6.1 Action on Receipt of Referrals

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Last reviewed in April 2024

Next review in April 2027


Screening of Referrals by Safeguarding Integrated Front Door/ Front Door/ SPOA


Screening of Referrals by Integrated Front Door/Front Door for Families/SPOA

The screening 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 abuse or neglect; and
  • Whether there is any need for any urgent action to protect the child or any other children in the household or children in any other household.

This above process will involve:

  • Discussion with referrers;
  • Consideration of any existing records for the child and for any other members of the household (including the List of Children with Child Protection Plans);
  • Involving other agencies as appropriate (including the police if any offence has been or is suspected to have been committed).

The process will 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 and carers involvement should be sought before discussing a referral about them with other agencies unless this may:

  • Place the child at risk of Significant Harm  e.g. by the behavioural response it prompts or by leading to an unreasonable delay;
  • Lead to the risk of loss of evidential material.

See also Information Sharing and Confidentiality.


The first line manager should authorise any decision to discuss the referral with other agencies without parental knowledge  and the reasons for such action recorded.


This initial 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 the decision maker 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 referral from the Integrated Front Door/ Front Door/ SPOA 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/

Strengthening Families Assessment,  or at any point of Children's Social Care involvement.


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.

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.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. If the Children's Social Care disagree with the decision made by Front Door/Integrated Front Door/Single Point of Access. local processes of escalation of decision making should be followed and recorded accordingly.


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:

  • Cause for 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;
  • Full names, date of birth and gender of child(ren);
  • Family address (current and previous);
  • Identity of those with Parental Responsibility;
  • Names and date of birth of all household members and any known regular visitors to the household;
  • Details of child's extended family or community who are significant for the child;
  • Ethnicity, first language and religion of children and parents / carers;
  • Any need for an interpreter, signer or other communication aid;
  • Any special needs of child(ren) and other household members, including disability;
  • Any significant / important recent or non recent events / incidents in child or family's life, including previous concerns;
  • Details of any alleged perpetrators (if relevant);
  • Background information relevant to referral e.g. positive aspects of parents care, previous concerns, pertinent parental issues (such as mental health, domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, threats and violence towards professionals);
  • Referrer's relationship and knowledge of child and parents / carers;
  • Known current or previous involvement of other agencies / professionals e.g. schools, GPs;
  • Information regarding parental knowledge of, and agreement to, the referral.

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.

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 from Front Door/ Integrated Front Door/ SPOA may be:

  • A Family Asessment (East Sussex), referred to as a Child and Family Assessment (West Sussex), Strengthening Families Assessment (Brighton & Hove)
  • Emergency action to protect a child - see Immediate Protective Action 
  • A Strategy Discussion where the facts clearly indicate that this is required and threshold is met)

A manager must 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 following a Family Assessment, 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.

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:

  • An alleged abuser agreeing to leave the home
  • Removal of the alleged abuser
  • Voluntary agreement for the child(ren) to move to a safer place 
  • Application for an Emergency Protection Order 
  • Removal of the child(ren) under powers of Police Protection 
  • Gaining entry to the household under Police powers

The social worker must seek the agreement of their 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

  • The same household,
  • The household of an alleged perpetrator or elsewhere.

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.

This page is correct as printed on Tuesday 16th of July 2024 06:16:00 AM please refer back to this website (http://sussexchildprotection.procedures.org.uk) for updates.