Anyone who has concerns about a child's welfare can make a referral to Children's social care. Referrals can come from the child themselves, professionals such as teachers, the police, GPs and health professionals as well as family members and members of the public.
Referrals to Children's social care services usually fall in to three categories:
Children's social care has the responsibility to clarify with the referrer the nature of the concerns and how and why they have arisen.
The local Threshold Protocol provides guidance about the criteria for making and receiving referrals.
Prior to making a referral, where the child is not suffering significant harm or potentially at risk of suffering significant harm a practitioner should consider if the family would benefit from Early Help services.
If a referral is progressed to a Single Assessment or a Section 47 Enquiry the child must be seen by a qualified social worker as soon as possible following a referral and the child's needs and safety remain paramount at all times.
All professionals have a responsibility to refer a child to Children's social care under section 11 of the Children Act 2004 if they believe or suspect that the child:
When professionals make a referral to Children's Social Care, they should include any pre-existing assessments such as an early assessment or Education Health and Care Plan in respect of the child. Any information they hold about the strengths of the family or the child's developmental needs and the capacity of their parents and carers to meet these within the context of their wider family and environment should be provided as a part of the referral information. The referrer should outline why the family need additional support.
The referrer must always have the opportunity to discuss their concerns with a qualified social worker.
For all referrals to Children's social care, the child should be regarded as potentially a child in need, and the referral should be evaluated on the same day that it was received. A decision must be made by a qualified social worker supported by line manager within one working day about the type of response that is required.
New referrals and referrals on closed cases should be made to the Children's social care duty social worker. Referrals on open cases should be made to the allocated social worker for the case (or in their absence their manager or the duty social worker).
The referrer should provide information about their concerns and any information they may have gathered in an assessment that may have taken place prior to making the referral. The referrer will be asked for information about some of the following:
Other information may be relevant and some information may not be available at the time of making the referral. However, there should not be a delay in order to collect information if the delay may place the child at risk of significant harm.
The parents' consent should be sought before discussing a referral about them with other agencies, unless consent-seeking may itself place a child at risk of significant harm. Where a professional decides not to seek parental permission before making a referral to Children's social care, the decision must be recorded in the child's file with reasons, dated and signed and confirmed in the referral to Children's social care.
All referrals from professionals should be confirmed in writing, by the referrer, within 48 hours. If the referrer has not received an acknowledgement within three working days, they should contact Children's social care again.
The social worker will discuss the concerns with the referrer and considered any previous records in relation to the child and family in their agency. The social worker will establish:
Where it is required a decision to discuss the referral with other agencies without parental knowledge or consent should be authorised by a Children's social care manager, and the reasons recorded.
This checking and information gathering stage must involve an immediate assessment 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.
Interviews with the child, if appropriate, should take place in a safe environment. All interviews with the child and family members should be undertaken in their preferred language and where appropriate for some people by using non-verbal communication methods.
The Children's social care manager should be informed by a Children's Social Care of any referrals where there is reasonable cause to consider Section 47 Enquiries and authorise the decision to initiate action. If the child and / or family are known to professional agencies or the facts clearly indicate that a Section 47 Enquiry is required, the Children's social care should initiate a strategy meeting/discussion immediately, and together with other agencies determine how to assess risk and what protective/investigative action must be undertaken.
The police must be informed at the earliest opportunity if a crime may have been committed. The police should assist other agencies to carry out their responsibilities, where there are concerns about the child's welfare, whether or not a crime has been committed.
At the end of the referral discussion, the referrer and Children's social care should be clear about the proposed action, who will be taking it, timescales and whether no further action will be taken.
Referral outcomes about a child, where there may be concerns, typically fall in to four categories and pathways:
Whatever the outcome of a referral, it should have been assessed by a qualified social worker and a decision should have been made by the relevant line manager within the time scale of one working day about what should happen next. The Children's social care manager must approve the outcome of the referral and ensure that a record has been commenced and/or updated.
Children's Social Care should inform, in writing, all the relevant agencies and the child, if appropriate, and family of their decisions and, if the child is a Child in Need, of the plan for providing support.
In the case of referrals from members of the public, feedback must be consistent with the rights to confidentiality of the child and their family.
If the referrer disagrees with the decisions made by Children's social care about the outcome of the referral, they may consider making a complaint under the local Complaint procedure or raise the matter under the local Professional Disagreement protocol.
The child and parents should be routinely informed about local procedures for raising complaints, if they wish to, and local advocacy services.
Where the outcome of the referral leads to a continuing assessment see Regional Assessment.
You can report abuse and neglect by completing the form at the links below, or you can contact us at any time on 01670 536 400.
If this is a new contact then please ring:
One Call: 01670 536 400 or send a written referral to: email@example.com.
If you know a child already has a social worker then contact the social worker's telephone number or ring One Call.
Early Help Assessments One Call
To make a referral to the Early Help Hubs, please send your referral to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For enquiries about completion or registrations of Early Help Assessments, please contact: 01670 536 400.
Only valid for 48hrs