3.8 How Referrals will be Received
Last updated 12/11/2018
Children’s Social Care will deal with the referral in accordance with the local Continuum of Need and Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) to determine whether a referral should be responded to on the basis that the child is in need of support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 or in need of protection under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989. Referrals will be processed within 24 hours, if the decision is that a section 17 assessment is required, cases will be referred to the relevant Locality Team. Once the case is allocated the child and family will be seen by an allocated social worker within 4 working days. Consent to assess will be gained from parents and agencies will be contacted to share information and discuss the assessment. If however, the case progresses to section 47 child protection investigation, the case will be allocated to a MASH social worker and the child and family will be seen within 24 hours.
Referrers should have an opportunity to discuss their concerns with a qualified social worker.
MASH on receiving a referral will establish:
- The nature of the concern;
- How and why it has arisen;
- What the child’s and family’s needs appear to be;
- Whether the concern involves actual or likely Significant Harm;
- Whether there is any need for any urgent action to protect the child, any other child in the same household or any child in contact with an alleged perpetrator.
To do so, the worker receiving the referral will usually discuss the case with the referrer and in doing so, will:
- Give their name and designation;
- Help the referrer to give as much relevant information as possible and repeat back to the referrer the key points using the order indicated above
- Clarify information that the referrer is reporting directly and information that has been obtained from a third party;
- Discuss whether there are concerns about maltreatment and if so, what is their foundation;
- Clarify who has and who has not been told about the referral, and if the concern has been discussed with the parents. Obtain the views of the parents in relation to the concern.
- Clarify the whereabouts of the child;
- Discuss whether it may be necessary to consider taking urgent action to ensure the safety of the child or any other child in the same household or who is in contact with an alleged perpetrator;
- Agree how to re-contact the referrer if further clarification is required;
- Clarify the extent to which the referrer’s anonymity can be maintained (if this is an issue in the case of a non-professional referrer);
- Clarify expectations about how and when feedback is to be given.
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.
At the end of any discussion about a child, the referrer (whether a professional or a member of the public or family) and the Children’s Social Care social worker should be clear about timescales and any proposed action and who will be taking it, or if no further action will be taken. The outcome should be recorded by the Children’s Social Care and by the referrer (if a professional in another service) on the relevant forms including the Referral Form and Child’s case notes.
Children’s Social Care Services through MASH should decide on a course of action. Children’s Social Care should acknowledge receipt of a written referral within ONE working day. This is an automated response sent to the referrer once an online referral has been submitted. If the referrer has not received an acknowledgement within THREE working days they should make contact with the MASH Team. Professional referrers will also subsequently receive the outcome of the referral.
The worker receiving the referral must consider whether there are other children in the same household, the household of an alleged perpetrator or elsewhere, who should be considered as the subject of a referral.
The worker receiving the referral will also:
- Check whether the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan and/or whether there has been any previous involvement with the Children’s Social Care Services in relation to the child or children concerned and any other members of the household;
- Identify other agencies or persons who may hold relevant information;
- Consult other agencies as appropriate (including the Police if any offence has been or is suspected to have been committed
Parents should be informed of the intention to make a referral and their permission sought to share information with other agencies unless to do so would:
- Prejudice any investigations or enquiries;
- Be prejudicial to the child’s welfare and/or safety;
- Cause concern that the child would be likely to suffer Significant Harm as a result.
See also Information Sharing Procedure (Section 13)
In these circumstances, a manager from the Children’s Social Care Services may decide to consult other relevant agencies without seeking parental consent. Any such decision must be recorded with reasons.
Professionals within MASH will gather information from across the partnership in order to make an evidence based decision. This will be undertaken through a MASH enquiry. The outcome of the MASH enquiry will be relayed by the professional from their agency based in MASH. Other than the outcome, no further information about the family will be shared unless a S47 enquiry is being undertaken. If a Child & Family (C&F) or Early Help assessment is to be undertaken, it is the responsibility of the allocated assessor to gain consent from the parent/carer. Once gained, information can be shared by MASH and by the partnership with the assessor.