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1.3.1 Contacts and Referrals

RELEVANT PROCEDURES AND GUIDANCE

This Chapter should be read in conjunction with:

Family Early Help Assessment (FEHA)

City of York Threshold Document

Information Sharing Advice for Safeguarding Practitioners (DfE)

See also:

AMENDMENT

In November 2018, this chapter was revised to set out in more detail the timetable and partnership requirements associated with effectively managing contacts and referrals.

This chapter is currently under review.


Contents

  1. Initial Contacts 
  2. Referrals
  3. Timescales
  4. Screening Process
  5. Initial Disposal of Referrals 

    Appendix 1: Children’s Front Door: Referral and Assessment Duty Process


1. Initial Contacts 

An initial contact is made where the Referral 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 City of York Threshold Document and a decision made within 24 hours regarding the level of response required.

Contact Details for the Children’s Front Door are:

Phone: 01904 551 900
Email: childrensfrontdoor@york.gov.uk
Post: The Children's Front Door, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA

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

  • Provision of advice and information (Advice);
  • Discussion of the information received between a social worker and manager and a decision made within 24 hours regarding the appropriate response. This may lead to a decision to make enquires to obtain further information (Contact and Referral) which may in turn lead to a recommendation to a Local Area Team (LAT) to commence a Family Early Help Assessment;
  • Commencing a single assessment under Section 17 or an immediate intervention under Section 47 by the Referral and Assessment Team.

Contacts: A contact means that the referrer:

  • Requires signposting to another service;
  • Requires 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 Social worker will check MOSAIC and Single View to see if the child or family is known and, if so, retrieve information on them. 

Professionals are required to complete the referral template and email this to the details above. If they have an immediate concern for a child they are requested to telephone the Childrens Front Door and then follow this up in writing within 24 hours. The referral form for professionals can be requested via the duty number or found on the Yor-Ok website.

The social 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 Referral and Assessment Service? 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 provide any information that will help Children’s Social Care understand the family?
  • What is the family's composition?
  • Ages and gender of the children?

The social worker will check MOSAIC and Single View to see if the child or family is known and, if so, retrieve information on them. If the information in the contact does not require a CSC response and the family are already open to a LAT, the contact will be recorded on MOSAIC and the LAT duty will be notified following the agreed LAT process.

Any significant information received about a child who is an open case will be passed to the child's allocated social worker. (See Section 4, Screening Process).


2. Referrals

Emergency Situations

An Initial Contact will be progressed to a Referral to Children’s 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 Referral and 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 Partnership Procedures.

See also Flowchart showing the Process for Immediate Protection of Children, Strategy Discussions and S47.

Escalating Needs

These may be chronic situations which are already known to the Local Area Team (LAT). 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 discussed between the LAT and Referral and Assessment duty team and a decision made about if the case needs escalating to a CSC response.


3. Timescales

Enquiries requiring advice and information will receive an immediate response and be recorded on MOSAIC as Advice.

Referral information accepted as a Contact and Referral will be considered by a social worker and a management decision made about the appropriate action within 24 hours of acceptance of the referral. If the referral indicates a child protection concern immediate action will be considered and a Strategy Meeting will be arranged within 3 working days.

Enquiries which may be complex but not needing an immediate response will be progressed to a Contact and Referral and a recommendation made regarding the appropriate next actions within 5 working days.


4. 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 appropriate and in accordance with Information Sharing Advice for Safeguarding Practitioners:
    • Consent from the parent or carer should normally be sought;
    • However, the Data Protection Act should never be a barrier to ‘sharing information where the failure to do so would result in a child or vulnerable adult being placed at risk of harm’ or indeed on those occasions where seeking consent might increase the risk of harm;
    • Information should always be ‘necessary and proportionate’.

If there are indications that a child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, the Service Manager Referral and Assessment duty team may consider immediate 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. However, if this is not possible or if the parents refuse permission information should still be shared if the professional determines the information sharing is in the best interests of the child’s welfare. The professional should record this decision.


5. 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. There should be consideration of a Strategy Discussion and of a multi-agency response. (See Child Protection Enquiries (Section 47) Procedure).

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. 


Appendix 1: Children’s Front Door: Referral and Assessment Duty

Click here to view Appendix 1: Children’s Front Door: Referral and Assessment Duty.

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