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1.3.4 Transfer and Allocation of Work between the MASH, Targeted Early and Children’s Social Care Teams

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure outlines the process by which safeguarding services are prioritised and allocated. The aim of this procedure is to ensure that all Portsmouth's children and families identified with additional needs, receive a timely response by appropriate services to achieve the best possible outcomes.

AMENDMENT

This process was last updated in January 2018.


Contents

  1. Background
  2. The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
  3. The Early Help Pathway
  4. Step-up form Early Help Services
  5. The Pathway to Children's Social Care
  6. The Locality Children's Social Care Teams
  7. Through Care Services
  8. Children with Disabilities
  9. Expectations of Managers
  10. Disputes


1. Background

It is known that the best way to ensure that the needs of children and families are met is by providing the right support at the earliest opportunity. This is best achieved through collective action by all agencies.

The Portsmouth Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) has been set up to manage all concerns (contacts) about a child's safety or wellbeing. The Portsmouth MASH will apply the locally agreed thresholds criteria to determine whether statutory services should be provided by Children's Social Care or whether Early Help support should be offered to meet the level of identified need.

Where a family have been receiving a service from a single agency or where an Early Help Assessment and Team Around the Child / Team Around the Family / Team Around the Worker has been in place, but over time it becomes apparent that the family’s needs have not been met, it may be appropriate to consider a more intensive or statutory service. Problems may arise, which will require an immediate high level response, such as a child protection issue. In these instances a contact must be made to the MASH to ensure the matter is fully investigated. It may be that as a result of assessment, further support to the child will be provided by a locality Children's Social Care team.

A case may be transferred from the locality children's social care team to the through care service if the plan is for the child to be looked after by the local authority longer term, or if the child is placed for adoption. In these circumstances case management will transfer to the Through Care Team. In these circumstances a handover meeting will be convened with the old and new social workers, the child, their family and their carers.

A case may be ‘stepped-down’ from the locality Children's Social Care team to other agencies that are more appropriate to support the family based on the identified level of risk or need. In these circumstances a handover meeting will be convened with the social workers, the new worker, the child, their family and any other relevant personnel involved.

Restorative practice will underpin all our work with children and families. Restorative practice is a way of behaving which helps to build and maintain healthy relationships, resolve difficulties and repair harm where there has been conflict. We will support the development of family capacity, resilience and independence by building on strengths and enabling them to find their own solutions - and take responsibility for their stronger future.

All case records of children requiring transfer and allocation must be audited by the transferring manager to ensure that that key processes are properly recorded, all key documents have been completed, and current case records are up to date.


2. The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

The Portsmouth Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) has been set up to manage all concerns (contacts) about a child's safety or wellbeing. The Portsmouth MASH will apply the locally agreed thresholds criteria to determine whether statutory services should be provided by Children's Social care or whether Early Help support should be offered to meet the level of identified need.

Multi-agency information sharing supports good and proportionate decision making so that the right children and families are able to access the right services at the right time.

Decisions about the allocation of appropriate services will be shared with the family, carer and other agencies involved. When a decision is made by the MASH it will be followed up in writing.

Cases for allocation from the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) will transfer to the relevant team through the relevant electronic recording system.

Information from the MASH will include:

  1. The reason for the (concern) contact to MASH;
  2. Consent to share information or the reasons for disposing with consent;
  3. The information known by key agencies that is relevant to the current (concern) contact;
  4. Analysis of the information, including the application of the PSCB thresholds for services;
  5. Recommended intervention, support and / or services.

Children's social care will have access to any previous referral, assessment and intervention information held in the electronic children's social care record. Where cases have been previously opened to children's social care there should be a genogram and chronology to assist any updated assessment and intervention. This is particularly relevant for complex issues.

Decisions made by the MASH about the right services to support a child and family will include:

  1. A Child protection enquiry by the MASH under Section 47 Children Act 1989;
  2. Allocation to the relevant locality social care team to progress a child protection enquiry under Section 47 Children Act 1989;
  3. Allocation to the relevant locality in children's social care to assess support needs under Section 17 Children Act 1989;
  4. Allocation to the Children With Disabilities team for assessment and intervention under Section 17 Children Act 1989;
  5. Continued work by the relevant early help services.


3. The Early Help Pathway

Where the MASH process indicates that a child needs an early help response, the information collated will be passed to the Early Help.

The Early Help Hub will review the information provided and consider whether the family meets the criteria to be attached to the Troubled Families programme. Eligibility for the programme is based on the family having at least two of the six headline problems:

  • Crime and anti-social behaviour;
  • Education;
  • Children who need help;
  • Workless-ness / NEET;
  • Domestic abuse;
  • Health.

The Early Help Hub will communicate with the professional who contacted the MASH to discuss potential outcomes - who might be the most appropriate professional to talk with the family about possible support services; who within the network is best positioned to complete an early help assessment with the family; and who will be the lead professional co-ordinating the Early Help offer with the family.

Where it is appropriate for the Early Help Hub to make direct contact with the family, they will discuss the level of support the family is requesting, who the family would identify/request as their lead professional and whether they meet the criteria to be attached to the Troubled Families programme.

Where a family meets the Troubled Families criteria, the Early Help Hub will identify them for attachment to the programme (except where a claim for Payment by Results has already been made for the family in either phase of the programme).

If the family need a co-ordinated early help offer, including home visiting, the early help hub will pass the case to the relevant locality targeted early help manager within 24 hours.

If the case is transferred to a locality targeted early help manager, they will review the MASH transfer information and will allocate to a suitably experienced practitioner within the targeted early help service.

The purpose of the Early Help Hub is to:

  1. Establish the level of priority for intensive family support;
  2. Identify families that meet the Troubled Families eligibility criteria and highlight that they can be attached to the programme;
  3. Agree who is best placed within the professional network to complete an early help assessment and coordinate the early help offer (by the lead professional).

The Early Help Hub will maintain a record of all children and families receiving early help (including information on the service allocated to them, their lead professional and whether they can be attached to the Troubled Families programme).

The Early Help Hub transfer decision, made in collaboration with the professional who contacted the MASH and the family or the locality targeted early help manager may be:

  1. To allocate to a locality targeted early help manager for intensive family support within a locality multi-agency team;
  2. To allocate to a professional working with the child/family, but located outside of a locality targeted early help team.

The Early Help Hub will generate a weekly report detailing allocation decisions (lead agency/professional) and noting the children and families who can be attached to the Troubled Families programme. These reports will be shared with the managers in each of the three multi-agency teams to ensure that early help is progressed in a timely way.

All decisions made by the Early Help Hub will be endorsed by a senior social work practitioner and recorded in the Capita IT system.

It is expected that there will be a monthly network meeting in each locality to review the allocation of early help work, the completion of Early Help assessments and the progress of the intervention with the family.

Cases may be stepped-down to early help services directly from a locality children and families services team. Cases for step-down will be determined by the team leader in the locality social care team and transferred to the locality targeted early help manager for allocation.

Cases stepped down to early help will have an assessment and will also outline ongoing intervention, support and / or services to sustain the family's progress. This will be audited and approved by the relevant social care manager before transfer.

It will be good practice to have a handover meeting between the social worker and the new worker, the child, their parents and / or carers and any other relevant personnel.


4. Step-up form Early Help services

If it becomes apparent that the child's needs have not been met, it may be appropriate to consider a social work intervention. These situations should be discussed with the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.

Problems may arise that require an immediate response, such as a child protection issue. In these circumstances contact must be made with the MASH to ensure the matter is fully investigated.

The MASH will undertake appropriate enquiries to determine the appropriate support to the family. The outcome from this may be:

  1. A Child protection enquiry by the MASH under Section 47 Children Act 1989;
  2. Allocation to the relevant locality social care team to progress a child protection enquiry under Section 47 Children Act 198;
  3. Allocation to the relevant locality social care team to assess support needs under Section 17 Children Act 198;
  4. Allocation to the Children With Disabilities team for assessment and intervention under Section 17 Children Act 198;
  5. Continued work by the relevant early help services.


5. The Pathway to Children's Social Care

Where a professional is concerned about the safety or wellbeing of a child they should have a discussion with the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). The MASH will consider what is known about the family and apply the threshold criteria to determine the right level of response.

If the MASH determines that a social work assessment should be completed to determine whether a child/family should be provided with services under Section 17 Children Act 1989, the MASH will allocate to the relevant locality social work manager.

Section 17 Children Act 1989 defines a child in need as:

  • A child who is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or have the opportunity to achieve reasonable standard of health or development without the provision of services by the local authority;
  • A child whose health or development is likely to be significantly impaired or further impaired without the provision of services;
  • A child who has a substantial and permanent disability.

Children's Social Care will be the lead agency for all children identified as 'in need' under Section 17 Children Act 1989. Social work support will be provided for only as long as required by the family and the lead role may be 'stepped down' to early help services as appropriate.

Professionals in all agencies have a responsibility to contact the MASH when it is believed or suspected that a child:

  • Has suffered significant harm, is suffering; or
  • Is at risk of suffering, significant harm.

If the MASH determines that a child protection enquiry should be initiated under Section 47 Children Act 1989 where there is reason to believe a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm as a result of the care they are receiving, Children's Social Care will take the lead role in safeguarding the wellbeing of the child / children and ensure that the 4LSCB Child Protection Procedures are followed.

Where it is likely that the Child protection enquiry under Section 47 Children Act 1989 will lead to an initial child protection conference it will be allocated to the relevant locality children's social care manager for allocation to a qualified social worker.

Where it is likely that the Child protection enquiry under Section 47 Children Act 1989 will lead to a decision for an assessment under Section 17 Children Act it will be allocated to the relevant locality children's social care manager for allocation to a qualified social worker.

A qualified social worker in the MASH may complete the Child Protection enquiry under Section 47 Children Act 1989 if it is being completed as part of the complex abuse procedures, or where it is likely that the investigation will lead to an early help offer.

All decisions by the MASH to transfer the case to a locality children's social care team will be made within 24 hours.


6. The Locality Children's Social Care Teams

The locality service leader, upon receiving the transfer information from MASH, will allocate the case to an appropriately qualified social worker for assessment and intervention.

If an assessment is required to determine the provision of services under Section 17 Children Act 1989, the aim will be to complete the assessment within 10 working days. Any assessments that require additional time for completion will be agreed by a manager.

A plan of intervention will be developed within 15 working days of allocation. A planning meeting involving the child, their parents and / or carers and any other relevant personnel will be convened to agree this plan.

Subsequent planning meetings will be convened at regular intervals to determine the progress of the intervention.

Social work intervention will only be for as long as is necessary to enable the family to sustain positive changes needed for their stronger future. At this point the social worker may 'step-down' the case to early help services.

The locality children's social care teams will also manage children in need who are subject to protection plans. This work will be supported through multi-agency core-group meetings and reviewed at independently chaired child protection conferences.

A child protection plan should only remain in place for as long as the level of risk requires it. When the protection plan is removed the child and family should continue to receive support under Section 17 Children Act 1989 for at least the next 3 months.

Where a child protection plan is not achieving the progress necessary to reduce the level of risk / harm identified a legal meeting under the Public Law Outline may be scheduled and legal proceedings commenced in the local family court.

The locality children's social care team will manage all cases through court proceedings and up-until a long-term plan is agreed for the child.

If the long-term plan for a child is for him or her to be looked after by the local authority or placed for adoption the case will transfer to the Through Care Team.


7. Through Care Services

There are four children's social care teams within the Through Care Team providing support to looked after children (including children to be placed for adoption), care leavers and unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

Unaccompanied asylum children located in Portsmouth will receive an immediate service from this team rather than the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on the assumption that there is no known information that can be shared by the key agencies in the MASH.

Where an unaccompanied asylum seeking child is located in Portsmouth the request for support will be directed to the relevant Through Care team leader who will allocate a qualified social worker to complete the initial assessment and intervention to keep the child safe. This will include appropriate referrals to the Home Office, Community Relations Unit (CRU) and to the Independent Child Trafficking Advocacy Service. These referrals are mostly unplanned and the response required is immediate. Local Authority protocols exist for multiple numbers of unaccompanied asylum seeking children and multi-agency support.

Where the plan for a child is adoption, there will be a discussion between the locality team leader and the through care team leader to agree who, in the through care team, will complete the family finding. This includes completing the form E and getting to know the child so as to understand their needs and what care needs they have and who, from a pool of adopters, might be able to meet these needs. The through care team leader will ensure that there is an up-to-date assessment, chronology and genogram as well as a clear care plan that has been reviewed in accordance with the care planning regulations; and that visits are up to date. The Through Care team leader will allocate this case to an appropriately qualified social worker, who will work alongside the locality social worker until the Family Court proceedings have approved the plan for adoption. At this juncture responsibility for case management will transfer to the Through Care Team. The handover practice should have involved joint working, thus this process should be seamless for the child, parents and carers. It will be the responsibility of the locality team leader to ensure that the case record is properly up to date at this point of transfer.

Where the plan for a child is for him or her to be long-term looked after the case will transfer to the Through Care team. The case should transfer when the plan has been agreed by the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) and / or the family proceedings court. The locality team leader should discuss the case with the through care team leader, so that the through care team leader can review the electronic file information and allocate an appropriately qualified social worker. The through care team leader will ensure that there is an up-to-date assessment, chronology and genogram as well as a clear care plan that has been reviewed in accordance with the care planning regulations; and that visits are up to date.

It is good practice to schedule a handover meeting between the old social worker and the new social worker, the child, parents, carers and any other relevant personnel.

A case may transfer across teams in the Through Care service when a looked after child becomes a care leaver.

All looked after children should complete a pathway plan alongside their social worker, in time for the statutory review before their 16th birthday. This plan should identify any joint work by the social worker and a personal advisor and when the case will be formally transferred to the personal advisor. This process should be overseen by the team leaders responsible for looked after children and care leavers, with the support of the IRO.

Cases transferred to the Through Care service or across Through Care Services will have up-to-date records, including:

  1. A chronology;
  2. A genogram;
  3. Up-to-date personal information;
  4. An up-to-date assessment and plan (including health care plan, personal education plan and if appropriate a pathway plan);
  5. A record of the legal status of the child;
  6. Details of professionals / services involved with the child.


8. Children with Disabilities

Under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, disabled children are 'children in need'. Where contact is made with the MASH about services to support a child with a disability the case will be referred to the Children with Disabilities team.

The Children with Disabilities (CWD) team will co-ordinate an assessment of need for a child or young person who has a substantial, enduring and permanent physical, visual, hearing or intellectual impairment and that resulting from this impairment, the child is limited or prevented from undertaking activities appropriate to their daily living.

Step-up arrangements when there are child protection concerns on cases open to Children with Disabilities team

If a child protection issue arises on a case that is open to the Children with Disabilities team a referral will be made to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) to complete a child protection enquiry under Section 47 Children Act 1989.

The MASH will take responsibility for managing the Section 47 investigation, although the case will remain open to the Children with Disabilities team until it has been established whether or not the child is suffering or is at risk of suffering significant harm.

If the Section 47 investigation concludes that the child is suffering, or is at risk of suffering significant harm, the case will be re-allocated to the appropriate locality team. In such cases, the Children with Disabilities worker will continue to work alongside the new allocated worker, and provide support in relation to the disability-related needs. The length of involvement will be determined by the extent of the child's needs.

Management of cases where a disabled child is looked after

If a child with a disability becomes looked after at the request of, or with the consent of, parents under Section 20 Children Act 1989 case responsibility will remain with the CWD team. Where court proceedings are initiated to afford the local authority a court order to look after the child, case management will transfer to the appropriate locality social work team. Should a child with a disability become looked after, the Children with Disabilities team worker will continue to work alongside the new allocated worker and provide support in relation to the disability-related needs. The locality social worker will manage the court proceedings and determine the long-term plan for the child. Where the long-term plan for a child with a disability is to remain looked after, case management responsibility will transfer back to the CWD team.


9. Expectations of Managers

The expectations of managers will be:

  1. To ensure compliance with this protocol;
  2. To ensure work is allocated in a timely way;
  3. Allocate cases to an appropriate worker in line with their caseloads and experience;
  4. Ensure that case files are audited and up-to-date prior to case transfer.


10. Disputes

Where there are disputes, these should be resolved wherever possible in discussion between service leaders. Where this is not possible, a timely discussion will be help with the heads responsible for service delivery.

Every effort must be made to prevent delay in this process and the needs of the child will always be paramount.

End