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1.2.5 Contacts and Referrals

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter describes the procedures for dealing with contacts and referrals to Children’s Social Work Services.

RELATED GUIDANCE

What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused- Advice for practitioners (Department for Education, 2015)

See also Record of Contact Form.


Contents

  1. Contacts
  2. Consent
  3. Referrals
  4. Decision Making Process in the Area Teams
  5. Initial Outcome of Referrals
  6. Recording of Referrals


1. Contacts

A Contact is made where Children Social Work Services are contacted about a child who may be at risk of harm or who may be a Child in Need (CIN) or where there is a request for general advice, information or a service. All Contacts are dealt with at the contact centre by the Duty and Advice Team. The contact number for professionals is 0113 376 0336 and the contact number for the public is 0113 222 4403.

Professional Caller

When a professional from a partner agency calls the Duty and Advice Team, the worker will gather the relevant information and decide whether the call is for a consultation only or requires a Contact to be taken. If the child’s details are not taken and the situation does not warrant CSWS involvement, the call is not formally recorded on the Mosaic system. The professional is advised of this. Where the child’s details are taken a Contact is completed and the call is formally logged on the Mosaic system. If the child is already known on Mosaic, initial checks can be undertaken. This could include contacting other professionals to obtain more context and clarity of information.

The parent should be made aware that a Contact is being made unless to do so would increase the likelihood of the child suffering Significant Harm. In addition, consent from a parent must be sought before further enquiries can be made with other agencies unless for child protection reasons this consent can be dispensed with. A duty and advice manager must authorise the discussion of the referral with other agencies if there is not parental knowledge or consent. The authorisation must be recorded with reasons. See Section 2, Consent.

Where the caller is a professional from a partner agency and the child / young person already has an allocated social worker, the area office contact telephone number can be passed over for the agency to make direct contact with the allocated social worker / team manager. This can be a fieldwork, Child Looked After or child health and disability team. Where the referrer is a professional from a partner agency, the Contact must be followed up in writing using the Record of Contact Form (Duty and Advice Team). This form must be completed whether the Contact proceeds to a referral or not. The form does not need to be completed where the caller is only provided with general advice and the Contact is not logged on Mosaic.

The completed form should be returned using our secure email account: ChildScreening@Leeds.gcsx.gov.uk.

Professional referrers must be advised if the Contact does not proceed to referral status and is closed following the provision of advice, information or signposting. If the Contact is closed, a copy of the advice given will be sent to the referrer.

Professionals who make a Contact will have an opportunity to discuss their concerns with a qualified social worker.

Member of the Public Calling

Where the caller is a member of the public, the details are taken and a Contact is recorded on Mosaic by the customer services officer (CSO). This is then passed to a duty and advice team social worker to decide if further investigation or action is required. The customer may be passed to another service to resolve the issue.

Allocated Social Worker

Where the child / young person / family does not have an allocated social worker at the point when a Contact is made, the duty and advice team must establish whether the Contact could be dealt with by the provision of information and advice or redirection to other agencies or services through the Early Help process. If not, then the Contact can be passed to CSWS as a referral.

Any significant information received from the public about a child who has an allocated social worker should be regarded as a Contact.

Assignment to Area Teams

Reason for Contact is for support and or child protection / safeguarding Where there is an allocated social worker from a health and disability team, the Contact will be assigned to the child’s health and disability team for action.
Reason for Contact is for support and or child protection / safeguarding Where there is an allocated social worker from a field work team the Contact will be assigned to the child’s fieldwork team for action.
Reason for Contact is for support and or child protection / safeguarding Where there is an allocated social worker from a CLA team the Contact will be assigned to the child’s CLA team for action.
Child protection / safeguarding Where the child does not have an assigned social worker and there is no open case for that child, the Contact will be assigned to the appropriate area fieldwork team for action.

Information to be Gathered at the Point of Contact

The following information will be gathered at the point of Contact, the duty and advice team 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, disability, first language and religion of children and parents;
  • Any special needs of the children;
  • 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;
  • Information regarding parents' knowledge and agreement to referral.

Referrers will be asked why they are contacting CSWS and what information they have about child protection concerns, difficulties being experienced by the family/household due to domestic violence and abuse, mental illness, substance misuse and/or learning difficulties.


2. Consent

The issue of consent is complex and can vary from the family’s awareness of an agency consulting with Children’s Social Work Services (CSWS) on their behalf to that of full consent from those with parental responsibility to CSWS making checks and contacting other agencies to progress an enquiry.

Checks in Mosaic and Synergy can be made without family consent as both systems hold data specific to social care. However, unless the referral reason is of a Child Protection nature the information cannot be shared with professionals without parent’s consent.

Ideally, any professional contacting the duty and advice team must have sought consent to do so from the family prior to the Contact being made. The duty and advice team must have talked to the family and obtained consent from the person(s) with parental responsibility for the child(ren) prior to the duty and advice team contacting any other agencies following a Contact. Verbal consent must be logged on Mosaic.

The issue of obtaining consent does not apply if the referring professional and the duty and advice team agree that gaining consent would be detrimental to the child and increase significant risk of harm.


3. Referrals

A Contact will be progressed to a referral where a team manager or advanced practitioner at the duty and advice team at the contact centre reviews the recommendation of the duty and advice social worker and considers an assessment and/or services may be required for a child at risk of significant harm or a Child in Need. See West Yorkshire Consortium Procedures Manual, Recognition of Significant Harm Procedure.

Referrals will be passed to the relevant geographical area social work team within 24 hours of the initial call being received by the duty and advice team.

Within one working day of a referral being received, a local authority social worker should make a decision about the type of response that is required and acknowledge receipt to the referrer. For example, start a Child and Family Assessment, Section 47 Enquiry or another action.

Where the referral proceeds to a Section 47 Enquiry and the child or young person is a new case and experiences complex needs, the case will be held by the fieldwork team and the child, health and disability team will be available to the fieldwork team for advice and support.


4. Decision Making Process in the Area Teams

The 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.

The 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.

This section should be read in conjunction with the Children in Specific Circumstances section of the West Yorkshire Consortium Procedures.

If there are indications that a child may be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, the area team manager will consider initiating a S47 Enquiry and 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.

If there is suspicion that a crime may have committed including sexual or physical assault or neglect of the child, the Police must be notified immediately. The area team manager will arrange a strategy discussion with the relevant agencies including at least the Police, following the procedures for a S47 Enquiry. See Assessments Guidance.

Any decision to remove a child must be discussed with the relevant head of service.

Personal information about non-professional referrers should not be disclosed to the parents or other agencies without the referrer's consent.


5. Initial Outcome of Referrals

The initial outcome of a referral, which must be authorised by the area team manager, may be:

  1. That the child does not appear to be a Child in Need, which will result in one of the following: the provision of information, advice, signposting to another agency and/or no further action;
  2. That the child appears to be a Child in Need with a moderate level of need, in which case, the manager may authorise a Child and Family Assessment;
  3. That the child appears to be a Child in Need with a high level of need, which must result in a Child and Family Assessment.

    That it is suspected that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer from significant harm, where the manager should consider initiating a Section 47 Enquiry by conducting a strategy discussion, where the various decisions may be made, including that to undertake a section 47 enquiry and commence a Child and Family Assessment;
  4. If there are indications that a child is 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 will result in the immediate provision of services.

Professional referrers should be advised of the outcome of the referral.

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


6. Recording of Referrals

All Contacts and referrals must be recorded on Mosaic - see Assessments Guidance.

End