Sometimes you and your family may need help and support from the Council. For this to happen a referral must be made. You can make a referral yourself or someone else can do this on your behalf. Other agencies can also make a referral about your child although they should discuss this with you first.
The only time that a referral should be made by another agency without your knowledge is if they feel that informing you would place someone at risk of harm.
We want to be clear and open about what we will do when we receive a referral.
Referral and assessment
When a referral has been received, a decision will be made about whether an assessment should be carried out.
An assessment involves the collection and consideration of information provided by you, your child and from other people and agencies who may be involved with your family.
Any information you give to use will be kept confidential. We will ask your permission to gather and share information from other people.
The only time that information will be gathered or shared without your permission is if we believe that it is necessary in order to protect your child. If this is the case, you will be told what your rights are in this situation.
After an assessment has been completed, a decision will be made about whether you and your family may benefit from additional support and services. If this is the case, a care plan will be produced. The care plan will set out what support and services will be provided and who will be responsible for providing them.
If we receive information which, in our view, indicates that your child may be at risk of harm we must follow child protection procedures and these are outlined below.
A strategy meeting is held when a social worker or the police suspects that a child or young person may be at risk of harm. The purpose of a strategy meeting is to share information and to decide if further action may be necessary to protect the child or young person. A social worker, their team manager and the police will attend a strategy meeting. Other people such as a health professional and a person from the child’s school may also be asked to attend the meeting. The most important thing to those who attend the strategy meeting is keeping children and young people safe from harm.
Child protection enquiry
If the strategy meeting decides that a child may not be safe, a child protection enquiry will be carried out. The enquiry will be carried out by a social worker with support from the police if it is believed that a criminal offence may have been committed. The child protection enquiry will gather further information and will decide what, if any further action is required to keep the child or young person safe.
Child protection conference
If the child protection enquiry decides that there are still concerns that a child or young person may be at risk of harm a child protection conference will be held. The child protection conference brings together family members (and the child or young person where appropriate) and the professionals most involved with the family to make decisions about the child or young person’s future safety, health and development. The conference will decide whether the child or young person is at risk of harm and if a child protection plan is needed to co-ordinate support and services.
Child protection core group meeting
If a child protection plan is made at the conference, a smaller group called a core group will meet at least monthly to continue developing the child protection plan and to make sure it is followed.
The core group is usually made up of parents or carers, the social worker, a teacher and a health professional such as a school nurse or health visitor.