4.1 Action on Receipt of Referrals
Last reviewed in April 2020
Next review in April 2022
- Initial Action by Children's Social Care on Receipt of a Referral
- Screening of Referrals by Children's Social Care
- Where a Crime may have been Committed
- Outcome of Referrals
- Immediate Protective Action
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:
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
Screening of Referrals by Children's Social Care
The screening process should establish:
This above process will involve:
Children's Social Care will also take account of the Thresholds for Services to Children in Need. Each safeguarding partner has their own threshold documents which can be accessed by clicking on the links below:
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:
See also Information Sharing and Confidentiality.
The first 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 first 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:
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 Safeguarding Adult Proceedures
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 Resolution of Professional Disagreements Procedure should be considered.
Immediate Protective Action
Where there is a risk to the life of a child or the possibility of serious immediate harm, the police officer or social worker must act quickly to secure the safety of the child.
Emergency action may be necessary as soon as the referral is received or at any point during involvement with the child(ren), parents or carers.
Responsibility for immediate action rests with the authority where the child is found, but should be in consultation with any 'home' authority.
Immediate protection may be achieved by:
The social worker must seek the agreement of her/his first line manager and obtain legal advice before initiating legal action.
Children's Social Care should only seek police assistance to use their powers in exceptional circumstances where there is insufficient time to seek an Emergency Protection Order or other reasons relating to the child's immediate safety.
The agency taking protective action must always consider whether action is also required to safeguard other children in
Planned immediate protection will normally take place following a Strategy Discussion (see Strategy Discussions Procedure
Where an agency has to act immediately (prior to a Strategy Discussion) to protect a child, a Strategy Discussion should take place within 1 working day of that emergency action, to plan the next steps.