Initial Action by Children’s Social Care on Receipt of a Referral
All referrals to Children’s Social Care should initially be regarded as children in potential need, and the referral should be evaluated on the day of receipt (and no later than within one working day), and a decision made and recorded (by the locally defined appropriate level of social worker / manager) regarding the next course of action.
All contacts by public and professionals expressing any concerns about the welfare of a child must be treated as a referral and recorded as such (i.e. not screened out on a contact record e.g. of the Integrated Children’s System).
Children’s Social Care must acknowledge referrals within one working day of receipt.
When taking a referral, staff must establish as much of the following information as possible:
- Cause for concern including details of any allegations, their sources, timing and location;
- Child’s current location and emotional and physical condition;
- Whether the child needs immediate protection;
- Full names, date of birth and gender of child(ren);
- Family address (current and previous);
- Identity of those with Parental Responsibility;
- Names and date of birth of all household members and any known regular visitors to the household;
- Details of child’s extended family or community who are significant for the child;
- Ethnicity, first language and religion of children and parents / carers;
- Any need for an interpreter, signer or other communication aid;
- Any special needs of child(ren) and other household members;
- Any significant / important recent or historical events / incidents in child or family’s life, including previous concerns;
- Details of any alleged perpetrators (if relevant);
- Background information relevant to referral e.g. positive aspects of parents care, previous concerns, pertinent parental issues (such as mental health, domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, threats and violence towards professionals);
- Referrer’s relationship and knowledge of child and parents / carers;
- Known current or previous involvement of other agencies / professionals e.g. schools, GPs;
- Information regarding parental knowledge of, and agreement to, the referral.
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 Referrer’s relationship and knowledge of child and parents / carers.
Screening of Referrals by Children’s Social Care
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 abuse or neglect; and
- Whether there is any need for any urgent action to protect the child or any other children in the household or children in any other household.
This above process will involve:
- Discussion with referrers;
- Consideration of any existing records for the child and for any other members of the household;
- Involving other agencies as appropriate (including the police if any offence has been or is suspected to have been committed).
Children’s Social Care will also take account of the thresholds of need and intervention set out in the Effective Support for Children and Families in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough (Thresholds) Document.
Personal information about non-professional referrers should not be disclosed to third parties (including subject families and other agencies) without consent.
Parents’ consent should be sought before discussing a referral about them with other agencies unless this may:
- Place the child at risk of Significant Harm g. by the behavioural response it prompts or by leading to an unreasonable delay;
- Lead to the risk of loss of evidential material.
The line manager should authorise any decision to discuss the referral with other agencies without parental knowledge or permission and the reasons for such action recorded.
This screening stage must involve immediate evaluation of any concerns about either the child’s health and development, or actual and/or potential harm, which justify further enquiries, assessments and/or interventions.
The line manager should be informed of any potential Section 47 Enquiries and authorise the decision to initiate a Strategy Discussion. If the child and/or family are well known to Children’s Social Care and/or the facts clearly indicate that Section 47 Enquiries are required, it may be appropriate to hold a Strategy Discussion without further assessment.
The threshold may be met for a Section 47 Enquiry at the time of referral, during Child and Family Assessment or at any point of Children’s Social Care involvement.
Where a Crime may have been Committed
The police must be informed at the earliest opportunity if a crime may have been committed. The police must decide whether to commence a criminal investigation and a discussion held to plan how parents are to be informed of concerns without jeopardising police investigations (see Section 47 Enquiries Procedure, Liaison between Children’s Social Care and the Police – Single or Joint Agency Enquiries/Investigations).
Outcome of Referrals
The immediate response to a referral may be:
- No further action, provision of information and advice or signposting to another agency
- Referral for services under Early Help
- A Child and Family Assessment
- A Strategy Discussion/Meeting (where child and / or family are well known or the facts clearly indicate that this is required)
- Emergency action to protect a child – see Immediate Protective Action
A manager must sign and approve the outcomes of the referral and ensure a chronology has been commenced and / or updated.
Where there are concerns identified about any adults at risk of harm or abuse, a referral should be made to Adult Social Care under the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Adults Board Procedures.
Where there is to be no further action, feedback should be provided to family and referrers about the outcome of this stage of the referral.
In the case of referrals from members of the public, feedback must be consistent with the rights to confidentiality of child and her/his family.
Where a referrer is dissatisfied with the outcome of the referral, consideration to further action identified in Resolving Professional Disagreements (Escalation) Procedure should be considered.