility until this has been explicitly accepted by the home authority.
17.6 For those children from other Local Authority areas, who are subject of Child Protection Plans in that area or Looked After by that authority, there must be consultation with the responsible key worker.
17.7 For full details see Children in need moving in and out of Wirral Procedure.


18. Pre Birth Referrals

18.1 For full procedures relating to safeguarding unborn children see Initial Child Protection Conferences Procedure, Pre-Birth Child Protection Conferences.

End