Requests for Support

AMENDMENT

In December 2021 this chapter was reviewed and updated to reflect guidance from the refreshed Working Together to Safeguard Children.

1. Requests for Support

In Derbyshire, all requests for support from professionals, should be made via the online request for support unless a child is at risk of Significant Harm.

All requests for support from the public or those from a profession, where the concern is a child is at risk of significant harm, should be made by telephone to Call Derbyshire (including those Out of Hours) on 01629 532 600.

Call Derbyshire then passes on the information they receive to Starting Point, the locality or Out of Hours (as appropriate).

2. Starting Point

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 and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Information Sharing Agreement and Advice for Practitioners.

Starting Point staff include Team Managers, 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 triage of the information gathered which will include agency checks, where appropriate, to inform decision making in relation to thresholds (see Derby and Derbyshire SCP Guidance Documents). A chronology is also produced to inform decision making where a child protection concern is highlighted.

3. 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).

At the point when a Contact is made by telephone, Call Derbyshire will record that information in a contact record and send that contact over to Starting Point for consideration of threshold (if a new case). If the child is already open to Children's Service the information received by Call Derbyshire is directed to the allocated worker, not Starting Point.

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;
  • Nationality and immigration status;
  • Any additional 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 their family;
  • Known involvement of other agencies; and
  • Information regarding parents' knowledge of the referral.

The referrer 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.

If the information shared doesn't meet the threshold for child protection the referrer will be asked to complete the request for support online form.

4. 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.

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.

Outcomes from a referral are:

  1. Strategy Discussion – to determine if S47 threshold is met (see below);
  2. Pass for a Single Assessment (S17) to the local Social Care Specialist and Safeguarding Team;
  3. Pass the referral to an Early Help Team or other targeted services (including consideration at a Vulnerable Children’s Meeting (VCM);
  4. Sign posting to other agencies / service (including voluntary provision);
  5. No further action required by Children’s Social Care.

All decisions regarding outcomes will be based on joint threshold document.

The referrer (if a professional) and child and family are informed of the action to be taken and outcome of the referral 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, they should follow the DDSCP’s escalation process.

Where the referral is from a non-professional referrers, or anonymous, their personal information should not be disclosed to the parents or other agencies without their consent; though it is recognised that families will often know the source by the content of the information shared.

The parent's should usually be informed 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. The authorisation should be recorded with reasons.

5. Timescales

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

  • The child requires immediate protection and urgent action is required;
  • 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;
  • The child is in need, and should be assessed under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989;
  • Any services are required by the child and family and what type of services (including services for children with disabilities and Early Help).

6. Strategy Discussions

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

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 Children Partnership 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.

If there are indications that a child may be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, a Child Protection Strategy Discussion will be convened at Starting Point. The meeting will include a Starting Point Team Manager, a Detective Sergeant, a Named Nurse, a Social Worker and the Pod member who has completed the information gathering, the appropriate Locality Team Manager or Practice Supervisor and other professionals as appropriate. The Strategy Discussion 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 principles of our practice model SFSC, supported through the completion of any other tools that will assist the decision making on the case (e.g. a chronology, genogram etc). The assessment outcome will then be sent to the appropriate Locality social care team.

Decisions are always informed by reference to the joint threshold document.

7. Out of Hours Service

The children's Out of Hours Team is combined with Starting Point, overseen by the same Head of Service.

The Out of Hours team includes a Team Manager; Senior Practitioner, Social Workers and Community Care Workers.

The aim of this service is to respond to immediate safeguarding needs of children across Derbyshire; some of which may be open cases. This service enables Derbyshire to provide a 24 hours – 7 days a week service throughout the year to provide safety and protect to Derbyshire’s most vulnerable children.

The out of Hours Team records their involvement on our recording system to inform the allocated workers or starting point of the actions they have taken.

Localities are able to make requests on open cases where the level of risk or need requires it, and action needs to be taken immediately (out of hours). This request needs to be made on the an 'Alert to Out Of Hours Children's Services' work flow step using the Mosaic process. In exceptional circumstances where this is not possible, Call Derbyshire should be contacted and the OOH team spoken to and a plan agreed.

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.

Late Alerts: If a member of staff adds an alert to the system after 17:00 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.

Where there is an ongoing situation, which has been started in a locality – there needs to be a constructive conversation between the locality and the Out Of Hours team to agree a plan around outstanding actions to ensure the child’s continued safety is maintained and actions are completed in a timely way.

8. 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 09:00 – 17:00. The consultation and advice service is initially responded to by a member of Starting Point’s Business Services. A qualified Social Worker will then call back within 24 hours. Any information discussed is recorded in a workflow episode and held on our recording system.

Prior to contacting this service it is expected that professional have consulted within those established lines of advice that exist within their organisational safeguarding leads, for example, discussions for health service staff with their named nurses.