Referrals

1. Introduction

Within North Yorkshire, we adopt a Universal Referral Form which enables professionals to request a service for support for a child (under the age of 18) to the following:

  • Children Social Care (CSC);
  • Disabled Children’s Service;
  • Healthy Child Programme;
  • Early Help Service;
  • Prevent.

Anyone can make a referral if you are worried about any child and think they may be a victim of neglect or abuse, whether as a member of the public or as a professional.

Professionals in all agencies have a responsibility to refer a child to the Customer Resolution Centre (CRC) when it is believed or suspected that a child:

  • Has suffered significant harm and/or;
  • Is likely to suffer significant harm and/or;
  • Has developmental and welfare needs which are likely only to be met through provision of family support services (with agreement of the child's parent).

The Customer Resolution Centre is responsible for clarifying with the referrer the nature of the concerns and how and why they have arisen, in order to ensure the correct service at the appropriate time is offered to the child to keep them safe and meet their needs.

The Vulnerability Checklist provides guidance about the criteria for making and receiving referrals.

Once the referral has been received within the CRC, the information will be collated and triaged and where appropriate will be sent to the Multi Agency Screening Team (MAST) who will make a decision regarding next steps within one working day.

The Universal Referral Form can be accessed here.

2. The Duty to Refer

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:

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

When professionals make a contact to Children and Families Service via the CRC, they should include any pre-existing assessments such as an Early Help Assessment in respect of the child. Any information they have about 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

It is good practice that agencies work in partnership with parents and carers and they are informed of your concerns with consent obtained for referrals. Consent is always required for referrals to services such as the Early Help Service, without it, the services available to the family may be limited.

Consent is not required should you believe informing the parents or carers would place a child at significant risk of harm.

Where consent has not been obtained, and professionals feels that after speaking with their safeguarding lead/manager that a referral is still warranted, professional should submit a referral detailing their actions and inform parent and carer of their actions.

Concerns must not be discussed with parents/carers before making a referral where:

  • Discussion would put a child at risk of significant harm;
  • Discussion would impede a Police investigation or social work enquiry;
  • Sexual abuse is suspected by immediate care giver;
  • Organised or multiple abuse is suspected;
  • Fictitious illness or induced illness is suspected;
  • Contact with the parents/carers would place you or others at risk;
  • It is not possible to contact parents/carers without causing undue delay in making the referral.

In such cases advice should be sought from Children’s & Families Service/Disabled Children’s Service and/or the Police.

It is best practice in North Yorkshire, for any professional wishing to make a referral to have had a discussion with their designated safeguarding lead within their organisation prior to contacting the CRC.

For more information regarding data governance see Information Sharing Procedure.

3. Making a Referral

Where there are significant immediate concerns about the safety of a child, professionals should contact the contact the police on 999.

If you believe the situation is urgent, please contact the Customer Resolution Centre directly by telephone (01609 780 780) to make a telephone contact.

A written referral using the Universal Referral Form must be completed and submitted within 24 hours of your telephone call. Any other contacts should be submitted on the universal referral form. You must ensure that all relevant information, including parental consent or clear reasons why this has not been obtained, is provided to ensure that the referral can be progressed as effectively as possible. You will receive acknowledgement of your contact being received. Should you not receive this please follow up to ensure your information has been received.

Once completed, the universal referral form needs to be submitted to Children&families@northyorks.gov.uk.

When making a referral, the information will be received by the CRC Specialist Advisers who will establish as much of the following information as possible:

  • Full names ( including aliases and spelling variations), date of birth and gender of the child(ren);
  • Family address and ( where relevant) school / nursery attended;
  • Identity of those with parental responsibility;
  • Names and dates of birth of all household members;
  • Ethnicity, first language and religion of the children and parents;
  • Any special needs of children or parents;
  • Any significant/important recent or historical events/incidents in the child or family's life;
  • Cause of 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;
  • Details of the alleged perpetrator, if relevant;
  • Referrer's relationship and knowledge of the child and parents;
  • Known involvement of other agencies / professionals; and
  • Information regarding parental knowledge of, and agreement to, the referral.

Your contact will then be forwarded to the Multi Agency Screening Team (MAST) where a decision on the contact next steps will be made within one working day.

In all cases the CRC will record the decision making rationale on the Children’s Social Care Case Management System to ensure that a full record of decisions are maintained and the referrer will be informed of the outcome of that decision.

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.

For urgent referrals that fall outside office hours, the North Yorkshire Emergency Duty Team (for evenings, weekends and bank holidays) can be contacted on 01609 780 780.

4. Receiving a Referral

Once the information has been gathered and recorded by the Customer Resolution Centre, the contact is passed to the Multi Agency Screening Team for review and screening. The MAST consists of representatives from North Yorkshire Police, Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, North Yorkshire Early Help Service and North Yorkshire Social Workers.

The MAST use the “Signs of Safety” approach when screening each contact, which is also approved by a social work manager within the MAST.

Signs of Safety approach explores what is working well, what the worries are, and any complicating issues and summarises the information within a danger statement, safety goals and scaling question. Information is shared, when proportionate and necessary to do so, within MAST to ensure accurate and holistic decision making.

Screening decisions are based on the information which is sent in by the referrer and relevant and proportionate checks on electronic multi-agency systems, including police, health and prevention services.

Within the MAST if a decision is made for the referral to be allocated to a service, appropriate action will be taken for the child to receive the right service at the right time. More information on the detail of what the individual service pathways of support in North Yorkshire entail can be seen below:

  • Children Social Care (CSC);
  • Disabled Children’s Service;
  • Healthy Child Programme;
  • Early Help Service;
  • Prevent.

5. Concluding a Referral

Following the decision being made by the MAST, the referral will result in one of the following:

  • Transfer to the Early Help Service (within one working day of the referral);
  • Transfer to Children’s Social Care (within one working day of the referral);
  • Link to an existing referral, (within one working day of the referral);
  • Referral to another agency (within one working day of the referral);
  • The provision of information or advice (within five working days of the referral).

All referrers will be contacted within five working days by the appropriate team of the outcome of their contact.

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 a professional disagrees with the decisions made by the MAST about the outcome of the referral, they can request to speak with the Multi Agency Screening Team in the first instance to try and resolve the matter. They may consider making a complaint under the Professional Resolution Practice Guidance.

The child and parents should be routinely informed about local procedures for raising complaints, if they wish to, and local advocacy services.

Trix procedures

Only valid for 48hrs