Contacts and Referrals
RELEVANT PROCEDURES AND GUIDANCE
Children's Social Care Procedures
Walsall M.B.C Early Help Assessment (which includes Children in Need Threshold Criteria)
Regional Child Protection Procedures
Escalation Policy: Resolution of Professional Disagreements - which applies where the outcome of a referral results in inter agency disagreement.
CASE RESPONSIBILITY:The Initial Response Service is responsible for screening and accepting referrals, carrying out Assessments and Child Protection Enquiry work with its associated Assessment. Assessments for other reasons are carried out mainly within the Safeguarding and Family Support Teams, and for children admitted to public care by the Corporate Parenting Teams. These teams may also carry out Child Protection Enquiries on the cases for which they have responsibility.
1.1 Definition of a Contact?
A contact is a communication to the Early Help Hub or the MASH about a child whose circumstances do not cross the Children in Need Threshold Criteria (contained in the Walsall M.B.C Early Help Assessment (which includes Children in Need Threshold Criteria) to become a Referral. It is a contact about a child who is not a Child in Need. This contact can be made in person, by phone or in writing. This contact should be recorded as such on a Contact Record on Mosaic. Key information about the child should be recorded including, if possible, the name, address with postcode, age, ethnicity, reason for contact and advice given.
At this point of contact, a manager can also authorise the provision of a one-off Section 17 payment where no other services are being requested e.g. payment on behalf of another local authority; theft/loss of money but no entitlement to DWP crisis loan.
Repeated contacts about the same child or family may give sufficient grounds to open a referral to determine if the child is a Child in Need. Team managers must be alert to repeated contacts, which may be indicating the need for referral.
1.2 Definition of a Referral?
A Referral is a request for services to be provided by Children's Social Care to a Child in Need. A Referral and Information Record should be completed on Mosaic.
1.3 Definition of a Re-Referral?
A Re-referral is when a child is referred again in similar circumstances to the first referral, indicating that the concern was not fully resolved or the response was inadequate. However, if the child is being referred for a completely different/unrelated reason from the first occasion then that does not count as a re -referral.
1.4 Who Should be Subject of a Referral?
If the concern applies to all children in the family, e.g. domestic violence, each child is the subject of the Referral and a separate Referral and Information Record Form must be completed on Mosaic for each child.If the concern is child specific, e.g. a 12 year old girl who is pregnant, a Referral should be opened only on that child. However, during a single assessment, attention should be given to any areas of parenting capacity or family and environmental factors that may be affecting other children in the family. If other children become identified as Children in Need, referral and assessment on those children affected is required.
If there is an allegation or suspicion of Significant Harm, unless it is obviously child specific, it is likely that the other children in the family may be Children in Need. Therefore, a referral and Single Assessment should be considered for each of the other children in the family.
Within 24 hours of a contact being received, there will be a decision made by a Team Manager about what response is required and whether the contact will be progressed to a referral for Children's Services intervention and support.
Similarly, new and significant information coming to or from within Children's Services on an open case should be responded to within 24 hours.
3. Response to Referrals
Referrers should have an opportunity to discuss their concerns with a qualified social worker.
Referrers should be asked specifically if they hold any information about difficulties being experienced by the family/household due to domestic abuse, mental illness, substance misuse, and/or learning difficulties.In deciding on the response to a Referral, previous information held on Children's Services records about the child and family should be considered.
The decisions that can be authorised by the manager at this stage are:
- To carry out a single assessment. a single assessment is a brief assessment of a Child in Need referred to Children's Social Care with a request for services to be provided where the child may have Level 3 vulnerability as contained in the Early Help Assessment;
- To convene a Strategy Discussion where there is sufficient information already available to indicate a child is suffering or likely to suffer from Significant Harm and with the information gained to this point being recorded within a single assessment.
The manager can also authorise the following:
- The provision of specific advice or information; or
- Redirection to another agency or service; or
- The provision of a one off Section 17 payment.
This should be recorded on the Referral and Information Record Form.
The referrer should be informed of the decision and its rationale, as should the parents or caregivers and the child, if appropriate.
Repeated referrals about the same child or family may give sufficient reason to believe that the child may be a Child in Need, and may require a single assessment. Team Managers must be especially alert to repeated referrals as they can indicate wider unresolved issues, which would require further assessment.
If it is decided that further information is needed, a single assessment should be undertaken using the Single Assessment Record as the recording tool.
In the absence of a Team Manager, the Group Managers, along with the other Safeguarding and Family Support, will ensure suitable cover arrangements to enable decisions to be made within timescales.
Where there is a dispute between agencies as to the outcome of a referral, see the Escalation Policy: Resolution of Professional Disagreements in the Regional Child Protection Procedures.