6.4 SCREENING REFERRALS
All referrals to Children’s Social Care should initially be regarded as children in potential need, and the referral should be screened/evaluated on the day of receipt (and no later than within 1 working day), and a decision made regarding the next course of action.
When accepting 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 and actions already taken
- Full names, date of birth and gender of child/ren
- Family address (current and previous)
- Details of child’s parents and who holds parental responsibility
- Names and date of birth of all household members
- Ethnicity, first language and religion of children and parents / carers
- Any need for an interpreter, signer or other communication aid
- Any special needs or disability of child/ren and other household members
- Any previous concerns
- Details of any alleged perpetrators including names, dates of birth and addresses
- 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)
- Details of referrer and their relationship and knowledge of child and parents / carers
- Known current or previous involvement of other agencies / professionals e.g. schools, GPs including whether the child has been looked after or on the child protection register in another local authority
- Information regarding parental knowledge of, and agreement to, the referral
This 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
The Children’s team manager will decide if parental permission is sought before discussing the referral with other agencies but Inter-agency discussion without parental permission may be justified if it is concluded that information held in other organisations is likely to inform a decision about the need to conduct s.47 enquiries. The first line manager should authorise the decision to discuss the referral with other agencies without parental knowledge or permission, and record the reasons for such action (as well as agreeing any searches to establish which specific agencies may be involved with the child if this is not known.)
The Police must be informed at the earliest opportunity by the social care team if a crime may have been committed in order to ensure that they can consider the need to commence a criminal investigation alongside any possible investigation by children’s services under section 47 of the Children Act (see section on ‘responding to referrals where there is or may be an alleged crime’ above).
Outcome of referral
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 may justify further enquiries, assessments and/or interventions.
At this stage referral will pass to the relevant team manager for decision making, ensuring:
- Consideration of any existing records for the child and any other members of the household (including if children are, or have ever been the subject of child protection plans)
- Discussions as appropriate with other agencies or the Police if any offence has been, or suspected to have been, committed
The team manager will decide on the response to the referral recording the reason for the decision as required. The immediate response to referrals may be:
- No further action at this stage
- Provision of advice and information
- An Initial Assessment of needs
- Immediate action to protect a child
The team manager will need to decide whether there are siblings or other children in the family who are not specifically referred but may need an initial assessment in their own right.
Where there is to be no further action, feedback should be provided to the referrer about the decision and the reasons for making it in writing within 48 hours.
Cases where it is possible that the child is ‘in need’ or may require investigation under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 will progress to the initial assessment stage.
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