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1.3.1 Initial Contacts and Referrals

RELEVANT PROCEDURES AND GUIDANCE

This Chapter should be read in conjunction with:

Family Early Help Assessment

Children in Need Threshold Criteria (including Step Down Protocol)

See also

Children’s Social Care Referral Form


Contents

  1. Initial Contacts 
  2. Enquiries
  3. Referrals
  4. Timescales
  5. Screening Process
  6. Initial Disposal of Referrals 
  7. Recording of Referrals  

    Appendix 1: Children’s Front Door: Initial Contacts and Referrals Process

    Appendix 2: Children’s Advice and Assessment Step Down Processes


1. Initial Contacts 

An initial contact is made where Children’s Advice and Assessment Service the “Children’s Front Door” - is contacted by a professional or a member of the public about a child, who may be a vulnerable child or a child at risk of harm, or where there is a request for general advice, information, support  or a service. All contacts need to be considered alongside the York Integrated Working Threshold Guidance.

Contact Details for the Children’s Front Door are:

Phone: 01904 551900
Email: childrensfrontdoor@york.gov.uk
Post: The Children's Front Door, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA

Initial contacts with the Children’s Front Door will receive one of three responses:

  • Provision of advice and information (Contact);
  • Discussion of the information received at a daily meeting, and a management decision made on step-up to social care or brokered support at Tier 2 using the integrated working model and drawing in the enquiring agency and other agencies and professionals (Enquiry);
  • Commencing a single assessment or intervention from the Assessment Team (Referral).

Contacts: A contact means that the referrer requires:

  • Signposting to another service;
  • Advice;
  • Is making an index enquiry for information about who is working with a child;
  • Is logging a Family Early Help Assessment (or the status of a Family Early Help Assessment).

The Advice Worker will check the electronic data base records (eTrak) to see if the child or family is known and, if known, retrieve information on them. 

The Advice Worker will obtain as much of the following information from the referrer as possible.        

The Referrer

  • Identity and Contact details;
  • Relationship to identified person/family;
  • What has prompted this call; why call now?
  • Does identified person/family know referrer is speaking to the Children’s Advice Team? With what result?
  • What is expected of Children’s Social Care? (List benefits to child/family);
  • Is the referrer willing to be identified to family/person?
  • Would referrer be willing to be contacted in the future? 
  • Is referrer aware of what will happen now?
  • Does referrer think that something else ought to happen?
  • Has anyone been spoken to about this matter?

The Event

  • What happened?
  • When did it happen?
  • Has it happened before? How often?
  • Was there harm/injury to the child(ren)?
  • What has happened since then?
  • Did the referrer see these things personally or has someone told them about them?
  • Who was there?
  • Did referrer take any action?
  • Who did what? How did referrer interpret this?
  • Could the referrer or Family Early Help Assessment team take any action?
  • Rate the urgency.

The Family and Community

  • Does the caller know much about the family/person?
  • How would caller describe contact with this family?
  • Can caller tell Children’s Advice and Assessment Service anything that would help them understand the family?
  • What is the family's composition?
  • Ages and gender of the children?

The Advice Worker will check (eTrak to see if the child or family is known and, if known, retrieve information on them. 

Any significant information received about a child who is an open case will be passed to the child's allocated social worker


2. Enquiries/Referrals

Enquiries are in regard to complex cases which require more than information, advice or signposting. For almost all enquiries, the Advice team will broker support services, unless the Lead Practitioner indicates confidence and willingness to do this themselves. Enquiries will come to the Daily Meeting for discussion and a management decision.

The Daily Meeting:

In order to establish how to respond to each enquiry a meeting is held each morning. Cases are presented by the Advice Team member who took the enquiry the previous day and, along with the duty social worker and Manager discussions held and agreement reached about the appropriate response to each enquiry.

In order to make safe and effective decisions at the daily meeting, the information presented is critical. It is useful for the meeting to hear the outline of the case rather than simply the details of the referral so, where feasible, this will require some additional thought and preparation before the meeting. Relevant information will be captured and presented using the following format:

  • Name of worker;
  • Name, age of child/ren, address and contact number;
  • Who referred;
  • Why referred;
  • Specific requests made?
  • eTRAK / Mosaic history including where appropriate the analysis from the most recent Single Assessment;
  • If the Advice Worker is confident that a conversation with parents / carers before the daily meeting, explaining the reason for the contact, gain consent and establish the current situation and what services they receive or would like would like, will not compromise the safety of the child, this may take place. It may be at this point the way forward is clear and that advice, information, signposting and support is enough. If not then the case will need to be brought to a daily meeting.

The task of the meeting is to consider the appropriate response by the either the Advice or Assessment Team. The Advice Team may support the team around the child process, or to establish that team. Alternatively the case may be passed to the Assessment Team for assessment or investigation.

After discussion the plan is agreed and recorded on eTrak by the manager.

Cases being passed to the social work team will have the reason for the escalation recorded as the reason for referral and management decision. A link to this decision is automatically copied to the duty social worker and the manager for the Assessment Team as well as Children’s Advice and Assessment Service Admin.

After the daily meeting the Advice Worker will:

  • Ensure that they are clear what the plan is and how it is to be implemented;
  • Broker support for the family. This will require the allocated worker in the Advice Team to make contact with relevant practitioners related to the case (or yet to be involved in it) and ensure that they are aware of the current situation for the child and that they are required to contact the Lead Practitioner in order that they can be fully engaged in the Team Around the Child and Family.

The actions and a summary of activity are recorded on eTrak.


3. Referrals

Emergency Situations

An Initial Contact will be progressed to a Referral to social care where the management decision is made to step a case up for an assessment, an investigation and/or services. An enquiry in which a child or young person is, or appears  to be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm will be subject to an immediate management decision in regard to step up to social care. These should be agreed with the relevant manager and then passed straight to the Assessment Team for immediate action. In these cases the more information available in a co-ordinated and coherent format the easier this will make timely decision making and action planning. These cases will be dealt with using the City of York Safeguarding Children Board Procedures.

Escalating Needs

These may be chronic situations which are already known to the Advice Team. An event or an additional piece of information may necessitate a review of the Tier 2 response which may no longer be adequate. These situations can be planned and full information can be passed to the social work team.

The case can be discussed with the duty social worker but as soon as possible should be discussed with the Advice Team Manager who will advise what the next steps should be. This is likely to involve further checking of systems, gathering more information, ordering it as clearly as possible using the case summary template and transferring it electronically to admin and the relevant social worker.

The enquiry can then be closed on eTrak.

Decision Making and Timing

If the Advice Team Manager is not available during a timescale commensurate with the need for a decision then the manager for the Assessment team should be approached. If this person is unavailable again in an appropriate timescale then the Service Manager will be contacted.

Contacts requiring only advice, information or signposting will be closed on eTrak.

Enquiries requiring no further action require a management decision before being closed on eTrak.


4. Timescales

Enquiries requiring advice and information will receive an immediate response.

Enquiries considered by a management decision to require a safeguarding response will be stepped up to the Assessment Team immediately.

Enquiries which may be complex but not needing an immediate response will be taken to the daily meeting the following day for discussion and a management decision about the nature and level of intervention.  Enquiries will either be stepped up for social care assessment and intervention by the Assessment team or a brokered response will be undertaken by the allocated Advice Worker,


5. Screening Process

The enquiry process must include screening against the Threshold Criteria and must include internal  electronic database and agency checks to establish whether the family is previously known, and whether there is a Child Protection Plan in relation to the child and/or whether the child is Looked After. This process will involve:

  • Discussion with the referrer;
  • Consideration of any existing records, including whether the child is the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
  • Involving other agencies as necessary.

If there are indications that a child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, the manager (Practice Manager Advice Manager, Assessments or Service Manager Advice & Assessments) may authorise immediate step up to the Assessment Team and whatever actions are necessary to protect the child or others in the household from Significant Harm, which may result in the immediate provision of services.

If there is suspicion that a crime may have been committed including sexual or physical assault or neglect of the child, the Police must be notified immediately.

Personal information about non-professional referrers should not be disclosed to the parents or other agencies without the referrer's consent.

The parent's consent should usually be sought before discussing a referral with other agencies unless this may place the child at risk of Significant Harm, in which case the manager should authorise the discussion of the referral with other agencies without parental knowledge or consent.  The authorisation should be recorded with reasons. 

Where the child is not believed to be at immediate risk of significant harm, the enquiry will be discussed at the daily meeting for a management decision on a brokered package of support at Tier 2 or step up to the social care Assessment Team for investigation and or/ assessment.


6. Initial Disposal of Referrals

The initial disposal of an enquiry, which must be authorised by the manager, may be:

  1. That the child does not appear to be a vulnerable which will result in one of the following: the provision of information, advice, sign-posting to another agency and/or no further action;
  2. That the child appears to be vulnerable with a moderate level of need, in which case, the manager may authorise a brokered response at Tier 2;
  3. That the child appears to be vulnerable with a high level of need, which may require a Single Assessment to be undertaken;
  4. That it is suspected that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer from Significant Harm, which will result in Single Assessment, with a view to conducting a Strategy Discussion, prior to a Section 47 Enquiry .

If there are indications that a child may suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, the manager may authorise whatever actions are necessary to protect the child or others in the household from Significant Harm, which may result in the immediate provision of services.

Professional referrers should be advised of the disposal of the enquiry.

Feedback on the outcome of the enquiry should also be provided to non-professional referrers in a manner consistent with respecting the confidentiality of the child. 


7. Recording of Referrals

Contacts

  • Contacts can be dealt with by Advice Worker and do not need to come to the daily meeting. They do not need a front sheet completing;
  • They can be closed on eTRAK and there should be no need for any paperwork.  The manager will periodically audit these Level 1 cases for quality assurance purposes.

Enquiries

Enquiries will come to the Daily Meeting for discussion and a management decision. In order to make safe and effective decisions at the daily meeting the information presented is critical. Relevant information will be captured and shared using the following format for presentation at the daily meeting.

  • Name of worker;
  • Name, age of child/ren, address and contact number;
  • Who referred;
  • Why referred;
  • Specific requests made?
  • eTRAK / Mosaic history including where appropriate the analysis from the most recent Single Assessment.

All Initial Contacts and enquiries must be recorded on the electronic database, eTrak. Cases requiring no further action will be closed on eTrak with a case summary.

Referrals:

Those cases passed to the Assessment team as referrals are entered on Mosaic by admin using the eTrak case summary and management decision as the referral. All cases stepped up to the Assessment Team will be closed on eTrak.

All referrals stepped up to social care will be recorded on Mosaic. A Single Assessment will be opened by the social worker for all referrals upon allocation apart from Access to Records requests.


Appendix 1: Children’s Front Door: Initial Contacts and Referrals Process

Click here to view Appendix 1: Children’s Front Door: Initial Contacts and Referrals Process.


Appendix 2: Children’s Advice and Assessment Step Down Processes

Click here to view Appendix 2: Children’s Advice and Assessment Step Down Processes.

End