Referrals are assessed to check the seriousness and urgency of the concerns and to establish if children’s social care need to be involved. This may be in the form of support for a child (Section 17 of the Children Act 1989) or where there are child protection issues (Section 47 of the Children Act 1989)
Where concerns do not need intervention from Children’s Social Care families or professionals may be directed for help or provision to universal services and/or other specialist services.
We can also provide advice and consultation to family members or to professionals where there is concern for a child.
If anyone is worried about a child and refers them to children’s social care, children’s social care will consider this information. If we believe it is appropriate for children’s social care to become involved, we must act on it and make enquiries. A social worker will contact the parents to make enquiries about the family and hear the families’ views. They will need to speak directly with the child. We will also contact anyone who shares parental responsibility and speak with other professionals who know the child, such as the school and health services, to let them know what is happening.
Concerns about the safety of a child (Child Protection)
If a family finds itself involved in child protection issues children’s social care will offer support and work directly with the family and child. We can do this best by involving them as much as possible, by understanding their views about the family, by helping them to understand exactly what concerns the professionals have and what will be happening.
Child protection procedures give instruction to all professionals working with children to inform them of what they must do if they are seriously concerned about a child's welfare. Professionals who have concerns about a child should also let families know that they are making a referral, unless after consultation with children’s social care it is agreed that by doing this it will place the child at greater risk.
During an investigation, visits will be made to the family home by children’s social care and/or by the police. Families have the right to refuse entry, unless the police have a warrant. In the interests of a child, the parents, carers, friends or relatives should help and cooperate with the investigation. If there is serious concern about the welfare of a child, the police can apply for a warrant to come into the family home and see a child. It may also be required that the child needs to be medically examined by a paediatrician at the local hospital.
Social workers and police officers will try to cause as little distress to a child and family as possible. They will investigate together to reduce the number of times a child has to repeat what has happened to them.
Children’s social care process referral information within the framework in the Buckinghamshire Multi-Agency Information Sharing for Children, Young People & Families – Code of Practice for sharing personal information. The Code of Practice provides the framework for partner agencies in Buckinghamshire to share information on children, young people and adults.
If we receive a referral on a child we may gather and share information which we consider relevant to our enquires, with the objective of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of a child in line with the requirements of the Children Act 2004. National enquiries have consistently highlighted the importance of agencies sharing information with each other where concerns for a child have been raised. It is the responsibility and duty of the referrer to explain to a family why a referral is being made and that information may be sought and shared with other agencies, unless to do so will place a person at significant risk of harm.