View Derbyshire Children's Homes Procedures manual
View Derbyshire Children's Homes Procedures manual View Derbyshire Children's Homes Procedures manual
View Derbyshire Safeguarding Procedures manual
View Derbyshire Safeguarding Procedures manual View Derbyshire Safeguarding Procedures manual

1.2.2 Requests for Support

AMENDMENT

This procedure was updated throughout in June 2016; it should be read in full.


Contents

  1. Starting Point
  2. Contacts
  3. Referrals
  4. Self Referrals to Multi Agency Teams
  5. Timescales
  6. Screening Process
  7. Initial Disposal of Referrals – Available Outcomes
  8. Recording of Referrals
  9. Call Back to Referrer
  10. Out of Hours
  11. Consultation and Advice Service for Professionals


1. Starting Point

In Derbyshire, all requests for support are managed by the Starting Point Service.

The Starting Point service has representatives from Children’s Services, the Derbyshire Constabulary Child Abuse Central Referral Unit, the Domestic Violence Central Referral Unit and Derbyshire Community Health Services, each with access to their own information systems.  This will enable face to face and in ‘real time’ information sharing to ensure that the most relevant and up to date information regarding a child and their circumstances is considered when decisions are made as to appropriate action and service provision. Information sharing will be within agreed parameters in line with Derby & Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board’s Information Sharing Agreement and Advice for Practitioners.

Starting Point staff includes Senior Practitioners and Social Workers. Each Social Worker will lead a multi-professional ‘pod’ of staff including Community Care Workers, Foundation Years Practitioners, Family Support Workers and Youth Workers.

Each decision made at Starting Point will be supported through a thorough analysis of the information gathered which will include a genogram, a chronology and will introduce Derbyshire’s Integrated Operating Model, Stronger Families, Safer Children (SFSC), through the completion of a Safety and Wellbeing Grid.

See also the Document Library, Stronger Families Safer Children section for the Safety and Wellbeing Grid and the Mapping Guide.  The Assessment & Planning section also contains  guidance on chronologies and genograms.


2. Contacts

A Contact is made where Children's Services is contacted about a child, who may be at any level of need and where there is a request for general advice, information or a service.

Call Derbyshire is the point of contact for all telephone Contacts where a professional or a member of the public has an immediate concern for the welfare of a child. The Call handler will record the information on a contact record and pass this to Starting Point or to the Out of Hours service as appropriate.

Where professionals are requesting support for a child who falls below the threshold for child protection they will need to complete an electronic referral form (please click here for the Starting Point – Request for Support Form. All electronic referral forms once submitted will be received into Starting Point by secure e-mail and the information received will be recorded on a contact record.

All Contacts need to be considered alongside thresholds guidance and/or the Single Assessment Process criteria as well as the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Procedures. (See also Thresholds for Children's Services).

The Single Assessment Process: Overview is not a referral form, although it may be used to support a referral or a specialist assessment.

At the point when a Contact is made by telephone, Call Derbyshire will establish whether the enquiry can be dealt with by the provision of information and advice or re-direction to other agencies or services.

Call Derbyshire should also check the electronic social care record. It is necessary to check:

  • If the family is currently allocated a social care professional;
  • If the family is previously known and the nature of that involvement;
  • Whether an Early Help Assessment has previously been completed;
  • If there is an identified Lead Professional.


3. Referrals

A Contact will be progressed to a Referral where Starting Point processes determine that an assessment and/or services may be required from Children’s Services.

The referrer should be asked specifically if they hold any information about difficulties being experienced by the family/household due to domestic violence and abuse, mental illness, substance misuse and/or learning difficulties.

Call Derbyshire will obtain as much of the following information as possible:

  • Full names, dates of birth and gender of children;
  • Family address and, where relevant, school/nursery attended;
  • Identity of those with Parental Responsibility;
  • Names and dates of birth of all members of the household;
  • Ethnicity, first language and religion of children and parents;
  • Any special needs of the children including the means in which they communicate;
  • Any significant recent or past events;
  • Cause for concern including details of allegations, their sources, timing and location;
  • The child's current location and emotional and physical condition;
  • Whether the child needs immediate protection;
  • Details of any alleged perpetrator;
  • Referrer's relationship with and knowledge of the child and his or her family;
  • Known involvement of other agencies; and
  • Information regarding parents' knowledge and agreement to referral.


4. Self Referrals to Multi Agency Teams

It is worth noting that the MATs throughout Derbyshire will directly accept self-referrals from families, however, all professionals requesting support for a child/family will need to complete an electronic referral form which can be found at Derbyshire County Council website. This might be an option for professionals to consider where there is a clear view that statutory intervention is not necessary, but that the family may need additional multi-agency support. When referring children and families for support professionals will need the consent of the child/young person or the person who holds parental responsibility for the child and this should be clearly recorded on the electronic referral form.

If, during the course of their work with a family, a worker from the MAT feels that the threshold for social care intervention has been met, they will discuss directly with their manager who will liaise with their Social Care Area manager and agree whether a step-up to Social Care is required.


5. Timescales

Within one working day of a Referral being received, the Starting Point social worker should make a decision about the type of response that is required. This will include determining whether:

  • The child requires immediate protection and urgent action is required;
  • The child is in need, and should be assessed under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989;
  • There is reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering, or likely to suffer, Significant Harm, and whether enquires must be made and the child assessed under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989;
  • Any services are required by the child and family and what type of services; and
  • Further specialist assessments are required in order to help the local authority to decide what further action to take.


6. Screening Process

The following process applies to new cases of children previously unknown to the authority, and to closed cases.

(Information received about an open case should be passed directly to the allocated worker or their Manager).

The process of Referrals must include screening against the Threshold Criteria (see Thresholds for Children's Services Procedure) with reference also to the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Procedures 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.

The screening process should establish:

  • The nature of the concern;
  • How and why it has arisen;
  • What the child's needs appear to be;
  • Whether the concern involves Significant Harm;
  • Whether there is any need for urgent action to protect the child or any children in the household.

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 may be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, a Child Protection Strategy Meeting will be convened at Starting Point. The meeting will include a Starting Point Team Manager, a Detective Sergeant, a Named Nurse, a Social Worker or Senior Practitioner and the Pod member who has completed the information gathering. A district Service Manager will join the discussion via a conference telephone call. The Strategy meeting will determine if the threshold for Section 47 Investigation is met and, if so, the plan for how this will be investigated ensuring that there is an immediate consideration for the child’s safety. The decision will be determined through the analysis of the information gathered using the SFSC, safety and wellbeing grid, supported through the completion of a chronology and genogram. The assessment outcome will then be sent to the appropriate district social care team.

Significant harm includes:

  • Child/ren found to be living in home conditions that are described/assessed to be unsafe and the child/ren require immediate removal. A scenario where Police Protection is likely to be needed;
  • Child/ren found alone - e.g. following a home visit by the police and the child/ren are not considered to be safe and well, found alone on a street, etc;
  • Physical harm - child/ren in hospital with an injury,-when parents are threatening to remove child/ren from the hospital;
  • Notification (e.g. from school) that a child has bruising, an injury (but no visible marks) and voices his fear to return home. Medical examination required on the same day;
  • Parents detained by the police (or remanded to custody) by police and no other person identified to care for the child/ren;
  • Death of parent/carer or emergency hospital admission and no other person to care for the child/ren;
  • Remand to parents or members of extended family/friends (not bail) or Local Authority care;
  • Remand to Youth Detention Accommodation;
  • Unaccompanied asylum seeking children and Asylum seekers who have children;
  • Allegation/disclosure by a child that he/she is being sexually abused by someone whom they are living with;
  • Allegation/disclosure by a child that he/she is being sexually abused by someone whom they will have immediate staying contact with;
  • Child/young person detained by police and parents refusing to take the child back home;
  • Death of a child and it is immediately evident that this has been caused by the carer or parent and other children are in the household.

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. 


7. Initial Disposal of Referrals - Available Outcomes

The initial disposal of a Referral, must be authorised by a Starting Point Social Worker or Team Manager.

There are four outcomes available to Starting Point:

  1. Close referral - no further action: This option will be taken where further information gathering results in a decision that the threshold for Multi Agency Team or Social Care intervention is not met or where the need can be met through universal services. The decision will be determined through the analysis of the information gathered using the SFSC Safety and Wellbeing Grid, supported through the completion of a chronology and genogram;
  2. Pass the referral to a Multi-Agency Team or other targeted services: There are Twenty Five Multi Agency Teams (MATs) within Derbyshire made up of Team Manager, Early Help Practitioners, Senior Family Support Practitioners, Family Support Workers, Community Engagement Workers, Foundation Years Practitioner and Family Support Assistants. These teams work with children and families where support needs can be managed at a level which does not require statutory intervention under s17 and s47 of the Children Act 1989;
  3. Pass for a Single Assessment (S17) to the local  Social Care Specialist and Safeguarding Team: Where it is considered that this is a child in need  the decision will be determined through the analysis of the information gathered using the SFSC Safety and Wellbeing Grid, supported through the completion of a chronology and genogram;
  4. Pass for a Single Assessment (S47) to the local Social Care Specialist and Safeguarding Team: Where it is considered that a child may be at risk of significant harm a Child Protection Strategy Meeting will be convened at Starting Point. The meeting will include a Starting Point Team Manager, a Detective Sergeant, a Named Nurse, a Social Worker or Senior Practitioner and the Pod member who has completed the information gathering. A district Service Manager will join the discussion via a conference telephone call. The Strategy Meeting will determine if the threshold for Section 47 investigation is met and, if so, the plan for how this will be investigated ensuring that there is an immediate consideration for the child’s safety. The decision will be determined through the analysis of the information gathered using the SFSC Safety and Wellbeing Grid, supported through the completion of a chronology and genogram.

The child and family must be informed of the action to be taken.

The child should be seen as soon as possible if the decision is taken that the Referral requires further assessment.

Where requested to do so by local authority children's social care, professionals from other parts of the local authority such as housing and those in health organisations have a duty to cooperate under section 27 of the Children Act 1989 by assisting the local authority in carrying out its children's social care functions.

Starting Point uses the jointly agreed Derby City & Derbyshire Thresholds document in order to assist their decision making. All additional information will be analysed using the SFSC safety and wellbeing grid and a score will be attributed to the  analysis.

See the Thresholds for Children's Services Procedure, Safety and Wellbeing Scale.

 


8. Recording of Referrals

All Contacts and Referrals should be recorded on the electronic database with the relevant outcome entered.

 


9. Call Back to Referrer

Professional referrers should be advised of the outcome of the referral.  Feedback on the outcome of the Referral should be provided to non-professional referrers in a manner consistent with respecting the confidentiality of the child. 

When a decision has been made at Starting Point there will be three call back attempts made to the referrer, (who may leave and alternative number or give an appropriate time for the call back when they make the referral). The referrer will be informed of the outcome of the referral. Where a decision is for no further action the reason for this may be explained at the time of the call back.

If the referrer does not agree with the decision made by Starting Point, they should discuss this in the first instance with their line manager or a safeguarding lead within their agency. If it is felt that the decision made will leave a child at risk of Significant Harm, this should be escalated to the Operation Manager, Safeguarding Children’s Service.


10. Out of Hours Service

The children’s Out of Hours Team is managed by Starting Point. The service provided by the Children’s Out of Hours Team is based on one of Derbyshire’s key aims of keeping children and young people safe. It is bound by the council’s statutory responsibilities and delivers services to Derbyshire’s most vulnerable children and young people. Resources are therefore targeted where they are needed most out of hours. In practice this means that the staff and service manager on duty have to triage and prioritise work on a shift by shift basis.

The Out of Hours team includes a Service Manager; Senior Practitioner and Social Workers.

The aim is to have a minimum of 3 staff on duty and where possible 4 staff on duty. Management Support to the team is provided by telephone on a rota basis when the service manager is not at the base.

Management Support to the team is currently provided on a rota basis from 3 Starting Point Team managers.

10.1 Referral Process

Contact Call Derbyshire – 01629 532600, fax 01629 585669 or minicom 01629 585400.

The service is available Monday to Friday 16:30 – 00:30; Saturday, Sunday or Bank Holiday 09:00 – 00:30.

There is an on call worker based at home from 00:30 – 09:00 seven nights a week.

Liaison with Starting Point

  • Where Starting Point has been involved in gathering information for a referral decision, and a delay in receiving this information results in a decision being made after 16:30  and where  the decision is that a child needs to be seen by the OOH’s service that evening, there will be a handover by a Team Manager/Senior Practitioner from Starting Point directly to the Shift Leader at OOH’s.

Support to Localities by responding to requests on open cases where the level of risk or need requires it, this may include:

  • Children or young people are subject to child protection plans;
  • Children/young people are subject to court proceedings;
  • Children/young people are subject to PLO;
  • A child/young person is subject to a Section 47 Enquiry;
  • The Local Authority needs evidence of dangerous people visiting a household, of drug use and or of alcohol misuse, or neglect;
  • There is reason to believe a child/young person is being sexually exploited;
  • Children/young people abscond to unsafe places/households;
  • Support to Foster carers/Contract carers where there is an immediate risk of placement breakdown;
  • Support to cases held by MAT where the case has, or is about to, step up.

OOH will accept new referrals from 16:30 Monday to Friday, at weekends and Bank Holidays. Where a case is known these will be referred to the districts up to 17:00 Monday to Friday.

OOH will not accept:

  • The handover of a child protection medical where the district has begun work and engaging with the child/young person/family;
  • Where the case worker has not visited for a number of weeks and the request is because a statutory visit is pending;
  • Where risks and concerns have not increased and/or MAT cases and worker is not planning to Step up.

10.2 Alert to Out of Hours Children's Services Episode:

Where OOH are being requested to undertake work; an ‘Alert to Out Of Hours Children's Services’ episode should be sent using the Frameworki process. In exceptional circumstances where this is not possible Call Derbyshire should be contacted. When applicable a call to the OOH shift leader should be made to update the team on new information or when a case is being handed over and needs discussing.

The alert should hold all basic, relevant and correct information and have contingency plans. If the team is being asked to visit a household to ask someone to leave the property a clear description of the person should be provided.

The purpose of why OOH is being asked to deliver a service should also be made clear as this is an essential part of prioritising work. 

The  worker sending the alert should also record that they have consulted with a manager prior to sending the alert.

When information in the alert is unclear the request for service could be postponed pending further information unless by doing so a child/young person would be likely to suffer Significant Harm on the evening the alert came in. In such circumstances it is likely the Head of Service (Localities) holding case responsibility may be contacted to clarify uncertain details.

Absence of important information could delay OOH case activity.

Informing carers/parents that OOH have been asked to visit is also required unless cold calls are part of a child protection plan.

Late Alerts:

  • If a member of staff adds an alert to the system after 19:00 hours or at weekends OOH will need to be informed to avoid it being missed and therefore not included in the prioritisation of work. A message to this effect can be left with Call Derbyshire who will pass on the information to a member of OOH.

: Call handling:

  • In the event of a caller having to wait in queue for their call to be answered a message can be left with a contact number and Call Derbyshire will inform OOH staff, their call will then be returned at the earliest opportunity.

Escalation process:

  • In the event of there being difficulties with handing over a piece of work to OOH which cannot be resolved through discussion with the shift leader. The person referring can request to speak with the manager covering management support.

Children’s Out of Hours Management Support Guidance.

OOH has wrap around management support in place to provide management oversight and support during the working hours of OOH. Management oversight is required.

10.3 Section 47’s

  1. In the event that OOH are to take actions in order to safeguard the children then a phone discussion is required with the duty service manager in order to agree actions. All actions should be recorded on the child’s file by the social worker giving details of the duty service manager’s direction. OOH service manager should be sent a Fi alert;
  2. Where it is known that a child has sustained an injury but the proposal is for them not to be seen by OOH then the duty service manager should be consulted in order to agree the actions to be taken. All actions should be recorded on the child’s file and OOH service manager should be sent a Fi alert;
  3. Where it is known that the children are not at continuing or not at immediate risk of harm or can immediately be made safe by actions of other agencies then the duty social worker should email the pin number to the duty service manager and a Fi alert should be sent to the OOH service manager. There should be clear decision/actions recorded on the child’s file.

10.4 Significant Event Protocol - Out of Hours Service

The following protocol must be followed if a significant event has occurred.  This could be a serious assault brought about by bullying, a serious attempt to take one’s own life which has resulted in hospitalisation. (A discussion with the manager on call will determine if the above should be actioned in these circumstances).

What is a significant event:

On receipt of information regarding a death or serious injury of child/young person, it is important to consider:

  • Is the death or serious injury suspicious?
  • Is the child/young person known to social care or Early Help Services?
  • Are they under 18 years?
  • Does the child have siblings attending school?

On answering yes to the above, staff should then consider who needs to be informed within the Local Authority, how and when. This protocol sets out the expectations.

Suspicious Death/Serious Injury

Contact with Service Director

When a death or serious injury of a child/young person is being treated as suspicious or the circumstances are not known pending a post mortem, the Deputy Assistant Director Early Help and Safeguarding, should be informed between the hours of midnight and 6.00 am with the following, especially:

  • Child/young person is a child in care or a care leaver. In this case, the Deputy Assistant Director has parental responsibility and should be contacted as soon as is practically possible (whatever the time).

Agreement will be reached on further communication as follows:

  • Service Director will inform the Strategic Director and Lead Member.

Please note – if authorisation for action is required, such as access to records, the Service Director will be contacted immediately.

Contact with Head of Service (Locality)

  • The Head of Service (Locality)  of where the child resides or who holds case responsibility will also need to be informed. The on call worker needs to make contact at 7.30 am during the week before the District Managers starts work, at 9.00 am at weekends, unless the case is likely to attract media coverage, where agreement with Service Director about the timing of contacting the District Manager needs to be had.

All telephone contact must be followed up by an email to the following senior managers (see List of Agency Decision Makers, Designated Managers and Nominated Officers for more information).

Social Care

Strategic Director

Service Director  Early Help and Safeguarding

Deputy Assistant Director for Early Help and Safeguarding

Head of Child Protection

Head of Children in Care Provision – Mary Wilton (if the child/young person is a child in care)

Service Manager for Children’s Out of Hours Team

Head of Service (Disabled Children)

Child Protection Manager Education

Education

If a child is attending school, consider the age of the child and email:

Assistant Director for Schools and Learning

Deputy Assistant Director – Secondary Schools

Deputy Assistant Director – Primary Schools

Deputy Assistant Director – Special Schools

Principal Educational Psychologist

Communications/Press Office (where there is likely to be media interest)

Senior Communications Manager

Non-Suspicious Death

Email to the following:

Strategic Director

Service Director for Early Help and Safeguarding

Head of  Service (Locality)– of where the child resides or holds case responsibility

Service Manager for Children’s Out of Hours Team

Head of Service (Disabled Children)

Assistant Director for Schools and Learning

Deputy Assistant Director – Secondary Schools

Deputy Assistant Director – Primary Schools

Deputy Assistant Director – Special Schools

Principal Educational Psychologist

Child Protection Manager Education

10.5 Finances

Where there are financial costs over £50 to be incurred by the department then the duty service manager should be contacted and agree actions. All actions should be recorded on the child’s file by the social worker giving details of the duty service manager’s direction. OOH service manager should be sent a Fi alert.

10.6  Additional Support/Advice

OOH staff should contact the duty service manager where they feel that they are unable to justify their decisions or cannot resolve a situation. For example; this may be due to work load pressures on the team or complex situations where a reflective discussion may inform decisions. All actions should be recorded on the child’s file by the social worker giving details of the duty service manager’s direction.


11. Consultation and Advice Service for Professionals

This service will be available to all professionals working with children in Derbyshire. Professionals will be able to contact the service by calling 01629 535353. The service will operate Monday to Friday from 08:00 – 18:00. The consultation and advice service will be staffed by Senior Practitioners and qualified Social Workers. Professional colleagues will be able to discuss a child’s circumstances with a qualified Social Worker prior to considering if a formal referral is necessary. Advice such as how to engage with children and families, dealing with difficult and challenging issues, how to achieve elusive outcomes, etc. will be available. This service should complement but not replace those established lines of advice that exist within organisations, for example, discussions for health service staff with their named nurses.

End