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Contacts and Referrals with Children’s Social Care


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Preparing to Discuss Concerns about a Child with Children’s Social Care
  3. Questions that Children’s Social Care May Ask
  4. Children’s Social Care Response to a Contact
  5. Concluding a Contact / Referral

    Further Information


1. Introduction

Anyone who has a concern about the welfare of a child has a responsibility to make contact with Children's Social Care (CSC) If they believe or suspect that a child:

  • Has suffered Significant Harm;
  • Is likely to suffer Significant Harm;
  • Has a disability, developmental and / or welfare need which is likely only to be met through provision of family support services (with agreement of the child's parent / carer) under the Children Act 1989;
  • Is a Child in Need whose development would be likely to be impaired without the provision of services.

Anyone can make contact with CSC to discuss concerns. This includes professionals as well as the child themselves, family members and members of the public. All contacts with CSC involve seeking information and clarifying concerns; a process of screening is used to determine how each one should be responded to.

Contacts with, and referrals to, CSC are made to the Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHASH).

Concerns about children out of office hours are dealt with by the Immediate Help Team (IHT).

Where it is known that the child has a Social Worker, contact should be made with them in the first instance.

There are a range of reasons why a professional might contact CSC:

  • To seek advice and guidance (this can be done without disclosing personal information about the child / family);
  • To refer a child or family who require additional support / Targeted Early Help;
  • To refer a child or family where there are concerns about a child’s welfare.

See also What to do if you are Worried a Child is being Abused - Advice for Practitioners (Department for Education, 2015).


2. Preparing to Discuss Concerns about a Child with Children’s Social Care

The Hull SCB Threshold of Need Framework and Guidance provides more information which can support decision making in relation to contacting Children’s Social Care.

Before contacting CSC, consent must always be considered. Advice and guidance about a child or family can be obtained from CSC without consent; however any names must be anonymities at this stage.

For further information on seeking consent, please see Effective Communication, Consent and Information Sharing Procedure.

The Strengthening Families Framework provides a structure for professionals to consider the information that they have in relation to the following factors, which will help describe what life is like for the child and family.

  • Danger/Harm
    Significant child protection incident or patterns and history that indicate child protection concerns.
  • Safety
    How children have been protected.
  • Complicating Factors
    Conditions/behaviours which contribute to greater difficulty for the family.
  • Strengths / Protective Factors
    Assets resources capability within the family, individual / community.
  • Grey areas/Disputed Facts
    Issues where further clarification is needed.

Before contacting CSC to discuss any concerns which you have about a child, the following questions will help you to be as clear as you can about why you are worried:

  • What have you seen?
  • What have you heard from others?
  • What has been said to you directly?
  • What have you done?
  • What more do you need to do?
  • Are there any other children in the family?
  • Is the child in immediate danger?

During the conversation that takes place, CSC will seek to clarify:

  • The nature of the concerns;
  • How and why they have arisen;
  • What appear to be the needs of the child and family; and
  • What involvement the person making contact has or has had with the child and / or family.


3. Questions that Children’s Social Care May Ask

When making contact with Children’s Social Care you will be asked to provide details of your concerns and any information you may have gathered. You will be asked for the following information:

  • Your agency, address and contact details;
  • Whether consent or agreement of parents/carers been obtained before contacting CSC?
  • Full names (including aliases and spelling variations), date of birth and gender of all child/en in the household;
  • Family address, including previous addresses;
  • The cause for concern including details of allegations, their sources, timing and location;
  • Details of any alleged perpetrator (name, date of birth, address, contact with other children);
  • Their relationship with and knowledge of the child and their family;
  • The child's current location and emotional and physical condition;
  • Whether the child needs immediate protection;
  • Identity of those with Parental Responsibility;
  • Other significant adults who may be involved in caring for the child;
  • Names and date of birth of all adult household members;
  • The child’s views and wishes, if known;
  • Nursery, school, college attending;
  • Ethnicity, first language and religion of children and parents/carers;
  • What the apparent needs of the child and family;
  • Any significant recent or historical events/incidents in the life of the child or family;
  • Known involvement of other agencies;
  • Whether an interpreter may be required;
  • If consent for further information sharing / seeking has been sought/obtained;
  • 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.

Other information may be relevant, some of which may not be available at the time of making contact. REMEMBER - the collation of additional information should not result in a delay in contacting the Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHASH).

The Contact and Referral Form may be used for any contact with the Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHASH). It MUST be used when making a referral.


4. Children’s Social Care Response to a Contact

Children’s Social Care (CSC) have responsibility to clarify with the person making contact the nature of the concerns and how and why they have arisen and what appear to be the needs of the child and family.

They should always seek to identify whether there are concerns about abuse or neglect, the basis of these concerns and whether the child(en) need urgent action to make them safe from harm and make decisions which may lead to a referral and/or Section 47 Enquiry.

Whether to take Immediate Action

It may be apparent at the point of contact that immediate action should be taken to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child. Such action should normally be preceded by an immediate Strategy Discussion between the Police, CSC and other agencies as appropriate.

Whether the Child is In Need

Children who are defined as being In Need, under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, are those whose vulnerability is such that they are unlikely to achieve or maintain a satisfactory level of health or development, or their health and development will be significantly impaired, without the provision of services (Section 17(10) Children Act 1989), or because they are disabled.

Whether the Child is in Need of Protection

Where a child is suspected to be suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, the local authority is required by Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 to make enquiries to enable it to decide whether it should take any action to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child.

Contact/Referrals from Members of the Public

When responding to referrals from a member of the public, CSC should consider that personal information about referrers, including identifying details, should only be disclosed to third parties (including subject families and other agencies) with the consent of the referrer.

If the member of the public requests anonymity, this should be respected wherever possible. However, there may be circumstances where their anonymity cannot be guaranteed. For example, the family may be able to identify where information has come from because of the limited number of people who are party to it. Referrers’ request for anonymity should be recorded.


5. Concluding a Contact / Referral

At the end of your discussion or dialogue about a child, you and Children's Social Care (CSC) should be clear about:

  • The reason for your contact / referral;
  • Whether the appropriate consent has been sought;
  • The proposed action and who will be taking it;
  • The timescales for any action; and
  • The decision, which should be recorded by both CSC and you.

All contacts which result in a referral must be followed up by the referring agency in writing within 48 hours of the conversation using the Contact and Referral Form.You may find it helpful to also use this form as a way of recording your contact with Children’s Social Care.

The Social Worker and Team Manager will consult and a decision will be made (and recorded) on how to respond to the contact within a minimum of 1 working day. The decision to accept a contact as a referral is made by the Social Worker. CSC will acknowledge receipt of a referral within 1 working day.

If the referrer has not received an acknowledgement of the receipt of the written referral within 5 working days, they should contact CSC again.

When a contact is assessed as requiring Targeted Early Help support, the professional making contact will be given verbal confirmation of this outcome.

When a referral is accepted by CSC, the allocated Social Worker should send a standard letter within 5 working days to the referrer informing them of the outcome of the decision.

If you have any concerns regarding CSC decision making, or are not satisfied with the response received, please see Resolving Inter-agency Disagreements Guidance (Escalation Policy).


Further Information

What to do if you are worried a Child is being Abused - Advice for Practitioners (Department for Education, 2015)

End.