Click on the below links to access the Multi-Agency Referral Form for:
For additional guidance, please also see What to do if you're worried that a child is being abused (March 2015).
AMENDMENTIn November 2019, the chapter was updated. In Section 7, Making a Referral the referral process for each area is set out in detail.
Anyone who has concerns about a child's welfare should make a referral to Children's Social Care Services. For example, referrals may come from: children themselves, teachers, a GP, the Police, health visitors, helpers, carers and volunteers in all agencies, family members and members of the public.
When there are concerns about Significant Harm, the referral must be made immediately. The greater the level of perceived risk, the more urgent the action should be. The suspicion or allegation may be based on information which comes from different sources. It may arise in the context of the Early Help Assessment Procedure. It may come from a member of the public, the child concerned, another child, a family member or professional staff. It may relate to a single incident or an accumulation of lower level concerns.
The information may also relate to harm caused by another child, in which case both children, i.e. the suspected perpetrator and victim, must be referred - see also Harmful Sexual Behaviour Procedure.
The suspicion or allegation may relate to a parent, professional, volunteer or anyone caring for or working with the child - if so, see also Allegations Against Persons who Work with Children Procedure.
A referral must be made even if it is known that Children's Social Care Services are already involved with the child/family.
Each agency must have its own initial process for responding to reported concerns about children. This should include quickly identifying:
In relation to the above, concerns about a child or young person's welfare must always be recorded whether or not further action is taken.
Professionals in most agencies should have internal procedures, which identify Designated Senior Persons or Named Professionals - managers or staff, who are able to offer advice on child protection matters and decide upon the necessity for a referral. Consultation may also be required directly with the local Children's Social Care Services Team or the allocated social worker in Children's Social Care Services.
Referrers should have the opportunity to discuss their concerns with a qualified social worker; advice and consultation may be sought about the appropriateness of the referral from the local Children's Social Care Services or, if the case is open, from the allocated social worker. At the end of the conversation between the social worker and the professional an agreement will be reached about whether this enquiry will proceed to a referral. If it appears that the concern is not one of child protection, but may require the provision of other children's social care services, the referring agency has to seek the consent of the parents for assessment by Children's Social Care Services to proceed. See also Child in Need Assessment and Plan Procedure.
Where consultation is sought and Children's Social Care Services then conclude that a referral is required; the information provided so far must be regarded and responded to as a referral, and the referrer must be advised accordingly and must confirm their referral in writing.
When professionals refer a child, they should include any information they have on the child's developmental needs and the capacity of the child's parents or carers to meet those needs. This information may be included in any assessment, including the Early Help Assessment, which may have been carried out prior to a referral into Children's Social Care Services. Where an Early Help Assessment has already been undertaken it should be used to support a referral to Children's Social Care Services, however this is not a prerequisite for making a referral.
Within one working day of a referral being received, a local authority social worker should make a decision about the type of response that is required and acknowledge receipt to the referrer.WHEN IN DOUBT, CONCERNS MUST BE SHARED.
If the child requires emergency medical treatment, appropriate action should be taken. The medical staff treating the child should be made aware of the nature of concerns. A referral should be made by the person with the concerns in accordance with this procedure, as soon as practicably possible.
Where there is no urgent medical need, but medical advice is sought, the child should be referred for a community medical, in normal working hours.
The safety of children is paramount in all decisions relating to their welfare. Any action taken by staff should ensure that no child is left in immediate danger.
When considering whether immediate action is required to protect a child, all agencies should also consider whether action is required to safeguard and protect the welfare of any other children in the same household or related to the household or the household of an alleged perpetrator or elsewhere e.g. a work environment such as a school.
The law empowers anyone who has care of a child to do all that is reasonable in the circumstances to safeguard her/his welfare.
A teacher, foster carer, child minder or any professional should, for example, take all reasonable steps to offer a child immediate protection from an abusive parent.
Where abuse is alleged, suspected or confirmed in children admitted to hospital, they must not be discharged until a referral has been made to the relevant Children's Social Care Services team in accordance with this procedure and a decision made as to the need for immediate protective action.
A referral should be made to Children Social Care where a child presents in the hospital and their presentation gives reasonable cause to suspect that their child is or is likely to suffer significant harm so that a strategy discussion can be convened.
The safety and welfare of the child overrides all other considerations, including the following:
For further details, see Information Sharing Procedure and Appendix 1: Information Sharing Agreement for the Purposes of Safeguarding Children.
The overriding consideration must be the protection of the child - for this reason, absolute confidentiality cannot and should not be promised to anyone.
For guidance in relation to making a referral relating to under-age sexual activity, see Underage Sexual Activity Procedure and Safeguarding Children and Young People from Child Sexual Exploitation Procedure.
For guidance in relation to making a referral relating to Forced Marriage, see Forced Marriage Procedure. Professionals may have only 'one chance' to save a life by speaking to a potential victim. If a victim is allowed to walk out of the door without support being offered, that chance is wasted.
If suspicions or allegations are about relatives, friends or colleagues, professional or otherwise, the concerns must not be discussed with them before making the referral.
Individual members of the public who make a referral may prefer not to give their name or alternatively they may disclose their identity, but not wish for it to be revealed to the parents/carers of the child concerned.
Wherever possible, Children's Social Care Services workers receiving referrals from members of the public should respect the referrer's request for anonymity. However, referrers should not be given any guarantees of confidentiality, as there are certain limited circumstances in which the identity of a referrer may have to be given e.g. the Criminal or Family Court arena. The referrer's request for anonymity must be recorded.
N.B. Referrals made by professionals can never be anonymous.
If the child makes an allegation or discloses information which raises concern about Significant Harm, the initial response should be limited to listening carefully to what the child says so as to:
If a child is freely recalling events, the response should be to listen, rather than stop the child; however, it is important that the child should not be asked to repeat the information to a colleague or asked to write the information down.
If the child has an injury but no explanation is volunteered, it is acceptable to enquire how the injury was sustained. In cases of sexual abuse it is also acceptable to clarify when the abuse took place as this will allow police to assess actions around forensic timescales.
However, the child must not be pressed for information, led or cross-examined or given false assurances of absolute confidentiality. Such well-intentioned actions could prejudice Police investigations, especially in cases of Sexual Abuse.
A record of all conversations, (including the timings, the setting, those present, as well as what was said by all parties) and actions must be kept. Sighting of any physical injuries should also be recorded, including shape, size, and colour. The site of the injury/ies should be noted on a body map. See Body Maps for more information. Photographs should only be taken by Police or social workers who are investigating suspected significant harm.
If the child can understand the significance and consequences of making a referral, he/she should be asked her/his views by the referring professional.
Whilst the child's views should be considered, it remains the responsibility of the professional to take whatever action is required to ensure the safety of that child and any other children.
Professionals should seek, in general, to discuss concerns with the family and, where possible seek the family's agreement to making a referral unless this may, either by delay or the behavioural response it prompts or for any other reason, place the child at increased likelihood of suffering Significant Harm and/or could lead to the loss of evidence. See Information sharing: advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services.
A decision by any professional not to seek parental permission before making a referral to Children's Social Care Services must be approved by their manager, recorded and the reasons given.
Where a parent has agreed to a referral, this must be recorded and confirmed on the relevant Referral Form.
Where the parent is consulted and refuses to give permission for the referral, further advice and approval should be sought from a manager or the Designated Senior Person or Named Professional, unless to do so would cause undue delay. The outcome of the consultation and any further advice should be fully recorded.
If, having taken full account of the parent's wishes, it is still considered that there is a need for a referral:
Referrals must be made in one of the following ways:
It is expected that any professional/practitioner wanting to make a referral to Leicester, will in the first instance call their 'One Front Door' on 0116 454 1004 and discuss the details of the referral. This should then be followed up by the referrer by submitting an online referral.
Following the conversation with 'One Front Door' please ensure you tick the box on the final page of the form as to whether you are seeking Early Help support or referring to Children's Social Care. If you are requesting Early Help support, please ensure you complete the box regarding seeking engagement and cooperation below. Please complete all the questions on pages 2 – 5.
If you are from an agency where it has been agreed that you use an internal embedded form please email it securely to email@example.com for Early Help and firstname.lastname@example.org for Children's Social Care.
It is expected that any professional/practitioner wanting to make a referral to Rutland County Council including Early Help and Social Care will in the first instance call their 'Single Front Door' on 01572 758407 and discuss the details of the referral. The expectation is that the referrer will then follow up this phone call with a written referral using this template and email it appropriately marked to email@example.com. Following this conversation please ensure you tick the box on the final page of the form as to whether you are seeking Early Help support or referring to Children's Social Care.
Any professional or practitioner wanting to make a request for service to Leicestershire County Council including Early Help or Social Care should complete a (MARF) form online.
If there are urgent concerns based on evidence that a child is suffering or at risk of significant harm which requires a Child Protection response this should be reported immediately by telephone on 0116 3050005. A written referral must be submitted to document the information shared within 24 hours. In any case where a professional is unclear if the threshold is met contact should be made with agency safeguarding leads for advice or in complex cases a call can be made to the consultation line on 0116 3055500 between 10:00am and 4:00pm. If there are immediate concerns about risk to the safety of a child, call the Police immediately.
If you are from an agency where it has been agreed with Leicestershire County Council that you use an internal embedded form please send it securely from your secure email account to firstname.lastname@example.org (email@example.com from cjsm.net addresses).
Leicestershire and Rutland operate an Out of Hours service outside office hours and at weekends and bank holidays service. The OOH team will take any immediate steps to respond to referrals where it is reasonable to suspect that they are suffering or likely to suffer significant harm so that the child/ren are safeguarded. Any work undertaken out of hours will be followed up by the regular office hours Children's Social Care Services:
In the event that an agency does not agree with the response and decisions about the referral by the Children's Social Care Services, the referring agency should discuss their concerns directly with the line manager of the social worker, in the first instance to seek resolution. See also Resolving Practitioner Disagreements and Escalation of Concerns Procedure.
Referrals should be made to the Duty Team where the child is living or is found.
If the child is known to have an allocated social worker, referrals should be made directly to the allocated worker or, in her/his absence, the manager or a duty officer in that team.
If a child is identified by an agency as being in imminent danger than they should contact the Police for an emergency response by calling 999
Arrangements within an agency may be that a Designated Senior Person or Named Professional makes the referral. However, if the Designated Senior Person or Named Professional is not available, the referral must still be made without delay.
A referral or any urgent medical treatment must not be delayed by the unavailability of designated or named professionals.
The person making the referral should provide the following information if available - note - absence of information must not delay a referral:
Children's Social Care Services will ensure that a duty worker is available to receive child protection referrals.
Referrers will have an opportunity to discuss their concerns with a qualified social worker.
The worker receiving a referral will establish:
To do so, the worker receiving the referral will usually discuss the case with the referrer and in doing so, will:
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.
Agencies investigating the allegation(s) should consider the need for a referral to adult social care in respect of the alleged perpetrator, if there are fears that the allegation(s) may trigger mental health needs which may lead to the possibility of suicide or self-harm.
At the end of any discussion about a child, the referrer (whether a professional or a member of the public or family) and the Children's Social Care Services social worker should be clear about timescales and any proposed action and who will be taking it, or if no further action will be taken. The outcome should be recorded by the Children's Social Care Services and by the referrer (if a professional in another service) on the relevant forms including the Referral Form. See Section 10, The Outcome of a Referral and Feedback
Children's Social Care Services should acknowledge receipt of a written referral within ONE working day. If the referrer has not received an acknowledgement within THREE working days they should make contact with the relevant manager in the Children's Social Care Services Team.
The worker receiving the referral must consider whether there are other children in the same household, the household of an alleged perpetrator or elsewhere, who should be considered as the subject of a referral.
The worker receiving the referral will also:
The child and family must be informed of the action to be taken. Parents should be informed of the referral and their permission sought to share information with other agencies unless to do so would:
See also: Information Sharing Procedure.
In these circumstances, a manager from the Children's Social Care Services may decide to consult other relevant agencies without seeking parental consent. Any such decision must be recorded with reasons.
Children's Social Care Services should see the child as soon as possible if the decision is taken that the referral requires further assessment in line with local practice standards.
If the referral relates to a situation in which a crime has or may have been committed, including sexual or physical assault or physical injury caused by neglect, the worker receiving the referral must discuss the referral with the Police at the earliest opportunity. The Police, in consultation with Children's Social Care Services and any other agencies involved with the child, must consider whether there should be a criminal investigation and/or a Children's Social Care Services led intervention.
Whilst the responsibility to instigate criminal proceedings rests with the Police, they should consider the view expressed by other agencies. In some circumstances with less serious cases, it may be agreed that the best interests of the child would be served by a Children's Social Care Services led intervention rather than a full Police investigation.
This will need to be discussed carefully and a decision made at a Strategy Discussion.
See also: Underage Sexual Activity Procedure.
The Children's Social Care Services team will decide upon and record their next steps of action within one working day of receiving a referral.
The decision about future action will take account of the discussion with the referrer, consideration of information held in existing records and discussion with any other professionals or services as necessary (including the Police where a crime against a child may have been committed - see Section 9, Where there is or may be a Crime Committed).
Within one working day of a referral being received the local authority social worker should make a decision about the type of response that is required. This will include determining whether:
Where the significant harm has been caused by a person who was not previously known to the child or by another child, the decision whether to take further action under these procedures will depend on the following:
Feedback should be given by Children's Social Care Services to the referrer on the decisions taken. Where appropriate, this feedback should include the reasons why a case may not meet the statutory threshold to be considered by Children's Social Care Services for assessment and suggestions for other sources of more suitable support.
In the case of a referral by a member of the public, feedback should be provided in a way which will respect the confidentiality of the child.
Also see: Flowchart: Immediate Protection
Where there is a risk to the life of a child or the possibility of immediate harm, the Police officer or social worker must use their statutory child protection powers (sections 44 and 46 of the Children Act 1989) to act immediately to secure the safety of the child.
Immediate protection may be achieved by:
The agency taking protective action must always consider whether action is also required to safeguard other children in the same household or in the household of/in contact with an alleged perpetrator or elsewhere.
Children's Social Care Services should only seek the assistance of the Police to use their powers of Police Protection in exceptional circumstances where there is insufficient time to seek an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) or other reasons relating to the child's immediate safety. An EPO, made by the court, gives authority to remove a child and places them under the protection of the applicant.
Planned immediate protection will normally take place following a Strategy Discussion. For more information, see Strategy Discussion Procedure.
Where a child/ is or children are afforded immediate protection by an Emergency Protection Order or Police Protection the local authority has a duty to initiate Section 47 Enquiry. For more information see Strategy Discussion Procedure.
When considering whether emergency action is necessary an agency should always consider the needs of other children in the same household or in the household of an alleged perpetrator.
The local authority in whose area a child is found in circumstances that require emergency action (the first authority) is responsible for taking emergency action. See Section 12, Cross Boundary Referrals.
If the child is looked after by, or the subject of a Child Protection Plan in another authority, the first authority must consult the authority responsible for the child. Only when the second local authority explicitly accepts responsibility (to be followed up in writing) is the first authority relieved of its responsibility to take emergency action.
Planned emergency action will normally take place following an immediate strategy discussion. Social workers, the Police should:
If the referral relates to a child who is temporarily visiting the area from another local authority, or is in a hospital or is Looked After outside of the Local Authority area, the local authority/Police/ Health services in the area where the child actually is at the time or where the incident occurred have prime responsibility for an initial response to the referral.
It is the host authority's responsibility to undertake any section 47 investigation. However this can be negotiated with the originating authority on a case-by-case basis. Any agreed arrangement must be confirmed in writing.
For those children from other local authority areas, who are the subject of Child Protection Plans, there must be consultation with the responsible allocated Social Worker.
Any relevant personnel from another local authority or agency should be consulted and invited to attend the Strategy Meeting or invited to contribute to the Strategy Discussion. See Strategy Discussions Procedure.
Comprehensive enquiries must be undertaken with the host local authority and any agencies to which the child is known. This must include checking whether the child has a Child Protection Plan.
All enquiries should be confirmed in writing.
The Strategy Discussion/Meeting, clarifying roles, responsibilities and timescales for actions, must be recorded on the relevant Forms and copies of the record distributed within ONE working day, to all relevant parties.For more information, see Children and Families Moving Across Local Authority Boundaries Procedure.
Where agencies or individuals anticipate that prospective parents may need support services to care for their baby or that the baby may be suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, a referral to Children's Social Care Services must be made as soon as the concerns are recognised.
Where the concerns centre around an aspect of parenting behaviour, for example substance misuse, the referrer must make clear how this is likely to impact on the baby and what risks are predicted.
See the Safeguarding Procedures on Pre-Birth.
The referrer should keep a written record of:
The referrer should confirm verbal and telephone referrals in writing, within 24 hours or by the end of the next working day, using the relevant Multi-Agency Referral Form.
The duty social worker receiving the referral should keep a written record of:
Only valid for 48hrs